When I was a wee lad growing up in Southern Indiana my parents would send me and the rest of the brood (consisting of two younger sisters) north to spend the summer with my grandparents in Detroit.
What the ‘rents did while we were away for three full warm months is best left to the imagination… or not. But I digress.
My grandparents, my 70 something grandfather and his second wife, my also 70 something step-grandmother, were definitely old school. My grandfather was a retired ironworker; the kind you saw in the black and white photos sitting on the steel beams eating lunch hundreds of feet in the air.
My grandmother, well, I never figured out exactly what she did, or had done. She was full blooded Yavapai Apache and a very colorful character. A Native American treasure who loved nothing more than chain smoking and playing bingo across the border in Canada almost every night.
Those summer adventures always began the same way. My grandmother would arrive late one evening and after a cup of coffee and a bathroom trip was ready to head back to Detroit. She always liked to drive at night since “the cops can’t see ya’” and would usually make the nearly 400-mile trip in under 5 hours.
At just over 5 feet tall she could barely see over the steering wheel and would speed up the highway chain-smoking while us kids held on in the back seat in genuine fear for our lives. A few months later the same terrifying trip would be made in reverse.
Her small stature seemed even smaller given that those trips were usually always in a new Cadillac, always a Fleetwood. Back in those days people would buy a new car every couple of years, “when the ashtray gets full” my grandfather would say. This meant that we kids got to spend many hours in a new Caddy zipping up and down I-75 or crossing the American border from Canada after a night of bingo, stopping at the US Customs station with my grandmother declaring “we ain’t got nothing sir” while us kids dared not move in the backseat lest we disturb the several bottles of Canadian whiskey covered by a blanket rolling under our feet that she was smuggling back to her neighbors in the hi-rise they lived in.
Those days of the huge luxury barges like the Fleetwood roaring up and down the intestate are of course no more. Today it’s all about SUVs and crossovers and hybrids.
A few of those luxury barges, which while not as ‘barge-like’ as days of yore, are still big and still around.
The Cadillac XTS is such a thing. It’s sort of an anomaly in the Cadillac lineup. Among the rear-drive ATS, CTS, and CT6 sedans, the XTS is front wheel drive, or all wheel drive should you elect it.
GM gave the XTS a bit or a refresh in 2018 and they sent me the AWD XTS Platinum V-Sport model for a recent week. The first thought? Road trip. They’ve updated the chassis, made Brembo brakes standard on the front and updated the infotainment system. There’s also 40 inches of rear legroom, which could smuggle plenty of bottles of Canadian whiskey, although I would recommend against such a thing.
The XTS shares its platform with the Chevrolet Impala and Buick LaCrosse, and has interior room that frankly overwhelms its competitors (the trunk is 18 cubic feet, which is mafia sized). The Platinum level I had gave me a slew of even more luxurious addons like full on leather everywhere and frankly impressed with its richness that in my opinion is far above others in its class.
Under the hood the XTS is equipped with a naturally aspirated 3.6-liter V-6 with 304 horsepower and 264 lb-ft of torque. The V-Sport gets the twin-turbo 3.6-liter V-6 with 410 horsepower and 369 lb-ft torque, which is an option on the non-V. Both have a six-speed automatic transmission and the AWD can be optioned in.
During my week with the XTS we took a road trip, from Orlando to Tampa and on the road the XTS was of course brilliant. The V-Sport might not transform the XTS into a sporty beast, but there is plenty of power for passing and more than enough oomph and snarl to make you smile.
No, I didn’t do our short road trip at night, didn’t smuggle Canadian whiskey across any boarders, nor chain smoke, but those memories came flooding back. And for a brief moment I realized that good road trip cars still exist, luxury on wheels can still be had without being a crossover or SUV, and bigger really is better.
And you’ll never have to worry about the ashtray getting full.
The 2018 Cadillac XTS V-Sport
MSRP (as tested): $73,940
Engine (as tested): biturbo 3.6-liter V6 410 hp @ 6000 rpm, 369 ft-lbs. torque @ 1900 rpm
Transmission: six-speed shiftable automatic
Fuel Mileage (EPA): 16 city, 23 highway, 18 combined
Fuel Mileage (as tested, mixed conditions): 20 mpg
Curb weight: 4200 lbs.
Height: 4 Ft. 11.4 In. (59.4 In.)
Length: 16 Ft. 8.9 In. (200.9 In.)
Wheel Base: 9 Ft. 3.7 In. (111.7 In.)
Width: 6 Ft. 0.9 In. (72.9 In.)
Front Head Room: 39.0 In.
Front Hip Room: 55.1 In.
Front Leg Room: 42.1 In.
Front Shoulder Room: 57.9 In.
Rear Head Room: 37.8 In.
Rear Hip Room:54.3 In.
Rear Leg Room: 40.0 In.
Rear Shoulder Room: 56.3 In.
EPA Interior Volume: 122.2 Cu.Ft.
Cargo Capacity, All seats in place: 18.0 Cu.Ft.
Basic: 4 Yr./ 50000 Mi.
Drivetrain: 6 Yr./ 70000 Mi.
Free Maintenance: 3 Yr./ 36000 Mi.
Roadside: 6 Yr./ 70000 Mi.
Rust: 4 Yr./ 50000 Mi.
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