What's New for 2013
The 2013 Cadillac XTS is an all-new model.
Given the style and dynamic character of the 2013 Cadillac XTS, we'd say Cadillac has completely shed any remnants of its former reputation as a maker of billowy soft land yachts. Riding atop the same platform used to reinvigorate the Buick LaCrosse, the all-new XTS looks to extend Cadillac's youthful style into the upper reaches of its model lineup by replacing the aged DTS and STS sedans. And though Cadillac insists that the XTS is not its flagship sedan -- that car will come later to compete with the top German cruisers -- for now, it represents the pinnacle of a luxury brand that has transformed itself from staid to striking within a decade.
Outside, the XTS expresses Cadillac's current styling vocabulary with its prominent grille, vertical headlamps and taillights, and sharply creased surfaces. The cabin speaks of modern refinement with its use of aluminum, leather and wood, and it's also highlighted by CUE, Cadillac's new electronics interface. It features a touch-sensitive display on the center stack to control navigation, climate systems and connected communication apps like Pandora.
The 2013 Cadillac XTS offers only a single engine choice, a slightly detuned version of the same silky direct-injected 3.6-liter V6 found in the Cadillac CTS sedan. In this application, it generates 304 horsepower, which isn't really enough to allow the large XTS to keep up with similarly priced and powered luxury sedans. On the upside, its estimated 28 mpg on the highway is quite thrifty. The XTS can also be had with all-wheel drive for improved all-weather capability.
In terms of features, the XTS comes pretty well equipped, as even the base model has adaptive suspension dampers, xenon headlamps, leather upholstery and dual-zone climate control. Safety is also at the forefront, with an optional package that includes a number of monitoring systems plus a driver seat that vibrates on one side or the other if the XTS' radar systems detect an errant lane change or potential sideswipe.
With plenty of luxury features, available all-wheel drive and an expansive trunk and rear seats, the 2013 Cadillac XTS earns its place among large luxury-oriented sedans like the Chrysler 300C, Hyundai Genesis and Lincoln MKS. As the XTS offers such a leap beyond its Cadillac predecessors, we can understand why mature buyers returning to the brand might feel overwhelmed by the aggressive styling and all the technology packed within. But the only question should be when, not why, they should make the XTS their next Cadillac.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Cadillac XTS is a five-passenger luxury sedan. There are four trim levels: base, Luxury Collection, Premium Collection and Platinum Collection.
Standard equipment for the base XTS includes 19-inch wheels, adaptive suspension dampers, xenon headlamps, heated mirrors, rear parking sensors, keyless ignition/entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, 10-way power front seats (with power lumbar control), a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, and leather/faux-suede upholstery. Standard electronic features include Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, an 8-inch center touchscreen, OnStar and an eight-speaker Bose sound system with a CD player, satellite radio, HD radio, iPod/USB connectivity and an auxiliary input.
The XTS Luxury Collection adds a heated steering wheel, driver memory functions, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, interior ambient lighting, front and rear parking sensors, a rearview camera and rain-sensing wipers.
The Premium Collection package builds on those offerings with adaptive headlamps, a head-up display, tri-zone automatic climate control, a 110-volt power outlet, a navigation system, voice controls, a 14-speaker Bose surround-sound audio system and a suite of safety features that include blind spot detection, lane departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert and front collision alert.
Finally, the Platinum Collection offers 20-inch wheels, unique exterior styling, a sunroof, a power rear sunshade and additional cabin leather trim. Optional for the Premium and Platinum is the Driver Assist package, which includes adaptive cruise control with low-speed automatic braking.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2013 Cadillac XTS is powered by a 3.6-liter V6 engine that produces 304 hp and 264 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission that drives the front wheels is standard. All-wheel drive is available and is specified by the moniker XTS4. In Edmunds testing, an XTS4 Platinum went from zero to 60 mph in 7.3 seconds -- adequately quick, but still a second or so behind similarly priced and powered luxury sedans. Fuel economy stands at an EPA-estimated 17 mpg city/28 mpg highway and 21 mpg combined with front-wheel drive, while all-wheel-drive models are rated at 17/26/20.
The 2013 Cadillac XTS comes standard with antilock disc brakes, stability control and traction control, front- and rear-seat side airbags, side curtain airbags and front knee airbags. Also standard is OnStar, which includes automatic crash notification, on-demand roadside assistance, remote door unlocking, stolen vehicle assistance and turn-by-turn navigation.
In Edmunds brake testing, an XTS4 Platinum came to a stop from 60 mph in 123 feet, which is average for a car in this class wearing all-season tires.
Optional safety features include blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, forward collision alert, rear cross-traffic alert and a vibrating driver seat that alerts the driver to an impending collision on either side of the vehicle.
Interior Design and Special Features
The Cadillac XTS slots right in between its DTS and STS predecessors, a little shorter than the former and a little longer than the latter. The XTS is also shorter than the Lincoln MKS, yet offers more front and rear legroom and a larger trunk. With 18 cubic feet of capacity, the XTS's trunk offers plenty of space, though it's somewhat narrow, so golf clubs will likely need to be creatively positioned alongside other luggage.
Ample space is nothing new for a large Cadillac. But it's within the front dash panel that the XTS sets itself apart. The CUE infotainment system -- which stands for Cadillac User Experience -- integrates audio, phone, optional navigation and OnStar functionality into an 8-inch touchscreen display. Those familiar with smartphone and tablet interfaces will feel at home with CUE, as it uses similar touching, swiping and pinching commands.
We've criticized similar interfaces that forgo traditional knobs and buttons for virtual counterparts, as they've proven lifeless and distracting while driving. But Cadillac's unique haptic feedback for its touchscreen sends a small vibration in response to common commands such as climate control adjustments. It's a unique and reassuring feature that helps you keep your eyes on the road.
At nearly 17 feet long and 6 feet wide, the 2013 Cadillac XTS is a big car. But improbably, it never feels that big from behind the wheel. With its standard adaptive suspension, sharp steering and precise throttle response, the XTS manages to shrink its big body around the driver and corners more like Cadillac's CTS than the two legacy sedans it replaces. On the highway, the Cadillac XTS is impressively quiet and provides a firm but comfortable ride without a compromise in the feeling of control.
Unfortunately, the XTS needs more power than its V6 engine can provide. Though far from slow, it nevertheless lags in terms of acceleration compared to smaller midsize luxury sedans as well as more expensive flagship models with turbocharged six-cylinder or V8 engines.