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2015 Cadillac XTS: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader September 2014

The 2015 Cadillac XTS is a big 4-door sedan 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 the Mercedes-Benz S-Class; it's more of 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 XTS's in-car electronics, introducing a number of innovative safety and convenience features in the luxury sedan. Despite its in-cabin technology and advanced magnetic-ride-control feature, the XTS's approach to drivetrain packaging is fairly simple, with only one engine and transmission choice coupled to either a front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive setup.

What's New for 2015?

The Cadillac XTS sees only minor changes for 2015, including an updated OnStar system with Wi-Fi capabilities, expanded rear-seat controls on upscale Platinum models and a discontinued single-disc CD player.

What We Like

Cushy luxury without being too squishy; fresh technology gives cabin a contemporary feel; reasonable starting price

What We Don't

Only offered with a V6; no rear-wheel-drive model; CTS sport sedan offers similar equipment in a more exciting package for less money

How Much?

$45,600-$70,400

Fuel Economy

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 in the city and 28 mpg on the highway with front-wheel drive or 17 mpg city/27 mpg hwy with all-wheel drive.

Drivers who want more performance will opt for the 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, and fuel economy is 16 mpg city/24 mpg hwy.

Standard Features & Options

The 2015 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's 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 XTS Luxury ($49,800), and you'll have 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 XTS Premium ($55,400), 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 a blind spot monitoring system. Once again, all-wheel drive is optional.

Topping the range is the XTS Platinum ($62,800). It includes a power sunroof, 20-in wheels, a full leather interior and a power rear sunshade. Again, all-wheel drive is available as an option.

For drivers interested in a sportier ride, 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.

Safety

On top of the usual safety features such as dual-stage frontal air bags, knee airbags, side- and head-curtain airbags, and side-impact airbags for outboard rear passengers, Cadillac introduces a number of novel features intended to protect occupants from outside perils -- 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's seat to warn the driver when the car wanders or approaches an obstacle. Further active safety measures include a short- and long-range radar system that supports adaptive cruise control and rear cross-traffic alert.

The Driver Awareness package is standard on Premium and Platinum models. It includes lane-departure warning, front-collision alert, a blind spot monitoring system 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 the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's testing, the XTS received five stars overall. It also received five stars in all three categories: frontal impact, side impact and rollover. The XTS also earned strong scores in testing carried out by the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, though it hasn't yet been subjected to that group's challenging small-overlap front crash test.

Behind the Wheel

Although the standard XTS is by no means an all-out performance sedan, it does have a few conscious features intended to satisfy the driver. For instance, rather than succumbing 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 a better feel. Body control is excellent given the XTS's large proportions, 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 its 6-speed transmission, offering decent acceleration and responsiveness. Highway cruising is the XTS's strong suit, with its cabin effectively insulated from outside noise and its adaptive suspension smoothing out rough pavement. The magnetic-ride-control feature proved the adaptability of the XTS when we pushed it 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 been behind the wheel yet, but on paper, it looks like it may offer one thing that 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's cabin.

BMW 5 Series -- While the BMW 528i sedan's turbocharged 4-cylinder engine 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 slightly more utilitarian than the XTS. The 5-passenger sedan comes equipped with time-tested technology and impressive durability, making it more of a blue-chip choice in comparison to the XTS.

AutoTrader's Advice

The XTS is a great car for shoppers who are interested in comfort and utility over driving enjoyment. Yes, the Vsport livens things up, but the XTS's front-drive-based platform will never top rear-drive rivals in terms of handling prowess. As for trim level, we'd go with the Premium. The top-level Platinum model includes a steep price increase, considering that the Premium boasts just about everything we could ever want.

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2015 Cadillac XTS: New Car Review - Autotrader