Road test: Cadillac XTS luxe sedan

The stylish, technically advanced and roomy 2013 Cadillac XTS Platinum AWD luxury sedan is trying to roll a tricky 7-10 split by simultaneously appealing to the brand's longtime customers and attracting new buyers looking for a large luxury sedan.

The 202-inch-long XTS straddles the line between midsize sport sedans like the Audi A6 or BMW 5-series and large luxury sedans such as the Audi A8 and BMW 7-series.

XTS prices start at $44,075 for a front-wheel drive model. All XTS models come with a 304-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 and six-speed automatic transmission.

I tested a loaded XTS Platinum AWD that stickered at $60,385. I logged about 1,100 miles on a route that stretched from a snaky Appalachian Mountains road in Georgia to interstate highways and cities.

I enjoyed it thoroughly. The XTS' handling is less involving than that of midsize sport sedans like the A6, 5-series, and Lexus GS, but the XTS trumps them with room, comfort and advanced features.

The XTS has considerably more passenger and luggage room than any midsize sport sedan. While the XTS is not a sport sedan -- its 60/40 weight distribution becomes apparent in hard cornering -- it's quick and maneuverable. The automatic suspension quickly and seamlessly adapts to rough road surfaces for a smooth ride. The steering has good on-center feel and responds quickly and predictably.

The radar-based forward-collision alert is unobtrusive and effective. The lane-departure warning could use variable settings. It went off too often for my taste in highway driving. The blind-spot alert works well.

All those safety systems -- and front- and rear-object detection when parking -- alert the driver of potential trouble primarily by shaking the seat cushions, via a haptic system, the same technology that vibrates your cellphone.

For instance, if you're in danger of backing into something, the rear of the cushion pulses. Different parts of the cushion move depending on where the threat is. The system is very intuitive and less distracting than the audible alerts many vehicles use.

The XTS I tested had a luxurious interior. Leather covered virtually every surface, black wood, restrained brightwork and a suedelike headliner provided visual accents. Front and rear passenger room are excellent, as is the space in the 18-cubic-foot trunk.

The XTS may be a 'tweener in terms of size and price, but it's a winner when it comes to features, comfort and value.

 

2013 CADILLAC XTS

Base price: $44,075

Price as tested: $60,385

Engine: 3.6-liter, 24-valve V6

Power: 304 horsepower at 6,800 rpm

EPA fuel economy rating: 17 mpg city, 26 highway

Wheelbase: 111.7 inches

Length: 202.0 inches

Width: 72.9 inches

Height: 59.4 inches

Curb weight: 4,215 pounds

Bottom line: Luxury sedan has elegant lines, comfortable ride

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