Cars

The forgotten Cadillac: 2013 Cadillac XTS

I can pinpoint the moment it happened: In April of 1968, David E. Davis wrote an article in Car and Driver effusively praising the new 1968 BMW 2002 as above and beyond its American competitors. Ever since then, any sedan that doesn’t feature European styling and handling is dissed as not road worthy. Sadly, such unnecessary snobbery has been the bane of one beautiful car: the Cadillac XTS. It’s the forgotten Cadillac, adrift amongst a sea of competitors from Europe, Japan, and Korea. But this is a Cadillac that oozes American-style class, with a ride quality that rewards a realworld driving experience.

The version of the XTS I’m driving is the Platinum AWD. If you eliminate two options—the Driver Assist Package at $2,395 and the gorgeous Black Diamond Tricoat paint at $995—the XTS Platinum AWD stickers at a $60,385. The pricing seems slightly high against cars like the BMW 535i Xdrive, the Mercedes-Benz E350 4MATIC, and the Audi A6 Quattro Prestige, which may be a problem.

The Platinum does offer equipment you won’t find in other XTS trims, or in other cars in general. The CUE Information and Media Control System is better than just about any smartphone integration system I’ve experienced, plus it integrates with the industry standard OnStar system. The panoramic sunroof is beautiful and lets the sun shine in while offering a nearopaque shade when you don’t want the rays bouncing off your head.

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All XTS trims feature very comfortable seats, but this package goes them one better with a driver and passenger thigh adjuster that lengthens the seat bottom for those with particularly long legs. It’s a feature that should be included on every premium car. BMW’s Sport Package offers it, but not many other manufacturers do.

But beyond those add-ons, it’s a little hard to justify the leap from $56,730 for the Premium AWD trim—which is much more competitive with the A6 and the E350—to $60,385 for the Platinum AWD. (Glad to report the XTS is also available in several front-wheel-drive trims starting at $44,075.)

Performance from the 304 hp 3.6-liter direct injectionV6 is perfectly matched to the six-speed automatic transmission, and offers almost exactly what every other vehicle in this class does. Fuel economy estimates of 26 mpg highway and 17 city are slightly lower than those in the A6 or the E350, but still competitive.

On a track, you might tick off a lap a few tenths of a second faster with the A6, but who cares when 92 percent of your driving is spent sitting in a line of cars waiting to ascend an on-ramp, or negotiating side streets with pot holes in the Boston suburbs? That ride quality is managed by Cadillac’s Magnetic Ride Control, which adjusts the shock absorbers up to 1,000 times per second, seamlessly reacting to pavement irregularities.

That soothing, surefooted quality is mirrored inside, with attention to detail that is light years ahead of where Cadillac was just a decade ago, when it hit some design bumps. This XTS is at once a time machine that brings you back to the era where Cadillac set the standard for luxury, and forward to a point where you never thought Cadillac would be. Today, you can put the interior of the Cadillac XTS up against any luxury automaker anywhere in the world and it will reset the standard for quality.

Aside from the sticker price for the Platinum, I have just two small complaints about the XTS. One is the control panel for climate functions. If you’re wearing gloves, those controls simply don’t work, much like the functions of your iPhone that requires the warm touch of a fingertip.Yes, many of these functions are also controlled by voice activation, but why even offer the panel if it’s not going to work with gloves on?

My second complaint is with the car’s marketing. I’ve seen plenty of material on the ATS, the CTS, and the SRX. Why haven’t I ever seen an XTS ad? I had to go looking for one on YouTube to confirm the company hadn’t ignored the car completely. There it was, a 30-second spot featuring cool hipsters doing cool hipster things while accompanied by a cool hipster soundtrack.

The XTS is a Cadillac for the professional who makes the world move, not someone who wakes up at 10:45 to tweet about whether the Hulk can beat up Spiderman. This is a car for adults. It would be nice to see it marketed that way.

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