A tribute to the Cadillacs of yore and quite possibly your next ride to the airport
Car Class: Enterprise/National/Alamo; Hertz/Dollar/Thrifty: Luxury, Avis/Budget: Specialty
Availability: All major rental car agencies
Alternatives: BMW 5-series, Cadillac CTS,, Infiniti Q70L, Lexus ES350, Lincoln Continental, Mercedes Benz E Class, Volvo S90
|Drive off||Walk away|
|Supple ride||Limo image|
|Quiet interior||Lack of luxury features (in this trim)|
|Passenger and trunk space||Absence of any driving engagement|
As the luxury version of GM’s large car family (the others being the Chevrolet Impala and Buick LaCrosse), the Cadillac XTS was first introduced back in 2014 as Cadillac’s then flagship sedan. However, sales of the XTS has never took off with private buyers, with most examples being shipped off to rental and livery fleets. Five years down the road, the XTS has been given a fresh lease of life in the form of a facelift. Taking cues from the gorgeous Escala concept and the new flagship sedan, the CT6, can the revised 2018 XTS hold its own among more recent entries in the luxury sedan space.? Find out as we take a spin in the 2018 Cadillac XTS.
All XTS trims with the exception of the V-sport model are equipped with a 3.6L direct injection V6 producing 304 horsepower and 264 lb-ft of torque. Mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters, the standard engine has just enough power to propel the 4000lb sedan from stoplights and on-ramps. Put your foot down and the power comes on immediately and never once did we feel the engine straining to keep up with our right foot. However, in the absence of forced induction and additional gears in the transmission, fuel economy suffers. Over our week of testing, we averaged 12.0L/100km, which is in line with the official estimates of 13.2L/100km in the city and 8.5L/100km on the highway but worse than most other vehicles in its class.
Noise, vibration and harshness are kept well in check . We barely noticed any engine noise and road and tire noise are kept to a minimum even at highway speeds. As we had the base trim, our XTS is fitted with the standard 19-inch wheels with 245/45R19 tires. While not the most attractive combination aesthetically, the smaller wheels and tall sidewalls did wonders for the ride. Soft and supple, the vehicle glides over bumps and potholes with little fuss. Higher trims of the XTS also get GM’s famed magnetic ride control, which further helps the car deal with imperfections on the road. Given the soft ride, one may expect handling to take a backseat. And you are right. Couple with the light and numb steering, the XTS is devoid of any driving engagement. That said, we admire the XTS for not any sporting pretensions. Too many vehicles today try to be something that they are not, the XTS knows it’s a highway cruiser and does a good job at it.
Similar to its sibling, the Chevrolet Impala, visibility in the XTS is generally good with exception to the high decklid that blocks the view to the rear. Fortunately, a rear-view camera with back up sensors are newly standard for the 2018 model year. Views from the camera are a vast improvement from the muddy images that we have experienced in other GM products and are finally in line with other luxury offerings.
Comfort and Convenience
Given that our XTS this week is of the base trim, the feature list is somewhat limited when compared to other luxury rentals. That said, standard equipment include a 8-inch CUE infotainment system with Apple Carplay, Android Auto and 4 USB ports, Bose audio system, dual-zone automatic climate control, proximity key with push button start, heated and cooled 12-way adjustable front seats and LED headlights. Unfortunately, active safety features such as blind spot monitoring, automatic emergency braking, automatic high beams and lane keep assist are only available on the upper trims. We think they should be standard, especially in this class of vehicles.
As with all recent Cadillacs, the XTS features the brand’s signature ‘cut-and-sewn’ interior with contrasting stitching holding together pieces of pleather on the dashboard and door panels. While we like the overall concept and quality of the execution, we cannot excuse the pieces of cheap black plastic on the dash and doors in place of real wood or metal on higher trims. We understand the need to differentiate between trims, but we wish Cadillac would have gone with something that better blends in with the rest of the interior. Thankfully, the seats have not undergone the same cost cutting. Leather upholstered even in the base model, the 12-way power adjustments and 4-way headrests promise to fit most, if not all body types. We had no problems getting comfortable for a long drive. However, the lack of a memory seats may frustrate renters looking to delegate some of the driving to their colleagues or family.
When it comes to dealing with extreme heat and cold, the XTS comes standard with heated and ventilated front seats. While we appreciate the effort, we did not find the ventilation function to be very effective despite the loud sounds made by the fans. On the other hand, fans of heated steering wheels and rear seats are going to be disappointed. These features are only available on the Luxury trim.
Ease of Use
New for 2018, the XTS sports a completely revamped CUE infotainment system. Designed to quell the criticisms of the previous interface, the new system is much better. Gone are the capacitive touch screen with icons that magically appear when it detects a hand approaching. In its place is a much cleaner interface with flatter icons and animations that no longer bogs down the entire system. Touch responses, which were snappy in the previous version, remains quick and accurate. As our base model was not equipped with navigation, we were unable to test out the revised mapping and guidance interface. While the centre touchscreen is all-new, the rest of the interior has hardly detracted from the pre-facelift model. That means the dreaded touch sensitive buttons are here to stay. Even after all these years, these controls remain hard to operate when the vehicle is moving. As much as possible, we avoided using these buttons and interacted with the touchscreen and steering wheels controls instead.
Together with the infotainment screen, the gauge cluster has been given a refresh with new fonts and graphics for the centre display. The overall design, however, remains the same. Not that there’s anything wrong with the previous layout. With a horizontal 4.3-inch centre display, we like the ability to customize the information that we want displayed in 3 distinct tiles. Navigating through the menu is also a breeze with the intuitive buttons on the steering wheel. Possibly to avoid alienating its intended demographic (i.e. mature drivers), Cadillac has forgone the joystick style shifters that is all the rage now in favour of a traditional PRNDM gearshift. Coupled with the push-button start, getting a move on in the XTS is a simple affair.
As its exterior dimensions suggest, the XTS boasts a spacious cabin with ample room both in front and back. While not a match for long wheelbase versions of other midsize luxury sedans (i.e. S90 & Q70L), legroom in the back is more than adequate for someone 6ft tall even with someone of similar height in front. Owing to its traditional sedan profile, headroom is also decent for both rows. Admittedly, the panoramic roof, standard in all other trims, will eat into head space, but we do not anticipate there to be too much of a difference between the models. Despite the apparent emphasis on rear passenger space, amenities in back are limited to a set of rear vents, centre armrest with pop-out cupholders and USB charge ports. Renters looking to pamper their rear seat passengers will be better off looking elsewhere.
At a massive 18 cubic feet, the trunk of the XTS has no problems fitting a family week’s worth of luggage and much more. If you need more space (we doubt you would), the rear seats fold 60/40 and a ski pass through is available if you need to transport longer items and four passengers comfortably.
As we mentioned in our Chevrolet Impala review, renters of the XTS are most likely mistaken for a livery driver, especially if your rental is black like ours. More than once, we were acknowledged when making face contact with limousine drivers and we were even greeted by one as we were waiting for a friend. Truth be told, these gestures didn’t bother us one bit. We enjoyed the comfort and stretched out in the vast amount of space offered by the XTS. It may not be the best choice if you are looking for the flashiest luxury vehicle on the lot. But if you are seeking a serene environment to cover the miles, the XTS in a higher trim is hard to beat. When faced with a base XTS however, a fully-loaded Chevrolet Impala Premier with more features and 80% of the refinement may be a better choice. Plus, you may also end up saving on your rental rate.
Avis/Budget: Unlike our rental, XTSs in Avis/Budget’s fleet are all of the Luxury trim with all-wheel drive. As such, they are equipped with features such as a panoramic roof, memory seats, navigation and much more. However, the XTS is classified as a specialty vehicle together with its brother, the CTS, and you are more likely to have to pay more to get into one.
Enterprise/National/Alamo: Classified as a luxury rental, the XTSs here are all of the base trim similar to our rental. While somewhat short on luxury amenities, they are an upgrade compared to the Chrysler 300S, which is a luxury vehicle at most other rental agencies.
Hertz/Dollar/Thrifty: Similar to Avis/Budget, Hertz acquires the XTS in the Luxury trim with all-wheel drive. However, it is classified as a luxury vehicle and represents a great deal if you can get into one instead of the ubiquitous Chrysler 300S within the same category.