Cadillac XTS: The Phantom Flagship

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
cadillac xts the phantom flagship

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?

The XTS has the exact same 111.7 inch wheelbase as its LaCrosse cousin, bringing it in several inches shorter than the “entry” Cadillac, the CTS. This is no surprise, considering the XTS will be built on an AWD version of the same Epsilon II platform that underpins the LaCrosse, Regal and Saab 9-5. We had heard that a stretched “Super Epsilon” platform was being developed by Holden, but based the dimensions of the XTS, it seems clear that this is a plain-Jane midsized GM sedan under the skin.

To make up for the pedestrian underpinnings, Cadillac designers stretched the XTS out to 203.5 inches. The fact that much of the extra length is in the rear overhang might be Caddy’s attempt at fixing the EpsiII’s legendary trunk shortcomings. One thing is for certain: a LaCrosse with more weight and longer overhangs isn’t going to exactly embody the dynamic-forward, BMW-competing brand values Cadillac is supposed to be cultivating. And at 74.8 inches, it offers only 1.7 inches of width advantage over the LaCrosse, so it’s not exactly a stately cruiser either.

According to Cadillac’s release:

The XTS Platinum Concept design artfully conveys its focus on functionality through technology. It is the antithesis of the conventional three-box sedan, suggesting the active evolution of Cadillac’s design language.

Which means that it looks like a larger version of the Cadillac Converj, no bad thing in and of itself. But if you cover up the fascias, it’s harder than ever to shake the feeling that this is just another midsized car. But, says Cadillac, the XTS was an “inside-out” design. With an interior inspired by the natural beauty of an orchid, Caddy is banking on the XTS’s in-car comfort and “Platinum”-level luxury, including touch-screen navigation, laser-etched suede seats, other “hand cut-and-sewn” materials and organic light emitting diode displays.

The concept has a theoretical plug-in hybridization of Cadillac’s famous 3.6 liter engine, making 350 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. What, you were expecting a V8 in Cadillac’s flagship? Magnetic Ride Control is another technological add-on that might make the XTS somewhat distinctive from its Buck brother.

Still, the contrast between the XTS concept and the production version of the Lexus LS or even the Hyundai Equus is stark. GM is clearly spending its Cadillac development money on the ATS BMW 3 Series competitor, rather than trying to keep up with the high end of the luxury flagship market which already has strong contenders on the value (Equus), technology (LS) and snobbery (Merc S-Class) fronts. But then, the 3 Series segment isn’t exactly short on competition either. And without a flagship that screams Cadillac brand values, it’s hard to see where the brand has to go.

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  • MadHungarian MadHungarian on Jan 12, 2010

    This has "more" rear overhang? Than what, an AMC Gremlin? Gimme a break. Let's dissect the press release:

    The XTS Platinum Concept design artfully conveys its focus on functionality through technology. Uhh, how about functionality through functionality. Like an interior you can see out of. Like a dash and console that aren't closing in on your knees from 3 sides. It is the antithesis of the conventional three-box sedan, Uhh, actually I like three box sedans. BTW, Cadillac basically pioneered the three box sedan with the 1938 Sixty Special, still one of their best and most elegant designs ever. suggesting the active evolution of Cadillac’s design language. Can someone translate that into English for me? Think I'll keep my Town Car too.

  • 85eldorado 85eldorado on Jan 13, 2010

    What will it be like to sit behind the wheel of this thing? IMO the short, stubby front deck screams declasse in this market segment. Short hoods are for Civics and Jettas, not a Cadillac flagship. Same with the powertrain (V6??!! Shame on Cadillac putting "V" cues everywhere on this car like on the backs of the front seats, etc. with that puny powertrain. I don't care how many horses it makes, it's not a V8) Why can the competitors field the LS, 7-series, S-Class, while GM seems beholden to CAFE?

    • See 4 previous
    • Len_A Len_A on Jan 14, 2010

      sorry about the multiple posts - darn slow posting - someone @ TTAC please delete the duplicates!

  • Alan The Prado shouldn't have the Landcruiser name attached. It isn't a Landcruiser as much as a Tacoma or 4 Runner or a FJ Cruiser. Toyota have used the Landcruiser name as a marketing exercise for years. In Australia the RAV4 even had Landcruiser attached years ago! The Toyota Landcruiser is the Landcruiser, not a tarted up Tacoma wagon.Here a GX Prado cost about $61k before on roads, this is about $41k USD. This is a 2.8 diesel 4x4 with all the off road tricky stuff, plus AC, power windows, etc. I'm wondering if Toyota will perform the Nissan Armada treatment on it and debase the Prado. The Patrol here is actually as capable and possibly more capable than the Landcruiser off road (according to some reviews). The Armada was 'muricanised and the off road ability was reduced a lot. Who ever heard of a 2 wheel drive Patrol.Does the US need the Prado? Why not. Another option to choose from built by Toyota that is overpriced and uses old tech.My sister had a Prado Grande, I didn't think much of it. It was narrow inside and not that comfortable. Her Grand Cherokee was more comfortable and now her Toureg is even more comfortable, but you can still feel the road in the seat of your pants and ears.
  • Jeffrey No tis vehicle doen't need to come to America. The market if flooded in this segment what we need are fun affordable vehicles.
  • Nrd515 I don't really see the point of annual inspections, especially when the car is under 3 years (warranty) old. Inspections should be safety related, ONLY, none of the nonsensical CA ARB rules that end up being something like, "Your air intake doesn't have an ARB sticker on it, so you have to remove it and buy one just like it that does have the ARB sticker on it!". If the car or whatever isn't puking smoke out of it, and it doesn't make your eyes water, like an old Chevy Bel-Air I was behind on Wed did, it's fine. I was stuck in traffic behind that old car, and wow, the gasoline smell was super potent. It was in nice shape, but man, it was choking me. I was amused by the 80 something old guy driving it, he even had a hat with a feather in it, THE sign of someone you don't want to be driving anywhere near you.
  • Lou_BC "15mpg EPA" The 2023 ZR2 Colorado is supposed to be 16 mpg
  • ToolGuy "The more aerodynamic, organic shape of the Mark VIII meant ride height was slightly lower than before at 53.6 inches, over 54.2” for the Mark VII."• I am not sure that ride height means what you think it means.Elaboration: There is some possible disagreement about what "ride height" refers to. Some say ground clearance, some say H point (without calling it that), some say something else. But none of those people would use a number of over 4 feet for a stock Mark anything.Then you go on to use it correctly ("A notable advancement in the Mark VIII’s suspension was programming to lower the ride height slightly at high speeds, which assisted fuel economy via improved aerodynamics.") so what do I know. Plus, I ended a sentence with a preposition. 🙂