The latest Ride of the Week is another flagship sedan, this time from the most celebrated American luxury automaker. The 2013 Cadillac XTS Platinum is all new, making its debut last year as a 2013 model. The big, 4-door, 5-passenger sedan is powered exclusively by a 3.6-liter V6 engine, and the test car, equipped with the top Platinum trim, also includes all-wheel drive.
But the feature that really differentiates the XTS from the competition isn’t mechanical. It’s Cadillac’s new CUE system, which handles everything from navigation to entertainment to climate control with iPad-like ease and simplicity. We hit the road for a trip from Atlanta to Charleston to test the XTS and all of its features. Upon arrival, both driver and passengers agreed that the XTS is an ideal automobile for interstate highway travel.
If the last Cadillac you rode in floated down the road with a ride that could be described as “mushy,” it’s been a while since you’ve experienced the brand. The standard Magnetic Ride Control in the XTS automatically adjusts suspension settings to provide a ride that’s firm but never uncomfortable. With Platinum trim, the test vehicle rides on 20-inch wheels, which may be a bit less forgiving than the standard 19-inchers. But even on concrete highways with big expansion joints, the Cadillac cruises evenly and quietly.
Getting comfortable in the driver’s seat is easy. Front seats include lumbar support, a thigh extension for taller drivers and heat and ventilation. The steering wheel is adjustable for reach and rake, and all of the settings tie in with the memory function. I found the seats to be comfortable and supportive throughout the 3o0-mile trip, but my front-seat passenger was fatigued by the time we arrived. From the rear bench, I heard no such complaints. My adult passenger in the back reported good comfort and plenty of space.
With the $2,395 optional Driver Assistance Package, piloting the XTS on the highway requires little of the driver. The system includes adaptive cruise control plus all the features of the optional Driver Awareness package: lane departure warning, blind spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert, head-up display and Cadillac’s Safety Alert Seat, which uses vibration in the driver’s seat to warn the driver of potential hazards. Adaptive cruise in the XTS is one of the best such systems that I’ve tried. The vehicle slows and accelerates slowly and smoothly without the annoying abruptness that plagues some competitors’ systems.
CUE was also a winner on the trip. My wife handled the music for our ride from the passenger seat and called CUE the best infotainment system of any of the vehicles I’ve tested. Of course, CUE is much more than music; navigation and climate control are also accessed through the touchscreen in the center stack. And in place of a traditional analog instrument panel, CUE includes a digital display to indicate speed and other vitals. It can be reconfigured in several layouts, and the driver can choose which information he or she would like displayed.
Cadillac no longer offers V8 power in its flagship sedan, but the 304-horsepower V6 and 6-speed automatic do a good job of getting the big car up to speed. It doesn’t accelerate with the quiet and effortless grace of some more powerful luxury cars, but it’s plenty quick when you need it. The test vehicle’s all-wheel drive system added an extra measure of confidence in rainy weather, too.
So the trip to Charleston in the 2013 Cadillac XTS Platinum was easy and comfortable, but getting around the city was a breeze, too. I used voice commands and navigation to find restaurants and shopping, so we quickly learned our way around the city. Parking sensors and a backup camera made low-speed maneuvering simple, despite the vehicle’s large size. And the rear cross-traffic alert system works great, warning the driver of hazards when backing out of a parking space.
Of course, the Cadillac is a stylish vehicle that looks great in the poshest of surroundings. And Charleston is a upscale city, so we felt like we belonged, even though we were just visitors for the weekend. We’d love to go back, and we’d certainly love to do it in the XTS once again.