Preview: Cadillac XTS

Stepping out this spring

Cadillac's newest luxury sedan, the 2013 XTS, has been the brand's centerpiece at this year's auto shows. Set to arrive in Knoxville showrooms this spring, it's loaded with technological advances that should endear it to the Y-12 set.

Bigger than its CTS sibling, the XTS is also the debut of CUE, a comprehensive in-vehicle experience that merges intuitive design with information and media control commands. Don Butler, Cadillac's VP of Marketing, calls the XTS an "Evolution in our Art & Science philosophy, merging the best technical ideas with the continued refinement of Cadillac design." Fair enough, but will it play in Turkey Creek?

Positioned against other midrange luxury models like the Audi A6, BMW 5-series, Infiniti M, Lexus GS, and the Mercedes E-Class, the XTS' 3.6 liter direct-injection LFX V-6 has been proven in other GM vehicles I've driven, so performance shouldn't be an issue. When Butler was asked whether a V version (Cadillac's performance equivalent of BMW's M or Audi's RS designation) was in the works, he indicated that there wasn't, although there's been talk in online forums about a turbocharged LFX V-6 currently being tested within GM. The advanced Haldex all-wheel drive (AWD) system with an electronically controlled limited-slip differential in the XTS is in keeping with the Audi, known for its use to achieve traction in all weather conditions. Magnetic Ride Control, HiPer strut front suspension, and Brembo brakes are all standard, as are 19-inch alloy wheels, with 20-inch wheels available. Looking at the display cars on 20s, you'll opt for them as I would.

Inside, there's about four more inches of rear legroom than in the BMW or Mercedes, and two more than the Audi. Not a whole lot to brag about, but get a load of the trunk: 18 cubic feet, which is more than the Audi A8L, the BMW 7-Series, and the Mercedes S-Class, all full-size competitors, not just mid-sized models. While Cadillac touts the space as room for five suitcases, it's hard not to think of what else could be hauled in its trunk given the Caddy's past "record."

CUE, or Cadillac User Experience, is a customizable user interface with an XTS exclusive 12.3-inch reconfigurable cluster in the center stack. Among CUE's features are several industry firsts, including capacitive-touch control with proximity sensing, gesture recognition, and natural voice recognition. Very cool, but something I didn't get to play with at the auto show.

According to online reports, GM probably won't release pricing until just before XTS hits dealer lots. Their best guess is that the 2013 Cadillac XTS will start around $50,000, with loaded Platinum models approaching, or even exceeding, $70,000. I expect it'll be a hit at the Bijou.