10 Hottest New Cars for 2013

Cadillac XTS
2013 Cadillac XTS © General Motors

New Cadillacs tend to get people all excited. They're big and ostentatious, representing some of the best innovation and solid quality that Detroit has to offer. They have an ability to steel a driver's nerves while simultaneously pampering the car's occupants. Based on early reviews of the 2013 XTS, that trend will continue. The Cadillac XTS is a full-size sedan that has been designed to fill the void left by the outgoing Cadillac DTS, even though there isn't much carryover from the old to the new.

A disproportionate amount of review space has been dedicated to the CUE system, which is Cadillac's new system to consolidate all the driver's controls. Each time a manufacturer introduces a new high-tech user interface, it takes some time for the driving public to adapt, inevitably leading a segment of the population to wonder why things need to be so complicated. It's important for designers to push things forward, though, and people eventually get accustomed to the new distractions. This time around, however, even seasoned testers seem genuinely flummoxed by the complexity of the system [source: Neil]. Get used to it -- the CUE, or some variation thereof, will be trickling down throughout GM's ranks. The CUE is flanked by a graphics-oriented instrument panel, and a few controls that Cadillac decided were too important to bury in menu screens. Aside from CUE, the interior is inviting and comfortable, featuring stitched leather and ambient LED lighting.

There are four trim levels of the XTS, all of which feature a 304-horsepower, 3.6-liter, V-6 engine paired to a six-speed automatic transmission. Leather interior and a Bose stereo are also standard. A suspension composed of front magnetic dampers and rear air ride keep the travel comfortable, riding on 19-inch wheels. The base XTS is FWD, but buyers who step up to a higher trim level can order AWD as an option. Other options include tri-zone climate control and the Driver Awareness Package with additional safety features (warnings of all types -- lane departure, front collision, and the catch-all "safety alert").

The ride is, overall, pretty nice, as reporters have said. So like each Cadillac that came before it, the XTS is more of the same -- but better.

Author's Note: 10 Hottest New Cars for 2013

If you pay attention to such things, you may have noticed that the Scion FR-S, which appears early on our list, is similar to the new Subaru BRZ coupe. Really similar. That's because they were co-developed by Toyota and Subaru.

I write about cars. I like cars, and tend to be especially fond of sporty imports. So I know this happens -- it's really common. Look at the VW/Audi/Porsche family. It happens constantly in the GM universe and in the Dodge/Chrysler end of Detroit, too. But for some reason, this particular partnership took me by surprise. And although I've seen several FR-S and BRZ examples in person, the connection never clicked. Never once did I think, "Hmmm ... that's an interesting coincidence. A Subaru RWD hatchback coupey thing! And a sexy little RWD Scion! Priced kinda similarly!" (To my credit, at least I never saw them together. Then I'd really feel like a bonehead.)

I always learn something new when I'm writing a HowStuffWorks article -- if I didn't, I'd be doing it wrong. Sometimes, this new knowledge takes the form of, "This might be useful ... someday." Often, I'm blessed with a mouthful of new trivia. But it's rare that I find out something I really should have already known.

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You Can't Take Your Fancy Self-Driving Car Out of the City, Yet

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HowStuffWorks looks at how scientists are using new technology, along with GPS and LIDAR, to map country roads so self-driving cars can use them too.