Would Have Been Better as a Pontiac - 2013 Cadillac ATS Long-Term Road Test

2013 Cadillac ATS Long-Term Road Test

2013 Cadillac ATS: Would Have Been Better as a Pontiac

January 28, 2014

2013 Cadillac ATS

That's not a slam, as the 2013 Cadillac ATS is a pretty solid, sporting sedan. It's just not Cadillac material.

Color me old school, but I like my Cadillacs luxurious and quiet. Correct me if I'm wrong but they're still a luxury brand, aren't they? And leather seats do not a luxury car make.

I'd argue the ATS is just begging for a Pontiac badge. It's got, by all accounts, a fantastic chassis and a very sporting disposition, especially if you opt for rear-wheel drive and the six-speed manual transmission. But the noisy engine and the, at times, much too busy ride, undermine any attempt by GM to make this a true Cadillac.

To make it a proper Pontiac (say, "add body cladding" and I'll smack you) simplify that infotainment nonsense, give it some cloth/leather sport seats, black out the chrome trim, and chip a few grand off the price. Tune the less than luxurious four-cylinder engine to have more of a growl and the stiff-ish ride delivered by the low-pro tires would go almost unnoticed. Now you've got the makings for a good American sports sedan.

I'd call it the Tempest and Cadillac could go back to making true luxury cars.

Is GM hiring product planners?

Kurt Niebuhr, Photo Editor @ 20,751 miles


  • guy1974 guy1974 Posts:

    The author may have a point that to some Cadillac is about quiet and luxury (the XTS is there for that buyer) but Cadillac is going after the BMW driver. It is a trend, whether or not a good one, across the luxury brands. Witness the new Lexus IS and GS (along with the F sub brand), Infiniti and Audi. Cadillac was criticized when they offered luxury, quiet barges for having bad handling. Now they win handling tests and people criticize that.

  • fordson1 fordson1 Posts:

    Body cladding...took the words right out of my mouth. Legend has it that Bob Lutz once said that in order for Pontiac to survive, they had to broaden their customer base beyond people with barbed-wire tattoos around their upper arms. Didn't happen.

  • caramelo91 caramelo91 Posts:

    @guy1974 The difference is that the ATS doesn't balance great handling and luxury as well as other competitors. The Lexus IS and GS now offer great handling and driving dynamics as well as still being quiet and comfortable. Luxury cars these days cannot a

  • bankerdanny bankerdanny Posts:

    Killing off Pontiac ranks as one of the stupidest things GM ever did, right up there with the Cimmaron and the original V4/6/8 and diesel engines.

  • LOL @ "add body cladding"! Nice entry, Kurt!

  • bc1960 bc1960 Posts:

    "leather seats do not a luxury car make" Especially when they're vinyl, which is what comes standard on the 2.5 and 2.0T. But that's true of Mercedes and BMW as well.

  • quadricycle quadricycle Posts:

    @bankerdanny: I think you mean I4, and not V4. As for the Cimarron, its not so much the car that was bad (even though it wasn't good at all, and a terrible value) but that it perfectly represents the worst of 1980's GM attitude, for which it was crucified

  • ttopjohn ttopjohn Posts:

    Like it or not, the ATS is a modern luxury sedan. It's pretty well accepted that, particulary in this segment of hte luxury market, luxury sedan = BMW 3 series. What's left do decide is, which vintange 3 series do we build? If you want a softer bigger one, buy the one BMW is selling. If you want an E46 with new car financing/warranty and sweet Caddy styling, buy the ATS. But maybe the author will get what he wants - the ATS will not be a Pontiac, but it be a Buick in a year or so. And a Camaro as well.

  • kevm14 kevm14 Posts:

    Does Edmunds' ATS have FE3 suspension? Maybe he would like an FE2 car better.

  • I get it, though Pontiac had become a self-charicature for its last 10-15 years. I'm one of maybe 5 people walking the earth who really misses Oldsmobile.

  • salf1 salf1 Posts:

    Well, clearly the "Photo editor" missed the point of the ATS. I have driven/owned most of the cars in this class (owned a 3 series, a G37 and an IS) and the ATS by FAR strikes the best balance between performance and luxury. If I want to "float" down the road I'll buy a CTS/XTS or a 5 series, A6, etc.

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