If you’re a passionate iPadder and love the swish, swipe, tap and pinch of that little glass screen, you’re going to love the new full-size Cadillac XTS sedan. If you’re a PC rather than a Mac guy, maybe turn to Spivak’s wine page now.
The suits at Cadillac are keeping their collective digits crossed that buyers will wholeheartedly embrace its bold, tech-rich CUE system—that’s short for Cadillac User Experience. They’d better, because every new Caddy for at least the next five years is going to feature it as standard.
Essentially, CUE consists of a big, fancy eight-inch touch screen mounted high up on the center console. Move your pinkie toward the screen, and a proximity sensor detects impending action and wakes up the system. So far, so good.
Like the iPhone/iPad, the screen is populated by an array of icons, apps and virtual buttons. A gentle tap opens what you’re looking for—audio, climate, navigation, phone, vehicle settings. One cool feature is the subtle vibration—called haptic feedback—you get when you touch the screen button, just to let you know your command has been noted.
Cool feature No. 2 is the iPhone/iPad element of expanding the screen with your thumb and pointer finger. This is perfect for my deteriorating eyesight when looking at maps on the nav screen.
It all works exceedingly well, and much better than Ford/Lincoln’s awful MyTouch system, which I’m still trying to fathom. But like anything computeresque, you need practice. And probably the help of your geeky 14-year-old nephew.
Love it or loathe it, ignore CUE and focus on the impressive overall package that is this new Cadillac. If you love big-car American luxury, you will adore the new XTS.
And it is a big car. Roughly the same length as a BMW 7-series—202 inches bow to stern—it’s actually based on the stretched underpinnings of the Buick LaCrosse. Front-wheel drive is standard (yes, I know, not very premium), although all-wheel drive is on the options list.
On the face of it, the car’s 3.6-liter direct-injection V-6 doesn’t sound too thrilling, especially for those Caddy aficionados who remember brawny Cadillac Northstar V-8s.
But on the road, it somehow all comes together to deliver a surprising, sophisticated driving experience. With 304 horses, the silky-smooth V-6 will waft this 4,100-pound XTS from rest to 60 mph in a creditable 6.5 seconds. Cruising at 75 on I-95 is like driving on a cloud. And while eight ratios would be nicer than six—eight is the new luxury car norm—the transmission shifts from ratio to ratio with the smoothness of liquid Teflon.
The real surprise, and what separates the XTS from Caddy DeVille and Seville luxo-barges of old, is the way it handles. A brilliant combo of magnetic dampers up front and air suspension at the rear, plus quick-ratio hydraulic steering, huge Brembo front brakes and either 19- or 20-inch slim-sidewall tires, makes the car feel precise, confident and surprisingly agile through the twisties.
Perhaps the real appeal of the new XTS, however, is the way it looks, outside and in. Seen on the street, its styling is drop-dead gorgeous. I love the sweep of the roof, the smooth curves sharpened by upright headlights and taillights, the rippled hood. To see the car in profile is to make a grown man swoon. Or at least suffer a descending jaw.
A big body makes for a big cabin. It offers best-in-class rear seat legroom and a seductive cockpit-style feel to the front. Tony Soprano would give two thumbs up to the PODS-sized trunk.
Opt for the range-topping $60,000 XTS Platinum—lesser models start at around $45,000—and you’re treated to the highest-quality interior Cadillac has ever offered. Perforated full-leather seats that vibrate if you drift out of your lane, mirror-finished wood, Alcantara headliner and the most gorgeous, Bentley-like detailing.
Cadillac has been missing a flagship model for a while. You could say this new XTS arrives right on CUE.