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February 6, 2013

Cadillac XTS dumps the stodgy look

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Cadillac has a new car ready for the American consumer looking for a luxury sedan with some attitude. The new XTS replaces the dated DTS and STS models. Good news.

Just as BMW maintains its signature twin-kidney front end across the lineup so too does Cadillac with its stately front grille. In other words, you know it is a Cadillac up front.

All semblances of stodgy Cadillac styling and performance is now gone and this is where things get interesting. Like a first date, impressions are across the board and it can easily be a love or hate relationship.

In a week of test-driving the XTS AWD Premium Edition, I found myself mumbling repeatedly about the performance of its graphic interface. It seems that Cadillac engineers brought out a technologically advanced car without complete testing.

The XTS falls into a parenthesis in the evolution of GM’s flagship luxury car. Industry reports rumor a 2015 launch for a Caddy sedan that will compete effectively with the 7 Series BMW and Mercedes- Benz S Class. Out with the old and in with the interim car.

In the post bankruptcy era of GM, the new XTS is molded around a Chevy Malibu platform with accompaniments from Buick LaCrosse and other siblings.

To be fair, the XTS has plenty of good things going for it. A Magnetic Ride Control with rear air springs delivers an exceptionally quiet ride by making electronic millisecond changes in ride quality. In performance testing, its 304 horsepower engine propels the roomy sedan from zero to 60 miles per hour in 7.4 seconds. Its large front Brembo brakes slow the car with ease.

A graphics display called CUE -- Cadillac User Experience -- displays navigation, audio, climate and Pandora with an abundance of other apps for user interaction. The 8-inch screen comes to life with controls across the screen. While it may look easy to change a channel, control climate or adjust volume, my experience was less than impressive.

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