- Sprawl-out backseat space
- Quiet, refined interior
- Awesome safety net
- Near-ideal ride and handling
- Capacitative "buttons"
- Expensive for what it is
- Front seats could have better support
The 2016 Cadillac XTS has virtues beyond its size; as a VSport, it's an exceedingly comfortable, quick cruiser.
The 2016 Cadillac XTS is a handsome take of the brand's "Art & Science" design language, although it has eased from the extreme angles and edges of prior generations of Cadillacs. The XTS sports a softer approach starting with its roofline and smooth sides. It's a good plus-sized companion to the rest of the Cadillac range, and it gets better on the inside. Its instrument panel and dashboard sport the latest technology, and its swoopier insides, smooth contours, and tightly fitting metallic trim are some of the best we've seen for a while from General Motors.
It's the biggest sedan in the luxury brand's lineup, although it's a bigger philosophical shift from the ATS and CTS that just having a longer wheelbase. We imagine most XTS buyers will be considering the big caddy for its comfort rather than its all-out performance, which is more in line with the XTS' mission.
The Cadillac XTS is not trying to be a sharply tuned sport sedan; yet it's more athletic than its size implies. The base 305-horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6 is smooth and predictable with the 6-speed automatic, although it's a little lacking from a standing start. Step up to the VSport's twin-turbocharged, 3.6-liter V-6, and you won't be left wanting by its 410 hp. It truly delivers a V-8-like kick.
Everywhere else the XTS tones down the cushy, underdamped past and dials in a more connected driving feel. Magnetic ride control and air springs team up to keep the XTS drama-free and polite on the road, without falling asleep like other comfort cruisers. It's quiet inside, but manages to keep drivers engaged with a crisp response to inputs.
Shoppers who prioritize interior room won't be left wanting; the XTS is roomy and spacious for five. Its back seat boasts plenty of leg and head room, with enough room for three across thanks to a well-cushioned center seat. The front seats are spacious and comfortable, although we'd like a little more support.
The XTS is loaded with plenty of safety features, and optional extras make it a good pick for choosy shoppers. The XTS can be fitted with forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking that can arrest the car completely from 20 mph or less, or reduce the impact of a crash at higher speed.
Cadillac offers the XTS in several trims including base, Luxury, Premium, and Platinum collections. All versions are equipped with Cadillac's infotainment system, which it calls CUE, and Premium- and Platinum-trimmed cars come stocked with navigation and premium audio as standard.
CUE sits at the center of the XTS's instrument panel, and it's the focus of this sedan's leading-edge feature set. At its heart is an 8.0-inch, fully capacitive touchscreen—like what's used in iPads and other tablets. The system helps clean up the dashboard, leaving it remarkably free of physical buttons. It also provides a touch-sensitive interface that mostly—if not always—enables an easy to use set of new features that wouldn't be possible with a roller-controller system, one like BMW's iDrive, for example.
There's a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, with screens that fold out of the backs of the front seats. The XTS also has a rear-seat armrest that includes wood trim, radio controls, and controls for the available sunshade (an opaque sunroof shade is newly offered). Intellibeam headlamps and a front-seat memory feature were added recently, as was 4G LTE connectivity with OnStar, and the ability to create an in-car wi-fi network.
For 2016, the XTS also adds available surround-view cameras, and integration with Apple CarPlay, which mirrors some iPhone content on CUE's screen.
According to the EPA, the base XTS with front-wheel drive earns gas-mileage ratings of 18 mpg city, 28 highway, 22 combined. Adding all-wheel drive pushes the numbers down to 17/26/20 mpg.
2016 Cadillac XTS
The Cadillac XTS blends angles and curves expertly across its full-size body; the interior's low-key luxury.
The XTS has plenty of sharp angles and creases in its sheet metal, but the Cadillac design theme called "Art & Science" has been softened dramatically since it bowed almost 15 years ago.
On the XTS, the balance of taut panels and curved surfaces makes for a very attractive large sedan. The profile is smooth and clean, with enough of the edgy theme applied to give it a distinct Cadillac look in the universe of softly sculpted luxury sedans. There's some faint resemblance to the related Buick LaCrosse and Chevy Impala, mostly in the profile and the softly arched roofline.
The XTS's instrument panel and interior trims look like those of no other General Motors vehicle. 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.
At the center of the XTS's instrument panel sits an 8.0-inch, fully capacitive touchscreen—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 configurable screen in front of the driver.
2016 Cadillac XTS
It's a big car, but the Cadillac XTS handles quite well—and the VSport edition is fairly exhilarating.
With the XTS, Cadillac isn't so much challenging the sporty editions of the best-selling German luxury sedans, as tightening up the game of its classic big luxury sedan. It's progressively tuned the XTS with tauter dynamics than any DTS or Deville ever offered—and in VSport trim, it's given it a deep source of thrust.
Most models will be equipped with a 3.6-liter V-6 that's sits at a comfortable idle and is remarkably smooth. It lacks low-end grunt, but gets help from a 6-speed automatic to come up to speed in less than 7 seconds. It's available with front- or all-wheel drive, but we've noticed that with a cabin full of people and all-wheel-drive running gear underneath that the V-6 can feel relatively labored pulling away from stoplights.
The enthusiast pick is the VSport's twin-turbocharged, 3.6-liter V-6. It kicks out 410 hp and 369 pound-feet of torque, which it makes from 1,900 rpm all the way up to 5,600 rpm. If you're hesitating over the XTS because it lacks a V-8, the VSport V-6 and its immense power deserves a fair shot.
The XTS has superb road manners, not just for a car of its size. You might expect floaty, cushy ride motions and lifeless steering, but that's the Cadillac of two generations ago. This sedan has an absorbent, relatively firm ride that comes courtesy of MagneRide, a system that uses electromagnetically adjustable dampers to quickly adjust ride quality to soak up harshly broken pavement. 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.
With the deft damping of the MagneRide setup, the XTS doesn't feel as heavy as its base 4,000-pound curb weight. It loads and unloads into corners in a confident way, and stays flat, rarely coming across as flustered. When braking hard (strong Brembo front brakes are standard), there's some noticeable nosedive. There are two wheel sizes,19- and 20-inchers, and the differences between them, from behind the wheel, are really minimal.
2016 Cadillac XTS
Comfort & Quality
A very spacious interior is the XTS' calling card, and fit and finish are excellent.
Nearly as big as a short-wheelbase Audi A8 or BMW 7-Series, the Cadillac XTS has ample room for four or even five adult passengers. It doesn't look so large from the outside, but the cabin's proportioned to deliver excellent head and leg room.
Front-seat passengers are appropriately swaddled, although the XTS doesn't quite measure up to the same standard set by BMW, Audi, or Mercedes. Conversely, the driver sits higher in the XTS than in cars from those other manufacturers, which means that there is better outward visibility. Still, we'd like to see the XTS' thrones be a little more supportive and infinitely adjustable like the other models.
Back-seat riders get the best seat in the house, according to us. Compared to other luxury full-sizers, the XTS has better confines in back, and can fit a wider range of body types. The headliner has been carved out for tall torsos (or tall bodies) and there's plenty of shoulder room for up to three across in back. Our only gripe is similar to the same one we have for the front seats: we just wish the seats were a little more contoured than they are. At least the middle position is padded better than in other models, so fitting five in the XTS is entirely possible.
Inside, the XTS is a step above older Cadillacs when it comes to interior materials. There's real wood here; available softer Opus leather hides; soft-touch materials everywhere, including in the doors and dash; and a leather-wrapped instrument panel. Top trims get a heavy dose of synthetic suede, called Alcantara, which class up the place.
Cadillac mostly ditched physical knobs in favor of capacitive patches for climate controls or radio volume. It goes a long way in smartening up the interior by getting rid of buttons, but it can be frustrating for some to use&—sliders just don't have the same confident feel as knobs sometimes.
Active noise cancellation also helps keep the XTS cabin quiet, negating some road noise and any boom from the powertrain; the engine is only audible under hard acceleration.
2016 Cadillac XTS
A raft of safety technology makes the Cadillac XTS one of the best choices for passenger protection.
Crash-test scores put the Cadillac XTS among the safest sedans you can buy, though not all scores are in.
The NHTSA puts the XTS at five stars overall, with excellent scores across the board. The IIHS has given it "Good" scores across all its performed tests—but because it hasn't performed its latest small-overlap crash test on the sedan, it doesn't award it Top Safety Pick status.
Along with the standard safety package of airbags and stability control, and a rearview camera, the XTS can be equipped with a Driver Awareness package. It includes forward-collision alerts, a lane-departure warning system, and new this year, surround-view cameras, as well as blind-spot monitors. It's also packaged with General Motors' Safety Alert Seat, which vibrates on one side or both to help point out potential dangers—like when you veer over the lane marking, for instance.
The package also bundles adaptive cruise control, with an automatic-braking feature that can bring the car to a stop when moving at low speeds of 20 mph or less. At higher speeds, the feature will also reduce the severity of the impact by starting to brake.
The XTS can also be ordered with an Automatic Parking Assist feature that will steer the car into a parking space, with the driver only tending to the brakes.
2016 Cadillac XTS
Luxury features abound in the XTS, but we're still at odds with the CUE interface.
Priced like a very well-equipped mid-size luxury sedan, the Cadillac XTS is a strong value in its class, offering lots of technology and features to compete with rivals like the Audi A6 and Mercedes-Benz E-Class.
The XTS comes in four versions: base, Luxury, Premium, and Platinum. All versions get standard features including power features; Bose audio; remote start; and dual-zone automatic climate control.
Stepping into higher trim levels brings features like 22-way power-adjustable front seats with heating, cooling and massage features; that's a Platinum exclusive.
There's also a big configurable gauge cluster, which offers several layouts plus lots of customization, which is included only in Premium and Platinum models. So is the much-improved head-up display, which projects critical information onto the windshield.
Stand-alone options are limited: they include navigation on base models, a panoramic sunroof, and a safety package that adds adaptive cruise control and for 2016, a surround-view camera system.
A rear-seat DVD entertainment option can keep passengers occupied for long hauls, and a fold out rear seat arm rest with included radio and sunshade controls adds an executive touch that many should find appealing. New Intellibeam headlights and front-seat memory for adjustments add common-sense convenience to the XTS.
Also new for 2016: wireless smartphone charging and Apple CarPlay functionality, which mirrors some iPhone functions on the XTS' CUE screen. CUE—short for Cadillac User Experience—is a haptic touchscreen system that can accept inputs with gestures, even if your fingers aren't touching the screen.
The Cadillac CUE system is quickly becoming one of our favorites. The menu system is deep and customizable, which we appreciate. Back out to the main screen and it simplifies the choices, which is a boon for drivers while on the move. The voice recognition system is adept at taking natural voice cues, such as "Take me to Disneyland," which is infinitely easier than learning proprietary or nested phrases that other systems require. The screen scrolling is smooth and without glitches, and live traffic information streamed to the system shows up reliably and timely.
The infotainment system can also feel jumpy; we've lost our place at critical junctions during navigation; and the proximity control sometimes chooses functions we hadn't intended. It's a learning curve that's somewhat less steep than other complex infotainment systems, mostly because its gesture interface is like popular smartphones, with swipe-and-pinch touch control.
2016 Cadillac XTS
Given its size, the Cadillac XTS' fuel economy is reasonable.
With a curb weight of about 4,000 pounds, and powerful V-6 engines on tap, the Cadillac XTS isn't the sedan to choose if high fuel economy is a priority.
According to the EPA, the base XTS with front-wheel drive earns gas-mileage ratings of 18 mpg city, 28 highway, 22 combined. Adding all-wheel drive pushes the numbers down to 17/26/20 mpg. Considering its true five-passenger capacity—even for long road trips—that's quite respectable.
The VSport is our favorite XTS for performance, but it's at the bottom of the list for frugality: it's rated at 16/23/18 mpg.