2013 Cadillac XTS AWD Premium Collection

Sometimes I can tell if I’m going to like a car within the first few minutes of driving it.  This isn’t one of those times.  No, it takes some relationship building to get comfortable with the XTS, but after a week it started to feel like a good friend.  The XTS replaces the DTS in Cadillac’s lineup, earning it the flagship designation…at least until something rear-wheel drive and V8 powered comes along.  You can have it in front or all-wheel drive with GM’s ubiquitous 3.6-liter V6.  It’s a full-size alright, with an 18 cubic foot trunk that would make your Grandpa proud.  Its 104 cubic feet of passenger volume is just a little bigger than that of the Honda Accord so there’s “kick back and relax” room aplenty.  Beyond its ample size, the XTS has a provocative presence with a well-proportioned body and tantalizing lighting effects, most evident at night when the judicious use of bright-white LEDs makes the greatest impression.  It exudes Cadillac’s head-turning style but with a welcome air of gracefulness.

The interior craftsmanship, layout and leading edge technology highlight the best work GM has ever done inside a car.  It easily rivals those of vehicles costing thousands more.  Designers must have toiled endlessly to get it just right, sweating each and every detail and it shows.  But if you think MyFord Touch is intimidating, wait to see the new Cadillac User Experience, AKA CUE.  Its breadth of connectivity and haptic feedback touchscreen are oh-wow moments reminiscent of a Disney vision of the future.  The fully customizable gauge cluster is perhaps the most impressive as you can rearrange a plethora of items around the digital screen right from the steering wheel.  As a technology lover I’m all in on the CUE concept, but I can’t imagine the typical 70 year old man is going to have any clue as to what’s going on here.  It’s as if Cadillac is shoving its older customer base right out the door.  On top of that, the big steering wheel button used to activate a number of features is very difficult to push and the lack of knobs and switches on the center console can sometimes be exasperating.  It’s not easy to learn and it’s going to take about a week before you start to feel comfortable.

Now as for the drive itself, the XTS uses Magnetic Ride Control shocks, rear air springs and a Haldex all-wheel drive system with a limited slip that blend a sophisticated luxury sedan ride with astute big car handling.  Riding on standard 19” wheels, the XTS feels like it’s overreaching in its athleticism but just a bit.  When I drive a big Caddy I want to feel even more isolation from the road and I would certainly trade a little of this car’s swiftness for more sumptuousness.  The 304 horsepower V6 and 6-speed auto feel up to the task, providing expeditious acceleration and powertrain smoothness for the masses though some will undoubtedly lament the absence of big V8 power.  It does keep the gas mileage in check at 17mpg city/26mpg highway and does so on regular unleaded.  This XTS AWD Premium Collection with the optional Ultraview Sunroof stickers for $58,180…very attractive considering the multitude of cutting edge convenience, comfort and safety features that Cadillac stocks in here.  The complete array is unparalleled at this price.  But the XTS risks alienating its segment shoppers by charging too hard with technology and not going soft enough on the ride.

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