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Cadillac XTS Platinum Concept

Do you remember when American car companies made the best sedans? Today GM more or less admitted that, when it comes to full-size sedans that carry a family of five comfortably, their only solution at the moment is to sell you an SUV or crossover. This new XTS concept is the company's attempt to right that wrong.

It's long and sleek, yet quite big inside.

While Cadillac adamantly insists the XTS is a concept car and not necessarily intended for production, it's size and overall style point to what a 2013 model might look like. Industry insiders expect that the XTS will replace both the Cadillac STS (introduced in 2005) and DTS (introduced in 2006).
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Cadillac XTS Platinum Concept

It's difficult to make a large car that has an inherent sense of sex appear. Most large cars conjure up thoughts of taxi cabs and executive sedans, with hardly any of the premium you might find in a mid-size car. Cadillac thinks they've found a different way.

“The XTS is the antithesis of the conventional three-box sedan," Cadillac Design Director Clay Dean said. "Suggesting the active evolution of Cadillac’s design language.”

The three boxes Dean refereed to include a box for the hood, a second box for the passenger cabin, and a third box for the trunk. The lines of the XTS pull the three boxes together into one sweeping shape. The main character line of the XTS begins low behind the front wheel and ends high at end of the short trunk lid that capped with a rear spoiler for improved fuel mileage. The wheels are a classic 20-inch, multi-spoke design.
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Cadillac Sixteen: Inspiration For The Cadillac XTS

Many people look at this concept at the show and recalled one of GM's most successful concepts of recent years: the Cadillac Sixteen concept for 2003 (shown at right). The new XTS brings forward some of those cues, but sadly falls short of the Sixteen's overall visual impact.

The Sixteen helped Cadillac come to terms with a new design language they called Art & Science. All current Cadillac models now show the strong influence of the Sixteen. Details include the large shield-style grille, vertical LED lamps (front and rear), and crisp body character lines.

The Sixteen featured a 16-cylinder, 13.6-liter engine that reportedly produced 1,000 horsepower. Since 2003, the world's focus has shifted away from opulent, excessive performance.

Recognizing this shift, the XTS Concept features an efficient dual-mode hybrid powertrain system. Instead of a V-8 engine (as used in the GM's full-size truck and SUV hybrids), the XTS hybrid system features a 350-horsepower 3.6-liter V-6 engine with economy-enhancing direct fuel injection. More advanced than GM's current dual-mode hybrids, the XTS Concept uses powerful lithium-ion batteries and features a plug-in charge feature to provide long-distance electric-only driving range.
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Cadillac XTS Platinum Concept

The top person at Cadillac is now Bryan Nesbitt, an acclaimed auto designer who is credited with many handsome and popular vehicles, including the original Chrysler PT Cruiser, the sporty Saturn Sky, and the current Chevrolet Malibu.

About the XTS, Nesbitt said, “The XTS Platinum concept is the next expression of Cadillac’s Art and Science execution philosophy, reflecting our drive to deliver the latest innovations in the most artful manner.”

Nesbitt's design team focused on details that help the XTS stand out, including the rear tail lamps. The bright red lenses extend the length of the rear fenders, and actually create vestigial tailfins that hearken back the wildly finned Cadillacs of the 1950s. Light pipes help enhance the shape of the lens, which utilize LED lamps for greater brightness and efficiency.

To the delight of hot rod fans, the brushed aluminum trim pieces on the XTS are all billet. For non-hot rodders, billet items are individually hewn from solid chunks of aluminum as opposed to being a mass-produced stamping. In other words, billet pieces are not only high quality, but substantial and cool.

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Cadillac XTS Platinum Concept

The cabin’s primary color is light cream, which designers contrasted with darker elements, such as the steering wheel and natural woods. The interior's leather seats feature elegant laser-etched suede surfaces. The patterned material adorns the center sections of the seats and accents the door trim.

“We envisioned this concept as a luxurious, automotive personal headquarters," Nesbitt said. Voice-activated controls, advanced OnStar features, and a high-end audio/video system enhance the XTS's interior.

"Just as the technology pushes the boundaries of what a Cadillac can offer, so do the details that make the XTS Platinum Concept an uncompromising experience," Clay Dean said.

Multiple, individually controlled LCD monitors are connected to the XTS's powerful infotainment system. Those in the rear disappear into the backs of the front seats.

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Cadillac XTS Platinum Concept

The XTS Platinum Concept features a cockpit-styled front cabin that presents drivers with luxury and high technology. The dash is covered in rich leathers and woods. The sections of leather are actually hand-stitched.

The instruments of the XTS are not traditional individual gauges. Instead, Cadillac chose to use what is called a "dead front" design that utilizes organic LEDs similar to high-tech computer monitors. The entire instrument panel remains black until the driver enters and starts the XTS. Then, the entire instrument cluster comes to life with vibrant, easy to read graphics.

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Cadillac XTS Platinum Concept

Referring to the XTS's exceptionally roomy rear seating area, Clay Dean, Cadillac believes such a need will continue to exist. "We never lost sight of the fact that a large luxury sedan needs to be spacious and accommodating," Dean said. "Passengers will find generous headroom, legroom and knee space, along with the technology elements that make the drive more productive."

Productivity in motion matters, especially in markets such as China, where the owners of vehicles like the XTS tend to ride in the rear seats.

In America, the XTS will continue to be owner-driven, just as the STS and DTS are today. The interior features plenty of room for five along with a large trunk.

When will the XTS go on sale? You'll probably never see this exact model on sale in the U.S., but expect something very similar to appear in 2-3 years' time.

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