Here are some sights and scenes from one wicked cool tradeshow.
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.
Swaddled in safety
The Cadillac XTS also masters the safety regimen. For the first time in my life, I felt like I was driving a car that was truly looking out for me. The myriad sensors warn, warn, warn you — about cars you are following too closely, about cars ready to T-bone you while backing out, about a shrub hanging out into the roadway. My XTS also had the, ahem, vibrating seat. (Stop it, we’ve heard all the jokes).
The vibrating driver’s seat is like having a backseat driver, except it’s located on either side of your butt. Every time you make a mistake, the butt-seat driver will goose you, to scold you (bad, bad, bad!) and make sure you are alert. Depending on your driving personality, you have a choice: You can either constantly be offended every time you’re pinched in the butt, or you can be flattered. I chose not to take it personally, thereby flouting the basic rule of sexual harassment training. With the sensors, the back-up cameras, flashing exclamation points, projected warnings into the windshield and the vibrating seat, the XTS feels like one big bodyguard on wheels. And for you ladies, this is a car that will always validate you.
Now, what of criticism, since this is an auto review? Well, Cadillac proves again a techno-quirk of 21st Century living: Unrestrained zeal for convenience yields the unintended consequences of nuisance, which I believe was a wise saying penned by the great Greek philosopher Automoronassamus. In the case of the XTS, this principle is apparent in the locations of the interior trunk release, the parking brake, and the glove compartment opener. They are not where you expect them — as in 99.9% of all vehicles ever built. Cadillac overdid its capacity for uniqueness by putting them in unusual places, which I won’t tell you. Let’s see if you can figure it out. My smarty pants wife couldn’t. Thankfully, the Gen-Y fleet attendant dropping off my test vehicle pointed all these out to me, likely wanting to forestall a dramatic phone query.
Another mystery: Like a parent, CUE often lowered the volume for me on the sound system, as if telling me my music is too loud. (Maybe another reason the car is ideal for teenagers).
From the back seat with love
Lastly, I should at least cover the XTS from the client’s perspective. Not much to say here, because there is nothing to criticize. Smooth, quiet ride, check. Plenty of rear-seat legroom, check. Room for two corporate luggage sets in 18 cu.ft. trunk, check. Electronic plug-ins, check. Easy to get in and out of, check. Having been chauffeured twice already in an XTS, I can vouch that it’s not the old Town Car in size, but the XTS sure exceeds the old Town Car in all things comfort and technology.
As long as your chauffeurs can divine the wisdoms of Automoronassamus, and CUE up to the job, the 2013 Cadillac XTS serves as an authentic, luxurious and innovative sedan that carries forward a distinguished chauffeured tradition.
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.)
FINAL DRIVE RATIO: 2.77
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
NAVIGATION SYSTEM: $795 MSRP
LUXURY LEVEL ONE PACKAGE
AND UPLEVEL INTERIOR TRIM:
REAR SEAT COMFORT PACKAGE:
• Heated seats
• Side window and backlight sunshades
• Tri-zone HVAC controls
• Power inverter
Front headroom: 40.1 in.
Rear headroom: 37.8 in.
Front legroom: 45.8 in.
Rear legroom: 40 in.
Wheelbase: 1,117 in.
Length: 202 in.
Width: 72.9 in.
Front track: 62.3 in.
Rear track: 62.5 in.
Price & Warranty
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