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Luxury Cars: Cadillac XTS Vs. Lincoln MKS (Part 2)

5/8/2013 9:20:27 AM

Missed CUE: Cadillac’s frustrating new control system

Dashboard one-upmanship has gone into overdrive lately as automakers introduce more electronically controlled infotainment systems. Most are more complicated and distracting to use than traditional controls. But Cadillac’s new CUE system is the most annoying we’ve seen yet.

 The XTS’s flush capacitive buttons often respond slowly or incorrectly

The XTS’s flush capacitive buttons often respond slowly or incorrectly

Like the similar MyFord/MyLincoln Touch system, CUE (for Cadillac User Experience) uses a center touch screen, speech recognition, steering-wheel-mounted controls, and flush capacitive switches that respond to a touch or sliding motion.

CUE looks beautifully high-tech, with a sea of piano black and chrome trim. It’s easy to connect a smart phone, voice commands are comprehensive, and screen graphics are mostly easy to read. But we found that using the system can be maddening.

It’s a long reach to the touch screen, a nuisance for something with which you’re supposed to easily interact. The screen is prone to glare, it doesn’t always respond to a touch, and it’s easy to hit the wrong spot. The touch screen and the accompanying capacitive switches are designed to provide tactile feedback so that you know you pressed them successfully, but that doesn’t always work promptly, if at all. The buttons don’t always respond correctly to touch either, which is very annoying when you’re trying to adjust the audio volume

CUE looks beautifully high-tech, with a sea of piano black and chrome trim.

CUE looks beautifully high-tech, with a sea of piano black and chrome trim.

In navigating the system, you often need to change to a different screen. But some onscreen buttons don’t’ appear until your finger gets close, which increases the time it takes to perform a function.

Moving through some menus is done by swiping the screen, like with a smart phone or tablet. It may look impressive in a showroom demonstration, but that fussy move works better for controlling handheld electronics when not driving. It also makes the screen a smudgy mess.

Many owners may resort to using voice commands, especially to work the audio. The system works well at selecting radio stations or songs from an iPod.

The XTS comes with an Apple iPad loaded with a tutorial app for CUE. But we found that even using the tutorial is awkward. We also question whether any car should be so complicated that such a primer is necessary.

the XTS comes with an Apple iPad loaded with a tutorial app for CUE.

The XTS comes with an Apple iPad loaded with a tutorial app for CUE.

We’ve criticized other control systems in the past-including BMW’s iDrive, Audi’s MMi, and some versions of Ford’s MyFord/MyLincoln Touch- but we’d take them over CUE. That said, Chrysler’s Uconnect touch-screen system tops the all, offering comparable capability while being easier to use.

Cadillac XTS tested vehicle

·         Highs: roomy interior and trunk, seat comfort, fit and finish, quietness, braking, transmission

·         Lows: frustrating CUE driver interface, ride not plush enough, visibility, small trunk opening

·         Trim line: premium

·         Drivetrain: 304-hp, 3.6-liter V6 engine; six-speed automatic transmission; front-wheel drive

·         Major options: sunroof, rear sunshades

·         Tested price: $57,200

More test findings

·         Braking: excellent, with a responsive pedal and very short stops from Brembo front brakes

·         Headlights: Xenon HID lamps provide good visibility overall but have a sharp upper cutoff.

·         Access: easy, but sills are a little wide

·         Visibility: thick pillars, a high and deep rear deck, and a small glass area diminish the driver’s view out. Rear-camera, cross-traffic alert, and blind-zone monitoring systems all work well

·         Cabin storage: moderate, with a hidden cubby behind center controls

·         Head restraints: no center-rear restraint. Front pair adjusts fore and aft for comfort.

·         Child seats: some rear-facing seats may be difficult to secure with safety belts. LATCH anchors are available in all rear positions but are hard to reach.

 

 Buttons on the touch screen disappear until you reach for them, making it hard to aim for what you want.

Buttons on the touch screen disappear until you reach for them, making it hard to aim for what you want.

Lincoln MKS tested vehicle

·         Highs: quietness, rear-seat room, fit and finish

·         Lows: frustrating controls, un-composed ride, transmission, narrow cockpit, visibility, turning circle, small trunk opening.

·         Trim line: base

·         Drivetrain: 304-hp, 3.7-liter V6 engine; six-speed automatic transmission; front-wheel drive

·         Major options: navigation, rear amera, blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning, moonroof, power adjustable pedals

·         Tested price: $50,070

More test findings

·         Braking: very good, with a fairly responsive pedal

·         Headlights: standard HIDs provide very good visibility but have a sharp cutoff. Automatic high beams work well

·         Access: easy enough, but the door sills are wide and door openings are small for a big car.

·         Visibility: thick pillars, small rear windows, and a high rear deck diminish the view. Rear-camera, cross-traffic alert, and blind-zone monitoring systems work well

·         Cabin storage: modest overall

·         Head restraints: The center-rear has no restraint and it’s not tall enough to provide adequate rear-crash protection for adults. The outboard restraints don’t adjust.

·         Child seats: The lower LATCH anchors and the outer top-tether

 

 As in other Ford vehicles, the MyLincoln Touch system doesn’t offer a straight-forward interface for drivers

As in other Ford vehicles, the MyLincoln Touch system doesn’t offer a straight-forward interface for drivers

 

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