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.
We leased the ATS because of its great looks but was pleasantly surprised by the excellent ride and handling. I would say the ATS actually drives better than a 3 series BMW. We do not regret leasing this fun to drive car. Only complaint is the rear seat is not designed for large adults and difficult to enter and exit but once you get in it is comfortable enough for moderate trips. Highly recommend. Update 06/20/16: We now have 14,000 miles and the ATS is still better than expected!
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.
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.
Need to drive this ATS on the highway or interstate (not city Streets), before committing to buy or lease. I'ts noisy and a rough ride. Doesn't feel like you are driving a Cadillac. Back seat difficult to enter and too small. Small trunk. Fold down back seats are a good feature.
Cue system for driving directions has frequent errors and does not understand voice commands. We are very sorry that we leased this car. We have had 3 Cadillacs and this one will be our last.