New & Used Cadillac ATS: In Depth
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The Cadillac ATS is the new entry-level vehicle in GM's luxury lineup. Launched as a compact four-door sedan in 2013, the ATS lineup acquired a second model, the ATS Coupe, for the 2015 model year.
With brilliant handling and a good selection of features and powertrains, the ATS is a true rival for vehicles like the Audi A4, BMW 3-Series, Infiniti Q50, Lexus IS, and Mercedes-Benz C-Class.
The ATS rides on a new platform that will eventually spin off a replacement for the Chevy Camaro. In this iteration, the ATS sedan comes in rear- or all-wheel-drive form. The base powerplant is a 2.5-liter direct-injection four-cylinder with 202 horsepower and 191 pound-feet of torque; a turbocharged version of this engine is rated at 272 hp and, at launch, had 260 lb-ft of torque. The top engine choice is GM's 3.6-liter direct-injection V-6, rated at 318 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque.
Six-speed manual and automatic transmissions are available. Cadillac says the base model will deliver fuel economy of 22/32 mpg, and 0-60 mph times of 7.5 seconds. It's pegging the same fuel economy for its turbo four, while 0-60 mph times drop to 5.7 seconds; for the 321-hp V-6, 60 mph arrives in 5.4 seconds, and gas mileage should check in at 19/28 mpg. In part, the strong fuel economy and acceleration figures are due to the ATS' relatively light curb weight of 3,400 pounds. The suspension is fully independent, and the ATS' weight is balanced at 50:50, and handling is not just on par with its primary German competition--we think it's superior in many ways.
Like the large XTS sedan that was introduced for the 2013 model year, the ATS features Cadillac's new CUE infotainment system. CUE uses an 8-inch capacitive touchscreen on the dash and a 5.7-inch reconfigurable screen on the gauge cluster to control everything from navigation and audio, to climate control and vehicle settings. Like Ford's MyFord Touch, CUE can be operated by voice commands as well. The instrument panel also has touch-sensitive buttons that can control main audio and climate control functions quickly. It's a controversial setup that has its glaring flaws and technical hiccups.
The ATS backs up the in-cabin tech with a myriad of safety features including eight standard airbags and StabiliTrak. The IIHS hasn't yet rated the ATS--but the NHTSA gives the new luxury sedan five stars overall, an excellent score for a compact sedan. Optional technology includes full-speed, range-adaptive cruise control, Intelligent brake assist, brake pre-fill automatic collision preparation, and much more. With all this optional technology available, Cadillac is not only looking towards the technology and driving-enthusiast crowd, but the safety-conscious crowd as well.
For the 2015 model year, the ATS family gains a two-door coupe, which adopts either the turbo four or six-cylinder engines. Both six-speed manual and six-speed automatic transmissions are available, and both sedan and coupe are available with either rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.
Also for the 2015 model year, the four-cylinder turbo gets a significant upgrade to 295 pound-feet of torque—an increase of 14 percent; horsepower remains constant at 272 hp.
On the feature sheet, the ATS starts out well in base form, with a host of available upgrades to take the sedan or coupe well into high-tech luxury territory. Navigation; expanded media connectivity including USB, SD and Bluetooth audio streaming; wireless phone charging; WiFi hotspot; CUE infotainment; all of these and more can be had in the 2015 ATS.
Cadillac still hasn’t trotted out the details on the truly high-performance ATS-V variants, but we know they’re on the way.