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2013 Platinum XTS One-Month Review


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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 put in a ridiculous amount of time researching a potential vehicle to ensure I'm satisfied with my purchase.

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. 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 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 kind of apprehensive, so the posts were 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, it 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 here. 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.

After a month of ownership, 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.

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.

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 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. The haptic feedback from the display screen and front panel controls does a good job of informing you your command was acknowledged. Some reviewers were dissatisfied with the CUE system speed, but I honestly haven't had in issue with it.

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 stones at it when they wrote their reviews. 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 seat is a great idea. 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.

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 one on a daily basis, I always thought a Heads-Up Display was a novelty. After enjoying the HUD in the XLR for eight years, I'm hooked, so this 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 placed there.

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 bunker slit look reminiscent of my 2002 Eldorado that I always liked. Side mirrors work well - I'm glad I don't have to worry about lane-splitting motorcycles like I did in CA anymore though. 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.

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 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 all of its extra features, and 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. This vehicle checks all my boxes nicely. The XTS (as a prior-owned vehicle) offers a lot of luxury bang for the buck.

CC :)

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Terrific & detailed review thanks for sharing.


Our quick comments during the test I did:

  • “Love the two-tone interior”
  • Rear leg room and roominess similar to the STS-V
  • We are not dressed well enough for this car (lol)
  • Improved integration of the lane change warning
  • “I want this car”

One of my neighbors also commented on the XTS, wanting details on the new red Cadillac and excited until I explained it is only here for the weekend.

My XTS Review in 3 parts:





2023 Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing

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Thanks Bruce! Can you remove my unintended multi-quote please? My iPad's display couldn't differentiate the buttons (or my fingers are swollen from thumb-typing) when trying to edit. --Most embarrassing . . .



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  • 1 year later...

Thanks Chuck!

Postscript: I've owned this vehicle for over a year and thought a quick follow-up was due.

Pros: I still like it as much as when I bought it. It's whisper-quiet and luxurious.  My old CTS-V could pass just about anything on the road- except a gas pump; this car is the opposite.  I'm getting close to 28 mpg on average.  The sound system delivers. 

Cons: CUE takes too long to initialize.  Map destination entry is available about twenty seconds after ignition, voice command acceptance to motivate the system to locate songs takes about three to four minutes. --To be fair, I have thousands of songs installed, but still . . .  

Newer versions of CUE are faster; it's too bad GM didn't plan to make a legacy system upgrade available. (A major oversight in my opinion.)  A lot of users bemoan the interface because of its no-knob design. I'm fine with it.  CUE gets no respect.  It isn't perfect, but certainly not as bad as the reviewers (who probably don't get a lot of seat time with it) would have their readers believe.  90% of it's functions are set-and-forget. 

Reliability: My headliner is drooping two inches over the back window.  (An easy GM fix with magnets.) A failed, rear shock was replaced.  The CPO warranty (two more years left) gives great peace of mind and I have a good dealership nearby to work with.

I find it interesting that the "placeholder" XTS --due to be discontinued after introduction of the CT6, has out-sold it seven months straight, (despite heavy advertising) and is slated to receive a major freshening and life-extension for several more years.  



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Yes, and if Cadillac had named the XTS the "DTS" instead, it would have sold even more.   It is ironic that the vehicles that Cadillac 'adopted' -- the Escalade, the SRX, the XTS have out-sold the bespoke vehicles.


2023 Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing

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