2013 Cadillac XTS ReviewPosted in cars, Reviews on December 3rd, 2012 by admin
The 2013 Cadillac XTS is a departure from what seems to have been Cadillac’s recent exercise of designing cars with only the use of a straightedge. The all new XTS has softer lines yet still maintains a crisp modern look. While looks are not the real story here, it is worth noting that the XTS commanded a lot of second takes and mostly positive reactions from people of all ages.
Part one of the real story: A Temporary Space Filler
Cadillac’s flagship sedan, the DTS, was retired in 2011. This left the brand in an awkward situation of being a luxury automobile maker without a luxury full-size sedan. If rumors are to be believed, and we hear this one is true, Cadillac has been spending a considerable amount of time and money working on an all new, proper, large, rear-wheel drive luxury sedan to rival top of the mark German sedans. An indication of how much the new flagship means to Cadillac (or possibly how many committees are involved in the build), it will not be ready for primetime until 2015.
To fill the gap between the departed DTS and the rumored Cadillac of Cadillac’s (possibly to be named the LTS), a segment filler was needed, and that filler is the XTS. If the XTS is only a stop gap, it may be a car brought to market with a production run slightly longer than the life expectancy of a goldfish. The XTS was churned out of General Motor’s Ontario, Canada plant with relative ease, thanks in part to it sharing platforms with the Buick LaCrosse and Chevrolet Impala. Despite shared platforms, do not think Cadillac simply re-bodied an Impala and called it a day – there is more to it than that. The XTS has been fitted with Brembo front brakes, Magnetic Ride Control front suspension, air suspension in the rear, an optional all-wheel drive system and an extremely unique driver interface system called CUE.
The rest of the real story: CUE
Cadillac User Experience, known as CUE, is Cadillac’s brand new interface system that debuted here, in the XTS, and will eventually be found in every new Cadillac. Driver and passenger interaction with CUE is done through an 8-inch touchscreen located in the center stack. Inputs are done similar to those of a touchscreen tablet: touch, drag, swipe and pinch to hopefully achieve the desired result. Below the touchscreen is a gloss black touch panel with intergraded “hard” input buttons that control volume, cabin temperature and the seat heaters and coolers. When a button on either the touchscreen or touch panel is pressed, a slight pulse to the finger is provided as feedback that a selection has been made.
Prior to driving the XTS, we spent some time sitting in the car and familiarizing ourselves with CUE, its functions, its screens, its layouts and inputs. While parked, we found CUE was slower at reacting to our inputs than we expected and its haptic feedback pulse oftentimes lagged. The more we played with CUE, the more we learned our input technique was going to be as important as our patience. Feeling confident that we could safely change a radio station and jump between audio screens and navigation screens, we set off for a drive. With the car in motion, we discovered that the same touchscreen inputs that seemed simple while parked actually took more than just a quick glance to precisely make while driving. We cannot help to feel that had selections like presets, seek, information and other options on the audio screen for example, been more spaced out, miss hits and the resulting required corrections would have been greatly reduced.
The concept of CUE is excellent. We have little doubt other manufactures will soon be looking at ways to make their touchscreen systems a little more iPad-like also. CUE, found in the 2013 Cadillac XTS, is entirely new and is the first attempt at a system that will certainly be improved upon. It is hard not to draw comparisons between Cadillac’s CUE and BMW’s first generation iDrive. When BMW introduced iDrive, in 2001, it was a huge change in the way the driver interacted with the car and it was frustrating at times. Now, iDrive has evolved into one of the best driver interface systems available and in our world of touchscreen devices, we are sure CUE has that same potential.
While we think the real story about the 2013 Cadillac XTS is its possible abbreviated lifecycle and introduction of CUE, there is more to the car can that.
The glass cockpit look does not stop with the center stack; the g-wizitry also carries to the instrument cluster. In place of analog gauges that typically convey vitals, there is a 12.3-inch screen that displays a variety of virtual gauges. Four basic gauge layouts are available and each allows for additional information within the gauges to be displayed, ranging from the artist playing the song on the radio to the navigation map. Thankfully, no touchscreen is required to configure the instrument cluster – it is controlled by a 5-way toggle switch on the steering wheel.
The cabin and materials that surrounded us in our $62,000 Platinum edition XTS-4 were of high-quality. Soft leather with exposed stitching wrapped the seats, wood lined the dashboard, a glass roof extended nearly the full length of the space and there was a power sunshade in the rear window. As to be expected from a Cadillac that measures only 3-inches shorter than a BMW 7-series, the cabin felt large and front and rear passenger legroom was plentiful.
The only engine available under the hood of the XTS is a transversely mounted, standard GM issued 3.6-liter, direct injection V6 that produces 304-horsepower and 264 pound-feet of torque. A 6-speed automatic transmission was used to transfer power to all four wheels of our all-wheel drive equipped tester. Full-size AWD sedans are typically not known to offer great fuel economy; however, the 2013 Cadillac XTS-4 carries a rating of 17/27 mpg and does not require premium fuel.
The Cadillac XTS has two driving modes: Tour and Sport. In Tour, which is the default driving mode, the suspension, steering and transmission are soft and smooth and offer little in the way of excitement. Engaging Sport mode is done by pulling the gear selector one notch past drive. Sport mode wakes up the car and its occupants with a much stiffer ride; it will engage the driver through tighter steering, crisp, quick shifts and allow for use of the paddle shifters. Sport mode handles the task of making the XTS feel agile and nimble; however, all it took to remind us that we were driving a 4,255 pound, 17-foot long, V6 Cadillac was planting our foot or entering a curve.
Time will tell if CUE is a hit or a miss and if it will attract younger buyers or if it will send even more of the older demographic in search of other big cars that still have traditional buttons and knobs.