- The CadillacXTS V-Sport is a somewhat retro sedan that still has performance cred.
- It is big, comfy, and has a large trunk – but it also has a powerful V6, twin-turbo engine.
- The Cadillac Cue infotainment system and the Bose audio setup make for blissful highway cruising.
The Business Insider Transportation team is fortunate in that we get to road test some extremely exciting cars.
But humans are diverse in their desires, and spine-tingling performance isn’t always what we’re looking for. Sometimes, we’re looking for a ride that’s just easy in the old backbone.
My backbone is no longer exactly young, and over the past few years, whenever an old-school, all-American freeway-cruising machine has landed in my driveway, I’ve quietly rejoiced.
This happened again last year when Cadillac loaned me a nice, big XTS V-Sport sedan.
It was so, so soothing. Here’s why:
You can tell you’re in for something special when your 2018 Cadillac XTS Platinum V-Sport sedan with all-wheel-drive arrives on a Stone Grey Metallic pain job and …
… with a Maple Sugar interior, with Jet Black accents. Maple sugar!
The Caddy came well-equipped. This trim level has a base price of $US71,695, with just about everything already included. Out tester stickered at just over $US73,000 thanks largely to a compact spare tire that added $US350.
Without all the V-Sport goodies, the XTS comes in at about $US46,000.
The XTS shares a platform with the Chevy Impala and the Buick LaCrosse. I sampled the LaCrosse in 2016 and really dug it.
The XTS’s styling is large without being titanic and favours suave lines over bold gestures. “Dare greatly” is Caddy’s current tag line, but the XTS dares gently.
The general idea here is straightforward and classically Cadillac: a sedan with luxury appointments, a large back seat, a huge trunk, and decent power. A BMW-level ultimate driving machine this is not.
By the way, if you’re wondering about that charming brick house in the background …
… it’s part of the history of New Jersey, the American War of Independence, and George Washington. I hadn’t visited before.
The deal with the XTS is that it’s basically a front-wheel-drive platform that can be adapted to all-wheel-drive.
The AWD system did get some mild snow testing in New Jersey, and it performed well.
The V-Sport upgrade involves mainly the engine. The non-V XTS has a 304-horsepower 3.6-litre V6. But the XTS V-Sport harbours a 410-horsepower twin-turbocharged version of the same V6 mill. That’s a big bump.
Those extra ponies aren’t a boon for the MPGs. The XTS V-Sport manages 16 mpg city/23 highway/18 combined.
The trunk is vast.
As is the back seat. Look at that legroom!
OK, I’ll be honest: there will be those who buy this Caddy so that they can put it into service … for a car service. Or as a budget limo.
I don’t know if it’s fair to call that a knock. Some people, myself included, are fans of roomy four-doors with plush rides. For freeway-and-around-town duty, the XTS is a dandy set of wheels.
It’s a Cadillac, in the venerable spirit of the brand.
Let’s slip inside.
A dual moonroof fills the interior with natural light.
And the heated-and-cooled Maple Sugar leather seats get a touch of subtle Caddy branding.
From the supportive but not too pliant driver’s seat, you see a pretty simple digital instrument cluster and get to lay hands on a leather-wrapped steering wheel with the usual buttons and knobs to control vehicle functions.
That’s a nicely designed cluster.
And it’s heated! This was a welcome feature as the temperature plunged in the Northeast.
In an era of 10-speed automatic gearboxes, the XTS’s six-speed unit could seem antiquated, but it handles the car’s ample power quite well.
Perfectly good cupholders.
And even a smuggler’s box hidden behind the controls on the center stack. There’s wireless recharging in there, but I used the place to stash my phone out of sight. The XTS also has the usual USB/AUX ports.
The Bose audio system is excellent.
We named it our 2017 Audio System of the Year.
Infotainment is handled by Cadillac’s Cue system. From navigation to climate control, it’s very capable. The eight-inch touchscreen is backed up by voice commands and some haptic touch elements beneath.
As with all GM vehicles, the XTS V-Sport has OnStar, complete with a 4G LTE wifi connection and easy-as-pie Bluetooth phone pairing. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto can also be used. Our tester had a SiriusXM subscription, so I could gorge myself on the blues.
So what’s the final verdict on this fetching Caddy?
I wouldn’t hesitate to buy one of these. Well, maybe I’d spend a little less and get the Buick LaCrosse or the Chevy Impala. But then again, I wouldn’t have a Cadillac. Part of me wants that badge on the grille so I can pretend I’m Fast Eddie Felson in the “The Colour of Money.”
We’re definitely not talking about a modern sedan here. The XTS V-Sport isn’t crisp-handling, nor is it breathtakingly quick, although with a 0-60 mph time of around 5.5 seconds, it isn’t at all slow. Its mission in life is to tool along the highway in a steady state of speed. The V-Sport treatment isn’t as aggressive as what you’d get in, say, the epic CTS-V, with its hulking V8 engine shared with the Corvette Z06.
But we are talking about a Cadillac that serves up the best of both worlds. While you wouldn’t want to take this thing out on a race track, with that gutsy twin-turbo six under the hood, you won’t feel even remotely underpowered on the highway. But better than that, you’re going to feel like Mr. Smooth motoring around town as you one-hand steer the XTS in and out of driveways, parking lots, and garages. You float like a great big supercool butterfly in this sucker, and you could care less about stinging like a bee.
Frankly, with Cadillac’s terrific Bose audio setup, there might be no better vehicle under $US100,000 for driving around and listening to jazz and blues. The XTS V-Sport simply sets a marvellous mood.
OK, true, you might consider this a bit of an old person’s car. But so what? Once you’re done blasting around in sports cars and hauling your family in a minivan, you might just want to settle into a set of wheels that’s largely mellow but with some extra oomph in reserve.
As we learned when we tested the Impala a few years back, a sedan of ample size and calm ride, when coupled with GM’s current suite of audio and infotainment features, is an appealing, rolling, high-tech platform. Mind you, the XTS V-Sport has a heads-up display, driver-assist features (such as parking assist, foward collision alert, and lane-departure warning, and a useful bird-eye-view camera setup), and adaptive cruise control, but it doesn’t do semi-self-driving. And that’s fine because it was such a pleasant car to drive all by myself that I didn’t miss the autonomous stuff.
Here’s the bottom line: The XTS V-Sport is a car in which you can set out on a drive of several hours and get some serious thinking done. It is a machine for meditation. A road-tripper that encourages contemplation.
No, it isn’t the snazziest Caddy in the stable. But it’s my new favourite.