By Keith Griffin
The 2013 Cadillac XTS sedan is GM’s most technologically advanced vehicle ever as the luxury brand seeks to entice younger buyers and keep itself relevant in a crowded segment of premium, full-size sedans.
Does Cadillac manage to pull it off? Lets give it a qualified yes. All of these technology will appeal to a new class of Cadillac buyers but it may turn off its traditional market that can afford and want to buy domestic luxury vehicles. Right now that’s a wide open field as Lincoln languishes and Chrysler’s 300 is more of a near-luxury vehicle.
The XTS is poised right above the CTS in the Cadillac family lineup, which suggests it replaces the DTS. (Cadillac has also discontinued the STS, which will be replaced by something else soon.) You’ll never hear me knock the DTS, except maybe for its handling.
The Cadillac XTS has that problem solved because it comes with an available advanced all-wheel-drive system with electronically controlled limited-slip differential. That puts it in the class of the Audi A6 and BMW 5 series for handling and foul-weather capabilities. (Maybe I’m wrong but it seems intuitive to compare the Cadillac to an Audi and BMW. It feels more like a German sedan than a Japanese luxury car.)
The one thing the XTS doesn’t do is deliver the fuel economy of its German brethren. It is rated at a combined 20 mpg while the Audi A6 is at 22 mpg and the BMW 535xi comes in at 24 mpg combined. The one saving grace is the Cadillac only needs regular fuel while the Germans drink premium.
Power for the XTS comes from an advanced 3.6L V-6 that is rated at 304 horsepower and 264 lb.-ft. of torque. I found it more than adequate during highway acceleration. The engine is quiet and the XTS lets in little outside noise.
The XTS is the most spacious Cadillac sedan. It offers more interior space than midsize luxury cars and is comparable to full-size sedans, particularly in the rear seat area, where it has 40 inches of rear legroom. That’s about four more inches than the BMW 5 Series, and Mercedes-Benz E-Class, and about two more inches than the Audi A6. It was nice that my girls couldn’t kick my seat back.
One of the reasons to keep your eye on the Cadillac XTS, even if you’re not thinking of buying it, is its role as a rolling laboratory of sorts for cars that will drive themselves in the future. That’s also another reason not to buy it right away because you might want to give it time to work out the kinks.
The driver assist package offers safety technologies such as automatic collision preparation, lane departure warning, and front and rear automatic braking. Common to these systems is the science of sensor fusion, which is also used in Cadillac’s unique safety alert seat hat delivers warnings to drivers via a pulse on either or both sides of the seat cushion.
The advanced features on the 2013 Cadillac XTS are an early benefit from long-term research and development on semi-autonomous driving. Nicknamed “Super Cruise,” Cadillac’s semi-autonomous technology is capable of fully automatic steering, braking and lane centering under certain driving conditions. This technology could be ready for production vehicles by mid-decade.
Speaking of that safety seat, it’s just annoying enough to be incredibly effective. Not to be too crass, but that pulse on either butt cheek catches your attention and really works at keeping you in your lane. It’s not necessarily marketed this way but I see it as working well for keeping drowsy drivers alert. It will also work well for those who lose driving focus when on their cell phones because it doesn’t rely on visual cues – something that a driver carelessly texting is not going to see.
Too Hot to Handle?
On the design front, I picked up an interesting critique from a parking lot conversation about the car. The model loaned to me by Cadillac had the available ultraview sunroof, a $1450 option. A prospective buyer said he wouldn’t buy an XTS with one because it lets into much sunlight, even when the roof is closed, which makes for a hotter cabin.
Is the Cadillac XTS going to be the right luxury sedan for you? I’d say give it serious consideration. It’s price comparably to others on the market. The premium trim level I drove started at $55,810. The base model starts at $44,995.
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Wheelbase: 111.7 inches
Length: 202 inches
Width: 72.9 inches
Height: 59.4 inches
Curb weight: 4215 lbs.
Engine: 3.6-liter, V6
Horsepower: 304 horsepower
Torque: 264 lb. ft of torque
EPA estimated mpg city/highway: 17/26
Base price: $44,995
As-tested price: $57,260
Also consider: (a comparative vehicle) Audi A6, Mercedes-Benz E Class, BMW 535xi