History tells us that Cadillac should stay away from small cars. If you need proof of that, think Cimarron and Catera, two failures that come from Cadillac. History will not repeat itself this time, and I have to say congratulations to Cadillac designers for the job they did with the 2013 Cadillac ATS.
At a glance, I thought General Motors sent me a CTS, a car I really love. ATS shares many of the same lines and bold styling as the CTS, but shrunk. Although smaller, ATS doesn’t look nearly as compact as it is, and it sure doesn’t drive small. It is rear-wheel drive which accentuates the feel of a true sports sedan.
My tester has the 272-horse 2.0-liter 4-cylinder turbo engine and a six-speed automatic transmission. There are two other available engines, a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder that is not turbo charged, and a 321-horse V6. I have not driven the 6-cylinder yet, but the base 4-cylinder was a bit anemic in a short spin I took in one. It would seem to me this turbo 4-cylinder is a terrific combination of more than ample power combined with impressive fuel economy.
As I have been saying on the radio for a few years now, small cars no longer mean you have to settle for a cheap, stripped down car, and the ATS makes my case perfectly. The interior of the ATS is luxurious and comfortable. Rich accents inside the car make you stop and take a hard look at everything the minute you open the door.
The ATS presents a very balanced ride and drive. Hit a pothole and you’ll hardly notice. Throw the car into a hard curve, it handles it effortlessly. The steering feels great, and the car has a very strong mid-range punch due to the turbocharged engine. It is truly hard to imagine this is a compact Cadillac instead of a BMW 3-Series.
While they cut the weight way down on the ATS, they didn’t scrimp on safety features or creature comforts. My test Caddy has terrific touchscreen navigation system that features the CUE system. CUE has a fully capacitive touch screen—much like the one in the iPad. CUE can do a number of things like read text messages to the driver or send pre-formatted text replies. It utilizes a next-generation version of voice-recognition software from Nuance, installed and processed onboard rather than relying on a network/data connection. It works flawlessly.
ATS comes loaded with some great features like keyless entry, pushbutton remote start, Bluetooth, heated seats and steering wheel, rearview camera, and an advanced security system. This car has 18” machined wheels, and there is a $995 charge for the Crystal Red paint. Everything is easy to operate from the driver’s seat, and the way Cadillac configured the dash, you get an outstanding view of the road ahead. ATS is also super quiet inside.
If there is a downside to downsizing, the ATS is going to be tight fit for people over 6’ tall, and the trunk space and backseat legroom is limited. These are things to pay attention to if this car is of interest to you.
If you are interested in a compact luxury sports sedan, and plan to look at the BMW 3, Mercedes C-Class, or even the Infiniti G37, do yourself a favor and put the ATS on your list too, you won’t regret it.
What I liked most: Ride and handling, exterior looks, standard features.
What I would change: Would love to see at least a 7-speed automatic.
MSRP: $46,375 as equipped.
Fuel Economy: Rated at 21 in town, 31 highway and 24 overall.
Warranty: 4 years/50,000 mile bumper to bumper INCLUDING full maintenance, 6 year/70,000 mile powertrain and roadside assistance.
2013 Cadillac ATS in a few words: A true 3-Series fighter from Michigan.