New & Used Cadillac XTS: In Depth
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The Cadillac XTS uses a front-drive platform shared with several other large GM cars. For now, the XTS is a full-size, four-door sedan capping the luxury brand’s sedan lineup. But It won't be the "standard of the world" standard-bearer for long, as a new flagship Caddy is in the works.
The replacement will be Caddy's new rear-drive CT6. Until that replacement arrives, the XTS serves as a handsome, capable alternative to vehicles like the Infiniti Q70 and Acura RLX, as well as the Chrysler 300 and Lincoln MKS.
The XTS sits atop a Cadillac car lineup that includes the redesigned mid-range CTS and the smaller ATS sedan and coupe as the entry-level options. While those cars are more driver-oriented, the XTS instead focuses more on comfort and space.
Available in front- or all-wheel-drive models, the XTS is more affordable than German or Japanese luxury entries. It effectively replaced the former full-size DTS four-door--which itself supplanted the longstanding DeVille name--when it was introduced for the 2012 model year.
The Ontario, Canada-built XTS is based on GM's beefiest front-drive car architecture, sharing some of its underpinnings with the Chevrolet Impala and Buick LaCrosse. It's longer than both of those models, with a longer wheelbase, which means more interior space, especially in the rear. It's being marketed to the livery drivers who recently lost their rear-drive Lincoln Town Cars, bringing with it much more modern looks and Cadillac's latest design language stretched over GM's biggest front-drive architecture.
The XTS was initially offered with a single drivetrain, a 3.6-liter V-6 with 300 horsepower and 264 pound-feet of torque, coupled to a six-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy is rated at 17/28 miles per gallon for the front-drive XTS, while all-wheel-drive models are rated at 17/26 mpg. A twin-turbo XTS VSport was soon added, with a 410-hp forced-induction version of the same engine, standard all-wheel drive, and revamped suspension tuning. That model fairs only slightly worse in EPA testing despite the power boost, with ratings of 16/24 mpg.
As for ride and handling, the XTS bridges the gulf between the old DTS and the crisper Caddys with a new suspension that features standard Magnetic Ride Control, a set of adaptive shocks that use a magnetically charged fluid that changes shock response according to road conditions. Performance struts and Brembo brakes are included on some versions.
Overall interior space of the XTS matches many full-size sedans, though in certain dimensions it's more comparable to some mid-size four-doors. In the rear seat, for example, the XTS has 40 inches of leg room--less than today's VW Passat but more than a short-wheelbase Jaguar XJ. The XTS's trunk is large, at 18 cubic feet, though it's down a few cubes on the storage bin of the Ford Taurus, which checks in at 20 cubic feet.
The XTS has some of GM's most advanced infotainment technology built into its cabin. It was the first Cadillac to offer CUE, which uses a fully capacitive touchscreen with proximity sensing and multi-touch gestures like those used with smartphones and tablets to control secondary functions. CUE has received some criticism for its complexity, and Cadillac is already planning a range of updates to improve the experience. No word on when exactly they will show up, though.
Along with the in-cabin electronics, Cadillac introduced new short- and long-range radar systems with the XTS. These systems are used for adaptive cruise control, front and rear sensing for automatic braking, and rear cross-traffic alert. Another new feature is a safety alert driver seat that vibrates to alert the driver of things, with the vibration feedback focussed in the direction of the threat. Combine these electronic safety features with the standard 10 air bags, and it's clear Cadillac is looking to satisfy both the gadget-loving and safety-conscious crowd.
The XTS's replacement will be called CT6 and switches to a rear-wheel-drive platform, a decision the biggest Caddies have been waffling about for years now. The CT6 will coincide with a bit of a reimagining of the brand's lineup that will rebadge all of the cars with CT names and give the SUVs and crossovers XT names, with trailing numbers to signify their relative places in the lineup. The recently unveiled CT6 is about the size of a BMW 7-Series but weighs considerably less. It will be available with a new 400-hp twin-turbocharged V-6 and will have standard rear-wheel drive, although all V-6 models will use all-wheel drive. Still, driving dynamics with the new chassis should be far better than the XTS's.
Cadillac has also rated this big sedan for fleet service. Certain upfitters can transform the four-door into a hearse, flower car, or limousine, jobs the biggest and best Cadillac sedans have been taking on for decades.