American Luxury | 2013 Cadillac XTS

February 2013 View more


Put down the money for a ticket to just about any automotive museum, or visit a weekend car meet anywhere in the Midwest this spring, and you will see beautiful Cadillac coupes and sedans from the 1940s, ’50s, and ’60s.

Fifty or 60 years from now, Cadillac’s newest large sedan, the 2013 XTS, might get the spotlight treatment, too. The all-new XTS is slightly smaller than the sedan it replaces, and has a smaller engine. But through design and technology, it carries the flagship mantle with confidence and grace.

If you squint your eyes and tilt your head, you might see some vestiges of Cadillac’s classic design cues in the XTS’s lines. The brake lamps, for example, come out at points that might be this generation’s tailfins. However, taken as an organic whole, the design is crisply modern. So,  are the exterior door handles which light up after dark. The XTS clearly advances the beautiful shape of the CTS coupe and SRX crossover—vehicles that announced to the world that Cadillac deserves a spot on luxury buyers’ shopping list.

The XTS’s smaller engine is certainly a sign of the times, and a smart one at that. Just as four-cylinder engines have replaced V6s in so many midsize cars and crossovers, the V8 has been kicked to the curb in favor of lighter, more fuel efficient V6 in bigger vehicles. In the XTS’s case, the 3.6-liter V6 produces just north of 300 horsepower—ample power for most roads and most situations, though not endowed with the delightful, gas-guzzling excess on tap in some V8-powered sedans. Fuel economy is typical for a full-sized vehicle, a combined 19 or 20 miles per gallon, with a tilt toward the high 20s if you are doing all highway driving.

Another sign of the times is the XTS’s interior, which manages to channel both old-school luxury such as leather and wood,  with new-school cool like touch-screen controls, sleekly angled buttons, and optional ambient lighting. This is a pleasant and pleasing space, full of soft contours and flowing shapes. The XTS seats four in absolute comfort, or five in relative comfort.





A magnetic ride control system comes standard on all of the XTS models. It reads the road and adjusts the suspension to keep things smooth and level—whether you are driving on rough roads, or driving roughly on the road.  The system enables the XTS to strike a nice balance between comfortable for passengers and rewarding for the driver.

Perhaps the only misstep in the XTS’s otherwise fantastic forward march is the touchscreen system—the Cadillac User Experience (CUE)—that controls audio, climate, and whatever Bluetooth-linked devices you add. The idea seems to have been to re-create the iPad or smartphone user experience on the dashboard. In theory, such an interface would make it easy to change stations and crank up the heat on a cold February morning. In reality, the system seems to require more attention, and more repeat attempts, than it should. In this case, Cadillac might have been better off sticking with the old school rather than taking a leap into the new. Though owners will likely get the hang of the system over time, and the voice-recognition function offers an alternate avenue.

The 2013 Cadillac XTS starts at a scant $44,075 in standard front-wheel-drive trim. The lowest-priced all-wheel-drive model is the Luxury edition at $51,835, or $49,610 with front-wheel-drive. A Premium edition is the next step up, and the top of the ladder is the all-wheel-drive Platinum edition, which rings in at $61,305 with a range of additional comforts and technologies.