2013 Cadillac ATS Long-Term Road Test

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2013 Cadillac ATS: Best Shift Paddles Ever?

November 29, 2013

2013 Cadillac ATS

I might not love CUE, but Cadillac did get the 2013 ATS's shift paddles right. They are placed well, sized right and offer both precision and perfect effort in use. Their throw is short and the transmission's response is quick. Though they don't feel mechanical, they do produce a sense of solidity as you toggle through the gears.

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2013 Cadillac ATS: No Knobs, No Buttons

November 27, 2013

2013 Cadillac ATS

I'm going to belabor the point. The ATS's center stack has no knobs and no real buttons. This makes life in the car slower and more difficult. Now that we've lived with it for a while, I feel like CUE is just cost-cutting masquerading as progress.

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2013 Cadillac ATS: Great Seat

October 25, 2013

2013 Cadillac ATS

Mike Monticello is crazy. And his gluteus maximus is obviously oddly shaped.

Back in April Mike wrote with poison pen about the driver's seat in our long-term 2013 Cadillac ATS. He wrote, "I've spent several days in the ATS now, and I just can't seem to find a position that's truly comfortable for me. The stuffing, in both the seat cushion and the seatback, is just too dang hard for those long-haul days in the saddle."

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2013 Cadillac ATS: Glovebox Is Too Small

October 24, 2013

2013 Cadillac ATS

Never has the term glovebox been so appropriate. One glove is about all you can fit in the 2013 Cadillac ATS's dashboard compartment. That notepad in the picture doesn't fit and it's not exactly big.

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2013 Cadillac ATS: Stinky Air

October 18, 2013

2013 Cadillac ATS

"What an incredible smell you've discovered." Ah, yes, I never pass up an opportunity to work in a Star Wars quote.

But seriously, when you start up our 2013 Cadillac ATS, the first few seconds of air that comes blasting out of the vents is pretty stinky. Like, "shut down all the garbage mashers on the detention level" stinky.

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2013 Cadillac ATS: Useful Combo of HUD and Gauge Cluster Display

October 1, 2013

2013 Cadillac ATS

We've written about our 2013 Cadillac ATS's head-up display and configurable gauge cluster display before. But it's also worth mentioning how well they work together.

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2013 Cadillac ATS: The Bat Cave

September 23, 2013

2013 Cadillac ATS

If you swipe your finger along the bottom of the Cadillac ATS's center stack, a secret will be revealed. Donna DeRosa found it while Searching for the CD Player but I happened upon it by accident. Powered arms lift the display to reveal a third USB port and some cool-blue lighting inside an additional storage compartment.

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2013 Cadillac ATS: Flashback Interior

September 20, 2013

2013 Cadillac ATS

After a road trip in the 2013 Cadillac ATS Turbo, I declared it the "best all-rounder we've got" and I stand by that statement. I really do love the ATS and when an ATS-V is introduced, the market for the BMW M3 will get a lot more competitive. But, the overhead console with its On-Star controls, interior lighting and sunroof controls, are seriously outdated.

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2013 Cadillac ATS: 15,000 Miles

September 18, 2013

2013 Cadillac ATS

We've reached 15,000 miles in our long-term 2013 Cadillac ATS. We bought the ATS in mid-November of 2012 and it has seen its share of action in that time.

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2013 Cadillac ATS: Chosen for Its Air-Conditioner

September 16, 2013

2013 Cadillac ATS

You've probably been hearing us whine about the hot weather here in L.A. For about three weeks each year, our temps rise into the 90s, and even higher in the inland counties.

Living in a beach community, our weather is usually mid-70s with a cool ocean breeze. But my air-conditionless house has been sweltering.

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2013 Cadillac ATS: CUE Glitches Continue

September 9, 2013

2013 Cadillac ATS

It has been quite a long time since I've driven our 2013 Cadillac ATS and I had forgotten how recalcitrant the touchscreen infotainment system is. Click through to see a video demonstration of the screen's non-responsiveness after repeated presses.

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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.

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2013 Cadillac ATS: Heads Up!

August 19, 2013

2013 Cadillac ATS

Once you train yourself to look for the Heads Up Display (HUD) in the 2013 Cadillac ATS, your eyes will rarely leave the road. The HUD displays a variety of information including upcoming navigation turns. More importantly, it can be set to show your current speed along with the posted speed limit. This is crucial information when passing through small towns. The speed limit is sometimes kept unexpectedly low until you are miles from nowhere. I know because I got a ticket this way last year.

The heads up display was one of two safety features I really liked in the Cadillac.

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2013 Cadillac ATS: Rubbing Me the Wrong Way

July 31, 2013

2013 Cadillac ATS

I noticed that every time I opened the lid on the center console bin of our long-term 2013 Cadillac ATS, it was a little slow and it seemed to be rubbing on something. It wasn't until I checked from the passenger seat that I noticed what the problem was. It is rubbing on the side of the driver seat, every time it opens or closes.

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2013 Cadillac ATS: Rear Facing Child Safety Seat Install

July 22, 2013

2013 Cadillac ATS

I think it's pretty safe to assume that if you've got small children to drive around frequently, you're probably not going to lust over a 2013 Cadillac ATS as your daily driver. But I recently had a father of one of my friends ask me what I thought of the ATS, as his wife is interested in replacing her older CTS with one. They're grandparents to five young kids. So it's not entirely out of the question that potential owners could be putting an ATS to use as at least an occasional kid taxi.

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2013 Cadillac ATS: Manual Shift Effort

June 19, 2013

2013 Cadillac ATS

Here's something I've never experienced before: When manually toggling gears in our long-term 2013 Cadillac ATS there's distinctly different effort required for up- and downshifts. Downshifts, executed by pulling the lever back, require far more effort than upshifts.

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2013 Cadillac ATS: Safety Seat Is Obnoxious

May 31, 2013

2013 Cadillac ATS

I thought I would get used to the so-called Safety Seat in our long-term 2013 Cadillac ATS. I haven't, and at this point I don't expect I will. For those unaware, the Safety Seat adds a pair of thigh bolsters that twitch prominently when the car's proximity sensors decide it is necessary to do so.

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2013 Cadillac ATS: Trim Issue

May 22, 2013

2013 Cadillac ATS

Our long-term Cadillac ATS has had a string of small issues lately. A couple of them were simple warnings from the on-board computer that something was wrong. In both cases, everything seemed fine to us, so it's hard to tell if the computer was acting up.

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2013 Cadillac ATS: Minor Lighting Failure

May 21, 2013

2013 Cadillac ATS

Looking at this message one might think they had a headlight out. That's not quite the case in this Cadillac.

I was a little surprised when I saw this message in the morning darkness as the headlights appeared to be working just fine. After looking closer, the light pattern on the right side did look a little bit different than the left, but again, this was only if I stared awhile.

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2013 Cadillac ATS: Safety Alert Seats

May 16, 2013

2013 Cadillac ATS

I'm not sure how I've driven our Cadillac ATS for so many miles and have just encountered its safety alert seats, but I must admit they're a little shocking when you're not expecting them.

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2013 Cadillac ATS: Steering Wheel Audio Controls

May 6, 2013

2013 Cadillac ATS

File this under the Minor Gripes category. But I don't find the steering wheel audio controls on the 2013 Cadillac ATS 2.0T intuitive.

Two problems: First, having the up/down radio volume buttons on opposite sides of the cumbersome SEL button is just odd. To me it would make more sense to have the up/down buttons on the same side of SEL, with my first choice being below it as that's easier to get to.

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2013 Cadillac ATS 2.0T: Driver's Seat Lacks Comfort

April 30, 2013

2013 Cadillac ATS 2.0T

Look, I know this 2013 Cadillac ATS is supposed to be a sport sedan and all. And without question, it is one terrific-handling machine.

But it's also a Cadillac. Therefore, it should have a more comfortable front seat.

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2013 Cadillac ATS: Satellite Controls Are Good, Not Great

April 23, 2013

2013 Cadillac ATS

There are many ways to do satellite steering wheel controls. Cadillac's latest attempt to deliver maximum functionality at your fingertips is good at some things, and merely average at others.

The volume and seek buttons are simple enough. It would be better if you could tell between them without looking, but they are easy to use with your thumb. The rocker switch is another story.

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2013 Cadillac ATS: Dog Report

April 19, 2013

2013 Cadillac ATS

I loved using the 2013 Cadillac ATS as a dog transporter for my dog Mya. Not only because it has those seat belt fasteners that protrude from the seat which makes it super easy to buckle her in but it has rear air vents in the back of the center console so she can just stick her nose on it to get some air.

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2013 Cadillac ATS: Loud CUE Startup

April 17, 2013

2013 Cadillac ATS

The first time I heard the CUE startup video in our 2013 Cadillac ATS I was irritated. I thought whoever drove the car before me must have left the radio on full blast, and I struggled to quickly turn down the volume but to no avail. It wouldn't respond. Suffice it to say many expletives ensued.

But the next time it happened, I realized it was just the startup video for the CUE system whenever someone got in the driver seat. The action of slipping into the seat is what sets it off, not hitting the car's "Engine Start" button. It sounds like the beginning of an action movie trailer. When you watch the video after the jump, you kinda expect someone to come on the speakers with "IN A WORLD...."

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2013 Cadillac ATS: Searching for the CD Player

April 10, 2013

2013 Cadillac ATS

As I've stated before, my ancient iPod Touch has stopped communicating with most of our long-term cars. So, I brought some CDs with me this time. How 1990s of me.

But there was no obvious way to play them in our 2013 Cadillac ATS. I went searching for the CD player but found something else.

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2013 Cadillac ATS: Album Artwork on the Instrument Panel

April 8, 2013

2013 Cadillac ATS

I was playing music from my iPhone in our 2013 Cadillac ATS and was pleased to see the artist's album artwork displayed on the instrument panel. Because I hadn't selected a particular album, the audio system was simply playing songs in alphabetical order, providing a steady view of various album "covers."

Then it hit me: Back in the day, albums, or LPs, were sleeved in 12-inch-square cardboard covers that we actually held in our hands and could examine up close. Some of them were highly detailed with hidden "Easter Eggs" and became the stuff of music lore.

I then realized that many of today's album "covers" are merely digital files that arrive with the downloaded music, or are at best, the size of a CD jacket. There's no doubt that album artwork has changed: Bigger, bolder graphics and colors.

After the jump, I've supplied a few more examples of what I'm talking about.

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2013 Cadillac ATS: XM Subscriptions

April 5, 2013

2013 Cadillac ATS

I snapped this picture of our 2013 Cadillac ATS touchscreen to show to our Car Wrangler Extraordinaire, Mike Schmidt (CWE). True to form, he already knew about the expired XM subscription, had in fact paid it, but suspects the car didn't respond in kind because the signal couldn't reach it, deep in the parking bunker under our office building.

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2013 Cadillac ATS: Lousy Rear-View Camera

March 15, 2013

2013 Cadillac ATS

Our long-term 2013 Cadillac ATS is loaded with cool tech features like CUE with a wonderfully hi-res screen, a configurable IP and adaptive cruise control. It's also got some handy, but pretty basic features like parking sensors and a rear-view camera.

And that's where things go wrong.

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2013 Cadillac ATS: Magical Touch Sensitive Interface

February 14, 2013

2013 Cadillac ATS

One of the most jarring features of our 2013 Cadillac ATS is the touch-sensitive interface for the stereo, climate controls and the CUE telematics system. A still photo doesn't do it justice, really, and there are some hidden surprises.

It goes way beyond the knobless volume control JKav mentioned previously, although that element is perhaps the most frustrating and prominent aspect of the system. This particular touchpad is oddly calibrated in that you can't reliably reach zero volume when you drag your finger across it to the extreme left edge of the pad.

A second stroke is usually required, and things get screwy when the volume isn't dropping fast enough and your spouse makes a move for the touchpad at the same time. A volume knob really does require so much less time, effort and thought, which adds up to less diverted attention, driver distraction and marital discord.

But I digress. Let's see more of it in action.

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2013 Cadillac ATS: A Good Start

February 5, 2013

2013 Cadillac ATS

I badly wanted to like the ATS. I really did. And after a few days of getting to know it, I do. But I wanted to crush hard on this car. Cadillac promised the Merican challenge to the mighty 3 Series, the Wreath versus the Roundel. But the ATS just doesn't measure up.

Others on staff can better articulate any of the ATS' dynamic deficiencies. To me, the 2.0-liter turbo has enough sauce to thread traffic pretty effortlessly, and get up to highway merge speed. It doesn't sound that happy doing it, but it's not a braying donkey. The smoother, quieter BMW 3 Series turbo-four gets the advantage here.

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2013 Cadillac ATS: Another Electrical Gremlin

January 24, 2013

2013 Cadillac ATS

Along with the inaccurate headlight malfunction warning that both Walton and I have experienced, our 2013 Cadillac also has another electrical gremlin. During normal use, the backlight for the PRND next to the shifter keeps fading in an out. This is happening whether the car is in motion or not and when the automatic headlights are on or off.

At first I just thought I was having a stroke, but then another editor here confirmed that the lights were indeed failing.

Mike Magrath, Features Editor @ 3,700 miles

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2013 Cadillac ATS: Dual Detent Cruise

January 8, 2012

2013 Cadillac ATS

GM installed a well thought-out cruise control system in the 2013 Cadillac ATS. When you want to set the speed in one mph increments, you bump the thumb rocker to its first detent. Push it further to the second detent and your speed increases in 5 mph chunks.

BMWs in particular have had this functionality for a long, long time, but this is first time I can recall an American car with it. It's a great feature. I wish more/all cars had it. I could do without the constantly-illuminated steering wheel text as shown above, but that's picking nits.

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor

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2013 Cadillac ATS: Bring Knobs Back

January 7, 2012

2013 Cadillac ATS

Seriously, what's so bad about knobs? Our long-term 2013 Cadillac ATS' touch-sensitive center stack is unnecessarily fussy. You touch, it may or may not respond. When it does decide to acknowledge your touch, there's an associated muted 'thunk' that elicits from somewhere deep in the dashboard.

The thunk is supposed to provide some kind of tactile feedback to your touch, except it inevitably does so a split-second after you've released your touch, and sounds (and feels) more like something is wrong with the car. Like with all touch-sensitive center stacks, you still end up having to watch your finger land on the desired spot on the center stack in order to ensure you press the right thing. Totally silly.

In what way is this is better than a knob? Answer: it isn't.

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor

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2013 Cadillac ATS: Firm, but not Choppy

January 3, 2012

2013 Cadillac ATS

Every once in a while, the traffic in Los Angeles accommodates speeds up to, and sometimes beyond, the posted limit. Here's how our long-term 2013 Cadillac ATS fared on a notorious stretch of the dreaded 405 South that's a series of concrete slabs....

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2013 Cadillac ATS: Thrummy Idle

January 2, 2013

2013 Cadillac ATS

Our long-term 2013 Cadillac ATS has a punchy turbocharged four-cylinder, as you no doubt are already aware. It's quite a smooth little mill, save for one situation: idle. At idle it sends vibes through the cabin in a way that I don't recall happening in its primary German competition, the current four-cylinder-equipped BMW 3 Series.

It's certainly no dealbreaker, but it's there, and I wonder what customers whom are already skeptical of a four-cylinder Cadillac will think when they experience the ATS at idle.

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor

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2013 Cadillac ATS: Erroneous Headlamp Fault Code

January 1, 2013

2013 Cadillac ATS

Donna liked our 2013 Cadillac ATS's headlamps here, and I do too. They do an amazing job bending around corners with the steering input. However, they caused some sort of erroneous fault code on the instrument panel. I hopped out of the car and checked for myself...

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2013 Cadillac ATS: Microfiber Included

December 31, 2012

2013 Cadillac ATS

It's inevitable. Despite a semi-reliable voice-recognition system in our 2013 Cadillac ATS, sometimes we have to actually touch the touchscreen. The problem is that we filthy humans produce sebum, or oil from our skin and it gets on the screen. Luckily, Cadillac has provided an amazingly effective sebum removal system...

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2013 Cadillac ATS: Creaky Steering (With Video)

December 18, 2012

2013_cadillac_ats

This is the steering wheel of our 2013 Cadillac ATS. Kind of nice, right? It's roundish, has a bunch of buttons (more on them later), is covered in leather and via some electronics, turns the front wheels.

It also makes a HORRIBLE creaking noise when you turn it more than a few degrees to either direction. It's done this since it was delivered (I have a crummier video of the same thing when it had 60 miles) and, really, I just thought it was new plastics that needed some breaking in. Clearly I was mistaken and this is something the dealer will have to handle.

Mike Magrath, Features Editor @ 2,250 miles

Video after the jump.


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The Edmunds TCO® estimated monthly insurance payment for a 2013 Cadillac ATS in VA is:

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