Until performance-oriented models took precedence, full-size sedans served as the solid pillars of the Cadillac lineup. Introduced for 2013, the Cadillac XTS is the largest sedan in the group. Considered a step up from Cadillac’s ATS and CTS sports sedans, the Cadillac XTS is about comfort, refinement and capabilities.
Drivers get ample passenger room with the Cadillac XTS. Backseat space qualifies as massive, topping that of most similar-size sedans. Occupants enjoy abundant headroom and bountiful leg space, within a quiet and refined four-door. Compared against such rivals as the Audi A6 and Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Cadillac scores well in technology and available features.
Changes are modest for 2016. The 2016 Cadillac XTS is distinguished by revised grilles, integration with Apple CarPlay, and wireless smartphone charging. A Surround Vision camera is newly available.
Two 3.6-liter V6 engines are available. Smooth and predictable, the base engine sends 305 horsepower to a 6-speed automatic transmission. Buyers of upper-level models who prefer more get-up-and-go can select a Vsport twin-turbocharged version of the V6, whipping up 410 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque.
Plenty of safety features are available, though you have to purchase an option group to get the most advanced items. One of them can apply brakes automatically, when sensors detect trouble, bringing the car to a halt from up to about 20 mph.
Also on the technical front, 4G LTE connectivity with GM’s OnStar can create an in-car wi-fi network. All XTS sedans have CUE (Cadillac User Experience), with an eight-inch capacitive touchscreen (similar to an iPad) at the center of the instrument panel. Few actual buttons exist; nearly everything is done on-screen.
Fuel economy is about on par, considering the XTS’s size. The Environmental Protection Agency estimated the base front-drive model at 18/22 mpg City/Highway, dropping to 17/26 mpg with all-wheel drive. Picking a Vsport engine lowers the estimates to 16/23 mpg.
Cadillac’s XTS has earned good scores in crash testing, with a five-star overall rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) deems XTS Good, its highest rating.
Topped by a softly arched roofline, set above smooth, uncluttered bodysides, the XTS comes across as an expertly crafted mixture of sharp angles, creases, and curves. The end result is a clean-looking profile, integrating just enough subtle verve to give the XTS a distinctive, clearly Cadillac appearance. In fact, today’s XTS is a contemporary rendition of the Art & Science design theme devised more than a decade ago. Grilles have been revised for 2016.
Overall and in their individual elements, the instrument panel and trim within the Cadillac XTS show off the latest interior trends from General Motors. At the same time, the XTS interior differs from that of any other GM vehicle. Smoothly contoured and somewhat soft in detailing, the swooping dashboard is highlighted by neatly beveled metallic trim elements.
Materials are high in quality, including wood trim, numerous soft-touch surfaces, and leather-wrapped instrument panels. Fit and finish rank as excellent, demonstrating subtle luxury.
Space is ample for four adults; or for five, if one is a little smaller. Occupants sit a bit higher than in other big luxury sedans, which translates to excellent all-around visibility. On the down side, front-seat support trails some competitors. In back, however, passenger space is considerably greater.
With gouged-out portions of the rear headliner delivering increased headroom, six-footers and beyond won’t be disappointed. Though the seats are not similarly contoured, the center rear position is better than in many cars.
Active noise cancellation helps keep the cockpit quiet. Unfortunately, the CUE setup remains troublesome, sometimes jumping around during crucial steps while using navigation. However, screen scrolling is smooth and problem-free. Live-traffic features operate flawlessly.
Acceleration with the base engine is slightly slow when starting off, while the Vsport V6 feels closer to the energetic nature of a V8. Closer to highway speeds, you can expect a rather exhilarating reaction when pushing the pedal of a Vsport.
Courtesy of a nicely tuned suspension and MagneRide magnetic ride control, you can expect a well-composed ride: somewhat firm, yet largely absorbent. Adjustable dampers automatically alter the ride so the XTS soaks up most surface flaws, including patches of broken-up pavement.
Overall, responses to steering inputs are crisper than in some comfort-focused automobiles. Any model demonstrates excellent road manners and a sense of nimbleness, as well as a satisfying connection to the pavement surface. Despite its two-ton bulk, an XTS doesn’t even feel especially heavy. Cornering is flat, with little sense of inability to cope, though hard braking can yield quite a bit of nosedive.
Benefits of an XTS reach beyond interior space and comfort. Although an XTS is rather expensive, it’s more agile than its size might suggest. With the Vsport engine, the largest Cadillac is also more energetic than it might appear. Overall, this Cadillac qualifies as a reasonably strong value in its class.
Driving impressions by Marty Padgett, The Car Connection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.