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2013 Cadillac XTS Platinum Review

By on November 11, 2012
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A smart luxury sedan with style and substance.

Good: Good looking exterior and great finishing on interior; CUE system is very well integrated; Nicely implemented driving assists; Comfortable and controlled ride; Great fuel economy.
Bad: Doesn't look so appealing from rear 3/4th; Limiting engine capability given weight of car.
Price: AED 250,000 (Full options)
* The price is the Suggested Retail Price at the time of review. Please call a retailer to confirm the latest price for this product.

Exterior

The Cadillac XTS is a brand new full-sized executive sedan in the company’s lineup this year, making it a step above the existing CTS, only more focused on luxury rather than performance. A lot of what the XTS has to offer comes in the form of driving assists that not only ensure safety, but also enhance the driving experience.

From the outset, the XTS looks like a bulky, but well sculpted machine. The proportions are muscular, especially the front end which has a massive grill working all the way down from the top of the hood. Of course, there’s a lot of attention to detail on the outside that shows the level of dedication in designing Cadillac’s newest luxury sedan. For instance the door handles glow white after you turn off the car to add that extra layer of exclusivity. The standard 20-inch rims don’t looks overly fancy with the chrome finish, while the 10-spoke design is subtle.

The rear side of the XTS has a sort of fastback look to it thanks to the elongated roofline sloping down towards the boot, but the cut around the taillights make it feel like an abrupt cutoff job. The taillights form vertical sharp edges, standard for Cadillac, while the brake light on the boot is shaped to act as the spoiler. The tailpipes are nicely integrated into the bottom of the bumper completing the new XTS.

The rear 3/4ths is probably the only boring angle on the new Cadillac XTS, while the front is brilliantly shaped in the stylistically sharp designs we have come to know and love from Cadillac.

Interior

Inside the new Cadillac XTS is in the same league as most of its German counterparts, outclassing even its Japanese competitors. The tight finish of the leather, wood and aluminum trims is very smooth, with the seats feeling comfortable, rather than typically oversized sofas as is the case with American luxury cars.

One of the most highlighted features of the new XTS is the Cadillac User Experience (CUE) which allows users to customize the UI according to their liking. In this case the UI primarily refers to what’s shown on your dashboard’s all 12.3-inch digital instrument panel. There are four preset dial layouts, each one showing information in various places. Some information is more prominent than others, so for instance if you’re a more fuel conscious driver, then one of the layouts shows the remaining fuel and estimated range as big and bold on the right.

The 8-inch screen in the center console features capacitive touch controls in addition to haptic feedback. While not so important on the screen itself, the haptic feedback is very important on the touch-sensitive buttons on the central console area, where I often had to touch some buttons twice to activate that function. Other operations such as connecting my Android smartphone over Bluetooth to going from various climate control menus to vehicle settings is adequately fast. Both screens are pretty high resolution with decent contrast ratios so they’re perfectly legible not matter how bright it is during the daytime.

The new Cadillac XTS has a whole suite of driver assists, like parallel parking, adaptive cruise control, blind side warning, etc. However two of these driver assists are implemented in an extremely insightful manner. First off is the lane change assist, where I’ve seen other manufacturers alert the driver via beeping and (slightly) vibrating steering wheel, if the driver veers to either side of the lane (slowly) without giving an indicator. In the XTS the lumbar support starts vibrating pretty strongly on the side where the car is veering off towards to alert you of your mistake. This way of alerting the driver is, in my opinion, much more intuitive than simple a loud beeping sound or a vibration on the steering wheel which can barely be felt.

The second feature is the heads-up display (HUD) which shows you a combination of varying info just above the dashboard on the windshield itself, so more often than not you’re not going to need to take your eyes off the road. Information displayed can be varying, from just speed to tachometer to turn-by-turn navigation as well.

There’s practically nothing to complain about, the build quality is excellent, the tech features are impressive, as are the multiple driver assists. Maybe I’m not a fan of the touch based controls because of the lack of instantaneous response, but that’s nitpicking to be honest.

The Drive

The new Cadillac XTS has only one engine option, and that’s the 3.6-liter V6 which produces a decent 304hp and a respectable 355Nm of torque.  That’s enough grunt to push this 1.9-ton luxury sedan from 0 to 100kmph in 7 seconds flat. And while you don’t get blistering fast performance, you do get exceptional fuel economy, with my mixed city and highway driving within Dubai averaging to around 10L/ 100km. On a full tank I could easily drive 600 km with mixed driving, probably going well over 650km with mostly highway driving.

The overall driving experience was very comfortable with the real-time damping control on the MacPherson struts on the front suspension, while the rear end rides on air power. The electronic LSD, combined with Cadillac’s Haldex all-wheel drive system made sure that the XTS was sticking to road surfaces with little body roll (especially for a car of it’s size), staying true on high-speed turns.

The brilliant soundproofing means that you don’t get to hear much outside of the XTS, including the engine, unless you’re flooring it. Obviously the BOSE 14-speaker surround sound system was a pleasure to listen to in such an environment, as was keeping a tab on various things on the digital speedometer. It’s also interesting to note that the navigation system within the XTS rendered most buildings in 3D in the more popular areas of Dubai. Going through Sheikh Zayed road towards Abu Dhabi after second interchange didn’t show most of the smaller buildings for instance, but did show Mall of the Emirates for instance. It does show all Metro stations, however. Indeed as time goes by Cadillac will be updating the navigation system to include more buildings whenever the car is sent for servicing.

So not much of a driver’s car, the XTS, but most luxury cars in this segment aim to provide a pleasing experience for everyone, not just the driver. And when it comes to a comfortable and assisted experience, the XTS delivers in spades. There’s a lot of tech working hidden in the background as well as informative features and driver assists that keep the driver well informed of the XTS and the environment around it.

While it does face stiff competition from the Mercedes E-class to the Lexus ES350 and everything in between, the 2013 Cadillac XTS offers a different taste in terms of looks and features inside that gives it an edge over the similarly priced competition. If you’re in the market for a full-sized luxury sedan, the Cadillac XTS is definitely worth considering.


About

From auditing to editing, I now test and analyze the latest gadgets and games instead of the latest financial statements. Both jobs are equally intense and rewarding. When I'm not burning up hardware in the name of science, you'll find me nuking in DOTA 2 or engineering in TF2.

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