Review: Is the 2013 Cadillac XTS one of the best Caddy’s sedans ever made?

The all-new 2013 Cadillac XTS is a big front- or all-wheel-drive sedan based on the Buick LaCrosse and upcoming Chevrolet Impala. It replaces Cadillac’s DTS and STS models and is arguably the best Cadillac sedan ever.

The XTS is handsome, despite a stubby hood. Its clean, elegant design doesn’t have the many sharp angles and creases found on other Cadillacs. The uptown interior is deathly quiet. It has everything from comfortable seats and easily read gauges to soft-touch, high-quality materials, along with either wood or metal. No cheap plastics here.

The XTS stresses technology, luxury and prestige, with no pretensions to directly compete with stiffer German luxury-performance models. In short, the XTS is largely its “own man” and leaves Caddy models such as the CTS and new ATS to fight sporty foreign rivals.

Still, that isn’t a black-and-white issue. The XTS seemingly walks a rather fine line between old-style Cadillac plushness and the ride and handling of foreign luxury-performance sedans.

The roomy, rigidly built car has 19-inch or available 20-inch wheels with short sidewall tires for quick responses and an advanced suspension with Magnetic Ride Control, torque-steer-cancelling “HiPer” front struts and rear air springs.

The XTS is priced from $44,075 to $60,385, with Base, Luxury, Premium and Platinum models. Even the entry version has enough comfort and convenience items to choke a whale. But you need to get the Platinum to get a standard panoramic roof, which is optional for the Luxury and Premium models.

I tested the a $60,385 Platinum model with all-wheel drive and found this new Caddy drives like a smaller car. Its ride is supple, with special high-performance shock absorbers that prevent “float” and improve on-center steering feel.

Handling isn’t in the BMW class, but is surprisingly good through twisty bends. High-speed curves and decreasing radius freeway on-ramps can be taken gracefully, with minimal body sway and no tire squeal. Stability and traction control systems are standard.

The variable-effort power steering is crisp, and strong Brembo front brakes and large rear ones have good pedal feel. The anti-lock brakes confidently stop the approximately 4,000-pound car.

But where’s the V-8? We all know that large, older Cadillacs had big V-8s with loads of torque that provided seemingly effortless performance, which was equated with luxury. Instead, the XTS has a 304-horsepower 3.6-liter V-6.

However, the V-6 provides lively acceleration off the line and on highways (0-60 mph. in 6.5-6.8 seconds). But the sophisticated engine, which has dual overhead camshafts, 24 valves and direct fuel injection, delivers 264 pound-feet of torque that peaks at a high (for a luxury domestic sedan) 5,200 rpm.

You thus can sense that the smooth engine is working hard to deliver lots of torque. Those who owned Cadillacs with big V-8s  aren’t used to working engines that hard.

A 6-speed automatic transmission with a manual-shift mode handles power flow, but where’s a more modern 7- or 8-speed unit?

Estimated fuel economy for the front-drive version is 17 miles per gallon in the city and 28 on highways. With the advanced all-wheel drive, the figures are 17 and 26.

Luxury car buyers want to be increasingly coddled, so Cadillac offers the XTS with a 4-year/50,000-mile Premium Care Maintenance program, and 6-year/70,000-mile courtesy transportation—not to mention a long roadside assistance program.

The XTS was conceived in GM’s dark old pre-bankruptcy days in 2006—then put on hold in 2009. It’s thus being introduced later than it should be and isn’t the large flagship car Cadillac needs to regain its old “King of the Hill” status, which may no longer be possible with all the stiff foreign competition.

But give Caddy some time here. Despite delays, many might feel that the XTS was well worth waiting for.

On the TFLcar scale of:

Buy it

– Lease it

– Rent it or

-Forget it

I recommend that you Lease It!

Price: $44,075-$60,385

Dan Dan Jedlicka joined the Chicago Sun-Times in February 1968 as a business news reporter and was named auto editor later that year. He has reviewed more than 4,000 new vehicles for the Sun-Times–far more than any newspaper auto writer in the country. Jedlicka also reviewed vehicles for Microsoft Corp.’s MSN Autos Internet site from January, 1996, to June, 2008. For more of Dan’s thoughtful and insightful reviews please visit his web site HERE.