Paradigm Shift - 2013 Cadillac ATS Long-Term Road Test

2013 Cadillac ATS Long-Term Road Test

2013 Cadillac ATS: Paradigm Shift

August 20, 2013

2013 Cadillac ATS

Somewhere along the lonely road between Los Angeles and Las Vegas this 2013 Cadillac ATS began to make sense to me. After another few hundred miles driving this mid-sized sports sedan I began wondering what I would have to pay for a used one. What changed?

In my job as consumer advice editor, I often advise people on what car to buy. It's an interesting psychological experiment and the method for reaching an answer is different for all people. As I considered my mind shift on the Cadillac, I felt it was time for me to lie on the psychiatrist's couch. Here are a few quick answers.

Size. Often, I tell people that finding the right car is like trying on clothes. You have to feel comfortable in it. The ATS was a good size for me, and it landed in a comfortable socio-economic level for me too, particularly as a used car. One thing I really like is that it doesn't have the L.A. stigma of the BMW. Instead, Cadillac is almost an underdog trying to reinvent itself. I like that.

Features. As I mentioned in earlier posts, I like many of the safety and tech features such as the heads up display (HUD), adaptive cruise control and cross traffic alert. I also like the graphics on the center console and the way it senses your hand is approaching and changes the display without actually touching the screen. The gauge cluster is busy and it's an information overload. But once you learn how to navigate it the design concept emerges.

Performance. The suspension is too stiff and the turbocharged 272-horsepower, 2.0-liter inline-4 engine is wheezy at high revs. But, come on, for daily driving, I'll trade a drop off in performance for 24 mpg combined and I almost got 30 mpg on the highway. Not only that, but premium fuel is recommended, not required. Guess which grade I'd buy.

Looks. As I mentioned, I actually started to like the looks of this Caddy, especially in black. Of course, it's a dust magnet inside and out. But I don't mind wiping it down now and then to keep it looking sharp in between trips to the car wash.

Sure, there is a similar list of things I don't like about the Cadillac. But when all's said and done, I like the quirkiness of this domestic sport sedan. Quirkiness and character are in short supply in today's automotive market.

Philip Reed, Senior Consumer Advice Editor @ 13,022 miles


  • fordson1 fordson1 Posts:

    So the fuel economy is important to you, but you would put regular gas in it, which especially in the Southwest temps, would pull timing and result in worse mpg. Check.

  • jederino jederino Posts:

    I also consider the ATS the underdog, which is ironic since BMW is actually the underdog in terms of size compared to GM. Still, I like to pull for the apparent underdog, and this car is exciting.

  • agentorange agentorange Posts:

    @fordson1 +100 Putting lower grade gas in a turbo vehicle, especially one that will be exposed to SW heat, is a falso economy. It did not work for me in my last turbo vehicle and the laws of physics remain the same. This "premium recommended" ga

  • jederino jederino Posts:

    Some people cannot handle paying an extra 20-cents for gas even if their engine recommends it, despite the fact its only a 5% increase at today's prices. Assuming no fuel economy advantage for premium in such an engine, it costs the average driver less than $75 per year.

  • bassrockerx bassrockerx Posts:

    just weird how you mention socio economic and stigmas under the size category rather then the "looks category" picking a size or category for what car to buy is the trickiest part mainly because at least half of the time there will only be one person in the vehicle its just how many people and how much crap you have to carry with you and how often is a good factor. currently i drive a honda fit and have wife and 1 kid but i am joining the military and i know i will be moving every 2 or 3 years so i am going to need a larger vehicle because the more stuff i can carry with me the better the in-between moving experience can be. so i'm looking for at the minimum a full size car like a maxima but hopefully i can find at least a nice volvo or subaru wagon, or mini van or a decent sized SUV like a Tahoe. if i get a 2nd vehicle down the road i can get something with great economy like a hybrid but if i only have one vehicle because of moving i need as much utility as possible.

  • bassrockerx bassrockerx Posts:

    you can't fault GM for making it so the engine can run its entire lifetime on regular fuel. the "premium fuel only" game is just asking for warrently headaches. how can the manufacturer prove you did not use premium. how can the consumer prove they only used premium? both sides lose and it just looks bad on GM

  • duck87 duck87 Posts:

    @bassrockerx: If misfire/knocks are recorded in the engine ECU or they use a boroscope and can see that your pistons look like swiss cheese, it's a good indication that you've been using some really crappy fuel. This car might actually be a really good bu

  • stovt001_ stovt001_ Posts:

    We wonder why all these cool European market cars don't come to the US, then we insist on killing the performance and fuel economy just to save a few bucks in the short term. That's why we can't have nice things.

  • quadricycle quadricycle Posts:

    Everybody is saying it Phillip... You're changing the engine feel, power, and fuel efficiency for (as jederino pointed out) not much money. Not worth it in my opinion.

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