Full-size Cadillac XTS brimming with technology

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By Lorne Drury

LOS ANGELES, CALIF. – The 2013 XTS is the first all-new vehicle from Cadillac in almost three years. But after talking with many of the Cadillac executives, the big reason for optimism seems to be the fact that they think they got it right with the XTS and created a vehicle that the public will embrace.

Certainly it has striking styling, both inside and out, and it becomes a new halo car for the brand thanks to all the latest technology and safety features that Cadillac will make available throughout its lineup.

What is also exciting from a Canadian standpoint is the XTS is being built in Oshawa.

The XTS takes over at the top rung of the Cadillac ladder since the full-size DTS sedan was discontinued after the 2011 model year. But this is no simple refresh of the dated DTS model.

As a premium luxury sedan, the XTS offers two of the most important features many sedan buyers crave – a huge trunk with 509 L (18 cu ft) of cargo space and generous leg room, both front and rear.

GM claims the XTS offers more interior space than mid-size luxury cars and is comparable to full-size sedans, with 1,016 mm of rear seat legroom – more than BMW 5 Series, Mercedes-Benz E-Class and Audi A6. The trunk size bests the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and BMW 7 Series.

Cadillac positions the XTS above the popular CTS family in the lineup and will offer three trim levels: Standard Luxury Collection, Premium Collection and Platinum Collection. All trims have front-wheel drive as standard fare, with a Haldex all-wheel drive system available on all but the base trim level.

Emphasis on Infotainment
Cadillac executives really want to focus on the debut of its new CUE infotainment system in the XTS. Short for Cadillac User Experience, CUE merges what Cadillac calls “intuitive design with industry-first controls for information and media control.”

CUE is composed of a 203 mm (eight-inch) screen in the centre stack, a faceplate below the screen and steering wheel controls. Among the industry firsts on the system is capacitive touch control and haptic feedback, whereby you feel a slight vibration when a function has been selected.

Capacitive touch is the technology used on many smart phones and tablets. CUE also uses gesture recognition and natural voice recognition.

A further part of the system is a 312 mm (12.3-inch) reconfigurable instrument cluster that can show one of four drive-selected themes that range from minimal to extensive information.

The displays are bright and the snazzy graphics work well. In all, the Cue system is quite easy to use after a short introduction.

Power and Design
Power for the XTS comes from a direct-injected, naturally aspirated 3.6-litre V6 engine that produces 304 hp and 264 lb/ft of torque.

It comes with a six-speed automatic transmission that shifts smoothly and easily. For a large car weighing a touch over 1,822 kg (4,006 lb), the XTS provides decent fuel economy of 12.1/7.7/9.9 L/100 km city/highway/combined with front-wheel drive and 12.5/7.7/10.3 with all-wheel drive.

During a drive into the hills and canyons outside Los Angeles along Mulholland Drive in the Malibu area, the XTS AWD acquitted itself well, feeling stable and firmly planted, even on the twisties.

Cadillac’s Magnetic Ride Control system uses real-time damping to give the XTS a confident feel as it delivers precise body motion control.

On the outside, the XTS is unmistakably a Cadillac although it is softer and more rounded with fewer of the sharp edges that have characterized Cadillacs of late.

Safety and Price
Prices start at $48,995 for the base XTS, climbing to $64,975 for the Platinum Collection with AWD.

A Driver Awareness Package is standard on the Premium and Platinum Collections and available on the Luxury Collection. It includes Lane Departure Warning, Forward Collision Alert, Safety Alert Seat, Side Blind Zone Alert, and Reflected LED Display.

Available this fall is the Driver Awareness Package that includes Adaptive Cruise Control and Front and Rear Automatic Brake and Automatic Collision Preparation. The Safety Alert Seat is a neat feature as the seat vibrates either on the left or right side cushion depending upon the location of the impending concern.
Standard safety features include StabiliTrak electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes, 10 airbags and the rearview camera that is standard on all but the base model.

Although a full-size five-passenger sedan, the XTS is not the rear-wheel drive flagship model some Cadillac dealers have been clambering for with the discontinuation of the DTS.

However, it is a good car that fills a huge gap in the Cadillac lineup. It should help bring younger buyers into the fold with some of the industry-leading technology that is exclusive to the XTS.

The XTS will be at dealerships in June.