- Quiet, refined interior
- Sprawl-out backseat space
- Near-ideal ride and handling
- Awesome safety set
- Capacitative 'buttons'
- Front seats could have better support
- Expensive for what it is
For those focused on safety, technology, and comfort—but not necessarily performance—the 2014 Cadillac XTS is everything a big luxury sedan should be.
The 2014 Cadillac XTS isn't just larger than the luxury brand's ATS and CTS sport sedans; it follows a different set of priorities—appealing to those who might just prefer to rock the Hush Puppies instead of flaunt the Fratelli Rossettis. And if you're looking for comfort and technology as much as performance, the XTS is a nice fit.
Taking aim at the meat of the luxury market—"large luxury," as they call it—there's the softer, smoother Cadillac XTS. It has the boxed-out look of the other models, yet smoothly styled sides and a softly arched roofline. It's a truly good-looking car on the outside, although you might see some semblance to the Buick LaCrosse and Chevrolet Impala it's related to.
Cadillac would prefer that you view the XTS from the inside out. The dash and instrument panel are packed with the latest and greatest tech: an 8.0-inch touchscreen and an available configurable instrument cluster. The materials are top-notch too: a swoopy look, soft touches, and quality material all wrap the well-crafted dash.
The 2014 Cadillac XTS doesn't have sporting intentions, although it's surprisingly athletic. The base XTS comes equipped with a 3.6-liter V-6 that makes 304 horsepower teamed to a 6-speed automatic. It's a little lacking off the line, but has plenty of pull on the interstate. To comfort any traditional Cadillac buyers looking for V-8 power, the XTS can be fitted with a turbocharged V-6 that makes 410 hp and 369 pound-feet, comparable to big engines found in others.
In all other respects, the XTS ends up feeling surprisingly athletic, considering its comfort-oriented mission. Magnetic ride control and air springs keep the ride in the XTS well-sorted and isolated without numbing the steering beyond control—the big Caddy is sharper than you might expect.
That doesn't take away from its overall mission. If keeping company comfortable, the XTS is the right place to start. The back seat is roomier than other comparably sized sedans, and head and leg room are more than ample. Front seats are spacious and big for most body types, although we'd like just a little more support from the seats.
The XTS boasts one of the most impressive lists of safety features we've seen in a new car. Alongside stellar independent and federal results, the XTS can be equipped with a forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking system that can prevent low-speed crashes, or reduce the severity of higher-speed crashes.
The centerpiece of the XTS's instrument panel is a state-of-the-art 8.0-inch touchscreen, similar to what you might find on a tablet and the first of its kind to be planted into a new car. The system, which Cadillac calls CUE, is standard on all models, which helps clean up the dashboard of physical buttons, and most XTS models won't have instruments either—those have been replaced by a configurable screen with simulated dials. That's one of our peeves, as the simulated ones don't happen to work as well as real ones; although we like most of what we've seen from CUE.
The XTS is offered in several different trims, starting with the base model and moving up to Luxury Collection, Premium Collection, and ending at Platinum Collection. All models include the slick CUE system, and the two top trims include standard navigation and premium audio.
New for 2014, rear-seat passengers get the lion's share of goodies. A rear-seat entertainment system can be fitted for long hauls, and a near rear-seat armrest boasts wood trim, sunshade and radio controls.
2014 Cadillac XTS
Soft contours contrast nicely with bold detailing, to make the interior of the 2014 XTS a standout—even if the exterior isn't as memorable as the edgier ATS or CTS.
Cadillac is surely going in a smoother, softer direction with the design of the 2014 XTS; yet this remains one of the most distinct comfort-oriented luxury sedans on the market.
On the outside, you won't find nearly as much evidence of the bold-and-brash Cadillac design language that they've applied across the lineup. Instead, the XTS's profile is smoothed-over, in coordination with the idea that this model is going after shoppers that are perhaps more interested in comfort and technology than outright performance (that would be the ATS and CTS sport sedans).
The 'boxed-out' front and rear appearance, combined with the blended cabin area, results in a sharp exterior. There are some resemblances to other GM vehicles in the XTS' sheet metal: we see some Buick Lacrosse and Chevy Impala in the profile and roofline, but the Caddy has a firm position at the top compared to those cars. Trims can be differentiated by the grille; Premium models have a blacked-out grille, while Platinum models sport a completely metallic face.
The Art & Science themes that we've been seeing in Cadillac models for years continue here, but there's a swoopier look and softer details overall. The XTS sports interior touches we haven't seen on a GM vehicle; it closely follows the XTS Platinum Concept that we first saw at the 2010 Detroit auto show. And overall, we're very impressed by the combination of beveled, metallic trim pieces, fitting tightly against smooth contouring—a feat of fit and finish, really.
One of the elements of the XTS's leading-edge feature set is noteworthy in and of itself, from a design standpoint. At the center of the XTS's instrument panel sits an eight-inch, fully capacitive touch screen—like what's used in iPads and other tablets. It's part of the Cadillac User Experience (CUE), which comes standard and cleans up the look, removing many physical buttons. There aren't any real gauges either in many XTS models—just simulated ones on a separate reconfigurable screen in front of the driver.
2014 Cadillac XTS
The XTS is more nimble than other large luxury sedans that prioritize comfort—and a new turbocharged V-6 option this year gives it the acceleration to match.
The 2014 Cadillac XTS is not trying to be a sharply tuned sport sedan; yet given its more comfort-oriented mission, it's surprisingly athletic. And with the introduction of a new Twin-Turbo V-6 engine option this year, the XTS isn't likely to let anyone down in terms of acceleration and power.
A base 3.6-liter V-6 is underhood most models of the XTS, and its priority is a smooth ride at every turn. In our experience the base V-6 lacks grunt to take off the line sharply, but it accelerates up to 60 mph in less than 7 seconds. It's rated at just over 300 horsepower and its teamed to a 6-speed automatic. Front-wheel drive is standard, while all-wheel drive is optional.
New for 2014 is a so-called Twin-Power V-6—a twin-turbocharged, 3.6-liter, making 410 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. According to GM, it's one of the most power-dense six-cylinder engines on the planet. We haven't driven any XTS with this engine yet, but it makes its peak torque from 1,900 all the way up to 5,600 rpm, so it should provide a very V-8-like responsiveness to this big luxury sedan.
The XTS feels heavy at takeoff, but not too many times after that. Its prodigious weight (about 4,000 pounds in base trim) piles onto the nose when under hard braking, but Cadillac's clever throttle mapping makes it feel more eager than it is. We suggest a long test drive to make sure it's not too nervous, but we've found that overall, the XTS is a smooth customer. There are two wheel sizes, 19 and 20 inches, but the differences between the two are minimal.
The XTS hides its weight well in cornering. The suspension loads and unloads in predictable, confident ways and the big Caddy stays surprisingly flat. It rarely feels flustered, and the electronically controlled MagneRide struts help with that impression, soaking up harshness and road noise without dulling responsiveness.
2014 Cadillac XTS
Comfort & Quality
With standout materials; a supreemely roomy back seat; and leading-edge technology and refinement; the 2014 XTS has a true luxury-car cabin.
The 2014 Cadillac XTS is a large sedan, at more than 200 inches long and with a wheelbase of nearly 112 inches. It measures up against the BMW 7-Series, Lincoln MKS, and Audi A8 in terms of overall length, but manages better interior room and rear-seat room than all three thanks to its upright cabin. If you want to make a client happy, the ride quality and seating space is about perfect in the XTS; it's spacious and quiet, yet never boat-like or queasy.
Consider the XTS's back seat to be its secret weapon. While a number of luxury models are a bit disappointing back there, the XTS has plenty of room to fit most body types. Tall riders, especially north of 6 feet tall, will have an abundance of head room thanks to a carved out headliner. We have our nitpicks though: the back seats aren't as contoured as we were expecting. The good news? The middle position in the backseat is padded well, which makes fitting five inside an easier task than found in its rivals.
Up front, the seats are comfortable and day-long easy to adjust, but not as smooth as rear seats. The driving position in the XTS is higher than found in other cars, which is a boon for outward visibility. On the other hand the front seats are not in the same super-supportive, carved-out, adjustable-in-every-way class as those of some flagship models.
Interior materials are excellent, though, and definitely a step above those used in Cadillac's former comfort model, the DTS. There's available soft Opus leather, rear wood trims, and soft-touch surfaces everywhere. Step up to Platinum models and you'll get a headliner made of Alcantara (faux-suede).
The comfortable ride is the XTS' first priority, and it manages to succeed without feeling floaty. Thank the MagneRide system for that; it uses adjustable dampers that monitor and adjust ride quality based on road conditions and can help keep the XTS in shape when pressed into sporty-ish duty. The magnetic ride control system also works in concert with an air suspension system that keeps the car flat and composed, even with a full load of family or clients.
Active noise cancellation also helps keep the XTS cabin quiet, cancelling out road noise and any boom from the powertrain; you only hear the engine when pressing it hard.
Traditional Cadillac buyers may not be excited that Cadillac has replaced its physical buttons with capacitive sliders. To be honest, neither were we. The sliders are cool features at first, but the wear of trying to get it right or not getting the desired response when touching one of the buttons grows quickly. In the end, the touch controls could be a gimmick that we'd do without.
2014 Cadillac XTS
There are few luxury cars offering the level of security and advanced safety features you'll find in the 2014 Cadillac XTS.
The 2014 Cadillac XTS might just be one of the safest luxury-car choices you could make--and it's certainly one of the best-proven, in terms of crash-test scores.
The XTS has good bones and has earned a Top Safety Pick nod from the IIHS and a five-star overall score from federal testers. It's worth noting that the XTS hasn't yet undergone the notoriously tricky front small-overlap crash test, so stay tuned for those results.
The XTS includes a rearview camera, which is standard on all models beyond the base version, and optional safety extras include a head-up display and adaptive cruise control. Cadillac's telematic services, which they call OnStar, are included in all models and can navigate you to your final destination or help find your XTS if it's ever stolen.
An optional Driver Awareness Package includes blind spot monitors with rear cross traffic alert, forward collision warning, and lane departure warning. General Motors' safety alert seat is included in the XTS as well, which rumbles the driver's seat if a hazard is detected, such as drifting lanes. Later this year, Cadillac will make available a Driver Assist Package that improves on that safety suite with adaptive cruise control, forward and rear automatic emergency braking that can halt the car at 20 mph or less, or reduce the severity of an impact if traveling at higher speeds.
Also new for 2014 is an Automatic Parking Assist feature that will essentially steer the car into a parking space.
2014 Cadillac XTS
The groundbreaking CUE infotainment system is the anchor of a very impressive feature set.
The 2014 Cadillac XTS remains priced about in line with the Audi A6 and Mercedes-Benz E 350. And if it doesn't quite match the pedigree of those models, you do indeed get your money's worth in features—with more standard than those models, as well as some noteworthy packages.
Essentially, there are still four different models of the XTS on offer: base XTS, Luxury, Premium, and Platinum Collection versions. All models of the XTS are equipped fairly well for a luxury car with amenities such as a Bose premium audio system, dual-zone climate control, remote start, power adjustable steering, and power adjustable front seats.
Cadillac includes its infotainment system, which it calls CUE, on all models. It's a capacitive touchscreen-based system that uses sensors to detect when a hand is nearby. The menu systems expand when a hand is detected near the screen and it's a neat feature that we particularly like on the XTS. It's intuitive and the menu system makes sense, but it's not without its issues. We like how the menu system is deeply customizable, but simplifies the menus on the surface. The system also responds to more natural voice commands such as "Take me to Starbucks," which users may find more friendly that learning nested commands or specific words. Scrolling around the screen is a breeze and its live traffic updates seemed to be spot on.
Most models of the XTS will feature a configurable gauge cluster that simulates dials and instruments on a big screen in front of the driver. The head-up display is vastly improved too with better information projected onto the windshield, including navigation, sound, and critical driver information. Tech-savvy buyers will want to consider Premium or Platinum collection models with these features.
New for 2014, there's a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, with screens that fold out of the backs of the front seats; also, a new rear-seat armrest design includes wood trim, radio controls, and controls for the available sunshade (an opaque sunroof shade is newly offered). Intellibeam headlamps and a new front-seat memory feature are also among the new items.
There aren't many a la carte add-ons to consider with the XTS. In addition to the optional safety features (which we cover separately), other available features include a big sunroof, compact spare, navigation (base model only, other models include it as standard equipment), and an engine block heater.
2014 Cadillac XTS
The 2014 Cadillac XTS won't wow in any way with respect to fuel efficiency, but it's passable considering all the passenger space.
There are no surprises here. With a curb weight of 4,000 pounds or more, and V-6 engines, the 2014 Cadillac XTS gets about the mileage you might expect of a very large sedan.
The EPA pegs the fuel-economy numbers at 17 mpg city, 28 highway for front drivers or 17/26 with AWD. That's not bad considering the XTS' size and luxury, and capacity to carry five for long periods of times.
As for the new Twin-Turbo V-6, there are no results yet, but expect mileage to be about the same—perhaps down no more than 1 mpg.