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XTS Impressions After Two Months


Seasoned Member
Sep 17, 2008
My XLR/V(s)
2013 Graphite Metallic XTS Platinum
This is a review I wrote for another Cadillac website, with a couple of minor revisions.

After moving to New England from the west coast and using my XLR as a daily driver on all but the worst days, I decided it was time to quit borrowing my wife's AWD vehicle for weeks at a time, and get one of my own. Of course, it goes without saying --it had to be a Cadillac, so I began my search in earnest online. I don't buy cars as often as a lot of my friends, so I invested a ridiculous amount of time and effort when researching a potential vehicle to ensure I'm satisfied with my purchase and don't end up with a terminal case of buyer's remorse.

When the XTS debuted, I checked one out during a dealership visit. I was more than impressed by the interior -arguably, the best GM has ever executed to date. Knowing Cadillacs depreciate to around 50% of their MSRP within four years, I started looking for a 2013 XTS. Thankfully, (for buyers) the XTS reached the 50% mark in only three!

I was greatly aided in my decision-making by the many XTS forum posts available. Generally, owners post to complain or seek help with problems. With 2013 being a first-year production model, I was cautiously apprehensive, so the reading phase of the many posts available was a big part of my research. Luckily, the re-occurring problems noted were few and minor. Firmware updates fixed many of them.

I flirted with the idea of having a sportier and more compact CTS, but the newer, XTS-style interior is just now available for that model, and as we all know, Cadillac pricing has gone way up in the last five years. An older, less expensive CTS couldn't compare with the newer interiors. I owned a CTS-V for seven years, and while it was comfortable and fast, it lacked the smooth-riding refinement I was in the market for in my present situation.

For those of you spoiled by smooth, well-maintained roads, driving on near-Third-World-quality roads takes some getting used to here in the NE. You risk traumatic brain injuries and loose fillings anytime you leave the garage to venture out on the open road. Driving an XLR in New England is a lot like riding inside a stagecoach, --only a low-riding stagecoach with greater HP and fewer flies. The roads are mined with varying depths of potholes, just waiting to destroy your wheels and wreak havoc with suspension components. Other assorted bumps, seams, and uneven road joints make for a terribly noisy and uneven ride. The XLR has the innate ability to magnify all of them.

After five, long months of online research to gauge pricing trends and checking out a number of vehicles in different trims and colors, I found the XTS I was searching for at a great price. The car was well-cared for and it's service history was uneventful. A six-year, 70,000 mile CPO warranty gave me peace of mind. The biggest surprise during the test drive was my wife commenting how much she liked the car -- she cares as much about cars as I do about thread count in sheets, so this was a very, very encouraging sign.

With two months of ownership under my seat belt, I'm delighted with the car. It has enough bells and whistles to keep veteran shuttle pilots satisfied. The suspension soaks up the bumps and interior noise suppression is instantly noticeable at highway speeds. This is probably the quietest vehicle I have ever ridden in, excluding a few nuclear submarines. The fourteen-speaker Bose sound system has to be one of the best factory stereos I've enjoyed listening to; the spacious volume of the interior compliments the acoustics, along with the microfiber roof liner. A little wind noise is noticeable at 65 MPH around the top, leading edge of the windshield. My passengers have unanimously agreed it is a very quiet car.

To paraphrase Pink Floyd, steering wheel feedback is comfortably numb, but the handling is just fine,-- with a hint of under-steer if you push it. It does take some seat time getting used to it since the car is actually much more capable than it initially leads one to believe. I take corners I regularly traverse at the same speeds as the XLR with total control, but it took some convincing without the steering and suspension feedback I'm used to. The Manual (sport) mode tightens up the shocks and offers paddle shifting, but this isn't a sporty car by any stretch of the imagination (even when outfitted as a VSport model.) It's a well-mannered, aerodynamic, luxo barge stuffed with lots of technology. Torque-steer is barely noticeable, even though the majority of the power is applied to the front wheels most of the time when outfitted as an AWD.

The CUE system surprised me, (in a positive way) since I read so much negative feedback regarding its operation. To be fair, it raises distracted driving to a whole new level, but the majority of the settings don't need to be adjusted when driving once they're configured. The most frequent adjustments I make, (volume control, track change) can be easily performed via the steering wheel-mounted controls. The voice commands cover a lot of the rest.

With the latest firmware updates, the Natural Voice Recognition software works surprisingly well, --though you do have to sit through some long-winded verifications as commands or command options are repeated to you --though there's an adjustment for that too. The haptic feedback from the display screen and front panel controls does a good job of verifying your command has been acknowledged. Some reviewers were dissatisfied with the CUE system speed, but I honestly haven't had an issue with it. It takes about three minutes to fully index all of the music on the hard driver before you're able to use voice commands to ask it to play songs by artist or name. Nothing is perfect, and since technology advances faster than the automotive industry can catch up, our performance expectations tend to remain ridiculously high where consumer electronics are concerned.

Based on what I've read and experienced first-hand, I think a lot of the nay-saying CUE reviewers didn't take the time to learn (and live with) the system (and it does take a few days -or weeks, depending on how much prior iOS time you have under your fingertips) before throwing rocks at it when the reviews were written. The majority of the online gripes I read are due to operator error. As someone once explained to me, "You have to be smarter than the equipment you're operating." The CUE display resolution is much more refined than most of the other automotive information systems I've viewed.

The vibrating Safety Alert Seat is a great idea whose time has come. It's unobtrusive, so none of your passengers have a clue that you almost side-swiped that semi in your blind spot when you were about to make a lane change. . . Sometimes ignorance is indeed bliss.

The exterior and interior lighting looks sharp. Approach the XTS at night, press the fob's Unlock button, and a programmed LED light show begins. Expect to receive a lot of positive feedback from first-time passengers. The lighted exterior LED door handles are a nice touch too. First-time passengers never know what to pull, push, or yank when trying to enter or exit an unfamiliar car; the XTS has strategically-placed lighting to eliminate any doubt. Once everyone is seated, and the doors are shut, the ambient lighting dims, --much like you would experience in a theater, to a pre-set level. The effect casts a warm glow throughout the interior and adds to the luxury atmosphere of the car. Kudos, GM lighting design gurus. My wife doesn't like being bathed in warm light, so I keep it dim (or off) when she's onboard to avoid hearing damage to my right ear.

Engine performance is more than adequate, but not mind-blowing fast. This is a V-6 after all, but it's tuned to similar HP output from prior NorthStars. The V-6 rewards by sipping regular fuel, and delivering better gas mileage. It doesn't have the low-end pull of a V-8, so you have to wait until the RPMs get higher to feel the acceleration start to come on. If you feel the need for speed, a twin-turbo VSport is available in the Premium and Platinum trim levels.

Before I experienced using one on a regular basis, I always thought a Heads-Up Display was a novelty. After enjoying the HUD in the XLR for seven years, I'm hooked, so the lack of one in a late-model Cadillac (think ELR) was a deal-breaker for me. I'm happy to report the latest version as found in the XTS is much improved, and reconfigurable too! That brings up another great feature - the re-configurable dash cluster. I love it. It's visible in all lighting conditions and being able to display just the info I want (or don't) is very useful. With four displays to choose from, there's bound to be one that fits your needs. Each section of the display has user-defined info that can be planted there. I really like having navigation cues displayed at eye-level on the HUD instead of having to shift my gaze to a center stack screen. One HUD feature that's pretty cool is the 100-foot incremental countdown from a 1000-foot start after the range to a turn drops below 1/4 mile. That equates to fewer missed side roads and subsequent U-turns for me at night.

At 18 cubic feet, the trunk is spacious enough to accommodate three golf bags or medium-sized adults (Mafia capos, take note.) Visibility is surprisingly good for a vehicle of this size -the window as viewed through the rear-view mirror has that wide angle, bunker slit look reminiscent of my 2002 Eldorado that I always liked. The augmented reality lines that appear on the rear camera display bend in response to the steering wheel for accurate vehicle placement. The side-view mirrors work well and light up when someone sits in your bind spot - I'm glad I don't have to worry about lane-splitting motorcycles in CA anymore though, but these might have helped in stop-and-go traffic. A motorized rear sun shade retracts when the transmission is placed in Reverse. Both passenger windows have manually-operated privacy/sun shades. This gives them the feeling of being pampered and special -which of course, they are. -- Unless they're drunk and queasy when I'm the designated driver.

The full opus (--as opposed to half-opus?!) leather seats are the softest of any of the Cadillacs I've owned; the rest felt like cardboard in comparison. The texture is exactly like what I have on my den furniture. The contrasting purple stitching elicits favorable comments from passengers consistently. Weird, I know, but they do notice it right away. The seats are all-day comfortable, though not as supportive as say, my old CTS-V, which enveloped the driver. Seat comfort is a subjective thing with so many body types to contend with, so your mileage may vary. I don't have any major complaints, though I wish the ventilated seat (Swamp Ass Reduction Mode) feature had a Turbo Mode. Sometimes I can readily feel cool air, and others, not so much. My wife's Traverse's cooled seats can ascend one's testicles in less than five minutes flat. (She doesn't know this obviously, but I'm living proof the capability exists within GM to make a very, very chilled seat.)

Speaking of leather, a small herd of cows gave the ultimate sacrifice for the Platinum trim level of this car. It flows all over the interior. I was torn between the Premium and Platinum trim levels when making my buying decision since there was up to a $5,000 difference in a few of the cars. The Platinum won me over with its extra features like the super-soft seats, and two-toned interior trim combo. Since I'm going to be keeping this car for the next seven years, (until I leave here) I wanted a vehicle I would really enjoy for the duration. The XTS (as a certified, prior-owned vehicle) offers a lot of luxury bang for the buck. This vehicle checks nearly all of my personal wish-list boxes nicely.

CC :wave:
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I drove a new XTS for a few days while my XLR was being serviced. My dealer had just placed an unsold 2014 into his loaner group and I was the first to get it.

I was very impressed with the XTS and its many "bells and whistles". I drove it for a full day of work related activities which included both city and highway driving. Two of the features that I found most interesting were the Lane Departure Warning and the Blind Spot Warning. I can imagine how useful these would be when you're tired or distracted.

I didn't have time to fully explore the CUE System, but the experience of driving the XTS was very positive.

The sad fact for me is that an XTS isn't a practical work vehicle for me as I drive a Chevrolet Tahoe for my engineering business. Between carrying equipment and driving on construction sites, the XTS would not serve the purpose. But it sure was nice for a few days!
I purchased a 2013 XTS for my company car. Have loved it ever since. Bought it new. Very nice ride on my 27 mile ride to work each way every day.
Well, there always has to be one, and in this instance I'm it! First, I have to say I am a truck guy. But, to accommodate some weekly elderly riders I have, I traded in my 2012 F150 on a new 2013 XTS Platinum in December 2013. I have to say I was not so impressed as you fellas. It was a very nice car but did not ride as good, nor as quiet, as my truck and is definitely not as roomy. I kept the XTS 6 months and traded on a 2014 F150 Platinum - - - now this is a vehicle that deserves the name Platinum! This new truck has drop down disappearing running boards that can actually be used - not just looked at as with most truck running boards and it provides the same exotic light show as the caddy.

Too bad we didn't hook up CC -my car had 2300 miles on it when I traded and I took a huge hit. Ford dealer did too - they wound up running the car thru auction to move it.

We all have different tastes.
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Gotta love the feedback! So far, I'm pleased with the car. I've read a lot of positive feedback regarding winter snow and ice handling with the AWD drivetrain, which is a must-have in this area. I'll write an extended, six-month review if I survive the upcoming winter!

CC :wave:
XLR and XTS owner

I have not been on the forum for awhile, and had a problem I was looking for answers for. I also purchased a 2013 XLR Platinium 4 months ago. I found a black diamond tricoat with 15k miles. I have a 2005 XLR with 26k miles, so the XTS is my everyday car. It is one of the best cars I have ever driven. It did take me 2-3 weeks to master the CUE system, but it works perfectly. Amazing deal for these cars. Sticker was $62k and purchased the car for $34k. I searched for the car for 3 months before purchasing. Hoping these 2 cars will last me quite awhile.
You scored a really good deal on a very beautiful car; it's sounds like your thorough research paid off big-time!

During my search. I found plenty of Black Raven paint but never ran across a Black Diamond Tri-Coat XTS. I'm sure it's gorgeous in the sun.

I was torn between the Premium or Platinum trim levels, but am glad I paid a little more for the Platinum. With the exception of the upcoming CT6, the XTS has to be the best interior Cadillac has produced to date. The other models are catching up, but many of the interior accents look layered, or pressed on top of one another - the ELR being a shining example; the leather bottom trim of the center stack looks like it was thickly poured into place like cake batter. All of the XTS interior trim pieces flow seamlessly. The interior ambient lighting always gets positive comments from my passengers.

I doubt the XTS will survive long after the CT6 debuts; there's no reason for Cadillac to have two full-size sedans in their portfolio. With SUV/CUVs, that's another matter, since the demand is high, along with the profit margin. Too bad sales of the CTS are stumbling. The ATS is a nice-handling car, but the front seating is just too tiny for me. The XLR cabin seems larger in comparison.

I think Cadillac needs another six to eight years to go before they find their way. They're alienating their older, established customers with the futuristic look and technology they're implementing, but the Gen X&Y customer base is what they want (and need.) Eventually, they'll age and Cadillac will offer more luxurious models in trim levels suited to their evolving tastes. Change is a good thing.

Congrats on the new car!

CC :wave:
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I agree on the CTS sales & on the ATS being really small. Cadillac is still struggling to find its way - I had a new CTS turbo 4 cylinder loaner, and while it was a nice car & put together better than my '13 CTS coupe, it was not $10,000 better (which was the price difference). And at that price difference it didn't even come with a back up camera or side blind zone alert, which my coupe has. At a minimum, Cadillac needed to take some smaller steps in upgrading its pricing, as it's making their residual/resale value look horrible - although it gave you guys some good deals!
And then there's the ELR . . . quite possibly the worst model marketing decision since the Cimmaron.

On paper, it was a great idea. Gas prices were climbing, and the Volt project underwrote the majority of the ELR's underlying technology. But like the XLR, the base price (at roughly the same amount, $75k) was unrealistic, and that was before federal and state rebates were subtracted to offset the cost! Beautiful on the outside, comfortable and luxurious on the inside, the ELR just didn't live up to the hype. It was slow, very cramped in the back, and didn't offer amenities like a HUD. Sales were so dismal, a 2015 model wasn't offered. Even now, there are still brand-new, heavily-discounted 2014's available!

With the release of the Volt 2.0, the 2016 ELR (with a base price $10k lower than the 2014) is closer to what it should have been, performance-wise. But it is too little, too late. Dealers are loathe to touch it, for fear of them languishing on the lots like the originals, so without demo vehicles, it will be even harder to sell. Special orders will be taken, but c'mon. . . There are about 2000 ELRs on the road. With parts starting to run out on the XLR, (15,00 produced) what does the future hold for ELR support? It doesn't bode well, especially with recent comments by GM management saying, "The ELR was a disappointment." (This is execu-speak for sales "failure.")

Price and poor marketing killed the ELR, and I'll be surprised if there's a 2017 model year. It's a really nice car for the right audience, though it's still expensive. But hey, so are all of Cadillac's new models!

The CTS costs more than the XTS, which makes no sense to me. But with both tanking in resale value, the XTS is a pretty sweet deal on the used market, with more options and a more spacious cabin. From the outside, it's interior size is deceptive; but once you get in, it's very roomy. My fourteen-speaker Bose surround sound system really sounds good, especially with the acoustic quieting approach Cadillac uses; not just lots of sound deadening materials, but a Bose-designed Acoustic Noise Cancellation system that eliminates much of the exterior road and engine noise. This is easily the quietest car I've ever been in.

I especially like one of the new 2016 features - SurroundVision, which stitches a 360 degree, bird's eye view of the car gathered from four cameras, and displays it on the center stack when in Reverse.

Cadillac has made huge strides to increase the quality and features of it's portfolio. Suitably-equipped, the ATS and CTS are on par (performance-wise) with anything coming out of Europe. The interiors are almost there. The next big hurdle is reducing the CUE negativity, which is apparent in almost every review. Cadillac marketing management shot themselves in the head by not following through on their promise when CUE was first advertised --as being upgradeable and never becoming obsolete, with lots of apps coming. Well, the new, improved CUE is out, and nothing is being mentioned about the first generation getting any planned improvements (other than routine bug-squashing.) This is CUE's dirty little secret, and it's really ****ed-off a lot of owners with the first-gen CUE.

Personally, I could care less. My driving experience doesn't revolve around having an upgradeable iPad with wheels. For others, I can see why it might. Still, Cadillac should reach out to those who feel cheated and at least offer some sort of CUE upgrade path, with it's faster processors and AppleCarplay. (AndroidAuto will arrive later next year.)

The interior of the 2017 XT5 is gorgeous; it's a worthy successor to the best-selling SRX (7,596 sold last month, 89,389 this year!) I hope the CT6 is a home run, even if it kills off the XTS. Hell, I might even upgrade to one of those in a few years when they start to fall off-lease for a great price.

Two Year Review

Two years later and the car still catches a backwards glance from me when I leave the garage to go into the house. A few months ago, it started making all kinds of creaking and groaning noises and any small bumps were transmitted throughout the frame. Being under warranty, I waited until it was time for an oil change and took it in for service. As suspected, both front struts were bad and the car now drives (and sounds) like new! I had the tech check out the ventilated seats for proper operation and both blower units were replaced. Other than a failed rear shock at six months, the car has been trouble-free.

The AWD feature works well on snowy days here in New England. I have a steep driveway leading up to the house, and can make it up unless the snow is more than six inches deep; at that point, the front end becomes a snowplow and gets bogged down as the snow builds up in front. When plowed, --even when icy, the AWD powers it to the top with ease.

During the week the dealer had my car for maintenance, I spent one weekend in a XT5 and five days in a CTS. The CTS while only a few inches shorter than the XTS seemed very confining. The back seat would not be any fun if someone was stuck there for more than an hour. The start-stop feature in both vehicles was considerably better than the two Jeeps I've rented this year, but I wish there was a switch to disable it. By the time the maintenance was completed, I was more than ready to get back into the XTS. The only real advantage to either car was the faster response of CUE, which isn't worth buying a new car for alone, even though this is GM's recommended work-around, since they won't update the hardware. CUE 1.0 as released on the XTS in 2013 hasn't needed a software update in a few years. Other than having to wait for two minutes to be able to use voice control to choose a song from my iPod, it's a minor nuisance. I can choose a new album or artist as soon as the ignition is started. The real-time weather map service ($3 a month) is handy for a long trip or useful for planning purposes right before a snow storm.

Nice car, great ride, and no major complaints. Currently, the XTS is scheduled to be retired in 2020 as overall sedan sales tank, and the CT6 and XTS nibble away at each other's sales. An off-lease CPO CT6 could very easily become my next Cadillac if they can sort the transmission issues out.

CCC :wave:
Over five years later . . .

The XTS still runs like a champ. 28 MPG on regular gas and very quiet on the highway.

Other than a broken weld joint on the front exhaust manifold, two magnetic shocks, and a set of new tires last year, it still runs and drives like new.

Looking ahead to my next, (and possibly last Cadillac) I'm leaning toward a >2018 CT6 Platinum. A twin-turbo Blackwing would be something to consider. Will start the search in 2-3 years since this car runs so well and CT6 prices continue to drop since it's been discontinued.

It's a shame Cadillac can't get so many vehicles to a second or third generation before killing them off. The buying public has little idea of what models they make other than the Escalade. With three naming conventions in less than two decades, (and another just around the corner with the EVs) it's little wonder why.

So one big difference with having the XTS down in South Florida. I guess the heat inside the car cooks the video screen unit. I have a 2013 Platnium and we are on our third head unit in 4 years because they dont repond to touch after awhile in the heat. First one was warranty, and last 2 we got discounts because it happens often down here. We also had to recover our dashboard because it came up from the heat. They did that under warranty also, so must have been 2018.
Same other fixes, tires, alignments and magnetic shocks.
But great car and amazing looking.
ccclarke, my son likes the same cars you do. He’s always looking just for fun, and has shown me a lot of XTS’s with high miles that have held up well. He also loves CT6’s. So I’ve learned a lot through him!

I agree every new model seems to be something that will get killed in 5 years and create yet another XLR part situation. Although they aren’t doing so well with parts for high volume vehicles that are only 5 years old.

As usual, I believe Cadillac has gotten lost again. They were in one of their best grooves when they first started Art & Science (still their best commercials) & then the ‘08 crash blew that up. Now that they’re going electric & mostly SUV I think I may have finally ended up in my last Caddy after a lifetime of loyalty. Nothing they have appeals to me.

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