2013 Cadillac XTS -- Right on CUE

Don’t try it yourself. Go ahead and get out the owner’s manual; you’ll need it to keep up with the technology in the remarkable new Cadillac XTS. The XTS is so technologically advanced it replaces not one but two outgoing models: the DTS and the STS.

The XTS is an all new model that marks the debut of the Cadillac User Experience (CUE). We don’t mean to imply that in order to use C-U-E you have to have a P-h-D, but you will almost certainly need some guidance to become familiar with all the advanced technology offered in this vehicle. GM has even added more phone lines for customers to connect directly with CUE experts, and each buyer will receive an iPad with their new car.

“It’s a fabulous car,” said Eric Lane, vice president of Gerry Lane Enterprises, which hosted a grand opening for its new Cadillac dealership on Reiger Road Thursday. “It’s been a big seller,” he said, even though it has been on the lot for just a few weeks. The CUE technology in the XTS sets a mark that Lane predicted other car companies will try to follow. The technology actually gets more user-friendly as the driver delves into it, Lane said.

The new technology is similar to an iPhone/iPad in that it uses similar swipes and touches. The system goes one better with a tactile bump to indicate the swiper’s signal has been received. This haptic response to commands eliminates guessing whether your touch command was received. No bump, touch the screen again. Cadillac says you can “tap, flick, swipe and spread through homepages and customizable information.” You can configure the gauge cluster into one of four custom screen layouts.

CUE can even sense that you want to make changes and will make them easier to accomplish. Let’s say, for example, that you have the navigation map on the screen and you want to zoom in or out. As you reach forward to touch the screen, the system senses your approaching hand and displays the navigation system’s commands on top of the map. The screen returns to the clean map view a few seconds after your hand has left the screen. It adds up to less time that eyes are diverted from the road.

The XTS is pure Cadillac with the power to move things along. Offered in standard, luxury, premium and platinum models, there is but one engine choice: a 3.6-liter V6 rated at 304 horsepower and 264 lb.-ft. of torque. During an abbreviated test week with the XTS, we were impressed with the performance of the AWD platinum model, which delivered 17 miles per gallon in the city and 26 mpg on the road.

And even on bad roads, the ride was compliant without being floaty, far from the land-yacht feeling of Caddys of yore. The XTS has Magnetic Ride Control, which uses a special magnetic fluid in the shocks that “reads” the road every 5 milliseconds and changes the damping to match.

Four-wheel anti-lock brakes (with Brembos in front) inspire confidence in the big car’s ability to stop. And with 202 inches of overall length, the XTS is a big car. Inside, the XTS has plenty of headroom all around, and more than 40 inches of rear legroom. The trunk offers 18 cubic feet of cargo space.

Cabin design is what you’d expect from Cadillac; it is elegant and sophisticated, with Soleil Keisel leather seating surfaces (Opus full-leather on the platinum model).

A Bose sound system with 14 speakers is standard on premium and platinum models, as are tri-zone climate control, a reconfigurable 12.3-inch gauge cluster, a heads-up display, heated and cooled power front seats, a heated steering wheel, real wood trim and heated rear outboard seats.

The XTS has not yet been rated for safety by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, but the car’s advanced technology extends to passenger protection as well. A “Driver Awareness Package” includes lane departure warning, forward collision alert, a safety alert driver’s seat that vibrates when you near an object, blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert. Standard on the top-of-the-line platinum model is adaptive cruise control, automatic front and rear brakes, and automatic collision preparation. And of course, OnStar is standard on all models.

Our platinum model test vehicle stickered at $60-grand, expensive to be sure. But this is the most premium Cadillac we’ve encountered. It’s certainly the most advanced.

If you’re in the market for a car with premium luxury and performance, you owe it to yourself to test drive the 2013 XTS before making your buying decision.

2013 Cadillac XTS

Engine: 3.6-liter V6

Transmission: 6-speed automatic

Horsepower: 304

Test model base price: $60,385 (platinum AWD)

EPA mileage ratings: 17 mpg city / 26 mpg highway