2018 Cadillac ATS

2018 Cadillac ATS Review

It carves corners with more agility and precision than BMW's 3 Series, long the class benchmark.
3.5 star edmunds overall rating
author
by Calvin Kim
Edmunds Editor

With its eye-catching angular sheet metal, the 2018 Cadillac ATS sedan stands out among today's crop of small luxury sedans. These are qualities to be appreciated if you think that most other car makers utilize conservative styling and design to the point of drabness. A light curb weight, a choice of turbocharged four-cylinder and V6 engines, precision handling and even an optional manual transmission give the ATS legitimate performance chops.

The ATS sedan 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 isn't necessarily faster or more efficient than its rivals, which include the Audi A4, BMW 3 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

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

we recommend

Though the entry-level and Luxury ATS 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. Getting this trim's extra safety features is also worthwhile.

trim levels & features

The 2018 Cadillac ATS sedan is offered in four trim levels: base, Luxury, Premium Luxury and Premium Performance.

The 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. The 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 the base trim 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 an 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 10-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 Coupe (3.6L V6 | 8-speed automatic | RWD).

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall3.5 / 5.0

Driving

4.0 / 5.0

Acceleration4.0 / 5.0
Braking5.0 / 5.0
Steering3.0 / 5.0
Handling4.0 / 5.0
Drivability4.0 / 5.0

Comfort

3.0 / 5.0

Seat comfort4.0 / 5.0
Ride comfort3.0 / 5.0
Noise & vibration2.5 / 5.0
Climate control3.5 / 5.0

Interior

2.5 / 5.0

Ease of use2.0 / 5.0
Getting in/getting out3.0 / 5.0
Driving position4.0 / 5.0
Roominess2.5 / 5.0
Visibility2.0 / 5.0
Quality2.5 / 5.0

Utility

3.0 / 5.0

Small-item storage3.0 / 5.0
Cargo space3.0 / 5.0

Technology

3.0 / 5.0

Audio & navigation2.0 / 5.0
Smartphone integration4.0 / 5.0
Voice control3.5 / 5.0

driving

edmunds rating
Luxury sport coupes have long been dominated by BMW and Mercedes. But Cadillac has quietly closed the gap, especially in terms of dynamics. The 3.6-liter ATS Coupe is competitive on the test track and around town compared to rivals, and it isn't even the range-topping version. (That's the ATS-V.)

acceleration

edmunds rating
The ATS can pull hard, or with grace, from a stop, accelerating from 0 to 60 mph in 6 seconds. Thrust tapers off somewhat at this point, but its passing power is plentiful. The tires will light up if provoked. The optional sport exhaust gives the ATS a bit more credit under a full load than it deserves.

braking

edmunds rating
Consider the $1,200 Slotted Rotor and Performance Brake Pad package, which feel and perform like sports car brakes with good initial bite and heat resistance for consistency. Yet they remain mild-mannered for city life, not too grabby and requiring little effort. Stops from 60 mph in 109 feet.

steering

edmunds rating
Steering is on the heavy and vague side in routine driving. It's accurate and responds quickly without being darty. Sport mode adds heft but no better sense of what the tires are up to. The finish on the wheel itself is too smooth and slides through hands a bit more easily than we'd like.

handling

edmunds rating
It's well-balanced and nimble on the road or track. On the skidpad, the chassis is neutral and can be steered with the throttle only. Trustworthy, predictable and controllable. Competitive mode loosens the electronic stability control, translating to confidence during hard driving.

drivability

edmunds rating
The ATS is easy to pilot around town. The automatic transmission shifts smoothly in most cases, though gear changes come a bit slower than expected in manual mode. Auto stop-start is noticeable but not too abrupt. A tight turning circle and small proportions make for favorable city driving.

comfort

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

seat comfort

edmunds rating
At first, the driver's seat is firm, bordering on uncomfortable. After a while, its stiffness grew unexpectedly supportive. The side bolsters on the seat bottom are wide and accommodating. The adjustable torso supports are small and can be pesty on canyon roads. The rear buckets require short legs.

ride comfort

edmunds rating
This is a firm sports-car 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-tuned rides share these qualities, so its ride is not a deal-breaker off the bat.

noise & vibration

edmunds rating
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 the engine do contribute.

climate control

edmunds rating
The soft-touch buttons make for climate controls that definitely aren't as easy to use as others. But once it's engaged, the dual-zone system works well enough that you can set the temperature and forget about it. Both front seats are heated.

interior

edmunds rating
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 this side of grade school.

ease of use

edmunds rating
Everything the driver needs to access is placed logically and easily reached. The major concerns are the center stack controls. They're 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.

getting in/getting out

edmunds rating
The doors open wide, enhancing front-seat access. The automatic seat controls operate commendably 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 scoot their seats forward. Not the best in its class.

driving position

edmunds rating
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.

roominess

edmunds rating
Much like competitive two-door coupes, the ATS can't be considered roomy. The interior dimensions are sporty-snug for all passengers. Up front you'll be rubbing elbows. Still there is room enough for a 6-footer to fit with minimal compromise. Back seats are best for kids and people you don't like.

visibility

edmunds rating
The sideview mirrors are very narrow. They are arguably too small, though we were able to find a position to provide adequate visibility. Otherwise sightlines are clear to the front and the sides, but a bit limited to the rear due to the high parcel shelf. The standard rearview camera helps.

quality

edmunds rating
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 the slippery steering wheel would help a lot.

utility

edmunds rating
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 storage

edmunds rating
Door pockets, cupholders and the center armrest bin are smaller than some others in this class. A secret smartphone bin with its own USB port is hidden behind the climate control panel. But this feels more gimmicky than useful.

cargo space

edmunds rating
The trunk space is smaller than average, with only 10.4 cubic feet of capacity, and awkwardly shaped. Its trunk liftover height is on the high side, and the broad rear wheelwells pinch the space, too. There is an average-size pass-through when the rear seatbacks are folded down.

child safety seat accomodation

edmunds rating
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 upon the type of seat. Generally speaking, it is no worse than any other coupe in the segment.

technology

edmunds rating
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 and a Wi-Fi hotspot are standard.

audio & navigation

edmunds rating
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. Functionally, however, the need to look away from the road to distinguish between one soft-touch slider and the next is problematic.

smartphone integration

edmunds rating
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/Android Auto are now standard and are far easier to use.

voice control

edmunds rating
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.