To most of you, the Cadillac XTS should be familiar. Having launched last year, it mostly served as a large vessel with which to debut Cadillac’s high-tech CUE infotainment system. Compared to its sportier and more dynamic younger brother, the ATS, the XTS seemed to be missing something. For 2014 however, Cadillac sought to fully utilize the XTS platform to build the best car they know how to. The end result? A 410 horsepower, all-wheel drive, executive sedan that boasts all of the same comfort and convenience features one would expect in a flagship Cadillac model.
While Cadillac has begun testing their cars around Germany’s famous Nurburgring race track in recent years in order to develop their drivetrains and suspension to be closer to their German rivals from the likes of Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz, the XTS is missing a V8 option available in thing
s like the Audi S6, BMW 550i xDrive, and E550, respectively. Instead, Cadillac opted to slap a pair of turbochargers to the 3.6 liter V6 found under the hood of the XTS Vsport. While the standard V6 makes a healthy 304 horsepower under its own power, the Vsport’s engine now pumps out a rather potent 410 horsepower at 6000 RPM as well as 369 lb-ft of torque from as low as 1900 RPM, all while returning better fuel economy that trumps the competition. It’s a very similar approach to what Ford did with their EcoBoost engines that revolutionized the truck segment. So, what does more than 400 horsepower feel in a car the size of the XTS? To take a page from Rolls Royce, it feels rather “adequate”. In terms of acceleration, Cadillac claims a 0-60 time of 5.2 seconds for the XTS Vsport and that certainly feels attainable, if not a bit conservative. While there’s no getting past the fact that the Vsport’s twin-turbocharged V6 has to lug around roughly 4400 lbs of luxury, the Cadillac’s acceleration times are within a couple of tenths of a second of its German rivals which is a pretty impressive feat given the relative fuel economy afforded by this drivetrain.
Of course, it’s not all about power either. The ride is also Rolls Royce smooth thanks to the new suspension for the Vsport. Adding to the equation Cadillac’s impressive magneto-rheological shocks with sportier springs and chiseled 20” wheels and you have a car that not just pulls like a freight train but rides like it’s on rails as well. Although there’s no hiding the fact that the XTS weighs significantly more than two tons, the suspension tightens up noticeably during cornering while offering a buttery smooth ride on the highway, and the large Brembo brakes do a fantastic job of slowing this behemoth down. The all-wheel drive system also helps to make the XTS Vsport feel incredibly planted on the road; however there is some noticeably torque steer coming from the front wheels under hard acceleration.
The interior of the Cadillac XTS Vsport cocoons the driver and passengers in soft, supple leather. The seats offer incredible comfort as they’re both heated and cooled. The view from behind the steering wheel is a commanding one with a higher than normal seating position that gives the driver a great view over the front of the car, making it easy to place the wheels of such a large car while carving corners or simply trying to park in a tight parking space. The driver is also greeted by a 12.3-inch fully digital instrument cluster that displays a wide range of features. And unlike the cheesy digital instrument clusters that dominated dashboards of sports cars in the 90’s, the fully reconfigurable instrument cluster in the XTS is a forward-thinking touch of modernity. While the main focus of the instrument cluster is the speedometer and tachometer, the insides of the gauges can be configured to show anything from navigation and audio functions to boost pressure and fuel economy. To further inform the driver, there is a very cool head-up display (HUD) that shows speed and engine RPM as well as safety information for the adaptive cruise control system.
Of course, the 8” CUE touchscreen in the XTS presents a dazzling array of features, from 3D navigation with traffic and weather to iPod and Pandora radio integration. There is also a CD/DVD player in the glovebox as well as SiriusXM radio, HD radio and 3 USB ports for connecting phones, iPods, thumb drives and any number of other portable electronic devices. It all sounds incredible over the 14-speaker Bose surround sound system. Both the screen and buttons below the screen offer capacitive touch, just like an iPad, so many of the gestures you’d use on your tablet (like swiping, pinching to zoom, etc) work on the navigation screen of the Cadillac. The screen and buttons also vibrate when you touch them and the whole panel of buttons below the screen lifts up to reveal a secret cubby for storing your phone or other valuables. There’s even an extra USB port hidden inside for charging your device!
Even just five years ago, the thought of Cadillac building cars that could compete at all levels against the strongest competition from Germany would’ve seemed like a bit of a stretch. The world has changed a lot in five years and Cadillac has put its emphasis on building cars that can hang with the best of them. In case you couldn’t tell by now, the XTS Vsport is a highly capable car that builds upon Cadillac’s heritage of building luxurious sedans. With the pair of turbos, the Vsport gets an injection of much-needed power to keep up with much more expensive cars while its interior features offer world-class levels of luxury, technology and safety.
Alex Bellus is a well-known automotive photographer in the Twin Cities area and a frequent attendee of MN C&C at the Automotorplex. He is an Automotive Analyst for IHS Automotive and has a wide range of automotive knowledge. Keep your eye out for his next Blog Post where he will highlight another popular new vehicle!