• The seat warns drivers of upcoming threats from all sides
  • Vibration comes from the right or left bolster, depending on location of the perceived threat


When Cadillac's all-new XTS flagship sedan goes on sale this summer, it will offer one exotic new safety feature that's likely to surprise most car shoppers: a vibrating driver's seat. Several competitors offer a built-in massaging mechanism or seats that shake if a driver drifts from a lane, but the XTS's Safety Alert Seat adds an entirely new dimension by vibrating to warn drivers of upcoming hazards.

Offered as part of the optional Driver Awareness package, the XTS's technologically advanced driver's seat gently vibrates to the left or right depending on the direction of upcoming obstacles. Cadillac says the seat taps into several of the sedan's obstacle detection systems; it will even vibrate when it detects a threat from the rear, the automaker says. Hazards that may trigger vibration include attempts to change lanes when there's a vehicle in the driver's blind spot, when easy-to-miss threats are perceived from behind when reversing or when a potential collision with a nearby object is detected during parking.

"It's akin to someone tapping on your shoulder in a crowd to get your attention," explained General Motors active safety technical fellow Raymond Kiefer. "Using the tactile sense to communicate crash threat direction provides an effective and intuitive way to cut through the clutter of visual and auditory sensory information that drivers routinely experience."

Cadillac's Driver Awareness package combines the Safety Alert Seat with a host of other safety equipment. Such items include Forward Collision Alert, which warns drivers of upcoming frontal collisions; Lane Departure Warning, which audibly sounds when a driver is drifting from a lane; and Rear Cross Traffic Alert, which cautions drivers if a vehicle is approaching from behind during reversing. Cadillac says the XTS will also offer available adaptive cruise control, automatic collision preparation and automatic braking systems designed to intervene if a threat is imminent.

Originally revealed at last year's Los Angeles Auto Show, the 2013 XTS will serve as Cadillac's flagship model when it starts arriving at dealers this month. The XTS is expected to rival upscale sedans including the Audi A6 and Lexus GS. Its 3.6-liter V6 engine is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission; starting price is $44,995 with destination. 

What it means to you: The XTS looks to be a technological marvel at a reasonable price.

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Jeffrey Archer is fortunate to have turned a passion for cars into a career. His wide-ranging automotive experience includes work for automakers and dealers in addition to covering the news. When not writing, he spends his time searching for unique cars on AutoTrader.com.

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