Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com
July 24, 2013
Stopgap. Standby. Stand-In. Makeshift. Temporary. Interim. Placeholder.
All of these words in one way or another have been used to describe Cadillac's current flagship, the XTS. When the XTS was introduced back in 2012, it filled the gap left by the DTS and STS. It also became a vehicle to serve as the flagship until the long-rumored rear-wheel drive flagship appears.
But do all these words hurt the XTS? Is it something more than a placeholder in the Cadillac lineup? I recently spent a week with a 2013 XTS Platinum AWD to answer this question.
The XTS might be my favorite Cadillac design to date. The overall shape makes a callback to current crop of Cadillac vehicles, most notably the ATS and SRX. Up front is massive front grille with the distinct satin-chrome grille insert for Platinum models. On either side is a set of sweptback HID headlights that move when you turn the steering wheel. The headlights also feature LED lighting along the outer edge and another set of LEDs underneath. The side profile shows off a set of twenty-inch aluminum wheels, chrome trim along the door sills and windows, and illuminated door handles. The back features vertical taillights with some fin action to give homage to the late-fifties' Cadillacs and a stoplamp that doubles as a spoiler.
Moving inside, the XTS is General Motors most ambitious effort on adding technologies to a vehicle. The driver faces a color display that offers four different gauge layouts and abundance of information screens that you can throw on to the screen. I found the display easy to read and very informative. Also new is a color heads-up display which displays your speed and other key information.
Cadillac's CUE infotainment system is standard on the XTS Platinum and much like the SRX I had back in March, the system has been getting better. CUE is much smoother and the responsiveness is quick when you press the screen or capacitive buttons. Still, the distraction problem is very evident and it does take some time to fully understand how to use the system.
Luxuries abound in the XTS Platinum's interior. You have leather lining the door panels, dashboard, and plush seats. Driver and front passenger get power adjustments, heat, and ventilated seats. In the back, you'll find an abundance of legroom, decent headroom, manual sunshades for the windows, rear climate control, and heated seats.
Powering this big Cadillac is the venerable 3.6L Direct Injected V6 with 304 horsepower and 264 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic routes the power to either the front wheels or all four wheels.
The 3.6L is not the right engine for the XTS. When you think back to the big Cadillacs of yesteryear, all of them used a big V8 engine with the torque arriving on the low end of the RPM spectrum. The XTS' 3.6L is the complete opposite. With torque arriving at 5,200 RPM, you really have to work the engine if you want to get moving. Add on a curb weight of 4,215 pounds for the XTS Platinum with AWD, and you're in for a world of hurt. Now General Motors has announced a new twin-turbo 3.6L Direct Injected V6 with 410 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque for the 2014 XTS. Lets hope this is the engine to give it some needed kick. As for the other parts of the drivetrain, the six-speed automatic works perfectly by delivering very smooth shifts. The Haldex all-wheel drive system was very unobtrusive whenever it worked its magic.
Fuel economy is another disappointment for the XTS. The EPA rates the 2013 XTS Platinum AWD at 17 City/26 Highway/20 Combined. During my week, I averaged 19 MPG in mixed conditions.
What does the XTS does uphold in big Cadillac tradition is excellent ride and comfort. General Motors went all out on the XTS' suspension by equipping Magnetic Ride Control and a rear air suspension system. These two systems paired together provided one of the smoothest rides I have ever experienced. Bumps and road imperfections seem to be ironed out. Steering also follows big Cadillac tradition; light and really no road feel. This is ok since it’s a big luxury sedan, not a small, sports sedan.
One other feature I should mention is Cadillac's Safety Seat Alert. This system is tied in with a number of safety systems in the vehicle such as the lane departure warning and rear cross traffic alert. If one the safety systems detect an obstacle or the car going over the lane, it will activate the safety seat alert and vibrate the bottom cushion to alert the driver. When I first experienced it, it made me jump. I wasn't sure what was happening until I looked at the window sticker and realized my tester was equipped with it. After that, I found the system to be a unique way to alert a driver what’s going on without using any buzzers or beeps. If you're wondering, you can turn the system off.
So does the XTS deserve the placeholder sticker? The answer isn't that simple. On one hand, the XTS appears to be a stand in for the long-rumored Cadillac flagship that is reportedly coming out in either 2016 or 2017. Plus, the XTS doesn't follow the current convention that Cadillacs are supposed to attack the roads like their German counter parts.
But the XTS is very much an old school Cadillac in many ways. The number of luxury appointments and tech will make you feel that you're in a very special car and the suspension setup provides one of the smoothest rides around. The only thing missing is an engine that can provide the smooth low-end power needed for it.
It might be a placeholder, but it is one that is very deserving of the wreath and crest badge.
Disclaimer: General Motors Provided the XTS, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
Year - 2013
Make – Cadillac
Model – XTS4
Trim – Platinum
Engine – 3.6L VVT SIDI V6
Driveline – All-Wheel Drive, Six-Speed Automatic Transmission
Horsepower @ RPM – 304 @ 6,800 RPM
Torque @ RPM – 264 @ 5,200 RPM
Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 17/26/20
Curb Weight – 4,215 lbs
Location of Manufacture – Oshawa, Ontario
Base Price - $60,385.00
As Tested Price - $64,695.00* (Includes $920.00 destination charge)
Driver Assist Package - $2,395.00
Crystal Red Tintcoat Paint - $995.00