The V6 Option - 2013 Cadillac ATS Long-Term Road Test

2013 Cadillac ATS Long-Term Road Test

2013 Cadillac ATS: The V6 Option

September 6, 2013

2013 Cadillac ATS

On a recent trip to Michigan, I spent a good, long stint in a 2013 Cadillac ATS. Sound familiar? There's a wrinkle here. This Michigan car was equipped with the optional V6 as opposed to the 2.0-liter turbo-four in our long-term ATS.

Here are my observations.

As you might expect, the 3.6-liter V6 is quite effective at turning the ATS into a little rocket. 321 horsepower will do that. But it's not as though the 2.0 Turbo is slow. The bigger difference is that the V6 is more linear at the pedal than the turbo-four. It's crisp at part-throttle, and the torque is abundant.

The autobox plays along, too. There's little torque converter slack and it exhibits a willingness to drop gears when the occasion arises. Still, as in most cars, I'd like to try the V6 with a manual gearbox. Certainly the take rate of such a combination would be so low as to not be worth GM's while, which is why it isn't offered in the first place.

Both engines suit the car's character well, in different ways. The V6 does sound great, though. I made a habit of exploring the tach's upper reaches even when it wasn't strictly necessary. It loves revs yet pulls well even when starting from freeway speeds (rural Michigan is, well, rural...).

This V6 is not a new engine in GM's portfolio but they've made ongoing tweaks and enhancements to it over the years, and it shows. I did notice a bit more substance at the front end due to the heavier powertrain but by no means does the V6 upset the ATS's chassis. Checking the numbers now, it seems that compared to the 2.0 Turbo with auto, the V6 adds 62 pounds to the front axle and a few more at the rear, giving it a touch more front weight bias. Apparently, it's enough weight to notice but not enough to spoil.

So, which engine would I go for, V6 or 2.0 Turbo? It's a question I've been juggling for a while. I think the V6 is a better-executed powertrain. It just feels more natural and linear in the ATS. However, I also appreciate the lighter feel to the four-cylinder ATS. The V6 also commands an additional $1,800 over the turbo-four (and is rated 2 mpg less on the combined cycle).

In the end I think both powertrains have their place in the ATS, and it seems buyers have already beaten me to this conclusion. Cadillac's peeps tell me that ATS sales have been split more equitably between those two powertrains than even they expected.

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor


  • vvk vvk Posts:

    Put a full size spare tire and a manual gearbox in this car and I will be all over it.

  • duck87 duck87 Posts:

    The uncomfortable truth for most of the 2.0T players in the market (save Audi and BMW) is that they are still inferior to V6s, particularly the ones from Honda and Toyota... but we've been seeing recently that even in cases like Hyundai and GM, their 2.0Ts can't even seem to beat the V6s in their own lineup! It'll probably take a generation or two of development to get there... I can't believe we're in a day and age where V6s are considered the "luxury" option.

  • s197gt s197gt Posts:

    you never answered the question of which one YOU would choose.

  • cotak cotak Posts:

    @duck87 Turbos are great if people are willing to accept it or the car companies are able to make one that people don't notice. In my mazdaspeed 3 yeah it's not going to make you love it if you want to drive it like a lazy v6. You need to grab it by the

  • duck87 duck87 Posts:

    @cotak: I'm having trouble understanding what you're saying? Yes, the challenge right now is to produce a 2.0T engine that offers comparable linear power and refinement as a V6. Yes, the MS3 has a interesting powerband- probably because it has relatively

  • cotak cotak Posts:

    @duck87 The VW engine's torque curve is totally a product of electronics and not natural behaviour of a turbo engine. That's why it's is possible to unlock more power with a simple chip. If you look at any of the dyno runs comparing chipped 2.0T vs stock

  • duck87 duck87 Posts:

    @cotak: ... I'm still confused. You understand that a significantly large part of how a turbocharged engine behaves is due to its electronic calibration right? This is where the army of corporate engineers will probably do better than most independent tun

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