2013 Cadillac XTS is quick, comfortable – USATODAY.com

LOS ANGELES
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In this car-crazy city, where you’d expect people to find most ordinary showroom vehicles boring, Cadillac’s new 2013 XTS sedan snags a remarkable number of double-takes.

Good sign for this vehicle, which will stand as the “big” Caddy until the brand finishes development of a bigger one, about which it will say little. Cadillac marketing boss Don Butler hopes to sell 40,000 of the XTS a year, perhaps a quarter of Caddy’s U.S. sales.

Big, luxurious cars have been, after all, a brand signature, though it’s making its way with smaller models now.

A day piloting a preproduction XTS with optional all-wheel drive on curving canyon roads and chugging in heavy traffic along the Pacific Coast Highway, suggests that the XTS will make quite a few friends. XTS is:

•Visually pleasant, inside and out.

•Comfortable, especially in back where the 40 inches of stated legroom equals that of a big SUV, and in fact feels like more.

•Quick, unexpectedly so because the only engine is a 304-horsepower V-6 in a car that weighs more than two tons.

•Easy on fuel for a car of its size, weight and performance. Our real-world mileage zipping through the canyons in an all-wheel-drive, high-end Platinum model was 17 mpg. Hardly a hybrid, but respectable.

•Technologically gee-whizzed to the gills, with the added benefit that you can simplify the controls and displays to suit if you are put off by the car’s attempt to do and show and control everything.

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One of the tech features you’ll see championed as a safety benefit is the vibrating driver’s seat. If the car’s sensors think you could collide with something on the left, the left side of the driver’s seat vibrates. On the right, the right side vibrates. If the threat is square-on, the whole chair wiggles.

Caddy says it’s an intuitive way to warn the driver, without a sudden audible warning, which Cadillac believes can startle and distract.

The seat has an “off” switch, which we triggered, finding the vibrating annoying more than cautionary.

Cadillac hopes XTS will seem a credible rival to Audis and BMWs, but despite the appealing features and appearance, that appears unlikely, because:

•Brakes are numb. The pedal feels as if it’s doing little to slow the car, and what it is doing is out of proportion with your pedal pressure. In cars that can go fast, being able to slow and stop confidently is a key ability and one missing from XTS.

•Some simple tech features are overlooked. There is no “back” button, for example, to let you undo a wrong command in some areas of the menu.

•Switching into a sporting driving mode can be confounding. To…

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