The 2013 Cadillac XTS is the best American car.
It is everything a Cadillac should be. Big. Comfortable. Chock-full of advanced technology. Designed with sophistication.
The Cadillac XTS has presence.
Although the Cadillac ATS was named 2013 North American Car of the Year, that probably says more about the predilections of the judges rather than the magnificence of the cars. Auto writers tend to like the BMW 3 Series. Auto writers may be able to afford to buy a 3 Series. The XTS is in the 7 Series realm, a place that the writers are only like to get to when they get a car loan for a week. It is out of their ken. So contextually, the XTS doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to them.
But for people who are looking for a classic American luxury car—yes, yes, there is that aforementioned technology, which we’ll get to in a minute, so I don’t mean “classic” in the sense of Masterpiece Theatre. The ATS is a good car. The XTS is what “Cadillac” used to mean.
You may have seen the television spot made by Fallon for Cadillac, “Night Out.” If you haven’t, you can catch it here. Essentially, the spot focuses on two hip dudes, rolling in their XTS between shagging some balls after dark, picking up a grizzly old guy and his dog whose pickup truck has broken down, going to a diner, a real diner, not an upscale restaurant meant to be a diner. . . . The tagline used is “Life Lived Large.” Presumably those two 30-somethings work at an ad agency or hustle trades. Presumably Cadillac would like young, affluent buyers to choose the XTS.
But here’s the thing: Just as the auto writers miss the appeal of the XTS because they are focused on the driving dynamics of a vehicle in the 3 Series class, the Fallon creatives don’t realize that the XTS is a car that is more likely to be selected by those who are 40-something or more, who are more likely to be playing golf by day, using the CUE system or OnStar for assistance for some dodgy-looking old guy and his dog (think fleas), and dining at a place where Michelin means more than “tires.”
The XTS isn’t hip. The XTS is a well-crafted machine that could credibly vie for that “The Standard of the World” slogan that Cadillac once earned. (Although you’ll see that at the end of the “Night Out” ad, you should take that with a grain of salt as big as the Ritz until you actually get into an XTS or ATS, as these cars are, dare I use the now-hackneyed term, “game changers” for Cadillac.) Yes, yes, saying that it isn’t “hip” is going to make some people at Cadillac marketing feel somewhat apoplectic. But I’m guessing that those people who will buy a $60K sedan have put their Jack Kerouac days far behind them.
And just look at the name of the trim package of the car in question: “Premium Collection.” Does that sound like something you can dance to?
One of the key features that is impressive about this car, a feature that adds nothing vis-à-vis performance, ride or handling, a feature that is completely baroque yet slightly functional, is that at night, when you’re walking up to the car keyfob at the ready, the door handles are illuminated. That may sound even silly, but it really is special.
Or then there is the fact that when you sit on that leather seating surface on that power adjustable seat that will cosset you like something out of an upscale furniture boutique, you may notice that there is something on the top surface of the seatback: one of the 14 speakers for the Bose Studio Surround Sound system. Very clever positioning.
The instrument cluster is a 12.3-inch full-color graphic display. No, this isn’t something that resembles a bad sci-fi movie prop that is to signify “the future.” Rather, it is something that combines both a contemporary appearance with traditional cues.
There’s Magnetic Ride Control, which essentially means that rather than relying on springs in the shocks to smooth the ride (remember: this is a Cadillac so smooth and steady as she goes), there is an electrically actuated fluid that is activated as needed to provide the necessary damping resistance. While this tech has been around a while at General Motors, it still remains something that is special.
The Premium Collection has what’s called the “Driver Awareness Package” as standard. It includes a sensor array that provides lane departure warning, forward collision, side blind zone alert, rear cross traffic alert, and a safety alert seat. A word about that last one: Instead of having a warning that beeps at you, there is a vibration in the seat cushion. It is rather disconcerting the first few times it happens.
The particular car in question had the “Driver Assist Package” ($2,395), which includes even more sensors, that facilitate adaptive cruise control and automatic collision preparation which not only let’s you know you’ve got an impending problem (visually, not just with a seat shake) and gets the brakes going.
The fact that there is a V6 under the hood rather than at least a V8 may give some people pause, it is certainly sufficient to propel the car without hesitation. The Haldex-based all-wheel-drive system and what’s called the “HiPer Strut” front suspension and linked H-arm with air spring rear suspension setup notwithstanding, I suspect that not a whole lot of people will be doing any slaloms in their XTS.
What they probably will be doing is going to the country club, which makes the massive trunk—18 cubic feet—a nice touch. And there’s plenty of room in the backseat for people who are coming along for the ride. They’ll be glad they’re riding Cadillac style.
Engine: 3.6-liter V6 with variable valve timing and direct injection
Material: Cast aluminum block and heads
Horsepower: 304 @ 6,800 rpm
Torque: 264 lb-ft @ 5,200 rpm
Transmission: Hydra-Matic 6T70 six-speed automatic
Wheelbase: 111.7 in.
Length: 202 in.
Width: 72.9 in.
Height: 59.4 in.
Curb weight: 4,215 lb.
Base MSRP : $55,810 (destination: $920)
Options as Driven: Driver Assist ($2,395), Crystal Red tintcoat ($995), 20-in wheels ($500)
EPA: 17/26/20 city/highway/combined mpg