2013 Cadillac XTS: First Drive Page 2

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Where you don’t feel the weight nearly as much—and where we expected to feel it more, honestly—is in cornering. The XTS doesn't throw its weight around; it loads and unloads in a confident way, and stays surprisingly flat. More importantly, it rarely feels flustered, with MagneRide helping with that impression, soaking up road noise and minor harshness. And for those begging to compare it with the LaCrosse, you simply won't find much in common dynamically; it has a different attitude on the road, with strong straight-line highway tracking, as well as a more Germanic luxury-car ride. There are two wheel sizes (19- and 20-inch)—and the differences between them, from behind the wheel, really is minimal.

Dynamic prowess is of course not the XTS's primary mission, of course. As Cadillac's marketing vice president Don Butler seemed eager to point out, the XTS is no STS replacement, and it’s no replacement for the DTS. Think “right-sized,” not “maximum-sized.” In fact, the competitive set for the XTS is a bit muddled; it lands in about the same realm, length-wise, as the short-wheelbase Audi A8, Mercedes-Benz E Class, and BMW 7-Series, and yet it also takes on the likes of the Lincoln MKS, the Lexus ES, and possibly even the Hyundai Genesis V-6.

Faster, Jeeves

Compared to most of those cars, the XTS's secret weapon is its back seat. There’s truly enough space to fit any passenger in comfort. The headliner includes carved-out areas for even more headroom behind the sunroof housing, but even I had a couple of inches above my head. Back seats aren’t quite as contoured as we expected them to be, although the middle backseat position—either more confined, too narrow, or thinly padded in many larger sedans, even—is quite useful here. In a nod to both the Chinese market, where the XTS will sell in basically the same form (except with some trim/equipment differences and a 2.0-liter turbo four under the hood), and to the U.S. livery business (a possibility), nobody will be left wanting for legroom.

In front? Well, you tend to sit a bit higher in the XTS than in other large luxury cars—which means that you get great outward visibility. The downside of that is that the setup doesn’t drop any performance hints whatsoever. Front seats are quite comfortable, but not in the realm of the carved-out, ultra-supportive perches you get in some performance sedans.

The structurally related LaCrosse already manages top crash-test scores—and we expect the XTS to do as well. But one option offered that may help you be even more secure, beginning this fall, is a Driver Awareness Package, rolling a host of active-safety features together and taking advantage of camera technology and short- and long-range radar systems (for just $890). While we've seen versions of most of this technology in other Cadillacs or other vehicles before, it's comprehensive, with a full suite of sensing and safety-related technologies, including full-speed adaptive cruise control, rear cross-traffic alert, side blind zone alert, lane departure warning, and low-speed automatic braking.

It's also the first car to use a directional tactile sensation in its seats to ‘point’ to the direction of a hazard. For instance, with the XTS’s lane departure warning system on, it would give us a subtle vibration on the left side of the seat as we weaved over to the center line; or as we approached stopped traffic, it gave us a couple of more aggressive pulses from both sides of the seat.

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