2013 Cadillac ATS: All-New Compact Luxury Sedan

January 12, 2012

When Cadillac took the wraps off its all-new compact luxury sedan, the 2013 Cadillac ATS, Sunday night at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show, the occasion signaled game-on for the domestic automaker’s anticipated challenge to the BMW 3 Series and the Mercedes-Benz C Class.

Although this may seem like a lofty goal, General Motors is serious about it. Mark Reuss, president of GM North America, said “To be a real challenger in this segment, we had to create a Cadillac that could meet or beat the best.”

2013 Cadillac ATS

2013 Cadillac ATS

Enlarge Photo

That “best” includes having a strong competitor to the BMW M3. As GM CEO Dan Akerson said, “We have to build” [an M3 fighter]. Although no specifics were released, media speculation is that Cadillac will go with an ATS-V, a 412-horsepower twin-turbo version of the sporty 2013 ATS luxury sedan just revealed.  

While MotorAuthority has more complete details of the 2013 Cadillac ATS direct from the Detroit Auto Show, here we’ll look at some of the highlights of this new compact luxury sedan.


This new compact Cadillac isn’t a copy of anything else currently in the brand’s portfolio, insist GM executives. It does, however, reflect the Cadillac Art & Science design philosophy, albeit with uniqueness embodied in its boldly sculptured lines, strong proportions and details that epitomize elegance. The ATS is about eight inches shorter than the mid-size Cadillac CTS.

Inside, the ATS boasts a driver-focused interior designed, says Cadillac, “for effortless and intuitive performance driving.” Performance seats are available with power-adjustable bolsters for optimal lateral support during cornering.

Speaking of the interior, the ATS offers real wood, plated metal trim plating and carbon fiber trim and Cadillac’s cut-and-sew instrument panel, console and doors.

2013 Cadillac ATS

2013 Cadillac ATS

Enlarge Photo

Models and availability

The five-passenger 2013 Cadillac ATS will be available in Standard, Luxury, Performance and Premium collections. Rear-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive is available. The ATS goes on sale this summer.

Pricing details have not yet been announced.


The engine lineup for the 2013 Cadillac ATS includes two new four-cylinder engines, the 2.5-liter four with an estimated 202 horsepower and the 2.0-liter turbocharged four delivering an estimated 270 horsepower, as well as the 320-horsepower (est.) 3.6-liter V-6. The trio of engines feature direct injection technology and lightweight components.

The 2.0T, developed hand-in-hand with the ATS, will offer a manual transmission, while the 2.5-liter and the 3.6-liter are paired exclusively with a six-speed automatic with tap-shift control. Cadillac says the ATS with standard 2.5-liter engine will deliver peak highway fuel economy of “well above” 30 mpg.

As reported in our sister publication GreenCarReports, Reuss confirmed during the press conference that there will be a diesel variant of the ATS within its first life-cycle.

With a curb weight of less than 3,400 pounds, the ATS is one of the lightest cars in the compact luxury segment. “Low weight helps enable the ATS’s driving experience, making it feel more nimble and controllable,” said Dave Masch, ATS chief engineer. Extensive use of aluminum in the hood, powertrain and suspension, for example, helped minimize overall weight and proved instrumental in favorable power-to-weight ratios contributing to the car’s performance.

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