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XTS demonstrates Cadillac's embrace of a brave new world

November 16, 2011|By Susan Carpenter
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles…)

Cadillac unveiled its newest luxury sedan, the XTS, Wednesday, calling the car the start of "a major moment of expansion" and "the most technically advanced car" ever made by the 109-year-old American auto maker, best known for its largesse and grandiosity.

The XTS is the first of two new cars planned this year for Cadillac, which is building out from its brand centerpiece, the mid-size CTS. The larger XTS is due at dealers in the spring. The smaller ATS will be available later in the year.

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"Elegant luxury sedans, they are innate to Cadillac," said Cadillac's vice president of marketing, Don Butler. "It's part of our DNA. But the fact of the matter is, it's a new world. The old formulas don't necessarily apply."

Cadillac is using the large sedan to showcase a new emphasis on smaller engines, less cluttered cockpit controls and advanced safety features. Like its SRX SUV, the new XTS is powered with a 3.6-liter V-6, not a Cadillac-traditional V-8.

The XTS also marks the debut of its new CUE infotainment system, which has only three buttons and uses iPhone style touch screens. The average luxury car has 23 buttons to control the radio, navigation and other infotainment systems, according to Cadillac spokesman David Caldwell.

Among the car's safety features are a fairly standard camera that sees behind the car, as well as sensors that can tell if objects, or pedestrians, are approaching from the side. In both cases, the XTS alerts the driver, giving him a choice of a chime or physical feedback, which vibrates the seat cushion on the side from which the safety hazard is approaching. The all-wheel drive XTS is also equipped with an "intervening braking system" to lessen and possibly avoid collisions.

"It's a little different formula," said Caldwell. "Years ago, the biggest power with the biggest engine is what you would expect. [The XTS] is not anywhere near as a large of a car as we've done in that segment in the past on the outside."

Caldwell said the XTS is not as big on the outside as a Mercedes-Benz S class or BMW 7 series. "It's a little short of full size," he said, adding that Cadillac has maximized the space where it counts -- in the rear seat and trunk, which Cadillac likens to an Audi A8.

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