Cadillac User Experience. Infotainment for the 21st Century

Does the infotainment system in your car drive you mad? We may have found the answer with Cadillac Arabia and the Cadillac User Experience (CUE).

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Amazing to think that just twenty years ago, satnav, Bluetooth and a high-tech stereo system were considered an unnecessary add-on. ‘What was wrong with the rotary dial, a tape deck and a road atlas­?’, many claimed.

Fast-forward to now and it’s difficult to find a new car that doesn’t offer satnav and infotainment system. Which of course has brought with it its own problems. Some prove simple and elegant but ultimately forgettable. Others are so mind-rottingly complicated to navigate that driving to work almost comes as a relief. It’s a difficult balance to find, with many grey areas in which to plunge.

Cadillac clearly felt the same, and once through the best-left-unmentioned 80s and 90s era of plastic panels and questionable onboard technology, the company spent more than five years working on a new and improved system for the 21st century. That’s worth re-iterating: not Japan, not Europe, but America had apparently produced the most advanced user-friendly system the automotive world had seen in many a year.

As it turns out though, Cadillac’s new CUE system – which comes as standard on the sporty mid-size ATS saloon, the slightly more luxurious XTS, and the SRX luxury crossover – is pretty special. Gone for instance is the button-fest of elder models, replaced with an eight-inch capacitive/touch screen and an updated in-vehicle user experience. The apple generation looked set to jump in with both feet with a system that could even be used easily by your dad.

Take the opening screen for example, often the bedrock of options and myriad avenues to choose from. With Cadillac’s User Experience, you are given just four options to choose from when fired up: Audio, Navigation, Phone, Climate Control, and Settings. Hold a palm up to the screen and sub menus scroll up from the bottom of the screen, retreating after a few seconds when their required work is done: MacBook users will be familiar with this system courtesy of the Dock.

The screen itself uses a haptic proximity sensor, which pulses against a user’s finger to let them know a command has been sent. It’s a clever idea, but if you’re not one for vibrating your way through a long drive, the multi-function steering wheel and voice command are handy alternatives.

Another neat touch is the storage bin behind the screen, which is accessed by running your finger along the silver strip at the bottom of the panel. If your car has a habit of being nicked, the password-operated Valet Mode locks both the bin and the CUE system to stop tea leafs ruining your radio presets and filching your sunglasses.

The development of CUE then is clear to see: even the minimalist look is pretty striking. Given technology’s advancement, and the speed with which this is done, it does make you wonder what Cadillac’s rivals can produce within the next five years. Twenty years down the line, we may perhaps be wondering how on earth we managed to live with ‘just’ a haptic touchscreen and Bluetooth.

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