Cadillac's very bold and brash Art & Science design theme, which has appeared throughout the Cadillac lineup over the past several years, is perhaps at its chunkiest, most aggressive, and most polarizing in the CTS sport sedans. It's carved out a new design direction for the Cadillac, but with the XTS, the brand is taking a smoother, softer direction in going after comfort- and technology-oriented luxury shoppers.
So it’s certainly no mistake that the XTS takes a step back. It’s a good-looking car on the outside, and while the boxed-out front and rear appearance give the XTS a distinct look, you can see some resemblance to the Buick LaCrosse in the profile and softly arched roofline (it’s also related to the upcoming 2014 Chevrolet Impala). One of the key differentiating factors between the Premium and Platinum models, from the front, is that Platinum models have a completely metallic grille, whereas Premium models are blacked out in between for a more contrasted look.
Inside, the XTS’s instrument panel and interior trims look like those of no other GM vehicle; they quite closely follow the look of the XTS Platinum Concept (first shown at the 2010 Detroit auto show). It has elements of the Art & Science themes that have now been seen in Cadillacs for years, but there’s a swoopier look and softer details throughout. We're impressed by the combination of smooth contouring inside, contrasting with beveled, metallic trim pieces, all fitting tightly.
At the center of the XTS's instrument panel is a reminder of this sedan's leading-edge feature set: an eight-inch, fully capacitive touch screen—like what's used in iPads and other tablets, and the first of its kind to be integrated into a new car. The system comes standard, cleaning up the dashboard and leaving it remarkably free of physical buttons; and in many XTS models there are no real gauges either—just a reconfigurable 'screen' of simulated ones.