The 2014 Cadillac XTS is a big 4-door that fills the gap between the CTS and the plus-size (and now defunct) DTS. Don't think of it as a competitor for luxury sedans such as the BMW 7 Series or Mercedes S-Class, but rather as a high-value, affordable luxury car for shoppers who don't need or want the nameplate and expense of a high-end German brand.
Cadillac took a forward-thinking approach to the in-car electronics on the XTS, introducing a number of innovative safety and convenience features. But despite its in-cabin technology and its advanced magnetic ride control feature, this big sedan's approach to drivetrain packaging is simple, with only one engine and transmission choice coupled to either a front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive setup.
What's New for 2014?
The Cadillac XTS adds a performance-oriented Vsport model to its lineup for the 2014 model year. Otherwise, it's largely unchanged.
What We Like
Cushy luxury without the squishy ride; fresh technology gives the cabin a contemporary feel; reasonable starting price
What We Don't
Currently only available with a V6; no rear-wheel-drive model; CTS offers similar equipment in a more exciting package for less money
Two engines are available in the Cadillac XTS. Most models use a 3.6-liter V6 that makes 304 horsepower and 264 lb-ft of torque. It's mated to a 6-speed automatic, and it returns 17 miles per gallon city/28 mpg hwy with front-wheel drive or 17 mpg city/27 mpg hwy with all-wheel drive.
New for 2014 is the XTS Vsport, which adds a turbocharger to the standard model's engine. As a result, it puts out 410 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. All-wheel drive is standard on the Vsport, as is the 6-speed automatic; fuel economy is 16 mpg city/24 mpg hwy.
Standard Features & Options
The Cadillac XTS is available in five trim levels. Luxury-oriented models use base, Luxury, Premium and Platinum trims, while drivers interested in performance can choose the sporty XTS Vsport.
Even the base-level XTS ($45,600) is loaded with equipment. It includes Bluetooth, 19-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, a 10-way power driver seat, leather upholstery, an 8-in color touchscreen with Cadillac's CUE infotainment system, heated mirrors, xenon headlights and Bluetooth. Of course, that's in addition to features you'd expect, such as power accessories and keyless entry.
Step up to the Luxury ($50,500) and you get heated and ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, front and rear park assist, automatic wipers and a rearview camera. Luxury models also offer available all-wheel drive.
Next up is the Premium ($55,500), which includes tri-zone automatic climate control (the third zone is in back), a head-up display that's projected on the windshield, a navigation system with voice control, a Bose audio system and several safety features such as adaptive headlights, rear cross-traffic alert, forward-collision alert, lane-departure warning and blind spot warning. Once again, all-wheel drive is optional.
Topping the range is the Platinum ($62,800). It includes a power sunroof, 20-in wheels, a full leather interior and a power rear sunshade. Once again, all-wheel drive is available as an option.
For drivers interested in a sporty car, the XTS Vsport comes in two trim levels. The Premium model ($63,100) roughly mirrors the XTS Premium's equipment levels, while the Platinum ($70,100) is on par with the standard XTS Platinum. The difference is that Vsport models use a 410-hp turbocharged engine and include all-wheel drive as standard equipment. They also feature a few exterior revisions.
While the XTS doesn't offer many options, two crucial ones include automatic braking at low speeds and adaptive cruise control.
On top of the usual safety accouterments, such as dual-stage frontal air bags, knee airbags, side- and head-curtain airbags and seat side-impact airbags for outboard rear passengers, Cadillac introduces a number of novel features to protect occupants from outside peril, not to mention driver error. For instance, the new Safety Alert Seat works with distance and position sensors to vibrate either side of the driver seat, warning when the car wanders in its lane or approaches an obstacle. Further active safety measures include a short- and long-range radar system that supports the adaptive cruise control and a rear cross-traffic alert.
The Driver Awareness package is standard on Premium and Platinum versions. It includes lane-departure warning, front-collision alert, blind zone alert and rear cross-traffic alert. The Driver Assist package, meanwhile, supplements the Driver Awareness package with adaptive cruise control, front and rear automatic braking and automatic collision preparation.
In National Highway Traffic Safety Administration testing, the XTS received five overall stars. It also received five stars in all three categories: frontal impact, side impact and rollover.
Behind the Wheel
Although the standard XTS is by no means an all-out performance sedan, it does make a few conscious choices intended to satisfy the driver. For instance, rather than succumb to the current trend of maximizing fuel economy by using a lifeless electric power steering setup, Cadillac's engineers opted for hydraulic steering, which offers greater feel. Body control is excellent given the large proportions of the XTS, and this Cadillac doesn't feel excessively floaty or disconnected when driven aggressively on challenging roads.
The 3.6-liter V6 may not win any drag races, but it plays well with the 6-speed transmission, offering decent acceleration and responsiveness. Highway cruising is its strong suit, with the cabin effectively insulated from outside noise and the adaptive suspension smoothing out rough pavement. The magnetic ride control feature proved its adaptability when we pushed the XTS on Malibu's winding canyon roads, where it acquitted itself with impressive nimbleness considering its overall bulk and smooth riding characteristics.
As for the Vsport, we haven't yet gotten behind the wheel. But on paper, it looks like it may offer one thing the XTS could certainly use: more muscle.
Other Cars to Consider
Lincoln MKS -- Although it's less expensive than the XTS, the Lincoln MKS is, in many cases, a more obvious competitor to the XTS than European offerings such as the BMW 5 Series and the Mercedes-Benz E-Class. Updated for 2013, the MKS offers comparable power from its EcoBoost V6 and interior styling that's consistent with the feeling of the XTS model's cabin.
BMW 5 Series -- While the BMW 528i sedan's turbocharged 4-cylinder produces less power than the XTS, its soft steering and suspension tuning make it surprisingly well-matched to the Caddy -- and so does its price tag.
Mercedes-Benz E-Class -- The Mercedes-Benz E-Class is a slightly more utilitarian 5-passenger sedan than the XTS. The Benz comes with time-tested technology and impressive durability, making it more of a blue-chip choice in contrast to the newly introduced Cadillac XTS.
The 2014 Cadillac XTS is a great car for shoppers interested in comfort and utility over driving enjoyment. Yes, the Vsport livens things up, but the XTS model's front-wheel-drive-based platform will never top rear-wheel-drive rivals for handling prowess. As for a trim level, we'd go with the Premium. The top-level Platinum model includes a steep price increase, considering the Premium boasts just about everything we could ever want.