Cadillac slims down full-size model with XTS

  • Article by: LARRY PRINTZ , The Virginian-Pilot
  • Updated: January 11, 2013 - 10:46 PM

It's a tightrope walker, meant to retain Cadillac's older clientele who might have bought a DTS, while hoping to attract those buyers who want something larger than the CTS.

hide

The 2013 Cadillac XTS shares a platform with the Buick LaCrosse.

How do you get a generation of Americans raised on small and midsize cars to consider Cadillac's new full-size car, the XTS? Make it smaller, of course.

OK, to a Honda Civic buyer, at 202 inches long, the XTS is one whale of a car. But it's half a foot shorter than the full size DTS it replaces and slightly roomier than the almost full-size STS, which it also replaces.

The XTS sits atop the Epsilon II platform, which is used for the Buick LaCrosse and forthcoming Chevrolet Impala. This means no more Northstar V8. Instead, a corporate 3.6-liter engine produces a merely adequate 304 horsepower and routes it through a six-speed automatic transmission to the front wheels, although all-wheel drive is available.

The XTS' overall shape and truncated nose is dictated by its front-wheel-drive layout. So it lacks the long nose/short trunk proportion of rear-wheel drive full-size luxury cruisers -- or even the small Cadillac CTS and ATS. But all of the other Cadillac styling finery is present. My favorite touch? The car's illuminated door handles.

Of course, this car's true mission is to take on the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, BMW 7-Series or Audi A8. Its competitive set is more like the Lincoln MKS or Acura RLX. It's a placeholder of sort: a tightrope walker, meant to retain Cadillac's older clientele who might have bought a DTS, while hoping to attract those buyers who want something larger than the CTS.

Given those parameters, the XTS acquits itself well.

The cabin is roomy and had little problem taking five of us to dinner. The cabin is quiet and lined in sumptuously soft, aromatic leather.

So far, sounds like a geezer-pleaser, right? Well, while this car was being designed, a funny thing happened: the 21st century.

The whole interior is masterfully realized, eschewing the fake wood and cheesy plastics of Cadillacs of recent vintage. The V-shape, used so effectively on Cadillac exterior styling, is used once again on the interior to great effect. The premium detailing on the instrument panel is particularly attractive.

The panel's instrument cluster consists of three digital gauges that mimic the look of analog gauges, and is identical to the one used by Jaguar. Some read-outs can be changed at the driver's whim. To the right of that, framed by alloy and piano-black accents is a touch-sensitive screen that houses Cadillac's infotainment system known as CUE, or "Cadillac User Experience."

Like many new systems, buttons and switches are banished in favor of a flat screen. CUE, like other systems, can be hard to use when plummeting down the freeway. Thankfully, Cadillac has engineered two features that make it easier to use. One is a proximity sensor, which activates the screen when the system senses your finger is near. Secondly, once an icon is activated, the screen vibrates. There are even some redundant switches under the screen for various functions, all housed behind chic black glass.

And the buttons control a list of features that, along with the silent, comfy cabin, make this a very agreeable ride.

This even holds true once you take the wheel.

You'll wish for a couple extra cylinders under the hood -- or at least a supercharger. The XTS is certainly adequately powered, but it lacks the effortless muscle you'd expect at this price. Cadillacs have always had their own engines and, for the first time in its history, Cadillac lacks its own unique power plant. Thankfully, the transmission responds quickly, even when using the manual shift mode. Body motions are well controlled -- this is no floaty boat. Credit should go to the shock absorbers, which use magnetic-ride-control technology that GM uses on the Corvette and has licensed to other auto manufacturers, including Ferrari.

Steering is responsive, and the power steering has enough weight at speed, but doesn't return much feedback. Brembo, an Italian performance brake supplier, makes the front brakes. Needless to say, stopping ability is impressive. Ultimately, however, the XTS' front-drive platform limits its performance envelope.

But this is a car that caters to traditionalists with an eye toward newer Cadillac buyers. It's a surprisingly satisfying car, even if it's not the rear-wheel-drive, full-size flagship car Cadillac truly needs.

  • 2013 CADILLAC XTS

    Engine: 3.6-liter DOHC V6

    Wheelbase: 111.7 inches

    Length: 202 inches

    Weight: 4,215 pounds

    Cargo space: 18 cubic feet

    EPA rating (city/highway): 17/28 mpg

    Fuel consumption: 25 mpg

    Fuel type: Regular

    Base price, base model: $44,075

    Base price, test model: $60,385

    As tested, including destination charge: $62,300

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Houston 23 FINAL
Pittsburgh 30
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Denver
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Chicago 98 FINAL
Cleveland 107
New Orleans 88 FINAL
Washington 84
Milwaukee 120 FINAL
New York 107
Philadelphia 88 FINAL
Brooklyn 99
Charlotte 114 FINAL
Atlanta 117
Sacramento 99 FINAL
San Antonio 106
Memphis 103 FINAL
Dallas 108
Tampa Bay 2 FINAL
Edmonton 3
Arkansas State 7:00 PM
Louisiana
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
Montreal 10/24/14 5:30 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 10/24/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Winnipeg
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close