Throughout its history, Cadillac has fed the press some glorious concept cars dripping with opulence, snazzy features and WTF styling. This works when production cars live up to the concept’s hype, but a history of histrionics is less helpful when you’re launching a car that somehow defies hype altogether [Ed: see AutoWeek’s headline: “Cadillac aims its flagship XTS at imports and traditional buyers”]. Don’t get it wrong, the XTS is not intended as a true flagship for the brand (GM’s release calls it “the newest addition to the lineup” and “the most technologically advanced production car in the brand’s history”), but at the launch at the LA Auto Show the XTS’s FWD proportions, slab sides and generally predictable exterior dominated the first impressions. Put simply, the midsized sedan exudes none of the presence that makes the CTS-V coupe exciting, possibly due to the fact that it has what may be Cadillac’s shortest hood ever. No wonder GM CEO Dan Akerson warned us that the XTS “wouldn’t blow the doors off” the competition.
Inside, however, we found perhaps the best interior Cadillac has fashioned in decades. Cadillac spent a great deal of time telling the assembled press masses that this Caddy is different, this Cadillac is world class and this Cadillac will be at the top of the luxury food chain. And yet the competitive comparisons are all against the mid-line sedans from Europe. Which is really no surprise, considering the XTS is still motivated by the same 300HP V6 we see in other GM products, mated to the same 6-speed FWD transmission and AWD. New to the midsized party are Magnetic Ride Control shocks and and an eLSD in the rear which promises to improve handling when the going gets twisty. Not that anyone will take the XTS to the track mind you. Blue hairs will however love the new full-stop radar cruise control and the “virtual bumper” which will stop you automagically when you try to run over Joey on his trike. The new Cadillac infotainment system also appears to be a winner combining Apple-like multi-touch gestures with Android-like haptic feedback. All in all, it’s a strange beats, this XTS.