A recent addition to the Cadillac lineup, the ATS boasts up-to-date styling, a well-equipped interior and an engaging driving feel that allow it to compete strongly with its rivals. Smaller and less expensive than Cadillac's CTS, the ATS aims right at the heart of German-engineered titans like the Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series that dominate this market of sport sedans.
Historically, Cadillac has never really offered a true compact sport sedan (the old Cimarron is best forgotten). But the ATS effectively fills that gap. Sharp, agile and desirable, the ATS is helping to redefine Cadillac for a new generation.
Current Cadillac ATS
The Cadillac ATS is a compact luxury sport sedan that's offered in four trim levels: Standard, Luxury, Performance and Premium.
There are three engines to choose from, depending on the trim you select. The base 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine makes 202 horsepower and 190 pound-feet of torque. Next up is a turbocharged 2.0-liter four rated at 272 hp and 260 lb-ft. The top power plant is a 3.6-liter V6 that cranks out 321 hp and 274 lb-ft. All ATS trims come standard with rear-wheel drive; all-wheel drive is optional. Most ATS models come standard with a six-speed automatic transmission; however, a six-speed manual gearbox for the turbocharged four-cylinder is available as an option.
Even the base ATS comes well equipped with 17-inch wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, power front seats, premium vinyl upholstery, OnStar and a seven-speaker Bose audio system with an iPod/USB interface. Stepping up to the Luxury trim adds parking sensors, keyless entry and ignition, a rearview camera, leather seats, driver memory functions, a 60/40 split-folding rear seat and the CUE infotainment interface. Perks of the Performance trim include xenon headlights, automatic wipers, front sport seats, an upgraded audio system and various driver warning systems. The Premium trim features 18-inch wheels, a navigation system, a color head-up display and, on rear-drive versions, adaptive suspension dampers and a limited-slip rear differential.
Inside the ATS's cabin there's an abundance of tasteful styling and quality materials. Overall comfort is fine, although the rear seats will leave taller passengers feeling cramped. When it comes to holding the driver and front passenger securely in spirited driving, the standard front seats are up to the task; the optional sport seats don't really provide any advantage here. Similar to a smartphone's screen, the CUE (Cadillac User Experience) infotainment screen responds to swipes, taps or flicks, lighting up as you touch it. We like the familiarity of its design, but it's sometimes slow to react to commands and lacks easily accessible, intuitive controls like a volume knob. As it stands, the amount of attention required to operate CUE can be distracting.
In reviews of the Cadillac ATS, we've found that the 2.5-liter engine is merely adequate and lacks the power expected from a sport sedan. Considerably more stirring performance is provided by the turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and the V6. Where the ATS truly shines, however, is handling. Responsive steering and a buttoned-down attitude when pressed contribute to its competency for both daily driving and enthusiastic cornering.
While it falls marginally behind in areas like trunk space and power with the base engine, the Cadillac ATS otherwise compares very well to its rivals in terms of price, standard and optional features and handling. We feel it's a legitimate option for any entry-level luxury sport sedan shopper.
Used Cadillac ATS Models
Introduced for 2013, the Cadillac ATS has remained essentially unchanged apart from minor equipment shuffling.