2013 Cadillac XTS Premium Collection AWD
2013 Cadillac XTS Premium Collection AWD. Click image to enlarge
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Review and photos by Mike Schlee

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2013 Cadillac XTS Premium Collection AWD

Cadillac has spent the past decade reinventing itself with modern, sportier vehicles like the CTS, STS and ATS. This is not one of those vehicles; this is the 2013 Cadillac XTS. Although Cadillac is trying desperately to appeal to a new, younger, more global audience, they are not about to turn their back on their, let’s say, more traditional customer.

The XTS is a replacement for both the STS and DTS, and is based off of the platform currently underpinning the Buick Lacrosse and upcoming 2014 Chevrolet Impala. Power is limited to just one engine choice: Cadillac’s ubiquitous 3.6L V6 producing 304 hp and 264 lb-ft of torque. This engine is usually terrific, but in the XTS gets overwhelmed as it is tasked with motivating 1,912 kg of luxury around. Constant applications of the throttle result in less than impressive fuel economy. Officially rated at 12.5 L/100 km city and 7.7 L/100 km highway, I was only able to average in the mid-11s during hundreds of kilometres of highway driving, and was closer to 16 L/100 km in the city.

In stark contrast to the ATS, CTS and previous STS, the XTS is a front-wheel-drive-based vehicle with a transversely mounted engine. There is, however, the option of a Haldex all-wheel-drive system with electronically controlled limited-slip differential, with which my test vehicle was equipped. No matter which drivetrain you choose, all XTSes come equipped with a six-speed automatic transmission. The transmission is both smooth and seamless in operation, but I was left scratching my head as to why, in a vehicle with no sporting intentions, did Cadillac install a Sport mode and steering wheel–mounted paddle shifters?

Those hoping that the new Cadillac XTS will compete with the likes of the BMW 7 Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class will be sorely disappointed. We’ll have to wait a few years yet for a proper, rear-wheel-drive-based flagship to arrive from Cadillac to take on the Germans. For now, this car is better suited to face off against the likes of the Lincoln MKS and maybe even the Lexus ES. Sadly, unlike those vehicles, the XTS has trouble hiding its family sedan roots. Pronounced tire noise and a coarse suspension ruin an otherwise pleasant driving experience. The latter is quite a surprise as all other applications of the Magnetic Ride Control have been exceptional.

2013 Cadillac XTS Premium Collection AWD2013 Cadillac XTS Premium Collection AWD2013 Cadillac XTS Premium Collection AWD2013 Cadillac XTS Premium Collection AWD
2013 Cadillac XTS Premium Collection AWD. Click image to enlarge

This vehicle is large and feels large. The standard 245/45R19 tires, Magnetic Ride Control, rear air springs, HiPer Strut front suspension and front Brembo brakes all do their best to keep this large car under control, and it more or less works. Drive it like a family sedan and you will be fine. Expect ATS-like reflexes and it will disappoint.

Like all Cadillacs in recent memory, the XTS features the trademark Art and Science design language. The overall effect makes the XTS look modern, yet conventional enough to not alienate Cadillac’s ‘traditional’ customers. A cool feature is the rear taillight treatment, which actually seem to pay homage, with a modern twist, to the tailfins of classic Cadillacs.

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