Vital Stats

Engine:
3.6L V6
Power:
304 HP / 264 LB-FT
Transmission:
6-Speed Auto
Drivetrain:
All-Wheel Drive
Curb Weight:
4,215 LBS
Seating:
2+3
Cargo:
18 CU-FT
MPG:
17 City / 26 HWY
The Cadillac Of Stopgaps



As confusing as most alphanumeric car names have gotten in recent years, at least one constant has been that the letter "X" is generally indicative of a crossover. Then why did General Motors use this letter on its new 2013 Cadillac XTS luxury sedan? Well, for that, we'll have to look to the world of mathematics where "X" stands for an unknown variable or a placeholder. Now we're talking. The XTS is just an interim product sitting at the top of Cadillac's four-door food chain until the brand gets a true flagship in place. That sounds like a lot of resources to spend on what will likely be a one-and-done model, but the automaker needed to get something – anything – to replace the DTS.

So here you have the 2013 XTS. A big luxury sedan that was created to bridge the gap between Cadillac's recent past and its pending future. Going into our week with this XTS knowing that it was a stopgap measure proved to be both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, we know (or hope) that this car will act as a baseline for future high-end Cadillac models, but at the same time, we couldn't help but be mindful of past stopgap models, albeit in more entry-level segments, like the Cimarron and Catera.
2013 Cadillac XTS front view2013 Cadillac XTS rear view

Exterior lighting might be the car's most expressive design elements.

The XTS proves that GM has finally gotten platform sharing to the point where it's no longer a trivial game of "spot the differences" between products from its various brands. Although the XTS shares many of its underpinnings with the Buick LaCrosse and the 2014 Chevrolet Impala, the three cars look nothing alike. Overall, the XTS – along with the ATS – shows a promising evolution of Cadillac's signature styling cues, and it looks remarkably good even on a car measuring almost 17 feet in length. From most angles, it's hard to criticize the design of the XTS, but the rear three-quarter view exposes some of the car's chunkiness, which is likely a result of the long rear overhang and the short decklid. The bulky rear end does help the XTS provide a cavernous 18 cubic feet of cargo space, which happens to be almost two cubic feet (an extra piece of luggage) more than the Mercedes-Benz S-Class.

As nice as the overall styling of the XTS is, the exterior lighting might be the car's most expressive design elements. Up front, the headlights have a softer, rounder shape than previous Cadillac "Art & Science" designs, and there are also stylish lower running lights that line up perfectly with the headlights as if each side has a single light tube tucked in behind the fascia. Likewise, the vertical taillights also add to the car's appearance and even have some slight fin action that pays homage to classic Cadillacs. Perhaps the coolest exterior features on the XTS, though, are the illuminated door handles.

2013 Cadillac XTS grille2013 Cadillac XTS headlight2013 Cadillac XTS grille2013 Cadillac XTS badge

Most versions of the XTS get features such as adaptive headlights and the parallelogram-shaped exhaust outlets integrated into the rear fascia, but our tester was the top-of-the-line XTS-4 Platinum, which included a distinctive satin-chrome grille, standard 20-inch wheels and available White Diamond Tricoat paint.

It has one of the best-looking, highest-quality interiors GM has ever put together.

Things get even better for the XTS once you look inside the car. GM has hit some pretty big milestones for interior quality over the last several years, including the 2008 Malibu and the 2010 LaCrosse, but it wouldn't be hard to argue that the XTS has one of the best-looking, highest-quality interiors GM has ever put together, and maybe even one of the best interiors found in a car priced under $100,000. Our Platinum tester had a nice mix of hues and materials, from three colors of leather used on the seats and instrument panel to the real wood, piano black and metallic accents. You can't touch anything inside this car without it being covered in some rich material, right down to the microfiber suede covering the headliner and A-pillars.

Front passengers are treated to wide, plush seats wrapped in soft perforated leather with heat and ventilating functions; you're not going to confuse the XTS seats for sport buckets, but as the theme of the car proved, it's not trying to be a sport sedan. Rear seat occupants are rewarded with plenty of headroom and legroom, as well as heated bottoms for the outboard passengers and sunshades for the side and rear window. For long hauls, the back seat is definitely the place to be.

2013 Cadillac XTS interior2013 Cadillac XTS front seat2013 Cadillac XTS rear seats2013 Cadillac XTS sun roof

Like the exterior, lighting also plays a big role inside the XTS with ambient lamps that emanate from just about everywhere at night, along with steering wheel, center stack and even rear-seat controls that illuminate only when the car is on.

There is definitely a learning curve to dealing with the CUE system.

In addition to the comfort afforded to XTS occupants, the car also delivers the expected amount of technology in this price class. Stealing a page from the Jaguar playbook, the XTS has a massive LCD screen for the gauge cluster that offers four different layouts with numerous information screens, and for more data, our tester also had a head-up display. Another innovative technology introduced on the XTS is the Safety Alert Seat, or as we like to call it, the butt buzzer. This uses separate buzzers on each side of the seat to relay different information to the driver. While driving, if the car starts to veer out of its lane to the left, then the left side of the seat bottom will vibrate; likewise, if the driver is backing up blindly and a car is approaching from the left, then the left side will vibrate.

In many regards, you just can't beat the XTS' interior, but there might be some objections to its functionality, mostly where it concerns the new CUE – Cadillac User Experience – interface and its associated technologies and controls. More than just an infotainment system, CUE is how passengers interact with the car, and like any other advanced infotainment technology (think MyFord Touch), there is definitely a learning curve to dealing with this system.

Autoblog Short Cuts: 2013 Cadillac XTS

It's what you can't see that prevents this car from holding a flagship status.

Most vehicle operations can be controlled either by touch or voice, but the capacitive touch buttons and touch-screen display are sometimes slow to respond, so after you've accidentally double-clicked an option, you have to find the way to back up a step. Further creating some potential confusion, there are no hard buttons on the center stack, so the capacitive controls there have a weird "thud" feedback when operated. Keeping in mind that this is the first generation of CUE, we actually applaud Cadillac for not pigeonholing the XTS' interior by leaving out high-tech features to appease former DTS clientele. It's not easy judging a system like this after having only used it for a week, but like with MyFord Touch, we bet that owners who deal with CUE on a daily basis will have far fewer problems with the interface than we did. And when frustration levels become too high, CUE's voice recognition system is actually one of the better we've used and can easily handle inputs for functions used often while driving like changing channels or finding albums to play on your smartphone.

While the styling, luxury and technology of the XTS are all top-notch, it's what you can't see that prevents this car from holding a flagship status. Many luxury sedans in this size and price range get rear-wheel drive and at least offer a V8 engine, but the XTS is only offered with a direct-injected 3.6-liter V6 engine powering the front wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission. Our test car was the 4,215-pound, all-wheel-drive model, making the engine's 304 horsepower and 264 pound-feet of torque feel underpowered at times. But this car isn't about speed or quickness. It's about a smooth, comfortable ride, and Cadillac nailed this aspect seeing as how the XTS will, like the DTS and STS it replaces, continue to be a popular choice among the snowbird crowd. (To properly experience this, we did our week-long test of the XTS in – you guessed it – Florida.)

2013 Cadillac XTS engine

The XTS is a V8 and nine-speed transmission from being a true game-changer for Cadillac.

With names like Brembo, Haldex and Magnetic Ride Control listed on the spec sheet of our tester, we could have just as easily been testing a sporty European sedan, but as nice as the interior is, driving the XTS will quickly confirm that "sport" is not in this car's vocabulary. As advanced as GM's LFX V6 is, it feels overworked in the XTS under moderate to heavy acceleration, which didn't surprise us when our week's worth of driving netted a combined 18.2 miles per gallon compared to the official EPA numbers of 17 city and 26 highway. If it were sportier to drive, we could live with such a number, but as a car that will likely make many a road trip from the Rust Belt to the Sunshine State, fuel economy was subpar.

On said road trips though, GM's Magnetic Ride Control shines in the XTS. The real-time, four-wheel suspension damping mixed with the rear air suspension makes this car an absolute dream to drive, absorbing potholes and road imperfections like a champ without ever feeling too soft or spongy. The Haldex all-wheel-drive system will come in handy for those aforementioned snowbirds with an electronic limited slip differential that can split up engine power at each wheel individually, but we never figured out why the XTS come standard with Brembo front brakes. We found no faults in the XTS' stopping distance, but at the same time, we saw no reason for the added cost either ­– yes, these brakes are standard on all cars, but replacement Brembo pads are never cheap. The only other grumble we could muster about the driving dynamic of the XTS was the choice to stick with a conventional hydraulic steering system rather than going to a smoother, more efficient electric system, especially for lower speed turns where the steering could feel a little jerky at times. As many small gripes that we had with the car, however, there's no question that the XTS is a V8 and nine-speed automatic transmission from being a true game-changer for Cadillac, even with its front-wheel-drive platform.

2013 Cadillac XTS

Another downside of the XTS is its price, even though the base model's $44,075 MSRP isn't where the sticker shock lies. It's when you start tacking on options and packages that things get out of control. Our all-wheel-drive Platinum Collection tester topped out at $62,300, which, for that kind of money, is priced dangerously close to sportier, albeit smaller, sedans like the Jaguar XF and Lexus GS. Buyers looking for luxury and the latest technology, however, will likely not make the mistake of associating the XTS with those similarly priced sport sedans. Considering its chassis and driving dynamics, it's still playing in the mid-luxury sandbox with the likes of the Lincoln MKS, Volvo S80 and Lexus ES.

What you're getting for that as-tested price is a fully loaded sedan that finally gives Cadillac some momentum to swing back into the luxury car fight. Once the world standard for luxury and quality, Cadillac got there using vehicles with revered names such as Fleetwood, Deville and ElDorado, but today the way back to relevance starts with a vehicle given an anonymous, place-holding name: XTS. It's the Cadillac of stopgaps.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 190 Comments
      random_slacker
      • 1 Year Ago
      What's up with Cimarron? Every time you read a review about a Cadillac, they mention Cimarron. The car stopped production in 1988 - this is 25 years ago!!! You'd think this car was responsible for some mass genocide or something...
        Carpinions
        • 1 Year Ago
        @random_slacker
        I agree. The Catera is a somewhat close second for spasmatic critical reaction in reviews of Cadillac cars. Both may have been badge engineered, but at least the Catera was officially European. Perhaps it was the Catera's awful ad campaign that made that one worse. But for some reason the Cimarron gets singled out almost exclusively, as if most of the other GM X cars weren't even more half-assed (hello Olds Omega) than that one back then. Was it Caddy's biggest failure? Some would say the V8-6-4 was, or the initial pre-Northstar experimental V8s. Perhaps as a total product it was the worst, but there have definitely been worse cars. Maybe it's the still somewhat older generation of auto writers that are sore Cadillac took such a bad gamble on its name. Constantly highlighting the Cimarron's failure would be like continuing to bust on Ford's current lineup for the Pinto's problems 30+ years ago, or the abomination that was the Mustang II (arguably a bigger nameplate gamble than the Cimarron in retrospect).
        NightFlight
        • 1 Year Ago
        @random_slacker
        Have you ever seen or driven a Cimarron? It might as well committed mass genocide. It cannot be forgotten.
        rem
        • 1 Year Ago
        @random_slacker
        You think that, but clearly GM is still using 30 year old designs. Didn't you hear that the Cruze diesel is using half an Olds diesel 350?
          Joe
          • 1 Year Ago
          @rem
          You two boneheads cant even GM troll correctly.
          NightFlight
          • 1 Year Ago
          @rem
          Oh man, if that were true (which it isn't) all anyone could do was laugh. What in the world were their engineers thinking with that engine? My lord.
        NightFlight
        • 1 Year Ago
        @random_slacker
        +26 as of 10:00AM ET and the comment hasn't even been up for 24 hours? Come on, that's a record. GM trolls have arrived.
          DK
          • 1 Year Ago
          @NightFlight
          ...and what time did the NightFlight troll arrive?
          • 1 Year Ago
          @NightFlight
          [blocked]
      mikeybyte1
      • 1 Year Ago
      I wish someone would test a mid-level XTS. Every test I have seen is of the maxed out $60k Platinum edition. And every test says the same thing - great highway cruiser, amazing interior, but too pricey. So why not test a mid-level one with FWD to see if the interior and driving dynamics are better at that price? What does it buy you? I agree that it is competition more for the Lincoln and Volvo set. Perhaps even the upcoming Acura RLX. And I do believe there is a market for these super quiet road yachts. I would just like to see a review of a more common mid-priced FWD version for a change. Maybe AB can do a quick spin test.
        jeffreynross
        • 1 Year Ago
        @mikeybyte1
        that would\'ve been great especially since the mid-level priced XTS will probably be the volume seller, but we can only get what is sent to us.
      Bang Dat
      • 1 Year Ago
      Surprisingly, I love this car!!!!
      Alex740
      • 1 Year Ago
      I spoke to a Cadillac exec at the SF autoshow and he said this car has no purpose but to fill the hole left by the towncar hence the release of the stretched body styles and hearse soon after the civilian model. He said that the real flagship is a still a couple of years out and this is nothing more than a placeholder and helps spread out the cost of the platform used by the lacrosse and sell a handfull of units to customers looking for a large car.
        TBN27
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Alex740
        That's why i see a lot of them for livery service. Yet shockingly there a lot of them also are regular consumer owned. And more of them are not the silver haired type. Just going by what i have seen in NYC.
        JF
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Alex740
        The flagship will be based on the Ciel. Cadillac will show the Ciel sedan concept soon-ish.
      david.stolz
      • 1 Year Ago
      I have been around 23 Cadillacs from childhood. and I all I see, in this alphabet soup line up; is just, oh hum.I don't know anyone who has passion for Cadillacs.Even Cadillac People like me.They are clunky and tentative. Odd,but not unique.Dis harmonic. Quirky but nor cool. Drop the confusing meaningless letters please ! Everyone I know laughs at that! Deville, Fleetwood,Eldorado,62 Special are names that evoke power. Give the car sweep,and lift those rear fenders.Chop the top,and make the car rakish,and cool.Get inspired by the 49-64's,not the later less legendary design.In short;Stop being grand ma in a miniskirt.
      Joseph Healey
      • 1 Year Ago
      I drove the car. I have a DTS. The ride is improved, I'll agree. I also agree the folks sitting in the front have plenty of room. When I returned to the dealership I ask the sales person if he minded if I put the driver's seat all the way back (I'm 6'4"). He did not object, so I put it all the way back. If a person was sitting behind me, they would have no more than 4" of leg remove. I would have to enter the car head first, on my knees and pivot to sit down. I tried the normal way and could not get in the car. I need a car that carries five people comfortably. The DTS does, the XTS does NOT. So, I'll wait for the larger version or go somewhere else that meets my needs. My father, retired from GM, a point added so all out there know I'm PRO GM. Joseph
      boardhoarder
      • 1 Year Ago
      At least they have finally gotten rid of those oversize, bulbous headlights that looked like a streetlight leaning into the wind...
      • 1 Year Ago
      [blocked]
      Brian D
      • 1 Year Ago
      I do agree with Joe that the average luxury buyer doesn't need RWD. People buying a Mercedes, Lexus, or Cadillac rarely take advantage of a RWD compared to a FWD. Even most BMW drivers wouldn't know the vehicle is RWD if someone didn't tell them. IMO, Any luxury enthusiast wanting RWD knows the 3 Series, or CTS is the vehicle for them. I can't see to many luxury buyers taking advantage of RWD in a 7 series or cadillac XTS.
        random_slacker
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Brian D
        Agreed 100%! My coworker just bought a new 5-series. I asked him if it is AWD or RWD, he said "hm, good question, I don't know, what's the difference?".
          ZOZ
          • 1 Year Ago
          @random_slacker
          Give such a stupid guy a Cruze to drive; they deserve no more!
        Joe
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Brian D
        Thanks Brian, I had a similar situation with my dad when he didn\'t know that two of our Hondas had cylinder deactivation, then I had to explain it to him (2008 Odyssey EX-L and 2010 Accord V6 EX-L respectively, I say two of our Hondas because I drive the third, which is a 2004 Pilot, which I know does not).
          ZOZ
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Joe
          I do not count this the same. cylinder deactivation is a feature, while RWD/FWD is a spec. How can you pay for something you do not know/need/use?
          Joe
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Joe
          Not true ZOZ, if you know about this "feature", cylinder deactivation, and the light to look for in your dashboard when its working, you can optimize your driving style in light load situations (such as on the highway) to keep the engine load light, keep that cylinder bank shut off and save yourself trips to the pump. So actually, if you drive like me (trying to keep revs down in constant cruising), knowing about this feature can actually help you pay LESS.
      • 1 Year Ago
      [blocked]
        random_slacker
        • 1 Year Ago
        Interior is MUCH nicer than Lexus ES.
        • 1 Year Ago
        [blocked]
        • 1 Year Ago
        [blocked]
      muspod
      • 1 Year Ago
      Rental fleet darling... I'd consider one for 38K..but not 60K
      Hazdaz
      • 1 Year Ago
      So let me get this straight... when other car makers (Audi, Acura and a few others), build a FWD-based luxury sedan, you guys barely mention it. But when Cadillac does the same thing, you guys harp on the issue, even though you admit that in terms of handling, this car is actually pretty good (for its car segment, of course). Similar deal with the lack of a V8. OK, so it doesn't turn every stoplight into a drag strip with amazing acceleration - but that's not its aim.... but when European or Japanese large sedans get similar performance numbers, they get a free pass. When Cadillac uses a V6 with moderate thrust, you guys harp on this issue as well. How about you guys review the goddamn car for what it does, for what it costs and for what other cars it competes against, and NOT for some idealized image you guys might have of a future flagship that won't be out for a few years. Even as the CURRENT flagship, the XTS is very competitive in the marketplace and doesn't have to make excuses that its just some interim solution.
        NightFlight
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Hazdaz
        I don't get why everyone is so angry at Autoblog. Honestly, they've echoed pretty much EVERYTHING that has been said by Automobile, Car and Driver, Motor Trend, etc. You aren't getting enough in return for the high price, and the 3.6 feels out of place in this vehicle. It was an honest review.
          NightFlight
          • 1 Year Ago
          @NightFlight
          @ Hazdaz No, it isn't reasonable when you could drive over the the Buick store and buy what is essentially 9/10ths the same vehicle for $10,000 less. That's why people are hard on this vehicle. It isn't "special" enough to be a flagship, stopgap vehicle or not. People don't question Audi because it is an Audi, and it is a great vehicle through and through and WORTH the premium that it charges. No one is getting a pass here, all the XTS is, is a slightly nicer Lacrosse or Impala at a SIGNIFICANT price premium.
          Hazdaz
          • 1 Year Ago
          @NightFlight
          @ NightFlight Go reread the article again. It was made rather clearly that this is no Buick. Stating that this is some 9/10th Buick is saying that the Audi A7 or A8 is 9/10ths an A4 or even plebeian VW just because they might share a modular platform. That's bullshit and you know it. In only total power/acceleration is this XTS not some flagship vehicle. In interior materials and design, in exterior looks, in handling fitting for a large car, and even in techno-gadgets this car can go up against any other car costing many thousands of dollars more.
          NightFlight
          • 1 Year Ago
          @NightFlight
          @ Hazdaz Why are you cursing? You obviously didn't understand what I was saying.
        libertedelacroix
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Hazdaz
        Have you driven Acura's SHAWD or Audi's Quattro? It puts this car's AWD to shame...
        Tourian
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Hazdaz
        There are many traditional Cadillac buyers who won\'t buy a Buick, they want a Cadillac. And having one thats 5-10K more expensive is right in the heart of the market where the Deville and DTS lived for years. So it doesn not matter what you think. The car will and is selling well.
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