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Big Changes: 2018 Cadillac XTS Test Drive Review

In early 2014, Cadillac announced it was making a major change to its longstanding emblem. It did away with the wreath and gave the crest a sleek new appearance. At the time, Cadillac executive design director Andrew Smith said, “The Crest remains a consistent symbol of Cadillac and our core values. This new Crest matches the lower, longer, leaner mantra of our current car designs, and reflects the evolution of our Art and Science philosophy.”

You can expect more big changes from Cadillac in the near future.

The automaker recently invited us to learn how to cook a delicious meal and experience its restyled and enhanced 2018 XTS sedan on the roads that wind through the Texas Hill Country. Before we set out from the host hotel and made the drive to the Silver Whisk cooking school, we got an eyeful of the XTS, an overview of the changes Cadillac made to it, and the schedule that the brand has set for itself. A company representative said that, starting this September, Cadillac is going to release a new model every six months for the next three years.

The 2018 XTS may not be all-new, but Cadillac refreshed it inside and out by enhancing its chassis, improving its ride quality, quieting its interior, and upgrading its interior tech (the 2019 XTS that recently went into production is a carryover model that features all of the updates of the 2018 XTS). Trim lines include Standard, Luxury, Premium Luxury, Platinum, and V-Sport Platinum – the car we drove through the serpentine roads and rolling hills of Central Texas.

Later that day, we learned how to make a summer squash pasta and homemade donuts with a whiskey and mascarpone cream sauce. As tasty as lunch was, driving the 2018 Cadillac XTS was the biggest treat of all.

2018 Cadillac XTS

2018 Cadillac XTS Exterior

The 2018 XTS rides on a revised chassis and features revised updated designs for the available 19-inch and 20-inch wheels. Those changes result in a better ride quality and less interior noise. In other words, they make the XTS even more of a Cadillac.

Designers gave the XTS a grille-to-trunk makeover. Fresh fascias cap off both ends. New LED headlights strengthen the XTS’s family resemblance to the CT6 flagship. Those flank a new grille and fit into redesigned front fenders. Visually updated wheel options for Luxury and Platinum models also separate the 2018 XTS from its predecessor. The beautiful Cadillac Escala concept car inspired the restyled LED taillights.

Over the past several years, Cadillac has pushed to re-establish itself as a brand connected with modern culture and the arts. We’d say the 2018 XTS is a sign that it’s succeeded. Like any emotionally charged stage production, the exterior of the XTS is dramatic. And we found it hard to take our eyes off of it.

2018 Cadillac XTS

2018 Cadillac XTS Interior

The cabin of the 2018 XTS has been extensively modified in subtle and noticeable ways.

The seats have new wire frame structures, foam geometry, and heating pads. Five color/trim packages are available. XTS, XTS Luxury, and XTS Premium Luxury models are available with a revised Jet Black and Shale color scheme with leather seats and Graphite Sapele high-gloss ash wood accents. XTS Platinum models get an interior dressed in one of two new ensembles: Maple Sugar and Jet Black with semi-aniline leather seats and high-gloss Ebony Lineate wood trim or Jet Black with semi-aniline leather seats and high-gloss Ebony Lineate wood trim.

An increased amount of sound insulation makes the inside of the XTS even quieter than before. Thanks to a variety of updates, it’s also more technologically advanced than it used to be. Engineers upgraded the infotainment system by giving it faster response times, fresh graphics on the eight-inch LCD center touchscreen, and smartphone-like navigation. Cloud-based personalized profiles allow you to customize the infotainment system according to your tastes, including your preferred vehicle and display settings, contact favorites, and navigation routes. You can access those preferences in any new Cadillac vehicle equipped with the user experience setup.

Other updates include the addition of in-vehicle apps available through the Collection store, displays that show the strength of the Wi-Fi signal and the functioning of the Advanced Park Assist feature, and the ability for the built-in OnStar 4G LTE hotspot to remotely update features such as the navigation system and Collection app store.

We drove the XTS V-Sport Platinum out to our cooking lesson, then rode in the back seat on the return trip to the host hotel. The heated/ventilated/massaging driver’s seat was a wonderful place to be, although we loved sitting in the back, too. We had plenty of headroom and more than enough legroom – 40 inches of it, to be exact. Standard Magnetic Ride Control and rear air springs caused bumps in the road to become quickly ironed-out wrinkles in the silky-smooth ride to downtown Austin. We didn’t need to use the trunk, but it was nice to know we could’ve fit four sets of golf clubs or at least five suitcases in it.

2018 Cadillac XTS

2018 Cadillac XTS Performance

Two V6 engines power the 2018 XTS lineup. A naturally aspirated 3.6-liter V6 with 304 horsepower and 264 lb-ft of torque is under the hood of all models except the V-Sport Platinum. That also has a 3.6-liter V6, but its engine is enhanced with twin turbochargers that increase its output to 410 horsepower and 369 lb-ft. Fuel economy for the V-Sport Platinum is an EPA-estimated 16 city, 23 highway, and 18 combined mpg.** Both V6 engines are paired with a six-speed automatic that features a tap-shift mode.

Front-wheel drive is standard on all XTS models, excluding the V-Sport Platinum, which is only available with all-wheel drive. That’s optional on all but the base model XTS.

Our journey to the Silver Whisk cooking school took us through dozens of twists and turns. Taking those revealed the solidity of the V-Sport Platinum’s steering and the model’s unshakable grip on the road. We respected the fact that Cadillac didn’t try to make the XTS V-Sport Platinum anything other than what it was. They allowed it to be the large luxury car that it’s always been, but gave it the ability to charge down the road with more than 400 horsepower and handle curves with competence and composure.

2018 Cadillac XTS

2018 Cadillac XTS Safety

New safety equipment in the XTS range includes a few add-ons to the Driver Awareness Package that’s optional on the Luxury model and standard on the Premium Luxury, Platinum, and V-Sport Platinum models. The safety bundle now comes with Low Speed Forward and vision-based Automatic Braking, a Following Distance Indicator, and Lane Change Alert.

2018 Cadillac XTS

2018 Cadillac XTS Overall

If the changes Cadillac made to the 2018 XTS sedan are too irresistible, make the trip to an AutoNation Cadillac dealership and get one so you can indulge in its fresh exterior styling, updated interior, and upgraded infotainment capabilities. Prices for the 2018 Cadillac XTS start at $46,395.* The XTS V-Sport Platinum has a base price of $72,495*; our press loaner had an as-tested price of $73,040.

*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.

**Based on EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.

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