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Cadillac CUE hands-on pictures and impressions

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We try out Cadillac's CUE system (i.e. Cadillac User Experience) — not in a luxury sedan, unfortunately. It'll first appear in the 2013 Cadillac XTS and ATS sedans, with plans to eventually become standard in all future models.

Gallery Photo: Cadillac Cue hands-on pictures
Gallery Photo: Cadillac Cue hands-on pictures

Cadillac's been touting its CUE system (as in, Cadillac User Experience) for a few months now — we saw it ourselves back at CTIA in October — but we thought The system consists of three screens: a capacitive touchscreen in the center console, a completely digital dashboard, and a heads-up display. It's a project that began three years ago, prototyped with off-the-shelf HP tablets.

While we unfortunately we didn't get a chance to check out the HUD, there was plenty of fun to be had going through the Dashboard's four different layouts based on the amount of information you need. Balanced, for example, is your more traditional, three-circle look, while simple is a visually clean minimalist design. The animation changes between layouts is pretty great, at which point in the demo the CUE reps let us know that the tweaks wouldn't be possible while the car was in motion. Probably for the best.

The center console features a capacitive multitouch display with large iconography. Menus will fade away when not in use, while a proximity sensor detects when your hand is near and brings up the important actions. The screen has haptic feedback so you'll actually feel when you press — it's pretty subtle for now, a critique our CUE representative acknowledged and said they might tweak between now and launch. Over every screen is a bookmark system of sorts you can use to store important shortcuts like music stations, addresses, people to call, and so forth. Key apps include Navteq-powered turn-by-turn navigation, XM satellite radio, and Pandora support.

If not touchscreen, you can navigate menus via physical buttons on the wheel itself or even voice (powered by Nuance's recognition technology). The buttons below the console screen — all capacitive with similar haptic feedback described above. In fact, that whole section can flip up to reveal a compartment and a USB port for connecting a phone or media player. Speaking of, up to ten mobile devices can be connected at once via Bluetooth and integrated for media playback and voice dialing.

The important part of CUE is that it doesn't feel cheap — the menu system aesthetic fits with Cadillac's design and matches the cars interior look. It'll first appear in the 2013 Cadillac XTS and ATS sedans, with plans to eventually become standard in all future models.