The J4500e reaches highway speed and reliability targets in first round of test runs.
The retirements of the iconic chauffeured workhorses, the Lincoln Town Car and Cadillac DTS, has left a void in the industry that automakers foreign and domestic are aiming to fill. One major successor vehicle, 2013 Cadillac XTS W20 Livery Sedan, debuted at the 2012 International LCT Show in Las Vegas, and became available for test driving in late May at the General Motors 2013 Product Preview in Tucson, Ariz.
For starters, the summer sun soaked the city with an intense, dry heat, so nothing felt better than sliding inside the artificially-cooled cabin of the Cadillac XTS. The interior radiated refined luxury, as a chauffeured vehicle should. Operators trying it out were greeted by premium leather seats and upholstery, and natural wood accents. The test vehicle did not have the microsuede headliner, which will be standard on the W20 Livery Sedan.
Cadillac has been noted for its art and science design language in styling and engineering its vehicles, values reflected in the XTS’s long list of standard features which include: HID headlamps, 19-in. aluminum wheels, Magnetic Ride Control, rear air springs, rear vision camera, illuminating door handles, compact spare, transmission oil cooler, premium microfiber headliner, rear center console and the Professional Vehicle Protection Plan (PVPP) extended warranty (3-years/150,000-miles, whichever comes first). Unlike the DTS, however, the XTS does not come with rear seat vanity mirrors. But GM can recommend a good aftermarket installer for the mirrors.
The dimensions of the XTS are marginally smaller than the DTS, but the sedan sacrifices nothing in terms of comfort and practical/useable space. Rear seat legroom in the XTS is 40 inches and rear seat headroom is 37.8 inches. There was ample room for all the testers, including those taller than six feet. The seats offer generous cushion without being too soft, and two passengers can fit comfortably in the rear cabin.
“As a big guy, I was pleasantly surprised and very comfortable with the room in the money seat (rear passenger seat),” said Jeffrey Shanker, vice president of Princeton, N.J.-based A-1 Limousine. “Even with a front seat passenger who also was over six feet tall, I had ample leg room and could easily do work there. If there was no one in the front passenger seat, and the seat was pulled forward, I could easily have stretched my legs out fully.”
In the driver’s seat, Shanker, who is over six feet tall, said he felt surrounded by luxurious comfort with more legroom than he knew what to do with. “Chauffeurs of different sizes should have no trouble getting comfortable behind the wheel of [the XTS],” he said.
Overall, the XTS is a futuristic driving machine with high industry potential. Getting behind the wheel elicits an excitement comparable to that of a child about to step foot in Disneyland. The front-wheel-drive sedan purrs to life with the push of a button and all of the controls are conveniently within reach. The powerful 3.6-liter, direct-injection V-6 engine accelerates smooth as butter and generates a respectable 300 hp and 264 lb.ft of torque.
One of the vehicle’s best features is Cadillac’s magnetic ride control computerized suspension system, only active when the engine is engaged. It enhances the car’s comfort level and is most noticeable when bumps in the road are not. The XTS is very responsive and handles well. It remains balanced on corners and curves, preventing passengers from sliding around in the back seats.
Robert Levine, owner of New Haven, Conn.-based Hy’s Limousine Worldwide, was among the XTS testers and told LCT that he chose to carry a conversation with a fellow passenger in the rear cabin in order to see if the ride would be distracting on rough roads. “I was pleased with the comfort and stability of the ride,” Levine says. “I didn’t feel the bumps.”
Thickly insulated against noise, the quiet interior partners with the smooth ride to create an ideal environment for working or relaxing.
The test vehicle was not equipped with the vibrating seat safety alert system and there wasn’t enough time during the test drive to experiment with the Cadillac User Experience (CUE) infotainment system, but the controls seemed intuitive enough.
“Cadillac has really put some thought and engineering into the comfort of the vehicle, and the magnetic ride control is really state of the art technology,” says Douglas Werdebaugh, senior vice president of operations for Carey International. “It’s very impressive and that’s important because the comfort of our customers comes first. Ergonomically, it’s hard to transition from an extended vehicle to a non-extended vehicle, but when you look at the fit and finish of the XTS, you can see Cadillac’s done a great job. It’s a good car.”
The key factor in deciding Carey’s future Town Car alternatives is the client, Werdebaugh says. “We want to know what they think, so we’re going to survey them and find out what their needs and wants are, because they come first and we want to know what they want.”
XTS Sedan General Specs
Type: Front-wheel-drive/all-wheel-drive, front-engine, four-door, five- passenger sedan
Engine: 3.6L V-6 VVT DI
Horsepower (hp / kW @ rpm): 300 /224 @ 6800 (est.)
Torque (lb.-ft. / Nm @ rpm): 264 / 358 @ 5300 (est.)
Tires: P245/45R19 all-season blackwall; P245/40R20 all-season blackwall
Fuel: regular unleaded
Fuel delivery: direct injection
Fuel economy (city/hwy): FWD: 17/28, AWD: 17/27
Fuel capacity: FWD: 18.6 gal./AWD: 19.5 gal.
Turning diameter: 38.7 feet
The Cadillac XTS W20 Livery Sedan went into production the first week of June at the General Motors factory in Oshawa, Ontario with expectations to arrive in dealerships several weeks later. The MSRP for the XTS is $47,495 (including destination fee) but a Cadillac Professional Vehicle Program rebate of $3,000 knocks the price down to an extremely competitive $44,495. That is just slightly ahead of the $43,200 price tag on the competing 2013 Lincoln MKT Town Car. With the incentive, the XTS is priced $5,500 less than the Cadillac DTS.
The Cadillac XTS W30 sedan chassis (the XTS “L”, stretched eight inches by coachbuilders) and the XTS VRU limousine chassis will go into production the fourth quarter of 2012, said Ray Bush, Cadillac Professional Vehicle Program manager.
Fun and easy to drive with a comfortable ride, the XTS is a vehicle ready to perform to the standards set by previous-generation luxury limo sedans. One real question remains: How will the XTS hold up in the long run, after racking up miles from the industry’s rigorous daily demands? As a question operators should ask of all available new vehicles, the answer for now is simple: Check back in a few years.
Navigation System: $795 MSRP
Luxury Level One Package and Uplevel Interior Trim: $2,045 MSRP
Rear Seat Comfort Package: $450 MSRP
The J4500e reaches highway speed and reliability targets in first round of test runs.
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