The Road to Monterey - 2013 Cadillac ATS Long-Term Road Test

2013 Cadillac ATS Long-Term Road Test

2013 Cadillac ATS: The Road to Monterey

August 27, 2013

2013 Cadillac ATS

I love getting to know our long-term cars on the open road. After driving to Monterey, California, and back in our 2013 Cadillac ATS Premium 2.0T, though, I'm convinced it's not quite up to par in the entry-level luxury sedan class.

One issue for me is the ride quality. If I lived on California's Central Coast, I could totally deal with our ATS's firm ride. (You'll recall that choosing a rear-wheel-drive Premium model locks in summer tires and a sport-tuned suspension with adaptive dampers.) The roads are smooth up here, especially U.S. 101, and the default Tour mode for the adaptive dampers is livable.

But I wouldn't buy an ATS Premium if I continued to live in Southern California. It rides too harshly over worn sections of freeway. I've driven rival sedans with sport package upgrades over these same roads, and most of them offered more compliance.

2013 Cadillac ATS

I also have mixed feelings about the Cadillac's 272-horsepower, turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine.

Most of the time, this engine doesn't feel all that powerful to me. To be fair, though, our rear-drive turbo ATS has the same quarter-mile time and trap speed as an all-wheel-drive Audi A4 2.0T, so it's no slouch. It just isn't as quick as a BMW 328i.

On the Tejon Pass (the Grapevine section of Interstate 5), the 2.0-liter's vigor was noteworthy. Passing maneuvers came easily, and the power was delivered in a smooth manner. I love turbocharged engines.

The problem is that this one has a dull soundtrack. Worse, it gets noisy and unpleasant to the ear when you're accelerating hard. I'd put up with this in a $30,000 Chevrolet, but in a Cadillac that cost us nearly $50K, I'd expect a little more attention to detail.

Erin Riches, Deputy Editor @ 14,267 miles


  • bankerdanny bankerdanny Posts:

    Have you guys dealt with the door handle that isn't lighting up yet?

  • eriches eriches Posts:

    Not yet. I noticed the door handle right before I went on this trip. -Erin

  • agentorange agentorange Posts:

    Insufficient sidewall.

  • s197gt s197gt Posts:

    and that is what makes a bmw a bmw. those hard to measure attributes. steering feel, engine smoothness/sound, sense of speed... cadillac can benchmark the stats of bmw in size, weight, performance, etc... but they don't have the same intangibles. apparently bmw is focusing less on the intangibles as well, but they are still leading. just took my wife's e90 out after installing new lighter wheels and front control arms and fresh alignment. even at 120k miles the car drives like a dream and the n52 inline-six is one of the great bmw engines...

  • jlh3 jlh3 Posts:

    Of course this car is not perfect. But it is very good. I took one on a test drive. I Have also test driven the previous generation of BMW 328s a few times. This ATS is good. The power is there, but I would agree the engine can sound better. It should get even better if/when GM adds an 8-speed transmission to the powertrain.

  • duck87 duck87 Posts:

    @s197gt: This isn't exactly some kind of BMW Voodoo. You can easily see the BMW engine's better refinement and calibration simply by looking at IL's comparison dyno tests. The BMW has a smooth torque curve whereas the Cadillac keeps pulling timing, blunti

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