Mother Proof's view

The all-new 2013 Cadillac XTS is a tip of the hat to the the smooth road-yacht Cadillacs of old that people made synonymous with big, easy, luxury. The XTS replaces the DTS and STS models and harkens back to the Cadillacs that enthralled consumers in the mid-20th century.

The 2013 Cadillac XTS is long and wide on the outside, roomy and comfortable on the inside and it struts its best stuff when cruising, particularly at speeds between 60 and 70 mph.

This full-size sedan with its V-6 engine is smooth and incredibly quiet on the road; it makes any driver feel safe and in control. It’s not youthful and nimble, but mature and leisurely. The XTS is sure to find a place in the market with buyers who are nostalgic for the big, easy luxury upon which Cadillac based much of its early reputation.

The 2013 XTS has a starting price of $44,925, including a $920 destination charge. It comes in four trim levels: Standard, Luxury, Premium and Platinum. I tested the Premium trim with available all-wheel drive and a fancy paint job. It cost $57,725.

Although the XTS represents a nod to the days of old, it’s not outdated or old-fashioned looking. The headlights and taillights are long and lean, giving both ends of the car a stately posture. The taillights play heavily to a sense of nostalgia because they resemble Cadillac tailfins from the past.

It’s a big car that is more than 16 feet long and 6 feet wide, which makes it longer than competitors such as the Audi A6 and the Mercedes-Benz E-Class. The front grille is defined with a stylish mesh and a large Cadillac emblem. Shiny 19-inch aluminum wheels with chrome inserts are standard, though 20-inch wheels are available. The top-level Platinum trim comes standard with an even blingier-looking front grille and polished aluminum 20-inch wheels.

Because it’s a five-seat sedan, it was easy for kids of nearly all sizes to get in and out of the XTS. There’s 18 cubic feet of cargo space in the trunk, which is near the top of what you can get without opting for a SUV or minivan. This trunk swallows all of your daily necessities plus lots more, and there’s a pass-through in case you ever have skis or other long items to transport.

The XTS has a 304-horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6 that’s matched to a six-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard; all-wheel drive is available, and it was the drivetrain I tested. The front-wheel-drive XTS gets an EPA-estimated 17/28 mpg city/highway. The all-wheel-drive version gets 17/26 mpg. Regular unleaded fuel is required.

Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Fair
Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): Some

With standard features like a 14-speaker Bose stereo system, a heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats, and heated outboard rear seats, the XTS proves that it’s a 21st-century Cadillac.

The new Cadillac User Experience multimedia system also signals the automaker’s modernity. Cadillac promises every 2013 XTS buyer an iPad so they can use the included CUE application to better familiarize themselves with the system. In my experience, people will need to refer to this app again and again and again. The CUE system has been loved by some and not-so-loved by others. I fall somewhere in between with a tendency toward the latter. The system was complicated and the voice and touch capacities were fickle.

The voice control system was like talking to my dear departed grandmother who couldn’t hear a thing. You know, you say “Directions to Nordstrom” and she says, “Huh? A detective? A storm?” or something even more off-base. Despite several attempts to use voice commands to control CUE, communication just doesn’t occur. I also found CUE’s center stack’s buttons — really just thin, polished aluminum bars — finicky. If I didn’t touch them in just the right way, they wouldn’t respond. However, you can also control CUE via steering-wheel controls, which worked well.

Perhaps given more time to explore it and an iPad app to help me, I might have learned to enjoy CUE. It does include a remarkably clear 8-inch touch-screen that offers swipe and touch functionality much like that of an iPad or tablet. It’s also uncluttered until your fingers get close to the screen at which point more control options and icons appear on the screen as if by magic. The downside is that such a lucid screen also highlights grimy fingerprints really well.

Perforated leather upholstery, front seats with thigh bolsters and an abundance of head- and legroom in both the front and rear seats create the luxurious comfort expected from a Cadillac. The XTS’ interior is roomy in both the first and second rows. There are a few clever storage cubbies including a compartment to the left of the steering wheel that’s perfect for a cellphone and wallet. There are only four cupholders, but for the demographic that’s going to consider this car, that’s plenty.

Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Fair
Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample

The 2013 Cadillac XTS received an overall safety rating of five stars out of five from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It earned five stars in front and side crash tests and four stars in a rollover crash test. It hasn’t been crash-tested yet by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

The XTS has standard front-wheel drive, four-wheel-disc antilock brakes, adaptive bi-xenon headlights, front and rear parking sensors, a backup camera, a blind spot warning system and 10 airbags, including seat-mounted side-impact airbags for the rear outboard passengers. An introductory subscription to OnStar is also standard.

All-wheel drive is optional. A lane departure warning system, rear cross-traffic alert and forward collision alert are in the optional Driver Awareness Package ($2,395). When these systems detect a precarious situation — it’s pretty sensitive — the driver’s seat vibrates noticeably to grab your attention. Though it’s startling at first, after a while I found myself veering out of my lane just to get the good vibrations.

As for the Latch anchors, there are two sets in the outboard seats and a single anchor in the middle. I’m of the mindset that Cadillac should have added a sixth anchor or kept off the fifth, but the extra anchor allows parents to install child-safety seats in a variety of positions using Latch anchors.

The anchors aren’t easy to access because of the stiff seat cushions. Furthermore, the top tether hooks are tough to use because of the rear window’s angle. Three child-safety seats won’t fit across the backseat, but rear-facing child-safety seats fit easily. Learn more about how car seats worked in the XTS.

Get more safety information about the 2013 Cadillac XTS here.

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