In the recent past, large sedans from Cadillac had a reputation for being comfortable cars that floated along comfortably but were not very engaging or exciting to drive. The new XTS plans to change all that with a sharper, more responsive driving experience while still maintaining the amenities and comforts Cadillacs have been known for. Externally, the XTS carries the current Cadillac styling elements of the prominent grille, vertical headlights and taillights, and sharply creases sheetmetal.
The new XTS replaces the STS and DTS sedans, and has a detuned version of the direct-injected 3.6 liter V6 from the current CTS good for 304hp and 264 lb-ft torque. The V6 motivates the 4000lb car from 0-60 in 7.3 seconds (Edmunds' data) which is adequate for the segment, but hardly competitive with similarly priced lux sedans. (This has been addressed with a 420hp twin-turbo variant of the 3.6 available on the 2014 XTS) The standard powertrain is FWD with power routing through a six-speed automatic; AWD is standard on the XTS4. EPA rating for the AWD XTS is 17mpg city, 26mpg highway and 20mpg combined.
The test vehicle is the XTS AWD Premium Collection, which has a base price of $55,810 and a total MSRP of $59,625 accounting for the driver assist package and 20" alloy wheels. By comparison, the base FWD car starts at $44,075 while the base AWD car starts at $50,915.
The XTS is available in four trim levels: base, Luxury Collection, Premium Collection and Platinum Collection. Standard equipment for the base XTS is quite extensive and includes 19-inch wheels, adaptive suspension dampers, xenon headlamps, heated mirrors, rear parking sensors, keyless ignition/entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, 10-way power front seats (with power lumbar control), a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, and leather/faux-suede upholstery. Standard electronic features include Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, an 8-inch center touchscreen, OnStar and an eight-speaker Bose sound system with a CD player, satellite radio, HD radio, iPod/USB connectivity and an auxiliary input.
The XTS Luxury Collection adds a heated steering wheel, driver memory functions, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, interior ambient lighting, front and rear parking sensors, a rearview camera and rain-sensing wipers.The Premium Collection package builds on those offerings with adaptive headlamps, a head-up display, tri-zone automatic climate control, a 110-volt power outlet, a navigation system, voice controls, a 14-speaker Bose surround-sound audio system and a suite of safety features that include blind spot detection, lane departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert and front collision alert.
Finally, the Platinum Collection offers 20-inch wheels, unique exterior styling, a sunroof, a power rear sunshade and additional cabin leather trim. Optional for the Premium and Platinum is the Driver Assist package, which includes adaptive cruise control with low-speed automatic braking.
Standard safety equipment includes antilock disc brakes, stability control and traction control, front- and rear-seat side airbags, side curtain airbags and front knee airbags. OnStar is also standard which includes automatic crash notification, on-demand roadside assistance, remote door unlocking, stolen vehicle assistance and turn-by-turn navigation. Optional safety features include blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, forward collision alert, rear cross-traffic alert and a vibrating driver seat that alerts the driver to an impending collision on either side of the vehicle.
The technical highlight is Cadillac's CUE (Cadillac User Experience) infotainment system, which integrates phone, audio, navigation and OnStar functions in an 8-inch touchscreen display. The system is fairly intuitive, but some more involved functions will require referring to the manual. Instead of knobs or buttons, the CUE system uses touchplates and live areas on the screen with haptic feedback that responds with a small vibration when controls are activated. This may be a bit disconcerting for traditional Cadillac owners, but the new buyers that Cadillac is hoping to draw in to the XTS will feel more at home with the technology. Cadillac has included a reconfigurable virtual gauge cluster similar to that used by Jaguar in its XJ sedan, which is an interesting injection of electroluminescent technology.
The XTS is a full-size sedan with no shortage of legroom front and back. Additionally, its trunk offers 18 cubic feet of capacity. At nearly 17 feet long and 6 feet wide, the XTS is certainly a big car but manages to escape the big-car feel behind the wheel. Cadillac's adaptive suspension, crisp steering and sharp throttle response combine to give the feel of a smaller car like the CTS. Highway driving shows the XTS to be impressively quiet while providing a firm but comfortable ride. The only true knock against the car is its standard power, which is adequate at best. Buyers wanting more power that can resist the early-adopter urge will be rewarded by the availability of a twin-turbo V6 in the 2014 XTS rated at 420hp. In sum, the XTS is a quantum leap ahead from the cars it's designed to replace, and a solid value worthy of the Cadillac crest.