2015 Cadillac XTS Review

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The Car Connection
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The Car Connection Expert Review

Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
May 26, 2015

If you're looking for a car that offers comfort, technology, and safety as its greatest virtues, the 2015 Cadillac XTS does everything a big luxury sedan should.

As the largest sedan in Cadillac's lineup, the 2015 XTS doesn't just aim to be a step up in size and space from the luxury brand's ATS and CTS sport sedans. It targets an entirely different kind of shopper—one who may be less concerned with all-out performance, and more in tune with comfort and plush cabin appointments.

It's a handsome car from the outside, with a softly arched roofline and smoothly styled sides to complement a look that is otherwise familiar to the other Cadillac models. The XTS targets the "large luxury" category, and shares many of inner workings with the Chevrolet Impala and Buick LaCrosse. With that in mind, the XTS represents the softer side of Cadillac, leaving the ATS and CTS sedans to fulfill enthusiasts' rear-wheel drive fantasies. From the inside out is probably the way that Cadillac would want you to see the XTS, as its instrument panel and interior trims showcase the latest from GM, with a swoopier look, softer details, and plenty of smooth contouring inside, contrasting with beveled, tightly-fitted metallic trim pieces.

You'll get one of the most extensive lists of safety features in any vehicle if you step up to one of the safety-tech packages in the 2015 XTS. There's even a system that can brake the XTS to a stop from about 20 mph—to help reduce pedestrian accidents, for instance—and occupant-safety scores are top-notch from both U.S. agencies.

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Front and center inside the XTS is an 8.0-inch touchscreen that handles most of the car's infotainment features. It's the first of its kind in a new car, and it comes standard on every model. For the most part, we like Cadillac's system, which it calls CUE, thanks to its slick design. In other cases, we were slightly irked by the lack of physical knobs and buttons for some tasks—the capacitive buttons just aren't as responsive. That technophile approach extends to the gauge cluster too—most of the dials have been replaced by a configurable screen too. A Cadillac buyer from 20 years ago might not feel at home in the new XTS, but we think it's a good new direction.

Cadillac offers the XTS in four trims: base, Luxury, Premium, and Platinum trims, the latter three Cadillac calls "Collections," All versions come with CUE as standard equipment, but the latter two—Premium and Platinum—include premium audio and navigation.

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. OnStar now also offers 4G LTE connectivity and the ability to create an in-car WiFi network.

The 2015 Cadillac XTS is not trying to be a sharply tuned sport sedan; yet given its more comfort-oriented mission, it's surprisingly athletic. The base 304-horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6 is smooth and predictable with the six-speed automatic, although it's a little lacking right from a standing start; step up to the new Twin-Power V-6—a twin-turbocharged, 3.6-liter, making 410 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque, and you probably won't be left wanting. This engine makes its peak torque from 1,900 rpm on up, so expect a V-8-like kick.

In all other respects, the XTS ends up feeling surprisingly athletic, considering its comfort-oriented mission. Thanks to a well-tuned suspension, with MagneRide magnetic ride control and air springs, the XTS stays composed and isolated, keeping minor harshness out while responses are more crisp than in other comfort-oriented cars.

At the same time, it's whisper quiet with the doors closed. Shoppers looking to shuttle four or five in supreme comfort will be pleased with the back seat in particular; the XTS has more space and more head room than competitors. Front-seat riders won't complain much either, there's plenty of room for driver and passenger too. Our only gripe is with the bolstering and depth of the seats, we think seats from other car companies hug their occupants better.

8

2015 Cadillac XTS

Styling

The exterior of the Cadillac XTS isn't quite as memorable as the softly contoured cabin, but both are very attractive.

Don't be fooled by the hard angles found all over the XTS' sheetmetal; it remains one of the most comfortable luxury sedans you can find on today's market.

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's instrument panel and interior trims look like those of no other GM vehicle (they closely follow the look of the XTS Platinum Concept first shown 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.

On the outside, you won't find nearly as much evidence of the bold-and-brash Art & Science design theme, which has appeared throughout the Cadillac lineup over the past several years. 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 really good-looking car on the outside. You can see some resemblance to the related Buick LaCrosse (and to the 2014 Chevy Impala) in the profile and softly arched roofline, but this Cadillac is clearly a cut above in the details. 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.

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7

2015 Cadillac XTS

Performance

With Vsport power, the Cadillac XTS delivers a driving experience radically different from Caddy's full-size past.

While the 2015 Cadillac XTS may not directly target the performance side of the luxury market, that doesn't necessarily mean it's a slouch. And, with last year's introduction of a twin-turbocharged V-6 Vsport edition, the XTS certainly won't disappoint those who just want a little extra acceleration.

Even for a larger sedan, the XTS is a bit on the heavy side (front-wheel-drive cars weigh about 4,000 pounds; all-wheel-drive models a couple hundred pounds more than that); you tend to feel that from a standing start, which is about the only time the base V-6 seems to labor a bit. When braking hard (strong Brembo front brakes are standard), there's some noticeable nosedive (even though it's in theory curbed a bit by the HyperStrut design). An aggressive throttle tip-in (perhaps more so than other Cadillacs) also tends to make the base engine feel perkier than it is, so get this one out on a long test drive. There are two wheel sizes (19- and 20-inch)—and the differences between them, from behind the wheel, really is minimal.

Where you don't feel the weight nearly as much (surprisingly, considering the XTS's size) is in cornering. The XTS doesn't throw its weight around; it loads and unloads in a confident way, and 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.

The 304-hp, 3.6-liter V-6 that's under the hood of most XTS models is very smooth; it starts with nary a shudder and settles to a glassy idle. It doesn't churn out low-rpm torque like some rival V-6 engines, but delivery is smooth and predictable through the six-speed automatic transmission, with either front- or all-wheel drive. And with a 0-60 mph time of 6.8 seconds and a (limited) top speed of 136 mph, it's reasonably quick.

There's also the 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. This engine makes its peak torque from 1,900 all the way up to 5,600 rpm, and it brings a quickness and easy driving character that's every bit as good as V-8s of a few years ago.

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2015 Cadillac XTS

Comfort & Quality

The Cadillac XTS has a supremely spacious interior with excellent finishes.

The 2015 Cadillac XTS is a big sedan, and sits about as long as a short-wheelbase BMW 7-Series or Audi A8. However, it's more spacious inside than most of its competitors, thanks to its upright cabin proportions.

Interior materials are excellent, and definitely a step above those used in Cadillac's former comfort model, the DTS. There's real wood trim; available soft Opus leather with perforated inserts (Platinum); a leather-wrapped instrument panel; and soft-touch surfaces virtually everywhere. Step up to Platinum models and you'll get a headliner made of Alcantara (faux-suede).

Superb ride quality is part of the XTS package. And by that we don't mean cushy, boat-like motions--just a relatively firm yet surprisingly absorbent ride. Thank the MagneRide system for that; it uses electromagnetically adjustable dampers that can quickly adjust for varied road harshness; and it helps make the XTS feel more nimble without being any less comfortable. MagneRide works together with a leveling air suspension to stay composed, even when you have the whole family loaded in.

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.

Ergonomically, some might be shocked or surprised to find out that there are no physical buttons for the climate control or audio (other than what's on the steering wheel). Capacitive patched just above tabbed (ridged) areas replace mechanical buttons—although we've found that these don't always inspire confidence, or deliver the desired effect.

The front accommodations in the XTS aren't quite the standout that they are in back, but they're up to luxury-car standards. You tend to sit a bit higher in the XTS than in other large luxury cars—which means that you get great outward visibility; on the other hand they're not in the same super-supportive, carved-out, adjustable-in-every-way class as those of some flagship models.

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 enough space to fit any passenger in comfort. The headliner includes carved-out areas for even more headroom behind the sunroof housing, so even those well over six feet tall will have extra space. The only gripe, however slight, is that back seats aren't quite as contoured as we expected them to be, although the middle backseat position, which can be too confined or thinly padded in some rival models, is entirely useful here.

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2015 Cadillac XTS

Safety

One of the safest vehicles you can buy, the Cadillac XTS also comes with a raft of safety technology options.

The 2015 Cadillac XTS remains one of the safest luxury cars money can buy, if you go by available U.S. crash test results.

With its stout Epsilon structure, the XTS has earned not only Top Safety Pick status from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) but also a top five-star rating from the federal government (including an unusual five stars in both frontal and side impact). The IIHS hasn't tested the XTS in its (newest) small overlap frontal test, however.

Optional driver safety packages add lane departure warning, forward collision warning, blind-spot monitors, and a rumble seat feature that shakes the seat if it senses a hazard, such as drifting lanes or cross traffic. Available adaptive cruise control is bundled with automatic emergency braking that can stop the XTS if its traveling at 20 mph or slower, or reduce the severity of an impact if traveling faster.

New for last year was an Automatic Parking Assist feature that will essentially steer the car into a parking space.

Cadillac also includes OnStar in all versions of the XTS, which can relay navigation information or help find the car if it's been stolen, among other functions.

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2015 Cadillac XTS

Features

CUE is a love-it-or-leave-it proposition, but there's no doubting the Cadillac XTS' other luxury features.

The 2015 Cadillac XTS presents a relative bargain in the luxury category, with it's large sedan footprint and mid-size sedan pricing. It's runs neck to neck with the Audi A6 and Mercedes-Benz E 350, but the Cadillac offers substantially more technology for the money.

New for 2015 are a pair of 22-way power-adjustable front seats with heating, cooling and massage features, available only to Platinum-trim cars. OnStar also receives 4G LTE connectivity, and the ability to create an in-car WiFi network to use the data service.

Cadillac doesn't offer many optional extras for the XTS. In addition to the suite of active safety systems we cover separately, optional extras for the XTS include a panoramic sunroof, navigation for base models, or a spare tire.

Essentially, there are still four different models of the XTS on offer: base XTS, Luxury Collection, Premium Collection, and Platinum Collection versions. Regardless of trim, the XTS comes standard with power adjustable front seats, remote start, dual-zone climate controls, and a Bose premium sound system.

Most models will have a big digital gauge cluster that can be customized in several different layouts. The head-up display is improved here too, it projects vital information onto the windshield such as speed, navigation, and car information. The top two trims—Premium and Platinum—offer the most tech, so gearheads may want to start there.

Every model of the XTS will include Cadillac's infotainment system, which they call CUE. It's a touchscreen-based system with deep customizing functions and intuitive controls. A proximity sensor detects a nearby hand to offer more options, and it's a very good-looking system. Cadillac worked hard to include natural-voice commands, such as "Take me to the grocery store," rather than hard-to-remember nested commands. The screen scrolls naturally and quickly, and the real-time traffic info streams into the car quickly and timely. We'd trade some of the touch controls for buttons or knobs, simply because sliders or touchscreens don't feel confident for many drivers.

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.

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6

2015 Cadillac XTS

Fuel Economy

Gas mileage is acceptable, given the Cadillac XTS' passenger-carrying capacity.

Official EPA ratings for the 2015 Cadillac XTS haven't yet been released, but we expect them to mirror last year's model. With that in mind, the XTS doesn't surprise us here with its 4,000 pounds and V-6 engines. There are no official numbers on the Vsport twin-power V-6 at this time.

Last year's EPA fuel economy numbers are an estimated 17 mpg city, 28 highway with front-wheel drive, or 17/26 with AWD; but considering its true five-passenger capacity—even for long road trips—that's quite respectable.

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September 3, 2015
2015 Cadillac XTS 4-Door Sedan Vsport Platinum AWD

XTS VSport FTW!

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Best interior for the price and 32.2 mpg on multiple hour drives with Adaptive Cruise Control set at 65 mph....with AWD! I can't say enough how nice it is to drive this can I bought used used XTS Vsport... + More »
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