The XTS is based on Buick LaCrosse architecture, but thanks to its suspension's magnetic dampen, you would have to take LSD to find any resemblance between the two cars' cornering and ride qualities. The Buick's is OK. The XTS's is superb. It achieves a ride/handling compromise probably not possible without the magnetic damping.
The XTS's attractive body reveals a kinship with the CTS, but is softer, less sharp edged. The only counterpoint to the kinder, gentler sculpting is the large, bold chrome grille.
The XTS front end is distinctly Cadillac, yet differentiated from the likes of the CTS by the fresh grille treatment and the matching chrome air dam beneath it.
The XTS also boasts a civil, comely derriere. I particularly like the exhaust emptying into those angular chrome outlets. The taillights evoke Cadillacs from the finny '50s.
The roof's pleasing semi-elliptical silhouette produces a sharply raked windshield and rear window. (The downside is somewhat reduced rear visibility.)
The car's aesthetics were enhanced by satisfying body fits.
The excellent build quality continues inside, where it is joined by such high-quality materials as soft leather and dark veneers.
The interior design is interesting, with bayonet-shaped veneer trim pieces below the saddle-stitched window sills, and the perforated leatherette I found on the dash of the test car. (The top model has real perforated leather.)
To the credit of the test car's interior, it eschewed the seemingly obligatory black with bright metal accents. It had the latter, but utilized a charcoal and light gray color scheme.
From a driver's standpoint, that interior worked well. The seats were very comfortable, although they could have been better bolstered. Instruments and controls were intuitively placed and readily accessible. The XTS' new touchscreen infotainment/navigation system is high tech to the third power. It does just about everything except find out whether Lady Gaga is free Friday night.
The test car gave little excuse not to know how fast you were going. In addition to the regular analog speedometer, there was a digital speedometer readout in the instrument cluster, plus a mile-per-hour hologram display seen through the windshield. (The hologram also displayed a compass reading and graphically displayed the directives given by the rather assertive lady lurking behind the navigational screen like the Wizard of Oz.)
There was a problem with the touch screen. A pause in touchscreen reaction could leave you thinking your command didn't register, causing you to hit it again - and erase what you ordered. (I kept telling myself to be patient.) Also, touching the screen left smudges. After a while, the screen was all schmutzed up.
The XTS is powered by the excellent 3.6 liter V-6 employed in other Cadillacs and the Camaro. This direct-injected, 304-horsepower engine propels the 4,000-pound XTS very nicely. It is the only engine offered in an arena where the Germans provide several choices. Also, the XTS automatic transmission is 6 speeds, while its competitors all have more gears.
The XTS is available with either front drive or all-wheel drive. It starts at $44,075 in front-drive form, and goes up to $60,385 for the all-wheel-drive Platinum model. The all-wheel drive XTS Premium I tested starts at $55,810.
The XTS has decent EPA mileage ratings of 17 city and 26 highway in all-wheel-drive form.
2013 XTS AWD Premium
Base price: $55,810.
As tested: $57,725.
Standard equipment: 3.6-liter engine, 6-speed automatic transmission, all-wheel drive and all the high-end goodies you would expect.
Options: Special paint.
Fuel economy: 17 m.p.g. city and 26 highway.
Ride comfort: Top shelf.
Warranty: 4 year/50,000 miles bumper-to-bumper.
The Ben Key: Four Bens, excellent; three Bens, good; two Bens, fair; one Ben, poor.
Contact Al Haas at firstname.lastname@example.org.