The XTS comes in standard guise, plus in Luxury Collection, Premium Collection, and Platinum Collection versions. We drove both Premium and Platinum models, which pack in the most technology and luxury features. CUE and its big fully capacitative touch screen is standard across the line, but the big reconfigurable gauge cluster, which offers several layouts plus lots of customization, is included only in Premium and Platinum models. So is the much-improved Head-Up Display, which projects critical information onto the windshield; premium sound; and navigation functionality for CUE. So if you want to take advantage of the technology, you'll want one of those two top models.
CUE: So far, so good...but we'll reserve judgment
As for CUE, it's one of the most attractive, most intuitively laid-out interfaces yet, but it's not without its little issues. We appreciated how the system has a depth of customization possibilities once you get into the submenus, yet on the surface it simplifies the choices. Thanks to proximity sensing, bring your hand a certain number of inches near the screen, and it opens up more menu choices. And we loved its natural-language capability, for the most part. You can simply say things like “Take me to Starbucks,” or “Let's go to Starbucks,” and it's not so dependent on hitting specific command-tree words. Also, screen scrolling is smooth and glitch-free, and the live-traffic features that have been cause for frustration in so many other vehicles seemed to work flawlessly here, with better detail than most other systems present.
There were a few inconsistencies in the screen controls that left us puzzled—like why the favorites bar seemed to scroll from one ‘page’ to the other much more easily in one car than in another, and how we also noticed more of a latency issue on one system than in another. We're looking forward to playing with CUE at length in production models.
VP Don Butler doesn’t hesitate in pointing out that Cadillac is in a transition period with the XTS. What we’re going to see is a full line of luxury vehicles, each with a looser interpretation of what Art & Science means, for each individual purpose.
Ultimately, GM seems to have created a sedan that’s what the STS used to be: front-wheel-drive, yet incorporating some of the best tech features, along with performance extras that don’t too much affect comfort.
Better than expected...but what about that price?
The XTS is simply better than it needs to be—right up until the time you think about price. The 2013 XTS starts at $44,995 (including destination), and goes to $61,305 for the Platinum (with a $2,000 charge for all-wheel drive). That's about in line with the Audi A6 and Mercedes-Benz E 350.
While pricing might seem steep (especially if those flagship models are yet on the way), and CUE is yet to be proven, the XTS is Cadillac's first all-new model since 2009—and its first new model under the new GM—and it's clearly on the right track. With both a coupe and sedan flagship likely on the way within the next several years, look for this sedan (and CUE) to fit right into a line of products that pile on the tech and establish Cadillac as a full-line global luxury brand.