Cadillac’s new model sizes down without skimping on luxury.

THE ERA OF SUPER LARGE, AMERICAN LUXURY LAND CRUISERS ARE OVER. CADILLAC DROPPED THE DTS, AND LINCOLN STOPPED PRODUCING THE TOWN CAR.

Now the biggest Cadillac is the brand-new 2013 XTS, which provides all the luxury one needs with plenty of interior room. And with front wheel drive and smaller exterior dimensions, maneuvering in Honolulu traffic is much easier.

But clearly more interesting is the new Cadillac styling theme adopted from the highly successful mid-size Cadillac CTS. Instead of the rounded lines of most, Cadillac likes angles, cuts and lines. From the straight-lined grill to the fenders and the trunk, sharp edges dominate. The net result is a look that’s different and appealing.

Engine and transmission choices are simple as they come. No matter which option group you pick, you will receive 304 horsepower direct injection V-6 displacing 3.6 liters tied to a 6-speed automatic.

For those of you who want power spread to all corners, all-wheel drive is an option. Given its relative light weight, the 0-60 acceleration time is a respectable 6.6 seconds. Average fuel mileage is in the low 20s.

Like other Cadillacs, the XTS has what they call Magnetic Ride Control. Stripped of the fancy name, the suspension components adjust to conditions, whether it be cruising or cornering. In real life, the ride is quite smooth and absorbs surface variations with ease. Yet cornering is not like the good old days of floating found in previous Cadillacs, but is reasonably controlled and assuring.

Our test car was a platinum edition, which had every conceivable luxury feature—some of which are exclusive to Cadillac.

PHOTOS COURTESY © GM CORP

With the key fob on, simply push a little button on the door handle and you are in. Punch the start button and various large video screens light up and the nearly silent engine jumps to life. Generally, at all speeds the driver and passengers are greeted with near silence and seamless gear changes. For those seeking more control, manual shifts with paddles on the back of the steering wheel are available.

The CUE video system dominates the large center screen. Big app symbols make for easy use with a touch of the screen or simple voice commands.

Rather more interesting features are found around the dash pod. ~ e video screen can be completely changed from traditional instruments (albeit a video version) or to computer-like data.

But even more entertaining and informative is the heads-up display. Projected on the inside of the windshield in front of the driver are various choices of information. For example, it will show your speed and on many streets the legal speed limit with a small green graph version of a car showing safe distances to others. Other choices in this display include a tachometer, a compass, stereo choices, etc.

One truly unique feature deals with tight maneuvers in parking and other areas. Besides the now-typical rear view camera with warning symbols and sounds, this Cadillac has an okole warning. If the car is too close to something, the driver feels the seat bottom puff up in the direction of the danger to reinforce the warning.

Rear passengers are treated to plenty of maneuvering room and the ability to shade themselves from the sun (or adoring fans) with shades in the left and right doors and the rear window. Temperature in the seats can be controlled as well as the climate, with controls and vents on the back of the center console.

In the end, with this edition to the Cadillac line, the sharp-edged styling theme now dominates the line. And with the smaller ATS also just introduced, Cadillac is doing a much better job in competing in the luxury battle.

CADILLAC XTS

POWERTRAIN: 304 HP, 3.6 LITER, DIRECT INJECTION V-6, 6-SPEED AUTOMATIC WITH FWD OR OPTIONAL AWD
ACCELERATION: 0-60: 6.6 SECONDS
BRAKING: BREMBO 4-WHEEL DISC BRAKES, ABS, EMERGENCY BRAKE ASSIST, ELECTRIC PARKING BRAKE, ELECTRONIC BRAKE FORCE DISTRIBUTION
SOUND SYSTEM: BOSE STUDIO SOUND, 14 SPEAKERS
PRICES: BASE PRICE $44,075, AS TESTED $62,900 (PLATINUM EDITION)

Sedan Wars

In the not-too-distant past, the battle in the $30,000 sedan range was somewhat of a yawner. Many of the large four-door sedans had styling, which could be best characterized, as bland.

Recently, however, a true battle of good looking and powerful large sedans commenced. Added to that is the movement of luxury makers downward, price-wise, to the $30K range.

Among the major brands, Ford recently revamped the Taurus with a redo of the exterior and interior styling. For the power freaks, an SHO model was added with a turbocharged, 365 horsepower V-6.

Chevy’s largest sedan, the Impala, is going from a featureless rent-a-car look to an all-new design. The dominant change is in the roofline, which extends to the rear of the trunk.

On the luxury end, Mercedes will make a big push this fall into the sedan arena with the new CLA250. Not only will this brand-new four-door start at $30,000, but it will be front-wheel drive unlike all the other Mercedes sedans sold in this country.

Next year, Audi will introduce a substantially revised and larger A3 four-door. Unlike many of the A3s, this new model will have a full trunk rather than a hatchback.

Given that $30,000 is just above the national average for the sales price of all vehicles and the multiple choices now available or soon to be available, the real winner will be the consumer.