2013 Cadillac XTS AWD Platinum

Luxury, your initials are XTS

Luxury always has its price and for Cadillac, that price is $60,385 for its new XTS sedan.2013 Cadillac XTS

Don’t gasp, that’s nowhere near where the price for luxury starts, nor where many other midsize luxury sedans end up. This one added but a $920 delivery charge to end up at $61,305, yet it’s still loaded with enough electronic goodies to give Bill Gates a headache.

First, the XTS is Cadillac’s new top-level sedan, replacing, in a way, the bigger DTS and more similarly sized STS. This one rides on a 111.7-inch wheelbase, is 202 inches long and weighs in at 4,215 lbs. By comparison a Lexus GS350 sedan tested earlier this year is roughly the same size, weighs about 250 lbs. less and costs just $1,500 less. So XTS is right in the gated neighborhood it wants to occupy.

This graphite gray metallic test car was the uppermost AWD Platinum model, so it has the advantage of all-wheel drive. A “base” front-drive XTS starts at $44,075 and a Luxury version that adds AWD begins at $50,915. So less expensive models are available.

All feature Cadillac’s sterling 3.6-liter SIDI V6 VVT engine that pumps out a respectable 304 horsepower. No V8? Nope, it’s not needed and the direct-injection combined with variable valve timing gives the XTS a fuel consumption rating of 17 mpg city and 26 mpg highway.

2013 Cadillac XTS PlatinumThe Lexus, by comparison, has 306 horses and gets 19 mpg city and the same, 26 mpg, highway as the Caddy. In my week of driving the XTS I averaged 17.8 mpg in 60% city driving.

If you haven’t driven a Cadillac in 15-20 years, you may be surprised at how well they handle. Steering is light and easy and extremely responsive with good steering feedback. Cornering is well controlled too with no body lean, giving the XTS a sport sedan feel, although this model goes way heavier on the luxury end vs. sporty.

Ride is silky, but not old-time mushy. Cadillac has mastered its Magnetic Ride Control that features rear air springs to soften the ride on cracked area pavement. Yet the front suspension is high-performance tuned to give the car a responsive feel.

Cadillac also dishes up an extremely smooth 6-speed automatic transmission and excellent 4-wheel disc brakes, including Brembo discs up front. As with all luxury models, and an increasing number of “regular” cars and trucks, stability and traction control are standard. This Platinum model also rides on dubs, 20-inch tires, with glistening polished aluminum wheels that include chrome inserts. There is a definite bling factor going here.

That starts on the exterior with a lot more chrome than you’ll see on most mid-level sedans, including chrome window trim and a giant mesh grille that carries a “ginormous” Cadillac crest that looks like it could be part of a heavyweight boxing champ’s belt.

XTS features a well sculpted profile that got folks looking. I think the grille is a bit much, but certainly establishes a signature look. I like that the taillights feature tall vertical lenses that reflect the styling of classic Eldorado models. Sadly Cadillac creates a very pointed trunk lid, one of its bevy of chevron shapes that dominate the styling theme inside and out. Reminds me too much of Acura’s much too angular noses and trunks and if you’re Cadillac I don’t think you want to be seen as following another make’s styling.

Cadillac XTS trunk
I call this a Soprano trunk because you could fit 5 bodies in this thing it’s so deep, plus the seat backs fold down.

Still, the overall look is muscular and inside the car is stylish and sumptuous. The seats are bathed in a soft white leather and all the dash and door surfaces are soft, often perforated, leather, either black or white. The theme is a two-tone black over ivory that looks great.

I found the seats rather hard, but well shaped and naturally they offer multiple power adjustments and both three-level heat and cooling. However, my wife found the seats hit her lower back awkwardly, even after the power lumbar support was adjusted.

Everything is well laid out inside, but like many luxury models, the dash is overly complex with its CUE (Cadillac User Experience) that makes everything touch-pad operational. Why must we all have an experience now, instead of easy-to-use and understand controls?

Cadillac Cue system
This is the touchy Cadillac CUE system that allows you, sort of, to select radio stations etc. via a touchscreen.

Like other luxury, and a few lesser, brands, the dash gauges are electronically produced like a video game and you can adjust exactly how you want them to appear. The touchable controls on the center stack, which adjust the radio and other normally easy functions, also can have their touch level adjusted, if you have a few minutes and a software engineering degree. Sooo, you can program the CUE to require either a light or heavy touch before it will change functions. Finding the screen, about 3-4 levels in, that housed the pre-set radio channels was not easy. HINT: You’ll want to hit the Browse button to find them.

But there are gee-whiz electronics that are useful here, including the rear backup camera that is shown on the large navigation and interior electronics control screen mid-center stack. This is a beneficial safety feature, as is the blind-spot warning system that lights up in the side mirrors. I also am growing accustomed to the heads-up display that projects your digital speedometer onto the lower portion of the driver’s side windshield.

Cadillac also includes a power tilt/telescope steering wheel, heated steering wheel, rain-sensing wipers and a panoramic two-panel sunroof with dense sunscreen to keep out the sun’s glare on bright days. In back is a power sun shade and manual side window shades to cut down on glare. And overhead, yes, the visors slide to block side sun.

Cadillac XTS illuminated door handle
Even the door handles are illuminated on the XTS.

For safety there are adaptive headlights to help you track around corners, a load of airbags all around and OnStar, which automatically will call for help if you have an accident. The XTS also comes with push-button and remote start and the outside door handles are illuminated, which helps you find them in a dark parking lot, while also looking very jewel-like. More bling!

Cadillac XTS interior
The XTS interior is roomy and stylish.

XTS is practical too in that it will carry five full-size adults comfortably. Tall folks fit easily in the rear seat and luggage space is massive. The Sopranos would love this four-body trunk with 18.0 cubic feet of cargo space, and that’s before you fold down the split rear seat backs. You could nearly live in this trunk.I found only one fit and finish problem. The dual seat memory buttons in the driver’s door were loose, so when you used them you pushed the buttons back into the door panel about an inch.

Hate to end on that down note, as the XTS is an attractive, easy driving luxury car. If you can do with less bling, electronics and the AWD, you can get into one at a rather reduced luxury price tag. Go gung ho and the Platinum model is up there with its costly competitors.

FAST Stats: 2013 Cadillac XTS AWD Platinum

Made in: Oshawa, Ont.

Engine: 3.6-liter SIDI V6 VVT, 304 hp

Transmission: 6-speed automatic

Weight: 4,215 lbs.

Wheelbase: 111.7 in.

Cargo: 18.0 cu.ft.

MPG: 17/26

Base Price: $60,385

Dealer’s Price: $57,064

Major Options: None

Delivery: $920

Test Vehicle: $61,305

Sources: Cadillac, www.autos.yahoo.com

Hits: Responsive handling, silky ride, good power. Handsome profile, stylish interior, extensive technology too, such as heated steering wheel, blind-spot warning, back-up camera. Roomy interior, dual sunroofs, power rear sunshade and manual side shades, visors slide too and trunk is huge.

Misses: Seats are firm and seat bottom cushion is too deep for shorter drivers’ legs, overly complex electronic dash, touching dash buttons doesn’t always net results, seat memory buttons in driver’s door were loose.

Photos: Courtesy of Cadillac


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