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2013 Cadillac XTS Does X Mark the Spot?>

Where once Cadillac and Lincoln sat on the throne ruling the American luxury market now sits import brands like BMW, Audi and Lexus. And as any kid with a sled knows, it’s much easier to slide down the hill than climb back up. Although it’s a slow climb, and the hill is big, Cadillac, and now Lincoln, are hiking. Cadillac has had a bigger head start, with sales double of Lincoln, but only half of BMW.

Caddy’s steps back up the hill are deliberate, and not as big as it wants, but at least it’s a steady rise. Much of this success comes from the popular CTS model, which has been a big push for the relaunch of the brand that started years ago. Now Caddy is introducing the ATS and XTS sedans, both designed to help it make that incline to the top.

The XTS is the largest Cadillac sedan for sale today, and was designed to replace the previous STS and DTS sedans. The ongoing theme for both Cadillac and Lincoln is to attract younger buyers without alienating its loyal owner base, but sometimes you can’t have it all.

The XTS model, for example comes standard with CUE, Cadillac User Experience, which allows for myriad connectivity features as well as customizable IP screens. While those who regularly use their iPhones won’t have great distress learning the system, those who are 60-plus will not be happy. But that just might be Cadillac’s point. We’re sure its sales consultants will be glad to show customers how it works; whether or not they use it is up to them, as is the choice to purchase the XTS or not.

But if they did, they wouldn’t be disappointed. The XTS is a great cruising ride (as long as fuel economy isn’t you’re top priority, with its combined 20 mph rating). We tested the XTS AWD in the Premium Collection trim, and it offered plenty of features for an as-tested $56,700. We especially liked the incredibly comfortable leather seats, the power everything, and top-notch fit and finish as well as quality of materials.

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And while we miss the big Northstar V8s that used to power these mega cruisers, the 3.6-liter V6 did an admirable job of providing decent horsepower and torque (304 and 264) to get this 4,215-lb vehicle moving. You can push the Caddy and be rewarded with decent handling, especially with the magnetic ride control system that reads road conditions and adjusts the suspension for the optimal ride. Our only notation is that we felt the steering was a bit light, or too boosted for really hard driving, but for the majority of XTS owners, it will be fine.

The XTS does a good job of taking Cadillac’s design to the next level, with clean, strong surfaces, elegantly blended to create an appealing package. We love the illuminated exterior door handles, which really lend a touch of class.

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When it comes to safety, the XTS will set your mind at ease. The latest in technology is standard issue, such as 10 airbags, adaptive forward lighting and, of course, GM’s OnStar program.

Judging by the vehicles Cadillac has brought — and continues to bring — to market, the climb uphill continues on a steady pace. While they won’t be there next year, or probably the year after, the potential is there to get back on top, and sometimes, that’s all the goal you need.

Written by: BJ Killeen HerHighway Contributor, Owner Team Killeen and Road-Test Editor Drivers Talk Radio and Editor Christina Selter