2013 Cadillac ATS: Thoughts After Two Weeks
July 30, 2013
Recently, I got a lot of seat time in our 2013 Cadillac ATS. It was a good opportunity to see how the car's traits (both good and bad) affected me over a longer duration.
Curiously, a lot of things that I thought would bug me didn't. First up was the backseat. Yes, it is small for this class of car. Yet I never really found it to be an issue. Granted, I never had to drive around other adults in the rear of the ATS, just my two small children. But since when do you need acres of rear seat space in your entry-level luxury sport sedan? If you're frequently taking along two or three extra adults, maybe this isn't your class of car to begin with. The ATS is a retort to big-car-itus.
I also warmed up to the CUE interface. Yes, it's totally fair to say that BMW's iDrive or Mercedes' COMAND interfaces are easier to operate. But as touchscreen interfaces go, this one's still quite good. It responds quickly to touches and I found the haptic feedback to be useful. This wouldn't be a deal-breaker for me.
One other thing which others can find to be annoying is the vibrating Safety Seat. From my perspective, though, I like the directional aspect to it (the seat side vibrates according to where the issue is). And it can be disabled or adjusted in the settings if you don't like it.
Now, onto things that I did end up not particularly caring for. This might seem odd, but the turbocharged 2.0-liter engine's sound really started to bug me after a while. It sounds very much like what you'd hear from an economy car, which is to say the tone just isn't pleasing during hard acceleration. The power's there, but it doesn't sound happy about making it. Given the sportiness of the car and how frequently other automakers are making efforts to make engines sound cool, this just doesn't fly with me.
I also grew wary of our car's suspension tuning. I know, I know, our ATS is very impressive in terms of handling. But the ride is pretty firm, and for common use I'd prefer to have greater suspension compliance. Eventually, I'd like to try out an ATS without the sport-tuned suspension and adaptive dampers and see what it's like. Or, as an idea to Cadillac's engineers, have our car's normal ride mode be the sport mode and then introduce a softer mode for daily driving.
Reading through previous updates, I found Dan Frio's "A Good Start" resonated with me a lot. There really is a lot to like about the Cadillac ATS, but those "big picture" qualities sort of get damped down by annoying little things. It's trivial, but in this segment the trivial is important.
It'll be interesting to see what Cadillac does with its ATS in the coming couple of years.
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 11,078 miles