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The Cadillac XTS represents a new vehicle generation, while appealing to younger ones.
There was a time in America when a Cadillac was a well-deserved reward for a life well lived. Especially for the Greatest Generation, a Cadillac was an earned privilege after raising and educating multiple kids, working decades to earn a comfortable pension, and frugally salting away investments. A retired couple could finally splurge after years of sacrifice and glide comfortably into their golden eras in a Cadillac.
The designers of the new generation of Cadillac models, including the 2013 XTS livery sedan, set out to get as far away from those boaty retirement cruisers as possible. They are determined to snag something akin to the youth vote, except relatively speaking, these youth voters are vehicle buyers with good incomes under the age of 65. And if they succeed, it will mostly be for one reason alone: CUE, the Cadillac User Experience.
Officially, CUE is an electronic system that pairs entertainment and information data from up to 10 Bluetooth-enabled mobile devices, USBs, SD cards and MP3 players with a vehicle infotainment system that reduces complexity through customized information, natural voice commands, fewer buttons and larger icons.
Plainly speaking, CUE is the electronic big house, or tap-n-swipe touchscreen command center, which governs all the internal functions of the vehicle, save for the steering wheel, column stalks, transmission and a few buttons here and there. The more you know how to use a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or airline check-in kiosk, or any combination thereof, the more qualified you are to use CUE.
And guess how you find the most eligible CUE users? Hint: It’s the family member who you should worry about most driving a car, the one most confident of multi-tasking behind the wheel. And I’m not talking about 82-year-old single grandma clutching her pearls while racing to the opera.
The younger you are, the more CUE is for you. It’s the perfect car for teens and Gen Y — the job-hungry generation that can’t pick a President very well but sure knows how to work those techno-thinga-ma-jiggly touchscreens. But I doubt any sane parent would purchase a Cadillac XTS for a 16-year-old, no matter how proficient with CUE.
Anyway, I predict Cadillac will forever shed its grandma car image because I simply cannot picture most senior citizens wanting to figure out CUE on a daily basis. I admit, as a middle-aged Gen Xer whose youth gadgets consisted of a Sony Walkman with auto reverse and a first-gen Mac, I was a bit spooked when I got my test-drive XTS. I had read in other auto media reviews about CUE’s complexity.
So for my first drive, I made sure that a 25-year-old colleague was riding shotgun as we headed to Starbucks. He didn’t know CUE from a pool cue, but I felt safer having along someone from the generation that tweets very well — just in case CUE got naughty on me by automatically playing a Katy Perry video on the dashboard while raising the bass volume to hip-hop levels while lifting and lowering the separate struts with hisses. He could at least text it to stop while tweeting for 911.
CUE works like a tablet computer, or smartphone, with icons, menus, choices — oh so many distractions that you have to pull over and stop in order to use it properly and avoid a collision. I eventually got the hang of it, programming favorite stations, regulating the climate control, balancing the sound system, etc. For limousine operators, CUE should be part of any chauffeur training program, while the vehicle is parked.