2018 Cadillac XTS V-Sport Review: Not That Kind Of V
– Cleveland, OH
In the world of luxury cars, some customers just want more. If you offer them a bigger engine, they’ll buy that one, not because it’s better, but because it’s more. It’s that line of thinking that I think begot the Cadillac XTS V-Sport.
After all, the standard XTS is a traditional luxury car in its truest form. Neither flashy nor particularly fun-to-drive, its duty is one of comfortable conveyance, for which it doesn’t require copious amounts of power. Why then create the XTS V-Sport with 410 horsepower from a biturbocharged 3.6-liter V6 engine? Because it offers more power than the standard engine, and some people just have to have more.
The XTS in general is more expensive than your average sedan thanks to it being a true luxury vehicle, the Cadillac badge on the front, and its husky dimensions. That said, a base price under $50,000 keeps it relatively affordable and in-line with similar vehicles like the Acura RLX, Lincoln Continental, and Genesis G80. This top-of-the-line XTS V-Sport model with all-wheel drive, however, represents the max you’ll pay, with an as-tested price of $73,040. That makes the XTS V-Sport considerably more expensive than similar top-of-the-line trims from its competitive set.
There’s nothing about its exterior design that makes the XTS drool-worthy, but it’s traditionally handsome and recent updates to the headlights and taillights make it a bit more interesting to look at. Plus, the shape of the car itself – tall roof, long wheelbase, big trunk, etc. – speaks to the vehicle’s mission: luxurious cruising while coddling passengers.
No one’s going to complain about spending time behind the wheel of an XTS because it is, after all, a luxury car. The seats are covered in semi-aniline leather that feel nicer to the touch than lower-grade hide you’ll find on less-expensive sedans, and they also feature 22-way adjustability. Real wood trim and exposed stitching on the dash further establish an upscale environment. The dashboard itself is sharply styled, but the slick look comes at the cost of using finicky touch-sensitive controls on the center console.
In terms of space to stretch your legs and elbows, the XTS offers inches aplenty. Its rear legroom and trunk space, in particular, are class-leading, and within its segment, only the Genesis G80 offers more overall interior room.
Lastly, the XTS makes a good isolation chamber, with outside noise only penetrating in a hushed volume and vibrations smoothed out by the trick Magnetic Ride Control suspension. An impressive feat, to be sure, with the V-Sport model’s large 20-inch wheels.
The XTS earns high marks here for its above-average infotainment system and plethora of nifty tech features. The Cadillac User Experience (CUE) has evolved into a polished, user-friendly infotainment system with sharp graphics, swift speed, and, aside from some annoying menu-hunting, an easy-to-navigate interface. You’ll read many criticisms about CUE if you Google the name, but those are of the original version; the latest version fixes those earlier foibles.
The XTS also offers a grab bag of interesting technology like speakers mounted in the shoulders of each front seat to extract the most from the Bose Surround Sound system. There’s also a massaging function for the front seats, wireless charging for your phone, a head-up display, onboard 4G LTE-powered WiFi, and my favorite, a 12-inch LCD digital gauge cluster with configurable displays.
Just because it has a V in its name doesn’t mean the XTS V-Sport is a sports sedan. Wrong V. It gets the V-Sport moniker thanks to its biturbocharged 3.6-liter V6 producing 410 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque, an engine it shares with the slightly smaller and rear-drive-based CTS V-Sport (a clearly better option if you’re shopping for a sports sedan).
The XTS shares its front-wheel-drive platform with the cush Buick LaCrosse and Chevy Impala, but in V-Sport guise is only available with all-wheel drive. A traditional six-speed automatic transmission is employed to send power to all four wheels, with a pair of small plastic paddles provided on the steering for some manual control.
Unfortunately, while it looks fun on paper, the big engine’s promise of performance never really shows up on the road. Mash the throttle and the XTS takes a moment to compose itself before moving along, and the pace delivered feels slower than those dyno numbers suggest. Even though it’s equipped with General Motors’ lauded Magnetic Ride Control suspension, the XTS also feels tuned more towards compliance than precision. The uncommunicative steering is at fault here too, being light to the touch and offering little feedback about the state of grip.
The XTS offers two option packages that together comprise a nearly full suite of safety features. The first, called the Driver Awareness Package, includes forward collision warning, blind-spot warning, lane departure warning, front and rear parking sensors, and rear cross traffic alert. The second, called the Driver Assist Package, adds automatic braking in forward and reverse, adaptive cruise control, automatic high-beams, parking assist (on front-wheel-drive models only), and adaptive front lighting. Conspicuously absent is an active system for keeping you in your lane, and the brand’s new Super Cruise autonomous-capable driving system is not available here either (for now it’s only on the CT6). The XTS also gets dinged for making these safety packages optional on all but the highest trim level, and excluding them altogether from some lower trim levels.
With great power comes great fuel costs. The XTS V-Sport’s big engine is thirsty, to the tune of 16 miles per gallon in the city, 23 mpg on the highway, and 18 combined. And it only drinks the good stuff; premium fuel is required. Compared to its competitive set, that means more trips to the gas station, though the rest of them, except for the Lincoln Continental, require premium fuel as well.
Photos: John Neff / Motor1.com