2015 Cadillac ATS Sedan Review & Ratings | Edmunds
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2015 Cadillac ATS Sedan Review

2015 Cadillac ATS Sedan
Summary

Edmunds Summary Review of the 2015 Cadillac ATS Standard Sedan

  • The 2015 Cadillac ATS is an enjoyable entry-level luxury sport sedan that's competitive with more established German rivals.

  • Pros

    Excellent handling; fun-to-drive character with either 2.0-liter turbo or V6 engine; cutting-edge interior design; strong crash scores.

  • Cons

    Infotainment and climate interface is frustrating to use; small backseat and trunk; weak acceleration with the base engine; 2.0-liter turbo engine is noisy.

  • What's New for 2015

    For 2015, the Cadillac ATS sedan gets a minor refresh that includes a revised front fascia and a new badge. More significant updates are under the skin, such as a more powerful 2.0-liter turbocharged engine (torque increases from 260 pound-feet to 295 lb-ft), 4G Wi-Fi capability and wireless charging.

Review

The Cadillac ATS sedan has become the brand's second best-selling model, and for good reason. The ATS is handsome, packs cutting-edge (if occasionally frustrating) technology and offers handling as sharp or sharper than its BMW and Audi compact luxury sport sedan rivals. The 2015 Cadillac ATS sedan comes in with a very subtle styling refresh that includes a new grille texture, a wider lower front air intake and restyled Cadillac badges. The latter grow in width and shed their wreaths for a more modern look. More notable updates are under the skin, where Wi-Fi capability and wireless charging debut and the turbocharged four-cylinder engine sees a boost in its torque output.

As such, the Cadillac ATS remains a well-regarded entry in this popular entry-level luxury brand segment. Strong points include eye-catching styling inside and out, sharp handling dynamics and, provided you avoid the base engine, spirited performance. Overall, the ATS stacks up well against its rivals from Germany and Japan. Still, Caddy's best-ever compact sedan has a few demerits that keep it from being the class leader. A big one is the CUE infotainment interface. While we like its aesthetics and large virtual buttons, it can be slow to respond to inputs and in general is difficult to use when on the move. The ATS's small backseat and trunk also make this sedan a less practical choice than others in this class.

Of course, the biggest hurdle for the 2015 Cadillac ATS is simply the quality of its competition. The BMW 3 Series continues to be our favorite thanks to its overachieving engines, spacious cabin and all-around excellent driving dynamics. Other top choices include the 2015 Audi A4, 2015 Infiniti Q50, 2015 Lexus IS 350 and all-new Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Given the ATS's more diminutive size, checking out a compact luxury sedan like the Audi A3 would be a good idea as well. Yet even among this illustrious group the ATS is a strong contender and well worth a test-drive before you make a decision.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2015 Cadillac ATS is a five-passenger, compact luxury sport sedan that is offered in four trim levels: base, Luxury, Performance and Premium. There is also an ATS Coupe reviewed separately.

Standard features on the base trim include 17-inch alloy wheels, heated mirrors, automatic headlights, keyless ignition and entry, cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control, six-way power front seats with power lumbar, leatherette premium vinyl upholstery, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, OnStar, 4G Wi-Fi capability, Bluetooth phone connectivity and a seven-speaker Bose sound system with satellite radio, an iPod/USB interface and an auxiliary audio jack.

Optional on the base ATS is the Cadillac User Experience (CUE) infotainment system, bundled with a 10-speaker upgraded Bose surround-sound audio system, Bluetooth audio streaming, a rearview camera, three USB ports and HD radio.

The Luxury trim includes the CUE interface as well as front and rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, remote engine start (automatic-transmission models only), eight-way power front seats, driver memory functions, leather upholstery, a 60/40 split-folding rear seat, auto-dimming rearview and driver side mirrors, Bluetooth audio streaming, the three USB ports, HD radio and wireless cell phone charging. The upgraded Bose sound system and a navigation system are optional on the Luxury.

The Performance trim (not available with the 2.5-liter engine) adds to the Luxury trim's equipment adaptive xenon headlights, LED running lights, the 10-speaker Bose surround-sound audio system, front sport seats (with manual cushion length adjustment and power driver-side bolster adjustment), aluminum-trimmed pedals, steering wheel shift paddles, and, as on the base ATS, a fixed rear seat with a pass-through. Also included is a Driver Awareness package (automatic high-beams, automatic wipers, rear-seat side airbags, lane keeping assist and forward collision, rear cross-traffic and lane departure warning systems).

Stepping up to the Premium trim (not available with the 2.5-liter engine) adds 18-inch wheels, a navigation system, a color head-up display, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and the 60/40-split-folding rear seat. Rear-wheel-drive ATS Premium models also come with run-flat summer tires, a sport-tuned suspension, adaptive suspension dampers and a limited-slip rear differential.

Many of the upper trims' standard features are optional on the lower trims. There are several option packages. The Driver Assist package (Performance and Premium only) includes the features from the Driver Awareness package and adds adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, a collision mitigation system with brake assist (which activates in both front and rear collision situations) and the color head-up display. The Cold Weather package (all but base) includes heated front seats and a heated steering wheel. Available only on rear-drive V6 Premium models, the Track Performance package adds an engine oil cooler and upgraded brake pads. Other options include different wheels, a sunroof and a trunk cargo organizer.

Powertrains and Performance

Three engines are available for the 2015 Cadillac ATS. The 2.5 models come with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 202 horsepower and 190 pound-feet of torque. All ATS engines come standard with rear-wheel drive and a six-speed automatic transmission. EPA estimated fuel economy for the base ATS 2.5 is 25 mpg combined (21 city/33 highway).

The 2.0 Turbo models come with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder rated at 272 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual transmission and all-wheel drive are optional. We've yet to test the ATS with its upgraded engine but in prior testing, a rear-drive ATS 2.0T with the automatic accelerated to 60 mph in 6.3 seconds, which is average for the segment. We'd expect the 2015 ATS to be a smidge quicker. Equipped with the automatic, 2.0 Turbo models are estimated to return 24 mpg combined (21/30) in rear-drive configuration and 23 mpg combined (20/28) with AWD. With the manual gearbox and rear-drive, the ATS 2.0 Turbo is rated at 23 mpg combined (19/30).

The 3.6 models come with a 3.6-liter V6 that cranks out 321 hp and 274 lb-ft of torque. All-wheel drive is optional. In Edmunds testing, a rear-drive ATS 3.6 Premium accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 5.7 seconds. This is also average for the segment. The V6 is estimated to achieve 22 mpg combined (18/28) with rear-wheel drive and 21 combined (18/26) with AWD.

Safety

Standard safety features for the 2015 Cadillac ATS include antilock disc brakes, traction control, stability control, active front head restraints, front-seat side and knee airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. Also standard is OnStar, which includes automatic crash notification, on-demand roadside assistance, remote door unlocking, stolen vehicle assistance and turn-by-turn navigation.

There are two safety-related options packages – the Luxury's trim Safety and Security package, and the Performance and Premium's Driver Awareness package. Both include rear side airbags, a forward collision alert, lane departure warning and keeping assist system, and the Safety Alert seat that buzzes the driver seat button as an additional form of warning. The Driver Assist package (Performance and Premium only) bolsters that content with adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, and a collision mitigation system that will automatically apply the brakes in both low-speed forward and rearward potential collision situations: an unusual feature in this price range. A rearview camera is standard on all trims except the base model, in which case it is optional.

In Edmunds brake testing, an ATS 3.6 Premium with summer tires came to a stop from 60 mph in 108 feet, while a 2.0T with summer tires required a bit more at 112 feet. These are average distances for summer tires. An ATS 3.6 Performance with low-rolling resistance all-season tires did it in 113 feet, which is about 10 feet shorter than average.

In government crash testing, the ATS received an overall score of five stars out of five, with five stars for overall frontal crash protection and five stars for overall side crash protection.

Interior Design and Special Features

Inside, the 2015 Cadillac ATS boasts a variety of high-quality materials, including tasteful wood and metallic accents. The cabin feels solidly put together, but we've noted a few more fit and finish issues in the ATS than in similarly priced competitors.

The available CUE infotainment interface features large icons and operates by tapping, swiping or spreading your fingers -- making it vaguely familiar for smartphone users. Furthermore, "haptic" feedback lets you know when you've pressed a virtual button by pulsing when you touch it.

This all results in a certain wow factor, but in practice, CUE can be slow to respond (and occasionally, fail to respond at all), and some features, such as the slide bar for volume adjustment, turn out to be more trouble than conventional controls. In this class, we prefer the BMW iDrive and Mercedes-Benz COMAND interfaces (both of which use a multidirectional dial-type controller).

Up front, most drivers will find it easy to get into a comfortable driving position, and in our experience, the firm front seats provide ample support on longer drives. Oddly, the optional sport seats don't provide much more lateral support than the standard seats, even with the addition of power-adjustable bolsters.

The backseat is smaller than those of most other entry-level luxury sport sedans. It's not necessarily a deal breaker depending on what your priorities are, but know that taller adults will find headroom, shoulder room and legroom in short supply. The trunk is similarly lacking in space. In spite of its wide opening, it offers just 10.2 cubic feet of capacity, and only the Luxury and Premium trims have a 60/40 split-folding rear seat.

Driving Impressions

The 2015 Cadillac ATS is an impressive all-around performer, thanks to its poised ride, sure-footed handling, quick steering and responsive brakes. The term "sport" gets used so much in automotive marketing these days that it sort of loses its meaning, but the ATS certainly fits the description of a "luxury sport sedan." Get the summer tires and sport-tuned suspension and you'll likely want to find all sorts of excuses to use your ATS for Sunday drives along twisting roads or impromptu errand runs. Out of milk? No problem, honey. I'll just take the ATS. We're less fond of the ride quality from a sport-suspension-equipped ATS, though, as its firmness can get pretty rough when driving over rough pavement.

The base 2.5-liter engine is smooth, but it delivers tepid acceleration compared with other entry-level powertrains in this class. Fortunately, both the 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder and 3.6-liter V6 provide the energetic thrust more in keeping with this Cadillac's athletic personality. Of these two, the V6 would be our choice, mostly because the 2.0-liter turbo gets noisy under hard acceleration and isn't as refined as the four-cylinder engines in rival sedans. Although enthusiasts may lament the lack of a manual transmission for the V6, the six-speed automatic will get the job done for most consumers. Switched to Sport mode, it knows when to hold a gear and provides on-point, rev-matched downshifts.

Reviews from owners of the 2015 Cadillac ATS Standard Sedan

Average Consumer Rating (See all 9 reviews) Write a Review


Great car for singles and as second car.

by on
Vehicle: 2015 Cadillac ATS

I wasn't thinking into buying this car until I received a newspaper with an amazing offer. To be honest, the good deal drove me to the dealer to try the car. I leased it for about $140/mo cheaper than BMW, Mercedes, Audi. I have driven BMW, Mercedes, Audi as well. This ATS really can compete with its sisters. 2.0T engine is amazing, powerful although little noisy when Turbo kicks in. I tried my friend's Audi A5 but ATS was faster in acceleration. Handling is stellar ! Braking is great, better than BMW and Audi due to Brembo brand. Check 60-0 mph braking on YouTube. I think it was 99 feets vs 101 feet for BMW, Mercedes, Audi. Interiorly, I agree with others, it is small. Rear seat barely for 2 adults, and Trunk is much smaller than my previous Honda Civic. For me isn't an issue and I am slim, use the car for commuting only, rarely people get intro rear seat. Small trunk doesn't bother me, I have a SUV. Great finish, wood trims, leather all over. But the touch part of the console is awkward. Physical buttons are more appropriate while driving. Gear: for some reason manual downshifting is restrained. You need to pull hard to overcome the unexpected resistance. Upshifting is smooth. I don't understand why Cadillac does that. Headlight is good, but the high beam light is poor. Don't thing it will lighten the road like BMW and Mercedes. Overall, the performance is outstanding. But my advice is American cars should be leased only due to poor reliability after 3-4 years and low resale value.




Love it

by on
Vehicle: 2015 Cadillac ATS

This is my first luxury car in 45 yrs. makes driving a pleasure. I have never driven a car that handles this good. Handles the curves like a champ. Very happy with it.



1 of 3 people found this review helpful

Love / hate relationship

by on
Vehicle: 2015 Cadillac ATS

The handling is stellar! I also own a Porsche 911 and this is the only sedan I've ever driven that actually compares ok. I also think the exterior look is fantastic - clean, timeless but also interesting. However, I dislike just about everything else about this car. CUE is horrendous. It is unintuitive and talks too much when in voice prompt mode. My wife's Audi blows away the Cadillac's interface. While the 2.0ilter engine has reasonable power, you have to overcome both turbo lag and a slow transmission (mine has the 6 speed auto) in order to get good performance. Even then, it sounds pretty bad - a bit like an overworked and muffled lawnmower. If you ignore the sound and run the car in manual mode then it's fine, but who wants to do that. These two things are irksome enough that I decided to sell the car. Resale is absolutely horrible. This is partially due to the fact that the car was overpriced in the first place. I knew that going in but I wanted to buy American. Poor resale doubles the pain. If you want to buy the car anyway, get the V6, make sure it has the new 8 speed auto, and make sure you get a hefty discount on this overpriced car. Overall, I would not recommend this car.



2 of 2 people found this review helpful

I love my ats premium

by on
Vehicle: 2015 Cadillac ATS

I saw the ATS at the auto show and fell in love with it. However, I didn't rush into buying it. I compared it to BMW 3 series, Infinity, Acura (my former). I also watched and read comparisons of similar cars from Motor Trend, etc. Once I bought it I've never regretted it. It is very quick, handles fantastic (esp in sport mode) and nimble in traffic. My vehicle has the heads up display which works great and I especially like the auto braking during cruise control. I don't have to constantly hit the brakes any time a car slows down in front of me, the ATS adjusts the speed for me (great feature). I have had my car for 2 1/2 years and I still haven't grown tired of it.



2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Not your daddy's caddy

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Vehicle: 2015 Cadillac ATS

It's important to understand what this car is and is not. If you think a Crown Victoria is a good car, the ATS is not the car for you. On the other hand if you think a BMW 3 series is a good car, test drive an ATS, you will be surprised. The ATS is a complete departure from the "livingroom recliner on wheels" approach of days gone by for Cadillac. Its a drivers car cut from the cloth of European sports sedans. (Think Audi A4, BMW 3 series) That means crisp handling, quick accelleration, relatively small size and a firm ride. If you think these things are desirable, it's hard to beat an ATS, but if you want a numb isolated ride and don't care about handling, then please, buy something else. For perspective, I traded my wonderful BMW 5 series for the ATS and in most ways, the ATS is as good or better. I've not driven the base 2.5 engine. My ATS has the 3.6 V6 and for comparisson I have spent a few days driving the 2.0T and both perform similarly in terms of brute power... the 3.6 sounds more pleasant to me but both engines deliver lots of power. If driven in traffic, the cars don't feel real fast because the throttle is easy to modulate in stop and go traffic... but if you stomp on it, you will see 60MPH in between 5 and 6 seconds. If you enjoy driving fast on twisty roads, it doesn't get a lot better than the ATS for four seats. Definitely not Crown Victoria like. For more perspective, I'm in my 50's, 5'8 and fit fine in the front and back seats comfortably. The up optioned seats are terrific even if 6 footers aren't going to be happy in the back seat, but they aren't going to be happy in the back of an A4 or 3 series either. I have read some reviews on line about the ATS and draw the conclusion that some ATS buyers had no idea what they were buying. They would be happier with an early 90's Crown Victoria. That's fine, but you have to come to terms with what the car is and what it's intended to do. The alternatives to my ATS are the Mercedes C250, Audi A4, and BMW 328. If you think an alternative to the ATS is a Toyota Avalon, you should consider something else. As for me, I love my ATS.



3 of 7 people found this review helpful

"extremely displeased"

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Vehicle: 2015 Cadillac ATS

This is the worst Cadillac I've ever been in, I've owned two prior to this one. I am extremely displeased with my 2015 ATS 2.0T Luxury model. If you are an average to large person, get in and out of the driver's seat a few times. The door pillar makes it very difficult. Most likely the worst feature for me. Look at the passenger room, sit in the back seat. It was very uncomfortable with four adults. The max load, passenger and cargo is only just over 800 lbs. The cab is small and noisy. Open the moonroof in either configuration and it's very noisy. There is nothing that sets this Cadillac apart from any other vehicle. The Luxury model is sub par to the foreign cars standard models and almost twice the price. The 2.0 claims to get good mileage, I am only getting just under 20 mpg. There is nothing 'Cadillac' about my ATS. I've had mine for two months and have less than 800 miles. I'd rather drive my 2006 Ford Ranger than the ATS, and I do. If you are in the market for a small sedan, look else where.



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