At first sitting, the Cadillac CUE system was shocking in the XTS. After all, this car replaced the DTS and STS sedans, whose average age buyer was north of 60 years old.
With hardly any traditional buttons, the system takes design inspiration from smartphones like the iPhone, tablets like the iPad and Internet browsers. While we were shocked initially at the contrast with Cadillac's previous vehicles and systems, we quickly warmed to it after we synched our phones to CUE, which incidentally stands for Cadillac-User-Experience.
CUE uses an 8-inch fully capacitive touch screen with an optical lens that provides what is known as "haptic" feedback. That means you feel a pulse when a specific command is selected just as if you had clicked a button or switch.
The screen is mounted on a motorized frame, allowing the faceplate to move up and reveal a handy 1.8 liter-sized storage area for a phone, wallet, or whatever. There is also a USB dock in the cubby.
As fingers approach the screen, the touchscreen senses that the driver is about to engage and the appropriate icons appear. The driver can program favorites to appear below the stereo screen, such as a command to navigate home from wherever he or she happens to be; a shortcut to the Pandora music app, etc. Up to 60 "favorites" can be stored within CUE.
The driver can control the screen like on an iPad, swiping, flicking, etc. No surprise then that Caddy gives every buyer an iPad. Nice touch.
CUE is upgradable over the life of the car, which is the way of the world now. Thank goodness. We also found the natural-language speech recognition worked very well. That's not always the case with these systems. We called out a dozen different songs on our phone and it worked 100% of the time. We synchronized phone contacts, and the hands-free dialing worked perfectly.
We believe the following: When a prospective Cadillac buyer sits down and starts going through the system, they will have to be ready to spend some time parked in their driveway learning to get used to it. That's okay. Hey, you just spent $40K plus for this car, or in the mid-$30ks if you just bought the ATS with CUE. Spend some time getting to know it stationary, rather than going 80 mph. In a few weeks, you will feel comfortable and find that you are as at one with your CUE as you are with your smartphone of choice. At least we think so.