LA Auto Show: 2013 Cadillac XTS
By Chris Haak
With the launch of its all-new 2013 XTS luxury sedan early in 2012, Cadillac can finally move its car lineup from being an “all-CTS, all the time” shop to one with a bit more diversity.
While the CTS (and the unlamented STS) catered more toward the sport-luxury buyer, Cadillac built the XTS to appeal more to the traditional luxury buyer. In other words, although the official word is that the XTS replaces both the STS and DTS in the Cadillac lineup, it’s much more in line with what the DTS had been providing than what the STS was. That is, it’s a traditional luxury car with much less sport in the equation.
You’ll note that during the XTS’ development, there were no spy shots of the car on the Nurburgring. There was no talk of performance, no talk of fire-breathing, supercharged V8s – and certainly not of V12s, of which the presumptive “world’s largest automaker” has none in its stable, nor has it for the most of the past century.
Instead, the XTS (you don’t know how much my fingers want to type DTS) will appeal more to Cadillac’s traditional constituents. While the CTS probably rides a bit harshly to win favor with the Palm Beach set, and doesn’t have enough rear-seat legroom to keep their golfing buddies content, the XTS has a very large rear seat, helped by the packaging advantages its front wheel drive-based platform. Dynamic advantages? probably not so much, as weight distribution will likely show a front-heavy car.
But really, who really buys an S550 or A8 for their driving dynamics? While the XTS competes against the German luxury establishment (and the Lexus LS, to be sure) in terms of size, it’s still likely to be something of a value play. While it’s Cadillac’s largest current sedan (among a population of two – the CTS and XTS), and is likely to be its most expensive sedan (excepting the special-edition CTS-V models), it’s still not considered a true flagship, given its relatively-pedestrian roots (it shares a platform with the Buick LaCrosse).
That being said, it will be the luxurious, particularly with its optional Platinum trim level. XTS Platinum models come with 20 inch polished aluminum wheels, a full leather-wrapped interior, and an Alcantara headliner.
While the 300 horsepower (estimated) 3.6 liter V6 is far from impressive (and also out-powered by the smaller CTS’ 318-horsepower variant), some of the technology offered in the XTS is impressive. Though the car isn’t really breaking any new ground in the industry, it does contain many new-for-GM technologies. Among these are a huge 12.3 inch LCD display nestled in the center stack (which itself is the centerpiece of Cadillac’s CUE infotainment system, featuring four display modes that range from information overload to oversimplification), adaptive cruise control, rear cross traffic alert, capless fuel tank, intervening braking, and more. Basically, it’s now caught up to a 2010 Taurus SHO’s or Infinti M45’s technology. I say that with my tongue firmly in my cheek, but a Cadillac should have had all of this technology available for years, not just adding it to a car for the first time.
Pricing has not been announced, but as we said earlier, expect it to sell at a discount to the true luxury flagships from Asia and Europe, while selling at a premium to the likes of the almost-equally-luxurious Buick LaCrosse GL (if the XTS-competing GL ever reaches production). Like the LaCrosse in only its upper trim levels, the XTS comes standard with GM’s well-regarded HiPer Strut front suspension to eliminate torque steer, then does the LaCrosse one better by adding the almost-magical Magnetic Ride Control and Brembo brakes.
Cadillac needed a car to replace the DTS for its traditional and livery buyers, and the XTS is that car. A twin turbo engine option is rumored, and would be nice to see, and there’s no word at this point as to whether the January 2010 XTS Platinum concept’s hybrid drivetrain will ever reach production. With the compact ATS coming later next year, the sedan lineup will suddenly offer the lonely CTS some company. If Cadillac can get the next two cars right, it should focus on making the next-generation CTS’ interior as good as what we’re seeing from the XTS, and then should work on creating a true flagship car – not necessarily the biggest, but one with benchmark-setting performance, comfort, luxury, and technology. That car could have the potential to be the “Standard of the World.” The XTS seems right now to be little more than a larger, more premium, and [very likely] expensive version of the LaCrosse.