First Drive: 2013 Cadillac XTS

By Barbara Schaffer

2013 Cadillac XTSCadillac was long overdue for a new larger flagship sedan, but while that segment may have been neglected, America?s premier luxury brand has been developing quite a reputation for itself with cars from the CTS series with the outstanding sedan, coupe and wagon models and the CTS-V performance line.? The CTS models are on par with foreign competitors and often outperform them.

Now Cadillac has taken the next step to reinstate the brand?s luxury status with the introduction of the XTS.? The XTS is being used to replace the STS and DTS at the top of the Cadillac lineup for size.? While Cadillac officials don?t actually refer to it as the brand flagship that appears to be the position it?s taken, at least until the brand develops something grander and larger.

The XTS styling is right out of the Art and Science design book, but with some new slightly softer lines.? While I find the interior and exterior of the XTS very appealing, the new technologies are the real showstoppers.? From the CUE connectivity system to the magnetic ride control to the Cadillac seats that vibrate to warn you of an emanate collision, the XTS technology left me in awe.

2013 Cadillac XTS - On the road????? The elegant Cadillac XTS design combines the distinctive Cadillac family front and rear end designs.? It?s all bought together with sweeping coupe-like roofline and strong high belt line.

The interior is not only elegant, but remarkably spacious, with as much room as some of the full-size sedans, especially in the rear seat where there?s 40 inches of legroom.? Even the trunk space is a massive 18 cubic feet, swallowing up more luggage than the top German brand luxury sedans.

The most impressive new technology for me is the CUE (Cadillac User Experience) system, which follows in the footsteps of a multitude of other manufacturer?s connectivity, guidance and communications systems.? I?ve had many frustrating experiences over the last few years trying to figure out how to use many of these systems, but the CUE gets my vote as being the most intuitive of the available systems. ?I believe that I should be able to work the controls for the various audio, climate, infotainment and navigation systems easily without having to go through confusing levels of menus or to have to read the owner?s manual.? Initially, I was able to do that with the CUE system.

The CUE system, which is standard on all models, has an eight-inch screen, with an optional 12.3-inch screen, which is like reading a large print book.? The screens are controlled by touching the screen, using steering wheel controls or by verbal commands. ?The CUE system features several industry firsts, including capacitive-touch control with proximity sensing, haptic feedback, gesture recognition and natural voice recognition. ?While some of those names are foreign to non-engineers like me, they work intuitively bringing up menus before the screen is even touched and vibrating when it is touched to indicate the command was recognized. ?The system works a lot like an Apple iPad, so much so, that Cadillac is giving all the XTS buyers an iPad preloaded with several apps including one that allows you to practice the vehicle controls on it.

2013 Cadillac XTS - DashboardCadillac engineers went all out to create a world-class suspension and drivetrain.? In basic form, the XTS is a front drive platform, but optionally it has a smart all-wheel-drive system with a Haldex technology that includes an electronic limited-slip differential that splits torque between the rear wheels.? The front drive model has very good handling characteristics, but the all-wheel drive provides significantly better control.

The four-wheel independent suspension is the state-of-the-art Magnetic Ride Control with real-time damping to make sure the XTS maximizes its ride and handling characteristics instantly.? StabiliTrak electronic stability control, variable-effort steering and four-wheel disc brakes with iconic Brembo brakes in the front are standard equipment.

XTS is powered by a 304-hp 3.6-liter V-6.? The lightweight engine design helps reduce overall weight for improved efficiency and helps give the car a better front/rear balance. The engine fuel economy is expected to be 17 mpg city and 28 mpg highway for the FWD and 27 mpg highway for the AWD.? The transmission is a six-speed Hydra-Matic with a tap shift control.? I would have preferred to have the shifter controlled by wheel or column mounted shift paddles rather than the ?tap? toggle, but it?s better than not having the ability to shift manually.

2013 Cadillac XTS - Steering Convenient ControlsCadillac safety innovation has you literally shaking in your pants.? The idea behind the technology is to improve the ?control and alert? level of vision around the vehicle by helping the driver identify potential crash situations and to warn or even intervene if a crash appears imminent.? The system uses visual and audible warnings along with a new Safety Alert Seat feature that literally vibrates either the left or right side of the driver?s seat cushion to point out the location of the impending concern.?? The Driver Awareness Package is standard on the top Premium and Platinum Collection models and is an option of the Luxury Collection.? The system includes lane departure warning, forward collision alert, the safety alert seat, Side Blind Zone Alert and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.? The Driver Assist Package takes the system one step farther by adding adaptive cruise control, front and rear automatic brakes and Automatic Collision Preparation.? The Assist Package is standard on the Platinum Collection.

The Standard front wheel-drive XTS is priced at $44,995, including the destination charge.? Beyond that, there are three available trim levels – Luxury, Premium and Platinum that has all available features and a price tag of $59,080.? That?s an amazing amount of technology and luxury for the price. ?The all-wheel drive version starts at $51,835 and includes all the Luxury level features.? The Platinum AWD is $61,305.

The Cadillac XTS is a major move forward for the luxury brand and a big step ahead of the STS and DTS it replaces. ?Just as the CTS brought Cadillac back into the game, I think the XTS will move the brand to the next level.? It?s the ?Cadillac? of North American-built vehicles. ??????????? ?2013 Cadillac XTS - Side