Opinion Desk: Cadillac XTS Is A Stop-Gap Vehicle For DTS Buyers, True Caddy Flagship27
Before I even get into it, let’s make sure we’re on the same page: the upcoming Cadillac XTS will not be a competitor to full-size segment stalwarts from Germany such as the Mercedes-Benz S-Class or the BMW 7-Series. The XTS isn’t hoping to be the driver’s luxury car — not that it should, anyway. With its front-wheel drive-based setup thanks to a stretched Epsilon II platform, the XTS may end up being propelled by all four wheels. But it won’t be the same as driving the aforementioned flagship luxury sedans from Germany. Keeping this in mind, there will be two types of buyers that the XTS can truly hope to capture.
The first is the DTS buyer: these folks will be coming out of their barges-on-wheels and — assuming they prefer the barge experience all over again — will be looking for a replacement barge (or something similar). They won’t find what they’re looking for in a 7er, S-Class, or even an Audi A8. Those are too performance-oriented. But the XTS may just be the vehicle that fits the bill.
The other possibility for someone fresh out of a DTS is the Lexus LS — a soft-riding full-sizer that, for all intents and purposes, is better (read: more pure) than the XTS. But Caddy doesn’t want its biggest spenders to detract to a competitor. They’d rather keep them in the family — and the XTS could do just that.
But possibly the biggest reason for the existence of the XTS in the first place is the fact that the true Cadillac flagship won’t be ready by the time the XTS hits the market in Q1 2012. In fact, the true Caddy range-topper, which may or may not be based on the new Omega architecture, may only be ready in 2014, 2015, or even 2016. And weathering four or five years without a full-size flagship isn’t a great idea. Hence, the XTS — a vehicle that will be underpinned by an already-existing Epsilon architecture — is born. With a few changes, tune-ups, and length/width-wise extensions, it won’t cost much to bring to market. Not as much as the all-new RWD flagship will, anyway.
At the end of the day, the XTS will do Caddy some good, even if it’s a stop-gap product: the brand won’t have to weather four or five years without a full-size vehicle — and it will sell a few copies of the XTS to those looking to replace their DTS. Sure, the XTS isn’t rear-wheel drive — a fact that makes it the odd-ball vehicle in the otherwise performance-oriented Cadillac lineup. But GM — and Cadillac — are in the business of making money. And the XTS will hold the fort until the true flagship arrives mid-decade. Then, Herr Benz and Herr BMW… then we’ll talk.
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The XTS is also something that could provide an elegant driving experience without the bank-breaking asking prices of other full-sized lux sedans. Not that luxury brands should pride themselves on moving cheaper metal, but it will most likely be a factor.
you guys are right the xts will be a volume caddy for the luxury market, it will be competitive with most out on the market in terms of ride ,comfort, options and price but will not be the car that sports a drive train or handeling package like some of the rear wheel drive competitors, like the DTS the XTS will have better overall feel and will be a step up from the DTS in all areas which is what most people replacing their DTS will look for, this is a good move for caddy. I think the general public will like the car it is a nice ride i think all will be impressed by the car
Yes, but after this first-gen XTS… there may not be another one.
this will have a 5-7 year run and no more except in impala form.
I have to say if done right this will be a great vehicle and have strong sales, GM is obviously filling a hole that the conumer has called to be filled. The average consumer is used to fwd vehicles most likely having owned numerous toyotas, hondas ect over the last 30 years. The XTS becomes the go to luxury car. Imagine your a dealer and you have all of these sixty somethings coming in saying do you have a front wheel drive luxury car and the Answere is no, gaurantee this is what has happened. Thus the XTS.
I’m not sure those 60-somethings care or even know about FWD/RWD/AWD. I’ve seen plenty of them firsthand buying ES350s and LS430/460s. Their biggest concern? Smoothness of the ride and safety of the car. And they also like backup cameras to not run over their grandkids’ toys. Other than that… the color is pretty important.
Agree XTS is stop gap move for Cadillac, it’s a decent replacement for STS & DTS. Some may be surprised at how far sales of the STS & DTS have dropped. For 2011 only about 13,000 sales of these 2 combined! By comparison Epsilon II platform Buick LaCrosse is now over 40K sales for the year. Can Cadillac sell 20K of the XTS a year? I would bet they can.
It amazes me the ignorance of so many people. Why the heck should GM bring out a $80+ grand super luxo cruiser that only a small portion of people can afford even more so in this economy! Furthermore the majority of people complaining about what Cadillac should or should not do, most likely never even owned a Cadillac. I have a 08 DTS currently and have owned a 2001 and a 03 Deville DTS in the past bought all new and I am not 70 years old. I am 35! All the people complaining about what old folks cars they are should one day just test drive one. I bet the car has more balls then what you are driving! I think GM is doing the right thing by making the XTS. If they also make a flagship down the road that’s fine. GM will sell quite a few XTS’s you can bet on it. Would they sell quite a few 80+ flagships? No! This is why all the GM haters and opinionated think they know the car industry people are not at the helm of a car company/division. Also the obsession with RWD is comical to me. Sure if we are talking muscle cars yea but luxo cars? Who cares if its AWD, FWD, RWD! I live in Ohio and will never buy a RWD car again. I have a friend that has a BMW with RWD. He hates the car in the winter and i have none of the driveablity issues he does in the winter with my DTS.
Well, as long as we’re throwing the “ignorance” word around… I drove, among other Lexus products, a 2004 LS430 for the greater part of a year. I also am very familiar with the BMW 7er and MB S Class, having grown up at a Lexus dealership where customers would either trade theirs in for the LS or trade their LSes in for the latter German duo.
Now… “would [GM] sell quite a few 80+ flagships? No.”
That’s the point! They don’t need to sell “quite a few.” They need to sell enough — since every one of these vehicles carries an elephantine profit margin! Selling around 1,000 units of their flagship products like the 7er, S Class, and LS is one of the reasons for the existence of “luxury” makes like BMW, MB, and Lexus. The real money isn’t in the 3 or even the 5. It’s in the 6 and 7. So it’s not a matter of volume… it’s a matter of profit.
Additionally, I’m not sure where the $80,000 figure came from, in the first place. The LS460, the least expensive full-sized luxury sedan on the market today, starts at $68,000 — delivered. That’s $12,000 less than $80,000. And it’s perfectly equipped, if you ask me, at $68,000.
Lastly, the “obsession” with RWD is just that — an obsession. You drive a DTS — a FWD full-sized sedan… have you ever driven your friend’s BMW (I’m assuming 7er). Drive it — you’ll understand what the obsession is all about.
For me, it’s not only about which wheels propel the car, but also about the weight distribution of the vehicle that comes with rear-wheel drive. RWD usually leads to a perfect 50-50 weight split. FWD, and even FWD-based AWD, doesn’t. In a huge vehicle like we’re talking about, the weight distro makes all the difference. It’s why these cars drive so freaking “nice” — for lack of a better word.
In the case of your friend… well, he should put some real snow tires on his BMW. Other than that, why didn’t he opt for X-drive? Or is he “ignorant”?
Well Alex when you consider that even a $68K Lexus LS after tax and a few option packages will prob go for over 75K that’s still well over 10 grand more then a top notch DTS Platinum or even a MKS Ecoboost. I see flagship MB, BMW and Lexus models going for close to 100K and up so why is it hard to see a flagship Caddy for 80 grand? And one more thing for my argument on the XTS haters. It boggles my mind how people can form a opinion on a car that has not even been built yet(except the concept at the auto show). Now after the car is in showrooms and out and about ,ok then that’s different. One more point Alex, I do understand the fact that there is alot of profit in a flagship Cadillac however GM is still recovering from bankruptcy and bringing a flagship like that out now would be downright dumb. Even more so now that there are alot of people with a bad taste in their mouth over GM. To be quite honest even if at this point if I could afford a ultra-luxo RWD Cadillac I would just stick with the XTS. See if GM would read this “a person that has the money to buy a $50ish grand car and that has had other new Caddy’s in the past will buy your new XTS as soon as it comes out” not tell GM I want a car that I will never own just to have a conversation piece. But don’t get me wrong I like the fact that they will be bringing one to the market in a few years just glad that they are still keeping a FWD model around. That is all I have. Nice chatting with you Alex.
Same here Dan — I appreciate your points! 🙂
What we haven’t yet considered is the fact that the next-gen CTS will move upmarket and complete head-on with the 5-series. As such, it will occupy the mid-$40,000 — and will be “speccable” all the way to the high $60,000. So I don’t think the XTS will start anywhere below the high 60s or low 70s. At that point, you’re asking for some serious coin for a vehicle that’s derived from the Buick LaCrosse — a sedan that starts in the low $30,000. That opens up the doors for competitors to… well, eat the XTS alive — especially in competitive advertising.
We also need to keep in mind the rest of the Cadillac lineup: the ATS and next-gen CTS will be sports-sedans — not luxo barges such as the DTS (and to most of that extent, the XTS). So how does the XTS fit into what is an otherwise sports-oriented lineup? It doesn’t. Hence– the stop-gap perception that I discuss in the article.
In my opinion, bankruptcy’s got nothing to do with it. That was two years ago. GM needs to compete — and one of the ways of competing is to have a full luxury line. The people with the “bad taste” aren’t going to buy a GM product anyway… unless it’s so good, that they can’t resist. And the XTS won’t be… no stop-gap product ever has been.
The Lincoln MKS, which is also a stop-gap, is a non-starter. It’s as far away from anything in the class (except for the discontinued DTS, perhaps) as one can possibly get.
Having said that — you’re right — I haven’t driven the XTS. But that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have several inherent characteristics that one can’t escape from perceiving — such as the ill-balanced weight distribution of a FWD-based vehicle. That’s something that’s not present in the competition.
I will say one thing I do hope Caddy does with the XTS. They need this car packed with new technology. I mean all options plus many more then what the DTS and STS had. First off I do hope GM gives the XTS its own navigation system not share one with let’s say the Lacrosse. The STS had some nice options better then what was available on my DTS. But the XTS needs to raise the bar by a mile. My nav sys in my DTS is ok but far from what is in the newer cars. The STS nav sys was maybe one step better. But since both of these systems and the cars for that matter were designed in the middle of the decade the tech is very outdated and my hope is that this new XTS is loaded with new and awesome technology.
Also a side note from my last message. I am not referring to the people on this blog. But just the general opinion of people on the Internet about the XTS. And also to the author. Why or how do you think just because the XTS is FWD/AWD its not in the same league as the RWD cars from the German market? I really think this car will surprise a lot of people. A drivers car means nothing to most of the buyers of DTS/STS. I had a 2011 STS for a week while my DTS was being serviced. I liked the car. It was fast, stylish and took the corners good. But my DTS is much more comfortable then the STS. So my point is GM is doing just fine with the XTS. They are bringing a new style to the table with out alienating its core buyers that still want that kind of luxury.
Thx Dan, chears…
Alex, since this is another debate about rwd vs. fwd what makes a person choose one over the other in your mind. Here is my is thought fwd cars are appealing to a larger demographic because its what they have driven for the most part over last 30 years…
You know, I’m not sure. I think most mainstream/non-enthusiast car buyers don’t know what wheels drive their car… Unless they specifically seek it out. Heck, I’d bet that most non-enthusiast/mainstream Subaru drivers don’t know the difference between all-wheel drive and four-wheel drive.
That said, I think FWD cars are so popular because they’re cheap/cheaper to make than their RWD counterparts. It’s also easier to package a FWD car, although not always. Audi makes these wild claims that their engineering is superior and that their cars are better engineered than those of BMW. You’ve seen these ads that state A4 > 3.
But in reality — and ironically — the reason Audi vehicles are FWD-based AWD is because of cost. Audi simply doesn’t have the engineering resources (money) to all of a sudden switch to RWD. So they make do with the best they can — longitudinally-mounted FWD/AWD. But given the chance (read: a lot of money), they’ll jump ship to rear-wheel.
For me, there is something inherently inferior about a FWD vehicle. An A4 is just not as good as a 3 or C… Or even an IS. That’s my take!
And the bigger the vehicle, the more apparent the difference is.
I brought in our Audi Q7 4.2 for service and they gave me a new DTS as loaner. It was a fairly loaded model, wood pkg. cooled seats, radar cruise control etc. After a week with it I can’t say I was very impressed. First thing that comes to mind was the terrible turning radius. My S-Class, which has about a foot longer wheelbase, turns sharper, as well as the Q7. The other thing that comes to mind is the torque steer. When accelerating up the hills near my home I’d have to really hang on to the wheel to keep in on the road, this obviously felt odd and out of place in a luxury car. It was about as quiet and smooth as the Q7 but didn’t come close to the S-Class. I love Cadillac’s styling and would definitely consider a full size rear wheel drive model if it was executed properly. I’m excited to see what they come up with.
Alex, you are most likely correct about stop gap. I don’t think this is a flagship car and I don’t think the public will percieve it as one either. This is the average joes Caddy. A let’s get people in the door vehicle, and show them the rest of the line up.
Here is one thing I think both the auto industry and auto journalists have forgoten, people recommend cars to eachother, the my neighbor just got the ” ” car so I went to the dealer and picked one up to, I believe still exists… maybe not to the degree it did back in the day. I believe this is apart of the buick renaissance, I recently had someone I know buy the Regal turbo they gave me a tour, I was blown away. This is happening every day people introduceing there friends to there new ride.
Yeah, the word-of-mouth factor is big. I think it’s especially big among recent Buick buyers who love their Buicks and want others to perceive their Buick to be “cool” and high-tech… since mainstream public perception about the brand is not really such. It’s kind of like Apple fans back in the 90s — before everyone bought into Apple’s products, there were people like myself who loved everything Apple. And any chance I got, I touted and showed my product to others to show them what they were missing.
Way back in the 1970’s Cadillac had 3 levels of luxury for its largest sedan. At the bottom was the Cadillac Calais. This could have been considered the entry level full size Cadillac and could be had at about the same price of a top level Buick Electra 225. Next in line was the DeVille, with more options and features, then on top was the Fleetwood Brougham with almost every option coming standard. The New XTS will serve the same purpose that DeVille & the lesser Calais did back then…and do it quite well. I have no doubt that it will double or triple DTS & STS sales combined and continue to bring new people to Cadillac. XTS is a stunningly designed car that has amazing presence. It has a wow factor that I don’t think many in the automotive press completely appreciate. I’ll certainly bet it will lure lots of Lexus and Infinity people back the same way Buick LaCrosse is doing now. The Icing on the however will be the future Flagship Cadillac and will fit quite nicely on top of this luxury division. I have every confidence that GM & Cadillac will thrill and surprise us all with both stunning design and amazing CTSV-like performance and world class luxury!
Alex – I think you are way off the mark on XTS pricing. Most here are aware of the ATS and next gen CTS and their missions, but I expect the XTS to start right about where the STS & DTS left off? $48K as a starting price, then low $60K range for the Platinum edition with most of the business in the low to mid 50’s.
In my mind, whatever evolves from the Ciel concept will be the model(s) that occupy the “high ground” $70-80-90K?
So let’s think about this… ATS will start in the low-mid $30,000s. CTS, moving upmarket, will start in the low-mid $40,000s. That leaves the XTS — as the range topper — to be in the mid-low $50,000? Not sure about the latter, since a flagship should be less attainable than other vehicles in the lineup… I think you won’t see a price below $55,000 or maybe $60,000. Anything below wouldn’t really make sense for a flagship, temporary or permanent.
You very well may be right? Going back to the original stop-gap comment, that is exactly the way I see the XTS, not a “flagship” or “halo” car, but a modern, technologically advanced, full size car that occupies the hole left by the departure of STS & DTS and nothing more than that.
We’ll see! As we like to say on here, especially on the podcast — only time will tell. 🙂
I totally agree the XTS isn’t a flag ship vehicle I read a few articles concerning the xts and it seems that its just a replacement for the now dead STS/DTS. Cadilliac began commenting on the XTS as if it were a true flagship(detroit auto show) ,I am guessing that caddy had tight lips on the development of the Ciel concept. If you noticed they have shyed away from there early remarks on the XTS being a flagship ,rather placing it as a DTS/STS replacement.One more thing I am not an expert or anything but base price for one of these should be 50,000-55,000 the platinum model is going to be in around the ballpark of 60K. A audi A7 is priced at 60k and a well equipped infinitI M
is priced similary ,at a pricing sell point that’s a lot of car for the money.
Hey Alex, I was given this some more thought as I was at my Cadillac dealer waiting on a oil change for my DTS. Alot of people in the media and just plain car gurus like to throw around the word flagship. You would be hard core pressed to find many at any car company use that word even more so at the luxo brands Cadillac, Lincoln, etc. The word means very little to people that drive a Cadillac. Which car was considered the flagship before the STS or the DTS? You could say both or either. Cadillac does not want to make any of its cosumers think that their CTS is nothing more then a cheap Cadillac. My point here is that the new XTS would likely be the most expensive car in thier lineup until and if a bigger more costly model hits the roads. But then again it goes back to why should the XTS be considerd a stop-gap car while a new model would be considerd a flagship. Just some food for thought. Have a good one.
i live cadillac xts…