2018 Cadillac ATS-V

2018 Cadillac ATS-V Review

The ATS-V's exceptional power and control ratchets up the base car's capability several notches.
7.4 / 10
Edmunds overall rating
author
by Dan Frio
Edmunds Editor

Edmunds expert review

America's answer to the dominance of European sport sedans, the 2018 Cadillac ATS-V offers an outstanding mix of performance, comfort and style. It's a welcome alternative to the high-performance coupes and sedans from Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz. You'll need to make peace with the ATS-V's few foibles, but the thrills outweigh the flaws, especially for the price.

Blessed with the inherently good bones of Cadillac's sharp-handling base ATS, the high-performance ATS-V — available as both coupe and sedan — ratchets up the car's capability several notches with a twin-turbocharged V6 engine, beefy brakes, and a trick suspension that constantly adapts in microseconds to changing road surfaces (Cadillac calls it Magnetic Ride Control). This suspension gives the ATS-V exceptional control at the racetrack, but also impressive comfort on normal roads and highways. It's easily the sharpest and most agile car in its class.

The 464-horsepower V6 engine generates absurd power for a car of this size, and it comes paired with a six-speed manual or an eight-speed automatic transmission. Power flows to the rear wheels only, another characteristic that will speak to the enthusiast driver's heart. In our testing, the ATS-V sprinted from zero to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds, yet it still achieves EPA-estimated fuel economy of 20 mpg combined.

Capable and fast, the ATS-V sacrifices some function with its tidy cabin dimensions, cramped back seat and small trunk. We've also found its touchscreen tech interface (called CUE) slow and awkward compared to the competition, although a new-generation system in this 2018 model may remedy that.

Of course, the competition is stiff, but we're happy to see the ATS-V hold its own against its BMW M3 and M4 and Mercedes-AMG C 63 rivals.



What's new for 2018

The 2018 Cadillac ATS-V 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-V remains unchanged.

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Available in just a single trim level, the ATS-V doesn't require much thought when it comes time to buy. There are a handful of options and packages to better tailor the ATS-V to your preferences, however, such as the Luxury package, which includes a navigation system and an upgraded Bose audio system that will please audiophiles. The Track package includes carbon-fiber trim and a unique video and data recorder for capturing hero moments at your weekend track events. The optional Recaro sport seats aren't cheap, but they're good enough that we'd order them for our own car.




Trim levels & features

The 2018 Cadillac ATS-V is a high-performance luxury compact car offered as either a four-door sedan that seats five passengers or two-door coupe that accommodates four passengers. Both come in a single, well-equipped trim level. A handful of options can tailor the ATS-V to your preference, such as the Luxury package for audiophiles, the Safety and Security package for its driver assistance features, or the Track package for race enthusiasts.

Power comes from a 3.6-liter twin-turbocharged V6 engine (464 horsepower, 445 pound-feet of torque) paired to a choice of a six-speed manual transmission or an eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. The ATS-V is only available with rear-wheel drive.

Key standard features include a carbon-fiber hood, 18-inch alloy wheels, Brembo high-performance brakes, an adaptive sport suspension, an electronically controlled limited-slip differential, front and rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, keyless entry and ignition, leather upholstery and heated front seats. Coupe models come standard with split-folding rear seatbacks; the sedan features a non-folding seatback fixed in place.

Tech features the revamped CUE interface with an 8-inch touchscreen display, OnStar services with 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot (requires data plan), a Bose audio system, satellite radio, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, Pandora internet radio, wireless device charging, three USB ports, an SD card slot, and an auxiliary audio input.

Cadillac's Teen Driver features are also standard. They allow owners to limit certain functions when younger drivers are behind the wheel, such as muting audio until front-seat occupants fasten seat belts or preventing drivers from disabling safety systems such as traction control. Teen Driver can also capture data, including distance driven, maximum speed, overspeed warnings, and hard braking events, and generate a "report card" for owners to review with younger drivers.

The ATS-V offers a handful of stand-alone options and packages. The Luxury package adds xenon headlights, an upgraded Bose surround-sound audio system, a navigation system, a 110-volt, household-style power outlet and, for the sedan, split-folding rear seats. Opting for the Luxury package also gives you the choice of a sunroof.

The Safety and Security package is only available in conjunction with the Luxury package. It includes anti-theft features, automatic high beams and wipers, a head-up display, a lane departure warning and intervention system, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, forward collision alert and, for the sedan, rear side airbags.

The Carbon Fiber package adds carbon-fiber exterior trim, black sill extensions and a body-color rear spoiler.

For drivers who pursue motorsports, the Track Performance package includes a race-oriented video and data recorder as well as the features from the Carbon Fiber package. This package first requires that you order the CUE system with navigation and makes certain features ineligible, among them a sunroof or the bundles in the Luxury and Safety and Security packages.

Stand-alone options include a sunroof (requires the Luxury package), red or gold brake calipers, Recaro sport seats, the performance video and data recorder, and microfiber steering wheel and shift knob trim.



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 2016 Cadillac ATS-V Coupe (turbo 3.6L V6 | 8-speed automatic | RWD).

NOTE: Since this test was conducted, the current ATS-V has received only minor revisions. As such, our findings remain applicable to this year's model.

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall7.4 / 10

Driving

9.0 / 10

Acceleration8.5 / 10
Braking9.0 / 10
Steering9.0 / 10
Handling9.0 / 10
Drivability8.0 / 10

Comfort

7.5 / 10

Seat comfort9.0 / 10
Ride comfort7.5 / 10
Noise & vibration6.5 / 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
Visibility5.0 / 10
Quality6.0 / 10

Utility

6.5 / 10

Small-item storage6.5 / 10
Cargo space6.0 / 10

Technology

6.5 / 10

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

Driving9.0

Luxury sport coupes have long been dominated by BMW's M and Mercedes' AMG lines, but the Cadillac V-Series is closing the gap. The ATS-V not only turns in track test numbers that are competitive, but it's also just as entertaining to wring out on a fun road as its rivals.

Acceleration8.5

Power delivery is satisfyingly immediate yet smooth and consistent in everyday driving. And when the need arises, the sprint to 60 mph takes only 4.2 seconds, which is right in there with the BMW M4 and Mercedes-AMG C 63.

Braking9.0

Stopping from 60 mph required 99 feet, which is a very short distance, even for the class. Distances remained consistent after several runs, and the car remained poised and controllable.

Steering9.0

Steering effort is appropriate, and it gives just enough feedback to let the driver know how hard the front tires are working. It stands in contrast to some prominent rivals that have watered down their steering feel and feedback too much of late.

Handling9.0

The ATS-V has surprisingly high handling limits, and it's a joy to push hard. You can really feel the weight transfer and the suspension compress and hold all the way through a turn. It instills confidence and rewards sporty driving.

Drivability8.0

Shifts are quick and positive in full automatic mode, but we noticed a slight delay in manual mode. Our main complaint is with a clumsy final downshift that happens as the car rolls to a stop.

Comfort7.5

Despite the ATS-V's focus on handling and performance, the ride is so cartoonishly stiff that it ruins the feeling of comfort. The all-important front seats are supportive over the long haul, especially the optional Recaros. But don't plan on using the back seat much.

Seat comfort9.0

The optional Recaro seats aren't cheap, but they're supportive and comfortable for hours on end. The adjustable side bolsters also accommodate larger passengers. Rear seats have good lateral support, but the lack of overall space means they're not particularly useful.

Ride comfort7.5

The ATS-V's ride is stiff but not jarring. Even in the sportier settings, there's a good amount of initial compliance to filter out the smaller road imperfections. Switching to Comfort mode softens it up some, but don't expect the traditional Cadillac isolation.

Noise & vibration6.5

Road noise is present most of the time and can be intrusive when traversing rougher asphalt. And though the engine is indeed powerful, the sound it makes is coarse and uninspiring, especially when it's working hard under acceleration.

Climate control7.5

The climate controls aren't as intuitive as others, but the system works well enough that all you have to do is set it once and forget it. The front seats are heated. Ventilation is not offered, but the optional Recaro seats breathe adequately.

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 more or less useless for anyone past grade school.

Ease of use5.5

Audio and climate controls might be attractive to some, but the touch-sensitive sliders they rely on are inferior to simple knobs. Add in small labeling and an unintuitive layout and you get a clear case of form over function. The steering wheel controls could use some work, too.

Getting in/getting out7.0

The broad door opening makes front seat access a snap. But making your way to the rear seats requires an awkward squeeze through a narrow slot, and the 2+2 layout makes it necessary for the left rear passenger to disturb the driver-seat setting. Other coupes do it better.

Driving position8.0

The tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel has plenty of adjustment range, and the optional Recaro performance seats have enough adjustments to suit drivers of all shapes and sizes. It's pretty easy to set up this cockpit the way you like it.

Roominess6.0

The front seats provide ample space for larger drivers. But the rear seats (there are only two of them) feel quite confined, with a distinct lack of legroom and lateral space. And that dramatically sloping rear window essentially eliminates headroom for all but the smallest of passengers.

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 some hard plastic interior materials and eliminating a distinct chemical interior smell would earn it a better score.

Utility6.5

Sporty luxury coupes aren't known for convenience, but the Cadillac ATS-V forces even more sacrifices due to its 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

Door pockets, cupholders and the center armrest bin are smaller than we typically see in this class of vehicle. A secret smartphone bin with its own USB port is hidden behind the climate control panel, but do people leave their phone in the car when they exit anymore?

Cargo space6.0

Trunk space is smaller than average, with only 10.4 cubic feet of capacity. Its tallish trunk liftover height doesn't help when loading. A pair of broad rear wheelwells also pinch the space, and there's only a smallish pass-through slot when the rear seatbacks are folded down.

Child safety seat accommodation6.5

Each of the two rear seats have LATCH anchors and upper tethers, but this is a coupe with a fairly tight opening to access the back seat. It's not the first choice when it comes time to fit the seat and move a child in and out.

Technology6.5

Compared to the competition, the Cadillac CUE touchscreen has traditionally been behind the times. Fortunately, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration and a OnStar-based Wi-Fi hotspot are standard.

Audio & navigation5.0

In prior years, Cadillac's CUE has been one of the least desirable infotainment systems because of its slow responses, unintuitive menus and touch-sensitive controls. Revisions for 2018 might improve this system, however.

Smartphone integration8.0

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

Voice control7.5

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.