The 2019 Cadillac XTS is a large sedan whose modern interpretation doesn’t erase its throwback feel. Known for its fabulous ride, it has the vibe of a GM version of the Lincoln Town Car, and is popular with limousine services. It can be stretched, and often is. We don’t know if this is outside the XTS box, or part of it, but it’s even available with armor plating. Or as a hearse.
The base engine is a strong and smooth 3.6-liter V-6 making 304 horsepower and 264 pound-feet of torque, using a 6-speed automatic transmission. But there is also an XTS V-Sport model to erase the notion of an old-man cruiser; it uses a twin-turbo 3.6-liter V-6 making 410 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque, also mated to a 6-speed automatic. All-wheel drive is standard in the V-Sport, which might almost be considered a sport sedan.
In the other XTS models, front-wheel drive is standard, with all-wheel drive available.
Comprehensive crash-avoidance technology is available, but not much is standard. Still, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gives the XTS five stars overall. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives the top Good ratings in each category, though the tricky small-overlap test has not yet been performed.
For a car this big, the fuel economy is excellent, EPA-rated at 18/28 mpg City/Highway, or 22 mpg Combined with front-wheel drive, and 17/26/20 mpg with all-wheel drive. And that’s on regular fuel. The V-Sport with its extra horsepower brings the mileage down to 16/23 mpg City/Highway, or 18 mpg Combined.
The Cadillac XTS was freshened in 2018 with a new grille and LED headlamps, new fenders, and new front and rear fascia, including bumpers. There were also suspension changes to improve the ride, and increased sound insulation to make the cabin even more quiet. There were upgrades to quicken the response of Cadillac’s CUE infotainment system, along with updated graphics, personalized profiles, and smartphone-like navigation.
With all of these improvements, the 2019 model, now in the fifth year of its generation, gets no more changes.
There are four models of XTS, plus another two models of V-Sport. There’s the base XTS, plus Luxury, Premium Luxury, and Platinum; and V-Sport Premium Luxury and Platinum.
Standard equipment on the 2019 Cadillac XTS ($46,895) includes the 304-horsepower V-6, front-wheel drive, Magnetic Ride Control, Brembo front brakes, CUE infotainment, eight-speaker Bose audio, power front seats, leather seating surfaces, OnStar connectivity with a 4G LTE, and 19-inch alloy wheels.
XTS Luxury ($50,895) includes navigation, auto-dimming outside mirrors, automatic parking assist, heated front/rear seats, cooled front seats, and a heated steering wheel. All-wheel drive ($2,000) is available for all models except the base.
XTS Premium Luxury ($57,295) comes with a head-up display, 12.3-inch configurable screen, tri-zone automatic climate control, 14-speaker Bose surround-sound, and adaptive forward lighting. The standard Driver Awareness Package includes forward collision and lane-departure warnings, lane-keeping assist, rear cross-traffic alert, blind-spot monitors, and a surround-view camera system.
XTS AWD V-Sport Premium Luxury has the 410-horsepower twin-turbo V-6, 20-inch wheels, and all-wheel drive. XTS Platinum ($68,395) gets semi-aniline leather upholstery, 20-inch alloy wheels, more lavish interior trim, and front-wheel drive.
XTS AWD V-Sport Platinum ($72,995) gets all-wheel drive.
A Driver Awareness Package, including blind-spot monitors and low-speed automatic emergency braking, is standard on upper models and available on the Luxury model. Automatic full-speed emergency braking is available in Platinum and Premium Luxury, bundled with adaptive cruise control in a Driver Assist Package.
The freshening in 2018 maintained the XTS’s upscale conservative looks, while heightening its appeal. The horizontal chrome in the grille, especially, is cleaner. The XTS is not an exuberant car, but neither is it stodgy like it might have been in the past. Its curves and angles are blended harmoniously, especially in the fenders, which do a decent job of softening the sedan’s abundant dimensions.
Without saying that the XTS is not a driver’s car, we’re inclined to say that the cabin is best judged from the back seat. There, three adults have vast room to relax in luxury, with lovely upholstery and details. Big rear doors make it easy to climb in and out. Even six-footers have plenty of headroom.
That praised, the front passengers also get plenty of space. The seats are wide and flat, with almost endless power adjustment. The bolstering is a bit absent, as the XTS is not made for cornering, but there’s enough support for long hours of comfort. The seating position is a bit higher than average, so visibility out the windshield is ample.
The cabin materials and finishes are luxurious, with generous leather even in the base model. In the Platinum model, the surroundings reach beyond plush, not only with superior leather, but also glorious glossy wood.
The biggest cabin flaw, maybe the only one, is the switchgear. Traditional buttons are hard to find on the dashboard that is dominated by the 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen. Most of the functions are controlled by capacitive switches that can be frustrating.
The XTS performs well at three important things: engine, transmission, and ride. The base V-6 is strong, smooth and responsive, about to accelerate from zero to sixty in a respectable 6.8 seconds; but when the car is loaded with people and gear, it feels maxed out. The twin-turbo V-6 in the V-Sport is an awesome upgrade, cutting that time down to just over 5 seconds. The 6-speed automatic with both engines is well-programmed, well-behaved, and satisfying at higher speeds, but doesn’t perform so well at lower speeds.
The standard ride is magnificent. So what does that leave us to say about the available Magnetic Ride Control, with a rear air suspension? It’s even smoother than magnificent.
The XTS isn’t intended for serious cornering, so we don’t need to comment on its limitations. We can say, however, that it feels lighter than its actual weight of about two tons. Except maybe under braking. Standard Brembo front brakes get it stopped, but with some nosedive.
The V-Sport model raises the XTS game in the twisties, enough to satisfy some buyers who might want their big Cadillac sedan to be more taut. With a firmer suspension, the V-Sport feels more agile, and might even come close to qualifying as a sport sedan. Its standard all-wheel drive helps a lot.
If a comfortable ride is the most important selling point with a sedan like this, the Cadillac XTS comes out a winner. Add in a comfortable, spacious and luxurious cabin; a smooth and reasonably quick engine; and a transmission that’s easy to live with. The XTS is good at all of these things, in the base model–plus great fuel mileage on regular gas. The engine can run out of steam if the car is fully loaded, and we wish the transmission were as smooth at low speeds as it is at high speeds. If you want more sport than this, there’s the twin-turbo V-Sport. High-tech automatic safety features are available to drive the price up.