Cadillac XTS Blends Tradition with Modern

By Casey Williams
Created: February 10, 2013 Last Updated: February 10, 2013
Related articles: Life » Autos
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2013 Cadillac XTS (Courtesy of

2013 Cadillac XTS (Courtesy of

Even while tearing up German race tracks with the hyper-powered CTS-V or giving the BMW 3-Series game via the compact ATS sports sedan, Cadillac has to maintain vigilance with traditional American luxury offerings.

It defends that space with the XTS, a sleek sedan that replaces the old DTS and STS sedans.
And it does so with style and technology that are second to none.

It’s a pretty sexy car. There’s beauty in the XTS’ Escalade-style eggcrate grille, stacked headlamps, long roof that flows into the decklid, and third brake light spoiler.

Dual exhaust outlets that go through the rear bumper, sculpted window trim, 20” alloys that fill the flanks, and illuminated door handles are nice touches. And, God save Cadillac, there are proper fins out back—although now more brilliant with light tubes.

It is a very advanced design that embodies its heritage — one of the best Cadillacs in recent memory.

Keeping the faithful happy, XTS pampers with comfy heated/cooled leather seats, near-limo space in the rear, and a hushed cabin. Bose audio, with speakers in the front seats, creates the ambience of a theater. Yellow light seeps from gaps in the dash and doors at night.

It is a very advanced design that embodies its heritage—one of the best Cadillacs in recent memory.

Our test car came with dark gray wood trim, contrasting jet black and wheat leather, and purple stitching in the seat and doors. It’s beautiful.

Fans of Apple will feel at home when they use the CUE system. The instrument cluster is actually a re-configurable LCD screen that can be custom-tailored with analog pointers, digits, or the nav display.

An iPad-sized center touchscreen scrolls with the swipe of a hand, but goes one further by gently thumping your finger to confirm selections. Slide your finger along the chrome strip beneath to adjust volume. Voice commands eliminate fingers altogether.

Beyond CUE, the XTS is available with a multi-color heads-up display system for speed, engine revs, radio setting, and safety alerts. This could be enough to scare your grandfather.

If he isn’t completely on overload, he will be when all of the safety systems activate. Forward Collision, Rear Cross Traffic, blind spot, and lane departure alert systems keep the car beeping and flashing warnings. Should drivers fail to take heed, the car automatically brakes to avoid a collision.

Industry-exclusive rump-shaker seats notify your posterior when you are about to do something stupid, like drive or back into an object. It’s a bit much, making the rearview camera seem too simple.

Style and Comfort

Cadillacs were once exclusively powered by V8 engines, but the XTS goes with two fewer cylinders.

Wheels are instead driven by a 304 hp direct-injected 3.6-liter V6 connected to a paddle-shifted 6-speed automatic transmission. It provides enough power, but needs turbos to be truly competitive.

All-wheel-drive stands by for slick or curvy roads. Fuel economy rated 17/26-MPG city/hwy. isn’t surprising, but I’d be all for an eAssist hybrid version if it punched into the high-30s like the similar Buick LaCrosse.

2013 Cadillac XTS Platinum

Five-passenger AWD sedan
Powertrain: 304 hp 3.6-liter V6, 6-spd auto trans
Suspension f/r: electronic ind/ind
Wheels: 20”/20” alloy f/r
Brakes: disc/disc fr/rr with ABS
Must-have features: style, technology
Fuel economy: 17/26 mpg city/hwy
Assembly: Oshawa, ON
Base/as-tested price: $44,075/$60,385

While you’ll recognize the XTS as a Cadillac from six decades away, you won’t have to ride like you live in the ‘50s.

Thanks to real-time adjusting Magnetic Ride Control and rear air springs, the chassis provides comfort over rough pavement, but also a willingness to perk up for the right country road. Brembo discs stand by up front as a sentinel against excessive speed. Of course, the XTS swallows long stretches of Interstate with ease.

Despite the Brembos and AWD, the XTS is no sport sedan. When all of the chrome is peeled back, it rides on essentially the same front-drive architecture that cradles the Buick LaCrosse and 2014 Chevy Impala.

Engineers were tasked with delivering comfort over setting records on Germany’s famed Nurburgring. For GM’s largest sedan, the XTS handles and rides very well, but a CTS-V it is not. (Then again, what is?)

All things considered, the XTS is exactly what it is supposed to be: a full-size Cadillac that is fully current with the times, but never fails to provide the style and comfort for which the brand is renowned. This is not the flagship sedan GM’s luxury brand eventually needs, but it is a very nice car that carries the torch in the breach.

Prices for the XTS start at $44,075, but our loaded Platinum Collection model came to $60,385.

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