2013 Cadillac XTS Road Test Review
2013 Cadillac XTS offers luxury and technology, but not performance
Scores High: Innovative CUE system, advanced chassis, superb ride quality, well-appointed and plush cabin
Scores Low: Engine needs more power, glossy instrument panel surfaces show off fingerprints
Total Car Score Analysis
For the premium sedan buyer seeking luxury and technology, the all-new 2013 Cadillac XTS delivers. The cabin sets a new benchmark in both design and execution, leaving little on the wish list regarding passenger appointments or frills. Even more impressive, Cadillac's highly touted CUE system is a successful mix of technology and function. Its integration within the XTS combines infotainment, navigation and communication while providing a straightforward driver interface.
But the XTS’ only available engine, a 3.6-liter V6, is somewhat unrefined. In a segment where driving enjoyment is as important as luxury and innovation, the new Cadillac XTS already has some catching up to do.
Cadillac's all-new 2013 XTS doesn't offer any choices when it comes to powertrain, as the full-size sedan is only offered with one engine and transmission combination. Under its hood the all-aluminum, direct-injected 3.6-liter V6 is rated at 304 horsepower and 264 pound-feet of torque. The V6 is mated to a traditional six-speed automatic transmission with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters for manual control. Front-wheel drive is standard, but the three premium trim levels can be had with all-wheel drive featuring an electronically-controlled limited-slip differential.
Despite its strong specifications, the XTS powertrain is less than impressive on the road. While most of the competition offers forced-induction powerplants that make plenty of torque down low, Cadillac has fitted a naturally-aspirated engine that doesn't make much of anything until it is really spinning around the tachometer. Unfortunately, this behavior is counterintuitive to a luxury buyer. Cadillac says its 4,004-pound XTS will hit 60 mph in less than seven seconds, but that felt somewhat optimistic in our driving experience. If there’s an upside to the underpowered engine it’s the relatively high fuel economy. According to the manufacturer, the Cadillac XTS with AWD will earn 17 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway. Regular unleaded fuel is recommended.
Looking past the drivetrain issues you realize what may be the 2013 Cadillac XTS’ strongest feature – it’s ride quality is on par with the best luxury sedans available, at any price. The automaker's famed Magnetic Ride Control (i.e. electronically adaptive) suspension with rear air springs is standard across the model range, as are powerful Brembo brakes. With everything bolted to a capable chassis, and riding on standard 19-inch wheels, body roll is minimal and even the harshest bumps are easily absorbed. The steering lacks the road feel of a sport sedan, but it is otherwise accurate.
Cadillac has also done an admirable job isolating passengers from the outside world. The cabin remains quiet thanks to laminated glass and sound-absorbing insulation. At highway speeds the XTS dispenses with great distances in a serene world of refinement and luxury.
Interior Design and Function
Cadillac was determined to exceed the level of appointment, quality of materials and upscale cabin architecture of its competition — and the automaker has done an accomplished job with the new 2013 XTS. Leather upholstery, attractively offset by real wood trim, is standard on even the base model, as is dual-zone climate control and a basic (but capable) Bose audio system. The XTS designers effectively focused on the touch points (where passengers put their hands) to ensure all accessible materials are soft and provide an exquisite feel.
The primary instrument cluster is a large and user-friendly digital display that may be customized and configured by the driver. It works in conjunction with an eight-inch capacitive-touch display, home of Cadillac's CUE (Cadillac User Interface) system. The interface features the same touch technology that is found on today's tablets and smart phones, meaning it's easy to use and intuitive once owners become familiar with its basic control system. To drive the point home, an Apple iPad comes free with each Cadillac XTS.
Passengers will find the cabin roomy and comfortable, as the full-size platform provides all seating positions with ample leg, head and shoulder room. The standard 10-way front seats are supportive, with plenty of lumbar adjustment (but limited bolstering) and the steering column is electrically adjustable for rake and telescope (memory settings are standard on all but the base model XTS).
Windows are generously sized, allowing plenty of daylight to fill the cabin (our test vehicle was equipped with the large UltraView sunroof, delivering even more light to the cabin). Available indirect ambient lighting bathes the cabin in soothing hues at night.
Primary Features and Options
The 2013 Cadillac XTS is sold in four trim levels: XTS, Luxury Collection, Premium Collection and Platinum Collection.
Standard equipment includes leather upholstery, genuine wood trim, full power accessories and the CUE system. The Luxury model adds equipment such as the ambient lighting package, heated front and rear seats, a heated steering wheel, memory seats and ultrasonic parking assist. Upgrading to the Premium model delivers adaptive headlights, a larger 12.3-inch main instrument display, head-up display and an upgraded CUE system. The range-topping Platinum arrives with higher-grade leather, premium carpets, the UltraView sunroof and 20-inch wheels. From the exterior, each model may be differentiated by unique cosmetic enhancements (for example, the grille on the Platinum is satin-chrome, while it is piano black on the other models).
Standard XTS safety equipment includes ten airbags and OnStar vehicle telemetry. Higher trim levels include high-tech equipment such as Forward Collision Alert, Lane Departure Warning, Side Blind Zone Alert, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Safety Alert Seat, Front/Rear Automatic Braking and Automatic Collision Preparation.
The optional equipment list includes all-wheel drive ($2,225), compact spare tire ($350), UltraView sunroof ($1,450), navigation system ($795), Driver Awareness package ($890), Engine Block Heater ($75) and a Front License Plate Bracket ($15).
It’s Perfect For…
The Cadillac XTS is ideal for someone seeking a luxurious full-size four-door sedan loaded with innovative technology.
Nobody else in the segment can match the XTS’ standard equipment list or comprehensive suite of advanced electronics — especially at its aggressive price point. Digital wizardry abounds in nearly every part of the vehicle, with the automaker's innovative CUE experience taking center stage.
A tech-savvy consumer looking for an upscale luxury sedan will find the 2013 Cadillac XTS both intriguing and competent, but driving enthusiasts seeking a capable sport sedan with a refined engine (in the spirit of European alternatives) will likely feel the 3.6-liter falls short.
Vehicle Tested: 2013 Cadillac XTS Premium Collection AWD
Base MSRP of Test Vehicle: $54,505
Options on Test Vehicle: All-wheel drive ($2,225), UltraView Sunroof ($1,450) and Destination ($920).
MSRP of Test Vehicle (including destination charge): $59,100
2013 Audi A6
2013 BMW 5 Series
2013 Mercedes-Benz E-Class
The manufacturer provided Total Car Score this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.
Photos Courtesy of the manufacturer.