Motor Trend reports that Cadillac’s long search for a flagship is over. After debating a number of options, including importing a stretched Chinese-market STS, GM has decided that the “Super Epsilon”-based XTS will be the future range-topper for its luxury brand. The XTS was developed on a stretched version of the platform that underpins GM sedans including the Buick LaCrosse, Chevy Malibu and the forthcoming Buick Regal, and was shown in concept form as the XTS Platinum concept at the Detroit Auto Show. That concept was shown with a theoretical plug-in drivetrain made up of Cadillac’s 3.6 liter DI V6 and the plug-in components from the canceled Vue plug-in, and according to MT, the recent cancellation of the Converj plug-in means “there’s profit and green image to be had in the plug-in XTS.” Until that technology is production-ready, choosing the XTS’s engine options will be an interesting challenge.
The Cadillac XTS Platinum Concept, which debuts today at the NAIAS, is a look at the new Cadillac flagship which goes into production in early 2012. The XTS’s brief is to replace the moribund DTS and STS sedans, a task that Cadillac desperately needs done properly if it wants to be taken seriously as a luxury competitor. So why is the XTS concept little more than a glorified Buick LaCrosse?
Enthusiasts have been adamant that GM’s decision to sell a police-only version of its RWD global Lumina platform (Holden Statesman) creates a fantastic opportunity for GM to return the Impala to its RWD roots. Such a decision would seem to make sense from a business perspective as well, adding civilian sales volume to what otherwise would be a fleet-only platform. No such luck though. Bob Lutz tells Inside Line that the forthcoming Impala replacement (due in 2014) will be based on GM’s global FWD midsized architecture (Epsilon II). The rationale for this decision appears to be fuel efficiency: Lutz mentions the need to compete with the Ford Taurus’s efficiency achievements as a factor in the decision. By going FWD, GM also hopes to be able to shoehorn the two-mode hybrid system from the discontinued Vueick CUV into a future Impala. In addition to forgoing an opportunity to leverage the Caprice police special architecture, this decision also adds to GM’s epic midsize FWD sedan bloat. From the Malibu to the Buick LaCrosse and Regal, from Impala to the Cadillac XTS “flagship,” GM’s default decision seems to be to base all of its sedans on a single platform, making pricing and content differentiation an ongoing challenge to its product strategy. Vive le sameness!