Strengths and weaknesses:
- interior room and comfort
- good looks
- engine efficiency
- cockpit controls
- lacking some luxury staples
The 2013 Cadillac XTS is the latest iteration of the land yacht – it’s big; it’s brawny; it’s floaty (sometimes) – and just like any yacht, it makes you feel really, really good when you’re using it.
Now with a statement like that, I should really clarify that the XTS isn’t like the Cadillacs of old. Yes, it’s deceptively big, but it is also well proportioned so that without perspective, it looks like a much smaller car. And putting its ancestors’ ghosts to rest, the XTS doesn’t forsake a large trunk in its swoopy rear contours. And, a 60/40 split seat makes carrying larger items even easier than a deep hole in the back. Take that Fleetwood!
And at the other end, it doesn’t need a massive nose to house a substantial V8. XTS does just fine with a more compact 3.6-litre direct injected V6, compared to the 4.6-litre Northstar unit in the last DTS. Two years ago, that engine made 292 hp; the XTS variable-valve-timed unit makes 304.
And I would dare you to sit in the XTS and tell a difference in comfort and room. Now granted, XTS doesn’t have the pleated, leather cushioned pillow tops of the last Fleetwood, but that was nearly two decades ago – the world has moved on, even if lounge singers haven’t. What you do get is supportive cushioning from knee to shoulder-blade in all outboard seats (and even the centre rear occupant probably won’t feel uncomfortable with full back support, a wide perch and decent knee clearance, though foot positioning around a centre hump might be a source of discomfort).
The source of that centre hump is the drive shaft to the rear wheels of our all-wheel drive XTS4 – you can also get XTS in front-wheel drive for anywhere between $2,160 and $2,340 (depending on trim level). Our Premium Collection is the mid-XTS package (it’s sandwiched between the lower Luxury level and the Platinum, and you can also get a base FWD sedan).
Now, I haven’t driven the FWD version. But, I can tell you the AWD mechanicals probably contribute to the overall ride and handling of the beast – four wheels pushing and pulling a car around a handling course do a much better job of cutting down the dramatics when only one set of wheels are doing the work. On the ride front, adding 210 lbs. makes the car settle onto the pavement better, meaning mild humps are easier to absorb.
The other difference between today’s Cadillac and yesterday’s is that the wheels are positioned farther toward the corners, widening and lengthening the foundation. That again is good for ride and for handling.
For the first time, you can drive a full-sized Cadillac very aggressively and you aren’t going to scare yourself into stopping.
About the only place where XTS falls short of the Cadillac axiom, ironically, is inside. First of all, the CUE (Cadillac User Experience) system requires far too much attention to work effectively, and there are some controls missing where you’d expect them to be (and where they make the most sense). With the big display screen, you have to navigate through multiple screens to do something as simple as change the radio station.
Granted you can do that on the steering wheel, but some of the buttons are touch sensitive and others are rocker switches (which don’t do anything when you try and press the description of what you want to do, naturally ... not intuitive). And although you can change the instrument cluster to show things you want, it doesn’t help you navigate through it and some of the screens don’t display what you want to display.
And when was the last time you had a luxury car without adaptive cruise control?
So, it would seem you can have a big Cadillac in one of two ways – either as a driver’s car or as a rider’s car – and it would appear that still applies to the latest large Caddy, the XTS.