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Test Drive: 2013 Cadillac XTS

Is Cadillac's latest XTS the best new luxury sedan out there? MF took it for a spin to find out— here, three things you need to know.

I had the opportunity to test drive the 2013 Cadillac XTS in the hills of upstate New York a few weeks back. Not to knock American made, but I had tempered my expectations—chalk it up to the fact that the last Cadillac I drove was a 30-year-old 1976 Sedan Deville that was kicking around my dad’s garage during my teenage years. The sleek, aggressive, and modern 2013 XTS I was greeted with wasn’t what I expected, and I left the weekend with a very different impression than what I had going in. If you haven’t had the opportunity to test drive the XTS, check out the top three things you should know about it.

It's A Computer—With An Engine Attached

CUE, or the Cadillac User Experience, is the brain that powers the infotainment in the XTS. Controlled through an eight-inch screen in the center stack and steering wheel-mounted buttons, CUE allows you to regulate your music, navigation, and climate, as well as keep an eye on your fuel—even tire pressure.

Plus the entire speedometer dash is digital (it's customizable, too, with four different skins). If there isn't any action in front of the control panel, it'll dim to conserve power—but place your hand in front of it, and it'll wake back up. Fully customizable and pre-loaded with apps such as Pandora, the system also recognizes voice commands and has a wide variety of gestures that it will respond to.

Oh, and did we mention the XTS comes with an iPad? Because, yeah. It does.

It’s An Easy Rider

The XTS is powered by a 3.6, 304-horsepower V-6 engine that just glides. While it didn't overwhelm me with its speed, the XTS had no problem powering up the steep inclines of upstate New York, and when you were coming back down, the Brembo braking technology takes you from a 75 mph cruise to a dead stop in a matter of seconds. Accelerating into and out of turns felt tight, and the car was exceptionally balanced—no bracing yourself as you're merging into traffic.

It’s Completely Safety-Equipped

From warnings on the rear view mirrors as you're being passed to subtle vibrations in the driver's seat if someone gets too close, the car is going to let you know if there is danger imminent. If you don't react in time, the XTS also features Automatic Collision Preparation, as well as automatic front and rear braking. While its crash test rating hasn't been assigned as of yet, it's built off of the same platform (Epsilon structure) as the Buick LaCrosse, a vehicle that received top marks from both the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the Federal Government.

So overall, Cadillac is usually regarded as the ultimate in American automotive, but I guess I didn’t realize what I was getting into until, well, I got it in it. Simply put, I’ve never been in a vehicle that offers the same feeling of safety, comfort, and luxury. From the leather seats to the subtle accents (like the lighting under the inside door handles), this car subtly but firmly says: “This is what driving should be like”. If you haven’t had the opportunity to check out the XTS, you haven’t experienced what driving should be like.

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