2018 Cadillac XTS V-Sport AWD
2018 Cadillac XTS V-Sport AWD

Test Drive: 2018 Cadillac XTS V-Sport AWD

As Cadillac continues its fight for relevancy within a segment where horsepower and technology have replaced soft-bellied opulence, I find myself awash in buttery leather, enjoying the hushed ambience and luscious ride of their last remaining front-wheel-drive (FWD) sedan, the 2018 XTS.

This is a large vehicle by today’s standards, though it falls just shy of the Cadillac CT6 sedan in overall length, yet provides considerably greater cargo capacity thanks to a massive multi-body-hauling trunk.

As with other Cadillac sedans, the XTS is available with all-wheel-drive (AWD) traction and the potency of a twin-turbocharged powerhouse beneath its hood. Such is the formatting of the V-Sport edition, which serves this week as my vicariousmag.com tester.

The heart of the XTS V-Sport is clearly its 3.6L forced-air induction V6 engine, which develops 410 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque. Those are hefty numbers and not to be trifled with, though the 6-speed automatic transmission transferring the punch seems a little stale given the ever-increasing cog count these days.

In spite of its half-dozen gears, the transmission works unobtrusively and never suffers the delays of indecision as do some autoboxes of higher cog-count. And with the abundance of horsepower and torque spread over a broad rev-band, the need for continuous gear-changing is a non-existent.

After settling into GM’s “livingroom on wheels” and adjusting the basics, I pulled onto a busy road and nailed the throttle. Wow…wasn’t expecting that! All four wheels tenaciously gripped the wet pavement and instantly shot the Caddy up to speed.

That surge was accompanied by a growl polished beyond that which is typical of a domestic V6 power plant. There are few V6 engines that I can honestly say I appreciate the sound-signature of; this is one of them.

Most interesting though is how quiet and refined the mill is within normal driving parameters. There’s a bit of a duality to its character: polite and library-like versus authoritative and forceful.

One could also attach a claim of duality to the car’s Magnetic Ride Control underpinnings. Most cars driven by auto journalists, and indeed my own vehicles, emphasize ride-control over comfort – and really, that’s just an inoffensive way of saying that it is too firm.

Not the Caddy though. The XTS V-Sport absorbs the punches and kicks of broken roads with remarkable solidity and poise, leaving very little of the pounding to accost occupants. Lead me to the altar because I worship cars delivering this level of ride quality.

What I’m far less reverent about is the absence of conventional switchgear to control the basics, such as HVAC, audio, and more. Yes, the XTS cabin emits a “cool” factor second to none in the segment with its capacitive-touch controls and hi-tech gimmickry, but the functionality of it all creates a frustration factor as well.

Despite my inherent baby-boomer tech aversion, the cabin of the XTS is beautiful and well put together. These are the trappings that make a long journey fatigue-free and so immensely enjoyable.

Along the way, the XTS will also serve as a 4G LTE hot spot for up to seven devices, one of which may be streaming to the 14-speaker Bose Surround-Sound audio system through Apple Car Play or Android Auto.

As one would expect, the big Caddy is equipped with the latest in occupant protection and crash avoidance, which brings peace of mind to the drive, in addition to the convenience of adaptive cruise control capable of full-range speed.

The eagerness exhibited by the V-Sport power plant takes the XTS to another level of quality and performance. I’ve sampled the non-turbocharged version of this engine and was left devoid of anything resembling enthusiasm. So a big take-away lessen here for a potential buyer with a pulse is to opt for the V-Sport version of the XTS if it’s within budget.

Granted, that budget needs to be a healthy one. My tester rang in at $78,310, but in fairness there isn’t anything to add. The V-Sport is replete with pretty well every modern performance and convenience item bagged in even the most expensive luxury cars, in which they are add-ons rather than standard fare. (Think German.)

While the XTS V-Sport AWD may not possess the searing handling dynamics of its German competitors, it should be no less valued. Especially by those seeking a more relaxed driving experience, which delivers comfort and refinement without being held hostage by an uninspiring power plant.

Yes, the XTS V-Sport is a Cadillac that transcends the former world of opulent soft-bellied luxo-cruisers with that of the modern luxo-rocket. It’s a Caddy that I like more than expected.

2018 Cadillac XTS V-Sport
Price as tested (before taxes): $78,310.00
Configuration: front engine, all-wheel drive
Engine/transmission: 3.6L twin-turbo V6 / 6-speed automatic
Power/torque: 410 hp / 369 lb-ft
Fuel-economy ratings (L/100km): city 15.0, highway 10.2
Warranty (basic): 4 years / 80,000 km
Competitors: Audi A6, BMW 5-Series, Genesis G80, Lexus GS, Lincoln Continental, Mercedes-Benz E-Class

Related links:
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