Road Test: 2019 Cadillac XTS Luxury

Here it is, the last Sedan de Ville. Well, for all intents and purposes. As I’m sure you’ve heard, production of the Cadillac XTS, which replaced the Northstar V8 powered 2007-2011 DTS, is ending sometime in October of this year.

And it will end close to thirty-five years of production of full-sized, front wheel drive Cadillacs. Most people won’t notice, most people would prefer an XT5 or XT4, if they’re shopping Cadillacs at all. But I’ll notice. I liked these cars. And I’ll miss them when they’re gone.

When the XTS first appeared as a 2013 model, I thought it was a nice car. From its swept-back, almost fastback-like rear end, it reminded me a bit of the neoclassical 1980-85 Cadillac Seville, Bill Mitchell’s swan song at General Motors. I even tested a 2014 for the old website, and enjoyed it very much. Over the intervening five years, I half kept an eye on XTS certified pre-owned trade-ins at McLaughlin Cadillac, in case they get one in in pearl white or ruby red with the creme leather interior. So far, the right one hasn’t appeared. But I remain vigilant.

Most of the regulars here know I have two Lincoln Town Cars. A daily driver 2000 Town Car Cartier with 158,000 miles, and Big Rhonda, my 2004 Town Car Ultimate with only 58,000 on the clock. The 2004 I intend to keep permanently, but the Cartier is approaching pretty high mileage (not for a Panther, though, a friend saw one last spring locally with 371K on it), and nearly twenty years of age.

But everything still works on that car. Climate control, the power windows, locks, mirrors, stereo, auto-dimming mirrors, heated seats, the whole schlemiel. So it isn’t giving me a reason to get rid of it yet. And I still enjoy it. But…but. I think there will be an XTS in my future. And earlier this year when I heard the XTS was going out of production with no replacement, I talked to my partner in crime at McLaughlin Cadillac vis a vis road testing vehicles.

Namely, Brian Cox. I called and said since the XTS was going away, I wanted to try out a 2019 sometime soon. About a month back, I was scouting the lot and there was a gunmetal gray 2019, with but a few thousand miles on the clock, as a certified pre-owned Cadillac. I texted Brian the following Monday, and set up an appointment to try it out the following week.

The agreed-upon date arrived, and I discovered the car had been sold. But not all was lost. Brian said, “Well, we’ll just put you in this brand new one, it’s the same color!” Excellent.

This car had seventeen miles on it. But wait, there’s more! “We should run it through the car wash, it’s kind of dusty.” So I rode in the passenger seat with Brian as he took it through McLaughlin’s automatic car wash. Then a dealer plate was obtained and I was sent on my way. “I’m here until six, go have fun!” And indeed I did.

When I tried out the 2014 XTS, I was impressed, and liked it. But the 2019, I enjoyed even more. I really loved the interior, with its ‘tuxedo’ interior consisting of creme leather and door panels, with black dash pad and door caps. I have never warmed to dark gray or black interiors, they always reminded me of sitting in a flip-top plastic Rubbermaid garbage can. And the light interior trim is always a plus in the hot, humid Midwestern summers we get.

This interior was swank. The seats were comfortable-VERY-and there was wood trim everywhere. Even on the steering wheel and transmission lever. Everything looked suitably upscale, leather, wood and soft-touch trim-that bugaboo of shrimp-inhaling major media journalists everywhere, ha ha.

I also was rather infatuated with the glass panorama roof. With a push of a button, the color-keyed headlining retracted, revealing the bright Midwestern sun. It was almost like riding in a convertible, without risk of my fedora flying off.

I even sat in the back, and it was suitably roomy and cushy for my five foot ten, approximately 165-lb. frame Note: Give or take five pounds and depending on gin consumption, see your dealer for details…

The XTS was a pleasure to drive. I’m one of those people who doesn’t need a ‘sport’ sedan. I just want something smooth and comfortable to drive to work, to the supermarket, to car shows, and to the occasional supper club. I have driven the larger CT6, and prefer the XTS to it. Maybe because the XTS is a little more ‘traditional Cadillac’. It is pretty much the last Sedan de Ville, though an argument could be made for the 2011 DTS as being the last one. But the XTS has more of that gin and tonic, steak dinner at the country club Cadillac vibe of olden days, while the CT6 seems to be promoted as more of a swank club in NYC, sushi and Poland spring water type of customer.

I’m rambling. But I’m old enough to remember when Cadillacs, Lincolns, Buick Electras and Oldsmobile Ninety-Eights were driven by the fiercely local doctors, lawyers, alderman and clergy of my town in NW Illinois. Sober types, traditional types, but folks who got things done too. And loved the game of golf. Most of those city pillars, people who were sought for their advice, their wisdom and their experience are no longer about. And we’re all the poorer for it.

True, the 2019 XTS is not a 1970 Sedan de Ville, but it is a Cadillac, and still has some of that special Cadillac feel in my opinion. And it is a composed, comfortable ride. Too many modern cars are hard-riding with their giant alloy wheels and low-profile tires. Not the Cadillac. It is smooth and quiet.

One is now on my short list for future transportation, along with the Lincoln MKZ, Lincoln Continental and Volvo S60. The 3.6 liter V6 has plenty of power, and much of the same oomph as my V8 Town Car.

One neat feature I really liked was the bird’s eye view section of the back up camera. I had stopped at the house to show my dad the car before I headed back to the dealer, and reversing out of the driveway, I noticed the overhead view, showing the pavement, trees, shrubs, etc. It’s like James Bond! Cool.

I took this car on a variety of roads, from four-lanes to two-lanes, then onto I-80 for a while. The Cadillac was a pleasure to drive, and accelerated with vigor when I shot onto the interstate on-ramp.

The more I drove it, the more I liked it. As previously mentioned, I drove a 2014 XTS back when it was new, and the 2019 is not drastically different.

But it seems more refined, smoother somehow. The new nose and tail design, as seen on our tester, first appeared on the 2018 models.

When the new look first appeared, I preferred the earlier style. But for some reason, it has grown on me, and now I prefer the revised schnoz and caboose. Go figure. And the combination of Phantom Gray metallic over the Shale leather was a nice combo. Though I like the Red Horizon and Adriatic Blue even better! So many black, white and gray cars out there, I’d rather have a real color, though I always have had a soft spot for gunmetal gray.

The more I drove this car, the more I talked myself into getting one in the near future. So I’ll be keeping an eye on the lot at McLaughlin for fresh certified trade-ins over the next couple of years. If the right one in the right color makes an appearance, who knows what could happen? Until then folks, keep calm and Brougham on.

Best of all, it’s a Cadillac.

19 Replies to “Road Test: 2019 Cadillac XTS Luxury”

  1. AvatarJohn C.

    From 2011-2014 I drove a 2011 Saab 9-5 a cousin on long Epsilon II. I bought the Saab new a few weeks before the factory closed. Not the smartest move and then one got to spend the next years driving an expensive, instantly 50% depreciated car with no warranty or dealer. Bought for 35k and traded to a Buick dealer who I am sure thought they were being generous at 15k trade in. They were!

    The XTS really shows a lot of upgrades. The wood is real, the Saabs was fake. You get that hyperstrut suspension that Saab only had on the top line that is supposed to do a lot for the ride. You also get a V6 in place of the 2.0 turbo. The Saab was early in the days of direct injection and the idle got a little rocky and could be a little noisy. These cars are a little heavy and so the four was overmatched in a way the six wouldn’t be. At least no turbos to worry about as the car ages. The size and weight really went against the fairly stiff Saab as a sports sedan. A V6, more sound insolation and a softer suspension would all be improvements I would have liked to see on the Saab and that is exactly what Cadillac did.

    Reply
    • AvatarCJinSD

      In 2013 a girl I was friends with impulse-purchased a ‘bargain’ new Mercedes-Benz E350 Convertible while on vacation in Florida. I’m sure the salesman bit a hole through his tongue when she said that all she had to do when she got back to San Diego was sell her 2011 Saab 9-3 convertible.

      Reply
  2. Avatarstingray65

    Nice review Tom. The XTS is so much better than any “traditional” Cadillac going back to the late 1960s at not only being true to the old school Cadillac luxury/quality image, but also offering a non-embarrassing alternative to the lower level foreign luxury brand sedans. Unfortunately, for Cadillac, they achieved their sedan perfection just in time for total public disinterest in buying sedans from anybody but the subsidized Tesla. The CPO price should be very attractive given the massive depreciation on most luxury sedans, but since so few are being sold new it might take a while to find one with your desired colors and options.

    Reply
  3. AvatarCompaq Deskpro

    I want to like these, but I have a hard time. The styling looks like they started with an XT5 crossover and stomped it flat into a sedan. I can’t say the interior is bad, but I don’t really like it. The seats are hard as a rock, the sliding thigh bolsters make my thighs uncomfortable just by thinking about it. (The DTS had the squishiest couchlike seats, so I really think that was a big step backwards) V6 has a reputation for eating timing chains. It’s FWD bleh. But its a real Cadillac, just one that evokes one of those stumpy late 80’s Devilles, and I don’t think upselling traditional customers to the CT6 is going to work.

    Chrysler 300 is better in every way, drives a little closer to your Town Car, and probably cheaper too. Consider those, and also don’t forget about the Impala and Lacrosse, same sausage, better looking (in my opinion) and pretty nice in their own right.

    Reply
    • AvatarJohn C.

      The 300 has a few issues as well. Most prominently having sub 35k thousand cloth seat specials and high end ones that have so much horsepower as to label Tom’s town father buyer a clown for having picked it. Today of course we are told to embrace how international a car is and be embarrassed by domestic traits. So I won’t wonder is suspension designs intended for much lighter 80s Mercedes(rear) and Renault (front) work out on 4000 pound+ domestics ability to provide a competitive ride in the domestic market of flyover country.town fathers.

      Reply
      • AvatarCarmine

        I think the 300 is dated as hell and a general low life/buy here pay here special once its about 2 years old. It drips fake luxury like a discount stereo that tries to look expensive.

        Reply
      • AvatarCompaq Deskpro

        LX cars have a very competitive ride, they beat Camrys and Accords at absorbing potholes and interior wind noise above 70 all day long. Chrysler 300’s aren’t very international, they are styled after the letter cars of the 50’s and 60’s as well as taking part in the time honored tradition of ripping off Rolls Royce and Bentley on much cheaper luxury cars. It doesn’t get more American than that.

        My seats aren’t falling apart and are very comfortable, can’t speak for the leather, don’t really like leather.

        Reply
        • AvatarJohn C.

          Interesting that our internationalist friends revert to comparisons with Camrys or Galants or Optimas as if they are the bogey to judge interior sound level or bump absorbtion. They can’t even contemplate cars designed from the ground up to do certain things spectacularly well, even if that means being less of a Japan or now Korean style least common denominator appliance. What is wrong with American cars being smoothest and most quiet, German cars excelling at high speed cruising, Swedish cars displaying well bred security, British cars displaying unparalleled class, and Italian cars displaying devil may care lust for life. This of course leaves out Asia but maybe that is appropriate when instead of bringing something from their culture to the table, they instead relied on copiers and politics to worm their way on to the world market and in doing so seek to destroy the achievements of their betters.

          Reply
          • AvatarCompaq Deskpro

            I think your agreeing with me, don’t automatically take the common dull option, check out Chrysler who delivers smooth and quiet at a bargain along with a lot less boring, its great! Its American cars being what they are supposed to be.

            You don’t like Lexus GS’s, Toyota Land Cruisers, and Pentel RSVP pens, and high end HP laser printers, and Sony smartphone camera sensors, or Toshiba flash memory? You think the world be a better place without them?

          • AvatarJohn C.

            Yes I wish coke was still cola, a joint was a bad place to be, a copier was still a Xerox, a Land Cruiser was still a Land Rover, and a smart phone was still Ma Bell renting you a lifetime one but not letting you buy it.

  4. AvatarCarmine

    I like the XTS, especially the twin turbo V sport versions which look like great sleepers since not many would expect a chromed out XTS Platinum to have 410hp under the hood. These cars manage to have lots of tech but still feel familiar and they cast a tasteful luxury vibe the the more recent tacky “purple mood lighting, perfume spritzer, quilted leather 3 iPads across the dash” S-“klassssseee” doesn’t have.

    Between this and the CT6, I would take the CT6, though its more expensive, its more traditional in its LWB, RWD long hood layout and proportions than the sort of stubby looking XTS, plus more cool features like 4 wheel steering and night vision are available on the CT6. The out going CTS also remains one of my favorites too, tough choices.

    Reply
  5. AvatarMike

    Nice review, Tom. I had been looking at these for about 3 years. I really wanted a color called Silver Coast Metallic, which is kind of a platinum beige, with the two-tone brown and cream interior. I also wanted the updated Cadillac emblem, which was added for 2016. ’16 was also the last year they offered Silver Coast, so I really had a one-year window to get exactly what I wanted. Back in February the exact car popped up at a Cadillac dealer about 40 miles away, as a CPO with 34,000 miles, exclusively dealer serviced. Absolutely mint and I couldn’t beat the deal — what listed for $53,000 new was $24,700 as a 3 year-old CPO. I’m really liking the car. It has a ton of tech, and the best brakes of any car I’ve driven (I was surprised to find factory Brembo front brake calipers). It rides beautifully (the Magnetic Ride Control isn’t hype), and handling-wise it doesn’t embarrass itself. It isn’t a sports car, but it also isn’t classic luxo-boat floaty at all. Just very composed. And the 3.6 has plenty of power. If you look into buying one, I get the impression they have started to de-content the ’18s and ’19s a little (like dropping the Magnetic Ride Control on the lower trims). Overall, no complaints from this first-time Cadillac owner.

    Reply
  6. Avataretc2000

    Agree with Carmine on the CT6. XTS is not a bad car and the interior is well done but the Buick LaCrosse offers an updated version of this platform with better ride/handling, 9 speed trans (believe xts is still 6) and more room for less (E2 platform while XTS is still E1)
    Also, agree that 300 is worth considering. I had a few rentals for long drives and they are great at eating up the miles and even the base V6 has good power. At the time I was driving a 2015 CTS and found the 300 to have a notably cushier ride and more relaxed feel; much more luxury sedan vs the sport sedan CTS. I had an XTS loaner for a weekend and it rides worse than either to me. Probably caused by the relatively short wheelbase, large wheels, and poor weight balance.

    Reply
  7. AvatarRobert Rex

    I’ve enjoyed reading your reviews of these luxury machines. I, too, am from the era of business people rewarding themselves with a nice Cadillac, Ninety-Eight, Electra, Lincoln, and the occasional Imperial/New Yorker/LHS. And yup, I’ve owned all of these brands at one point or another in my career.
    One thing I’m curious about–and it’s based on my own skewed view of luxury–is what I call The Luxury of Interior Light™. All of these vehicles had plenty of interior lights, mounted so you had great amounts of indirect lighting; no harsh or glaring lights to disturb your night passengers, but it made finding a dropped pen, earring, or change on the floor or seats easy. No unflattering light in your passengers eyes, but plenty bright enough so that you didn’t feel like you were being seated in a cave.
    These cars accomplished this by footwell lighting, header/c-pillar/roof rail directed map/reading lights, dash or mirror mounted map lights, door courtesy/warning lights, etc. Currently, the only brand that I know of that kinda meets these wacky standards of mine is the current 300C/Platinum edition. It includes footwell lights (in front only?), courtesy/warning lights in the map pockets (all doors), header and roof rail reading lamps.
    Have you (or any of the readers here) noticed the interior night lighting on the Lincolns, or Cadillacs? (Sorry, but Volvo isn’t on my short list.) I’d be interested in your observations–otherwise, I’ll hafta do a night tour of these vehicles; such a sacrifice, I know!

    Reply
    • AvatarCarmine

      I know that most if not all of the most current Cadillacs have door courtesy lights on the bottom of all the doors, reading lamps for all the outer seating positions, footwell lamps in front and under the back of the front seats for the rear passengers, illuminated console, plus all the extra light piping in the trim and door panels.

      Reply
      • AvatarRobert Rex

        Thanks for the update on those lighting items, Carmine–I appreciate it! I guess that they’re all subtle enough I’ve never noticed them in any of the photos–but then again, all those pics are during daylight hours.
        Again, thanks for the followup!

        Reply
      • AvatarRobert Rex

        Thanks for the update, Carmine! I appreciate it. I haven’t noticed all those lights, I guess because all of the test reviews’ pics are taken with as much sunlight as possible.
        Again, thanks for the info!

        Reply
  8. AvatarGeorge Denzinger

    I’ve never actually driven one of these, so I have no basis for comparison, but I’ve liked the styling that they did on the last of the Epsilons. I don’t mind the chunky overall style on this car, and I like how the front overhang is rather small on a FWD automobile.

    When the car was first released, I was prepared to dislike it as I was a fan of the styling of the previous gen SdV. But having seen them in the wild, I warmed up to the styling. With later editions having the 400+ HP V6 installed, I really became more interested in these. However, my current Epsilon is still trucking along quite nicely at 10+ years and our driving needs have reduced considerably since the kids moved out of the house. It’s quite unlikely that I’ll end up with one (and now, I’d rather a ATS V anyway), but thanks for taking us along for the ride.

    Reply
  9. AvatarCJinSD

    Tom,

    I’m commenting here because I don’t want to undermine you at Hagerty. I realize you have more of a trainspotter mindset than one of a car enthusiast, but you should include some mechanical details when you write a vehicle profile for people who are into the hobby. The impact of regulations on the dissatisfaction of American car buyers in the mid-70s is interesting, but it should probably be accompanied by information that is usually of interest to car collectors.

    Reply

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