The 2018 Cadillac XTS has a fresh look, with reworked front/rear fascia and a refined bumper design.
Fenders and the grille have been redesigned for 2018, joining new LED headlights. Chassis modifications promise improved ride quality, with increased sound insulation. Inside, upgrades to Cadillac’s CUE infotainment system yield quicker response, with updated graphics, personalized profiles, and smartphone-like navigation.
When the current-generation XTS emerged as a 2015 model, Cadillac took the traditional large-sedan concept and gave it an appealing, modern interpretation. This feat was accomplished without relying on nostalgia for the distant past. Still, the XTS has also become a latter-day substitute for Lincoln’s old Town Car, attracting limousine-service operators. Cadillac even offers a funeral coach.
Most XTS sedans come with a 3.6-liter V6 that develops 304 horsepower and 264 pound-feet of torque.
In the XTS V-Sport, a 410-horsepower, twin-turbo 3.6-liter V6 produces 369 pound-feet. Both engines mate with a 6-speed automatic transmission.
Front-wheel drive is standard. All-wheel drive is optional.
Four trim levels are available: XTS, Luxury, Premium Luxury, and Platinum, plus V-Sport Premium Luxury and Platinum models with twin-turbo power. Though equipped well in each trim level, an XTS can be packed full of posh features for additional cost. Platinum trim could almost be dubbed decadent, while the base XTS is set up well for limo duties.
Most trim levels can be fitted with a comprehensive set of collision-avoidance technology, but not much is standard. Crash-test results for the 2018 XTS are impressive. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the XTS five stars overall. Testing by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety yielded Good ratings in each category, though the tricky small-overlap test has not yet been given. Automatic full-speed emergency braking, if installed, gets a Superior score from IIHS. Bundled with adaptive cruise control in a Driver Assist Package, it’s available only for the top two trim levels. A Driver Awareness Package, including blind-spot monitoring and low-speed automatic emergency braking, is standard on upper models and available for the Luxury edition.
The 2018 Cadillac XTS ($45,595) has the 304-horsepower V6, front-wheel drive, Magnetic Ride Control, Brembo front brakes, CUE infotainment, eight-speaker Bose audio, power front seats, leather seating surfaces, pushbutton, OnStar connectivity with a 4G LTE, and 19-inch alloy wheels. (All prices are MSRP and do not include destination charge, taxes, cash allowances or discounts.)
XTS Luxury ($49,595) includes navigation, auto-dimming outside mirrors, automatic parking assist, heated front/rear seats, ventilated front seats, and a heated steering wheel. All-wheel drive ($2,000) is available.
XTS Premium Luxury ($56,095) 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-zone monitoring, and surround-view camera. All-wheel drive ($2,000) is optional.
XTS AWD V-Sport Premium Luxury ($64,095) has the 410-horsepower twin-turbo V6, 20-inch wheels, and all-wheel drive. XTS Platinum ($67,095) gets semi-aniline leather upholstery, 20-inch alloy wheels, more lavish interior trim, and front-wheel drive. XTS AWD V-Sport Platinum ($72,695) gets all-wheel drive.
Modest updating for 2018 maintains the upscale conservative appearance of the XTS, while improving its overall appeal. Nothing has changed in the body profile, but several details have been freshened.
No one is likely to call an XTS exuberant. Few will be directly reminded of oversize big Cadillacs of yesteryear, either. Designers melded curves and angles in a harmonious totality, while largely concealing the sedan’s relatively abundant dimensions.
Horizontal chrome elements have given the grille a cleaner appearance, in keeping with other Cadillac models. Even the front fenders have been revised.
Some cabins are best judged from the driver’s seat. For others, the most worthy assessments are made from the back seat. Cadillac’s XTS falls into the latter group.
Front occupants get plenty of space, on seats that are wide and flat, with abundant power adjustments. Seats may be short on bolstering, but the driver and front passenger can anticipate adequate support and all-day comfort. Visibility is helped by a seating position that’s a little higher than customary.
In back, three adults can expect vast room to stretch out in luxuriant comfort, while reveling in the lovely upholstery and detail work. Large rear doors make it easy to get in and out of the back seat. Headroom isn’t a concern for passengers over six feet tall.
Finishes are luxurious even in the base model, which flaunts generous leather. Surroundings reach past plush at Platinum trim level, which boasts glorious glossy wood as well as better-grade leather.
Traditional buttons are in short supply on the dashboard, which is highlighted by an 8.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment. Capacitive switches that control most functions can become frustrating.
Strong V6 engines and a smooth-responding, well-behaved 6-speed automatic set the tone for satisfying performance in a big sedan. Regular models can accelerate to 60 mph in a respectable 6.8 seconds. An XTS feels passably swift, but might be a tad overmatched when fully packed.
For a more sizzling big-car experience, the twin-turbo V6 in V-Sport editions is the logical choice. That one can hit 60 mph in just over 5 seconds.
No XTS is really meant for dashing through serious curves, but the more taut-feeling V-Sport comes close to qualifying as a sport sedan. Every XTS V-Sport has all-wheel drive, which helps the sedan make best use of the additional engine power.
What makes any XTS a great cruising machine isn’t its handling talents, so much as its magnificent ride quality. Available Magnetic Ride Control, with a rear air suspension, smooths the ride further yet.
Except when braking, an XTS doesn’t feel as hefty as its two-ton weight suggests. Even with standard Brembo front brakes, nosedive is noticeable at times. V-Sport models feel a little more agile, helped by a firmer suspension.
Fuel economy isn’t bad for a large sedan. With front-wheel drive, the 2017 V6 was EPA-rated at 18/28 mpg City/Highway, or 22 mpg Combined. All-wheel drive dropped the estimate to 17/26/20 mpg. The V-Sport managed only 16/23 mpg City/Highway, or 18 mpg Combined. All versions run on regular-grade gasoline.
Ride comfort is a strong selling point for big sedans, and the XTS scores highly. All versions, led by the base model, are quite well-equipped. For performance, V-Sports are the prime choice, but prices are hefty. Valuable active-safety features are available, but mainly at additional cost and limited to specific trim levels.
Driving impressions by Andrew Ganz, The Car Connection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.