2018 Cadillac ATS Coupe

2018 Cadillac ATS Coupe Review

With light mass and four- and six-cylinder engines, the ATS boasts legitimate performance chops.
7.1 / 10
Edmunds overall rating
author
by Dan Frio
Edmunds Editor

Edmunds expert review

When you think of luxury sport coupes, you normally think of Germany's best. But the 2018 Cadillac ATS is another option to consider, especially if you're more interested in performance than gilded luxury. A light curb weight, a choice of turbocharged four-cylinder or V6 engines, two available suspension setups, and even an optional manual transmission give the ATS legitimate performance chops.

The ATS coupe is respectably comfortable as well. But there are downsides. The ATS sacrifices some function with its tidy cabin dimensions, cramped back seat and small trunk. The four-cylinder sounds raspy and coarse at high rpm. We've also found the touchscreen tech interface (called CUE for Cadillac User Experience) slow and awkward compared to the competition, although a new-generation system in this 2018 model may remedy that.

Success in this crowded, competitive segment is a tall order. The ATS coupe isn't necessarily faster or more efficient than its rivals, which include the Audi A5, BMW 2 Series and 4 Series, and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. But it is competitive, and that's enough to warrant consideration for your next luxury sport coupe.



What's new for 2018

The 2018 Cadillac ATS coupe features the latest generation of the Cadillac User Experience (CUE) tech interface, which promises more intuitive operation and a smartphone-style navigation app. Mechanically, the ATS coupe remains unchanged.

We recommend

While the entry-level and Luxury ATS coupe trims are very well-appointed, we think the six-cylinder engine is worth the extra cost. It's nearly as fuel-efficient as the turbo four-cylinder, but it performs better and sounds better. You'll have to step up to the Premium Luxury trim to get it and we think that's good enough for most buyers. But drivers who are more performance- or track-inclined may want to step up to the Premium Performance trim for its high-performance suspension, tires and limited-slip differential.




Trim levels & features

The 2018 Cadillac ATS coupe is a four-passenger compact luxury coupe offered in four trim levels: base, Luxury, Premium Luxury and Premium Performance.

Base and Luxury trims come with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine (272 horsepower, 295 pound-feet of torque) paired to an eight-speed automatic or a six-speed manual transmission and rear-wheel drive. All-wheel drive is optional, but only with the automatic transmission. Premium Luxury and Premium Performance trims come with a 3.6-liter V6 engine (335 hp, 285 lb-ft) paired to an eight-speed automatic and rear-wheel drive. All-wheel drive is optional on Premium Luxury. Premium Performance trims are rear-wheel-drive only.

Key standard features for Base trims include 18-inch wheels, heated side mirrors, a rearview camera, keyless entry and ignition, power-adjustable front seats, and simulated leather upholstery. Tech features include the revamped CUE interface with 8-inch touchscreen display, OnStar services (with 4G LTE and Wi-Fi hotspot), Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, wireless device charging, three USB ports, and a 12-speaker Bose surround-sound audio system with satellite radio.

The Luxury trim adds adaptive xenon headlights, front and rear parking sensors, leather upholstery, additional front-seat power adjustments, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, a navigation system and driver-position memory settings. The optional Safety and Security package adds driver assistance features such as forward collision alert, lane departure warning and intervention, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, automatic high beams and automatic wipers.

Picking the Premium Luxury gets you the Safety and Security package as standard plus a sunroof.

The Premium Performance trim includes all the previously mentioned features, plus high-performance tires, a sport-tuned suspension, adaptive suspension dampers, a limited-slip rear differential, a head-up display and a power-adjustable steering column.

Many standard features on the upper trims are optional on lower trims. The Driver Assist package, available on the Premium Luxury and Premium Performance trims, adds the head-up display, adaptive cruise control and advanced safety technologies, including forward and rearward collision mitigation and automatic emergency braking.

The Track package, available only on the Premium Performance trim, adds a heavy-duty engine cooling fan and upgraded brake pads. All rear-wheel-drive Base, Luxury and Premium Luxury trims can add the V-Sport Performance Suspension Upgrade package, which adds 18-inch wheels, a sport-tuned suspension and high-performance tires.



Trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the 2017 Cadillac ATS Coupe Premium Performance (3.6-liter V6 | 8-speed automatic | RWD).

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall7.1 / 10

Driving

8.0 / 10

Acceleration8.0 / 10
Braking9.0 / 10
Steering7.0 / 10
Handling8.0 / 10
Drivability8.0 / 10

Comfort

7.0 / 10

Seat comfort8.0 / 10
Ride comfort7.0 / 10
Noise & vibration6.0 / 10
Climate control7.5 / 10

Interior

6.0 / 10

Ease of use5.5 / 10
Getting in/getting out7.0 / 10
Driving position8.0 / 10
Roominess6.0 / 10
Visibility5.5 / 10
Quality6.0 / 10

Utility

6.5 / 10

Small-item storage6.5 / 10
Cargo space6.5 / 10

Technology

6.5 / 10

Audio & navigation5.0 / 10
Smartphone integration8.0 / 10
Voice control7.5 / 10

Comfort7.0

The downside to the ATS' focus on handling and performance is a stiff ride that comes at the expense of comfort. The all-important front seats are still supportive over the long haul. But it is on the loud side.

Seat comfort8.0

The driver's seat is firm, bordering on uncomfortable. On long drives, though, this firmness can keep you supported and comfortable. The side bolsters on the seat bottom are wide and accommodating. The rear seats aren't comfortable for adults.

Ride comfort7.0

This is a firm, sports-carlike ride. Comfort depends on the road surface. Find one with the wrong rhythm of small bumps and it will buck you about considerably. Some bigger bumps will lift you from the seat. Other sport coupes share these qualities, so the ride is not a deal-breaker off the bat.

Noise & vibration6.0

Cadillac is capable of building a quiet cabin. It just isn't the one in the ATS. This cabin is the kind of loud where front passengers have to consciously raise their voices to communicate with backseat passengers. Road noise is the biggest culprit, though the wind and engine do contribute.

Climate control7.5

The buttons for the climate controls definitely aren't as easy to use as others. Once engaged, however, the dual-zone system works well enough that you can set the temperature and forget about it. Both front seats are heated.

Interior6.0

The ATS-V coupe offers the driver and front passenger a roomy place to sit. But it seems the wants and needs of the styling department have resulted in controls that are unnecessarily difficult to use and a rear seat that's largely useless for anyone past grade school.

Ease of use5.5

Everything the driver needs to access is placed logically and within easy reach. The major concerns are the center stack controls. The buttons are smooth, slick and polished, with no way to tell what's what by feel. It forces the driver to look away from the road to operate. And that is never a good thing.

Getting in/getting out7.0

The doors open wide, enhancing front-seat access. Automatic seat controls operate impressively fast to move the front seat forward and grant entry to the back seat, but it's still a narrow squeeze. Rear passengers require both front occupants to scoot their seats forward. Not the best in its class.

Driving position8.0

The steering wheel tilts and telescopes with considerable range. The side mirrors, despite their size, also adapt well to suit driver height. The driver's seat has enough adjustability that most will find acceptable backside-coddling positions. It's easy to set up this cockpit the way you like it.

Roominess6.0

Much like its coupe competitors, the ATS cannot be considered roomy. The interior dimensions are sporty-snug for all passengers. Up front you'll be rubbing elbows. Still there's room enough for a 6-foot passenger to fit with minimal compromise. Back seats are best for kids and people you don't like.

Visibility5.5

The sideview mirrors are very narrow, arguably too small, though we could find a position to provide adequate visibility. Otherwise, sightlines are clear to the front and sides, but they're limited out the rear due to a high parcel shelf. The standard rearview camera helps.

Quality6.0

Despite recent advances, the Cadillac ATS-V still lacks the solid quality feel found in its Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz peers. Improving its hard plastic interior materials, shift paddles that feel like plasticware, lame gauges and slippery steering wheel would help a lot.

Utility6.5

Sporty luxury coupes aren't known for convenience, but the Cadillac ATS coupe forces even more sacrifice due to lack of cargo and storage space. It can handle most typical day-to-day duties, but other coupes are better suited to weekend getaways and long trips.

Small-item storage6.5

The door pockets, cupholders and the center armrest bin are smaller than some others in this class. A secret smartphone bin with a USB port is hidden behind the climate control panel, but this is more gimmicky than useful.

Cargo space6.5

Trunk space is awkwardly shaped and smaller than average, with only 10.4 cubic feet of capacity. The trunk liftover height is a bit high and the broad rear wheelwells also consume usable space. There's an average-size pass-through when the rear seatbacks are folded down.

Child safety seat accommodation7.0

Each rear seat has two LATCH anchors and one upper tether. But access is tight, so flexibility is a must for any child seat installs. The steeply sloped seat bottoms may cause trouble depending on the type of seat. Generally speaking, it's no worse than any other coupe in the segment.

Technology6.5

The Cadillac CUE touchscreen is as advanced as any of its peers. But its soft-touch sliders and less than intuitive menus offer something to be desired. Fortunately, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, as well as a Wi-Fi hotspot, are standard.

Audio & navigation5.0

The CUE infotainment system responds quickly and returns haptic vibration to confirm each finger stroke. Despite its age, the design still looks sleek and progressive. But functionally, the need to look away from the road to distinguish between one soft-touch slider and the next is problematic.

Smartphone integration8.0

There are enough USB ports to handle all your devices, but learning to pair a phone and accessing the Wi-Fi hotspot requires some digging into menus. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are now standard and are far easier to use.

Voice control7.5

The standard voice controls are fairly reasonable, but the big payoff comes when you pair a smartphone and access Siri or Google Voice commands by pressing the same button for longer.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.