- Powerful, fun turbocharged four and V-6 engines
- Balanced, crisp handling
- Intelligent interior design
- CUE's step-ahead infotainment
- Somewhat snug back seat
- Small trunk
- Less distinctive than some previous Cadillac design efforts
The 2014 Cadillac ATS puts the Germans on notice in handling and performance, while hitting high marks in quality and comfort, too.
The 2014 Cadillac ATS is a relative newcomer on the market; but that's not the only reason why it manages to stand out. Among compact sport sedans, the ATS has come closest to unseating the Germans, and particularly the benchmark BMW 3-Series.
With brilliant handling, excellent cabin quality, and plenty of high-tech gadgetry, the 3-Series' position as the de facto leader is in jeopardy. That's not to say that other cars, including the Mercedes-Benz C Class, Audi A4, and Infiniti Q50, aren't also making their own leaps forward.
The exterior of the 2014 Cadillac ATS is striking but not controversial, as it blends modern Cadillac design with a wider-spectrum appeal. Inside, it's more of the same, with crisp lines and sleek curves meeting quality materials in a self-assured, modern environment.
A trio of engines is available in the ATS: a base four-cylinder, an upgrade to a 272-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder, or a smooth 321-horsepower V-6. A Tremec six-speed manual transmission is available, pairing nicely with the turbocharged four-cylinder for enthusiast corner carving duties; a six-speed automatic finds better companionship with the powerful V-6. There's no ultra-performance version offered yet, and accordingly no V-8 engine, but the ATS' combination of lithe dynamics and punchy four- and six-cylinders displays a balance you might not expect of an American car.
Wood, leather, and metal adorn the interior, with a choice of trims and accents, including optional carbon fiber pieces. Sport bucket seats in the front grip the occupants, especially the upgraded performance seats; space is good in the front, too, with width and depth even for the long-legged. The rear seat is a bit tighter, but still quite good for its segment. Dotted around the cabin are numerous small-item storage bins, including one smartly concealed behind the CUE infotainment screen.
As you'd expect of any 2014-model car, the Cadillac ATS includes a full complement of airbags, numbering eight in total, including front knee air bags, plus an option for rear side air bags. The NHTSA grants the ATS a five-star overall rating. Safety tech includes an available lane-departure warning system, adaptive cruise control, and a rearview camera.
Standard Bluetooth, Bose audio, climate control, and power accessories can be built upon with a navigation system, full-leather interior, and expanded media connectivity including SD, USB, and Bluetooth audio streaming. The CUE system which drives the Cadillac infotainment experience is still new, and quite advanced, with its unique combination of capacitive touch and haptic feedback setting it apart from other luxury alternatives.
Priced competitively, the ATS spans a range from the lower $30,000s to the lower $40,000s in base price, depending on the engine chosen. Future additions expected for the ATS range include a coupe and possibly a high-performance V-series variant.