By on February 21, 2017

Cadillac CUE update

Cadillac’s user interface has been one of its consumers’ biggest grievances. Last week, I heard a private chauffeur in an Escalade — a $75,000 car that makes you feel simultaneously wealthy and powerful — refer to the Cadillac User Experience (CUE) as “bullshit.” Even Johan de Nysschen admitted that CUE did not pass muster.

Clearly aware of how supremely loathsome the interface is, the automaker has announced that the next-generation user experience system will debut on the 2017 Cadillac CTS this spring. According to General Motors, the updated user experience will evolve with a customer’s connectivity needs — adjusting itself over time while offering a plethora of personalization, connectivity and apps.

The most touted update is a driver preferences application allowing users to customize their digital interface and then apply it any new Caddy equipped with the updated CUE system. However, this gimmick requires that a user routinely drive multiple strangers’ Cadillacs on a semi-regular basis for it to really pay off.

More useful is the all-new navigation app, providing constantly updated points of interest, streaming traffic information, parking availability, and fuel prices. Over time it will even memorize a user’s favorite places to stop and preferred routes and begin offering predictive suggestions. Helpful and creepy!

However, the feature most people will look forward to the most is the new CUE summary view. It essentially consolidates all of the most important applications (navigation, climate, phone, audio, etc.) so you aren’t stuck navigating though endless and confusing menus while trying to merge onto the expressway at 75 miles an hour and endangering the lives of everyone around you.

“Cadillac pioneered connectivity by bringing OnStar to market, and more recently we became the first luxury brand to enable Apple CarPlay and Android Auto across our product line,” said Richard Breckus, Cadillac’s director of product strategy, in the announcement. “We have worked to improve overall system response in recent years, and now this next-generation user experience system delivers more improvements, focused mainly on intuitive control.”

Everything runs through the car’s built-in OnStar 4G LTE, which also allows it to serve as a Wi-Fi hotspot for up to seven devices while syncing two smartphones simultaneously. The new interface will appear first on the 2017 CTS before making its way into the XTS and ATS models at the start of the 2018 production year.

[Image: General Motors]

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31 Comments on “CUE Something Better: Cadillac Raises the Bar for Its Abysmal User Interface...”


  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    From today’s review of the sub-$30k Hyundai Ioniq:

    “Satisfying buttons control the majority of the important functions and the center touchscreen was extremely responsive and user-friendly.”

    OK, Cadillac.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Well, there’s nowhere to go but up.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    About time. My wife really loved the old CTS, and we test drove the new one. Simply put, CUE killed the deal before it even started. She’s not tech-adverse in the least but she does feel that tech has to improve the workings, not just change it for the sake of change alone. CUE was a dismal failure; the Mylink in my car was a hugh improvement over CUE and that is not exactly high praise.

    Perhaps we are just not touch screen loving millennials, but if a few buttons or knobs will cover the top 5 needs without having to use three menus I can’t see not providing the knobs. MyLink does just that; I can use them or scroll through the screen. Just makes sense to me.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      Which is funny, because the new mainstream version of MyLink / Intellinlink—which debuted in the 2014 trucks and 2014 Impala, and gradually spread to the rest of the lineup—is the fundamental basis of CUE

  • avatar

    Something is dysfunctional in the Caddy In Car Eletrix division. I have the prior set up, running Windows CE with a pop up screen. There clearly was a memo between the GM guys and the Windows guys. For reasons unknown, the twist knob in the center runs some functions, but not others. You can’t push the knob “select”, but have to hit the touch screen for some functions. You can do everything by GM buttons, but only some things by Windows computer. It almost makes no sense, along with the lack of the system communicating with the center display in the gage cluster.

    My FIL has an XTS with CUE, and he’s gotten used to it. Again, you can navigate the whole thing with the other buttons, but it is needlessly complicated, especially tossed at a guy over 80.

    I still like I-Drive, because you can do everything without taking your eyes from the road. Once you learn the button pad and the knob, you are golden. CUE is clearly the result of some executive who thinks it is a great idea and is high enough not to be influenced.

  • avatar

    Got upgraded to a rental Escalade for a trip from one end of California to the other last year, and in that whole time I never worked out how to reliably get my iPhone to sync to its sound system. Trying to get music and navigation at the same time was an exercise in futility. And after the nav told me to turn through a BofA parking lot to get to the road I wanted, I decided it was easier to just use the iPhone alone for everything.

    • 0 avatar
      Snooder

      What?

      Syncing a Bluetooth phone takes like 2 seconds. And it’s really easy to have both nav and music. Put the nav screen in the touchscreen and select music on your center guage.

      I’ll abndnddmit that the nav sometimes has “creative” directions, but they always work.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    They need to port over whatever system they have in the top end Sonic without any modifications.

  • avatar
    Rday

    Don’t understand the fascination on this website about cadillac. i know many people with lots of money and nobody buys a cadillac. the car is not top tier and the reliabiity and resale value is terrible. Must be alot of seniors in alzheimers units that post here.

    • 0 avatar
      Silence

      What’s wrong with Cadillac? Pretty good cars from a company that aspires to be third rate in every possible category.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      I remember when I was young, my boss let me take his brand new Cadillac DeVille to get a part we needed. The steering was numb and imprecise. Horrible suspension that caused the car to wallow around. At the time I likened it to a boat, but since then I sailed boats with far more precise handling. As I got older, it was the car desired by every retiree. Now, I live in an upscale neighborhood and every morning Cadillacs with livery plates queue up at the entrance waiting to take people to the airport.

      For me personally, it’s about image. From land-yacht to retiree-mobile to airport taxi. I just don’t aspire to own one of these.

      • 0 avatar
        RedRocket

        The difference now is that you are old and Cadillac is new and totally unlike your old memory.

        CUE is mostly a dead-horse issue for journalists to beat on. It works fine for owners.

        • 0 avatar
          mcs

          Actually, I’m not old and Cadillac is still an old man’s car and a taxi. I realize Cadillac isn’t the boat it used to be, but it’s still an airport taxi – although I’m starting to see more Continentals. Besides, other than my daily driver, I’m shopping well above whatever class Cadillac is in these days. I’ll probably be going with a Porsche Mission E, Mercedes EQ, or Model S.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            My guess is the Caddy “taxis” you see are XTS or Escalades.

            And it doesn’t surprise me to see livery companies embracing Continentals. Great looking car, and great back seat…but not distinguished to drive. That’s where Caddy has it all over Lincoln – say what you want about the ATS/CTS/CT6 but they aren’t warmed-over (okay, heavily retooled) versions of midsize family sedans, like the Continental is.

  • avatar
    CapitanGo

    2017 Cadillac ATS. I love it. Plenty responsive, works seamlessly. Love how the screen senses when you move your hand over it to give you more options. Only downsides are smudges on the glossy surfaces and lack of knobs.

    I hear that CUE was greatly improved in 2016, and I worry that the reputation persists unfairly, and they they are going to overhaul a fundamentally good system now just because of the stigma from before. Just throw some knobs on it and call it a day.

  • avatar
    Snooder

    I really don’t get why people hate CUE.

    Personally, of all the car infotainment systems I’ve been exposed to, it’s my favorite. The nav screen is nice and big. It’s touch screen, which is always a bonus. The interface looks modern and not dated and shitty (fucking mercedes and their bullshit retro nonsense posses me off).

    Compare it to lexus, which is has that stupid fucking trackpad. Or BMW. Now THOSE are shit UIs.

    I’ve only ever had two frustrations with CUE in my ATS. First, not being to select a destination while moving without a passenger. But luckily, the on Star app gets around that, and frankly the same problem is on just about all cars these days. Second, mine had had a hardware bug, which was fixed by replacing it under warranty. Not a design defect though, bad hardware is bad hardware.

  • avatar
    kkop

    Oh Cadillac!

    Just when Cadillac releases its new interface (with proprietary Navigation and LTE it sounds like), everyone else is switching to integration with Android Auto or Apple’s equivalent.

    As much hate as FCA gets on this site (much of it hearsay, since few actually seem to have owned one recently), they got their interface right: responsive, intuitive, and reliable. Love it in our trucks, and I expect it to be even better with the Android/Apple integration.

    • 0 avatar
      quaquaqua

      People are allowed to have opinions on cars they don’t buy, just like fanboys are allowed to have opinions on cars they don’t buy. At least the majority of non-fanboys have driven other cars. Anyway, the Uconnect system does do many things very, very well, but the reliability as of late has been steadily declining. Not sure why because it was quite stable when it first debuted.

    • 0 avatar
      Snooder

      CUE already has Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. It was right there in the article.

  • avatar
    orange260z

    I have a 2016 CTS. 2016+ CUE systems come standard with Apple Carplay and Android Auto, so you have the choice to use those if you wish. Other than for traffic, I prefer the built-in nav. My beefs with CUE are specific and generally not the same as the ones that reviewers talk about.

    The touch-sensitive controls for volume and HVAC are a complete non-issue – they work perfectly as designed. They don’t do anything that a good old knob couldn’t do, but they don’t really function any worse, while allowing Cadillac to have a unique style.

    My issues are more around (1) the poor-resolution backup camera, (2) some illogical splitting of functions between the CUE screen and the one in front of the driver controlled by the steering wheel controls, and (3) software glitches.

    The first one is pretty straightforward – the backup camera plain sucks. The resolution is poor, there is lots of blooming with lights, and they’ve placed this bloom-prone camera directly above the backup light.

    Secondly, some adjustments are accessed under “options” in the IP screen, while others are accessed through CUE. IMHO, those in the IP screen should have a redundant control through CUE so that all adjustments can be made through the CUE if desired.

    Third, I’ve had a number of glitches with how it reads iPods and USB sticks/SD cards. Generally it works fine with with the USB/SD, but occasionally it doesn’t read them. Or defaults back to the first file rather than continuing where it left off when the car was shut down.

    These issues make me feel that a GM engineer never took a Cadillac home and lived with the CUE system for a few weeks. These are relatively minor things that should have gotten fixed during development, but weren’t… and one should not have to play beta-tester on a $60K car.

    That said, I’ve found that most of these systems have their quirks and failures, and I would say that the 2016+ CUE isn’t the disaster that people make it out to be.

  • avatar
    jdmcomp

    The real question is will Caddy port this out to the existing owners who have the current and not loved CUE system?

  • avatar
    philadlj

    One reason Cadillac was regarded as the SotW is its tech. And yet for what seems like a generation, they’ve allowed FCA to outgun them in the infotainment department.

    90% of what I hear or read about UConnect is positive; 100% of what I hear or read about CUE is that it’s trash and always has been.

    They’ve “worked to improve overall system response in recent years”, have they? Sure doesn’t seem like it.

    And it doesn’t matter what they “pioneered” in the past if they heven’t been able to continue innovating and remain the benchmark for the industry…which, yeah, they’re not.

    I feel like CUE is what the Corvette’s interior used to be: an albatross that weighs the entire brand down.

    The Vette’s cabin was finally, mercifully…mostly sorted; we’ll see about CUE. I’d start by getting rid of the name.

  • avatar
    orange260z

    Philadlj, CUE is quite a bit more advanced than UConnect. And having used it now every day for the last 8 months, I don’t feel it’s “trash”. I think part of the reason it suffers from some of the bugs is that they have continued to improve it where Chrysler has maintained pretty much the same system since 2012 (or earlier??) with little change.

    For clarity, I also own a 2013 Chrysler 300S with UConnect. It is fairly basic, but what’s there is well-organized and works perfectly. I have heard of a lot of people having phone connectivity issues, but mine has been pretty good. In 3+ years I’ve had to do a reset perhaps 5 times, pretty much always to deal with the phone issue (happens with iPhone, Android, and Blackberry).

    My biggest complaint with UConnect is the Garmin nav. Not “Garmin-based”, but rather a window with the exact same interface as my low-res $90 Garmin portable bought in 2008. This makes it easy to use, but looks crappy and has all the shortcomings of a 2008 Garmin nav.

    • 0 avatar
      philadlj

      “Advanced”, in this case clearly doesn’t mean “better”.

      However many satisfied users their may be (and kudos to you/them), it hasn’t been enough to turn the tide of public loathing for the system.

      Since its inception, CUE has only done harm to the Cadillac brand; harm it can’t afford to absorb.

      “These issues make me feel that a GM engineer never took a Cadillac home and lived with the CUE system for a few weeks”

      That doesn’t inspire confidence.

  • avatar

    Volkswagen Vento.

  • avatar
    ttiguy

    Another Cadillac owner here (2 actually) chiming in.

    I will also agree that CUE is way better than it is given credit for. Yes it’s a bit much the first time you use it (as is the case in most reviews), but when you’re the actual owner of the vehicle it’s works perfectly fine. My wife has an XT5 and she is in no way a tech minded person, yet she has never once complained about using CUE. Previously she had a Ford Escape with MFT which she complained was absolute garbage. I own a ’14 CTS and yes later versions have definitely sped things up but mine works perfectly fine to this day. And for the losers who claim caddys are only for old folks…. I’m 40 and my wife is 31, not exactly old by my definition

  • avatar
    orange260z

    And BMW iDrive was almost universally loathed by reviewers/testers for the longest time.

    UConnect is one of the simplest systems to use. Many of the others, CUE and iDrive included, have a bigger learning curve.

    That said, there is no excuse for the bugginess that I’ve experienced, and Cadillac definitely needs to fix that for both new deliveries and existing customers, at least within the limitations of their hardware.

  • avatar
    carguy

    Take it from a former 2014 ATS owner that the CUE problems go way beyond just the software design. The hardware running the system is way too slow and the system was riddled with bugs and defects. This release also doesn’t resolve the fundamental problem that the touchscreen is not a great interface to operate while the vehicle is moving.

  • avatar
    Spartan

    Yet another reason we bought a Yukon XL Denali. Intellilink is miles better and you still get the 6.2L V8 and mag ride.

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