2013 Cadillac ATS Chicagoland Review By Larry Nutson

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2013 Cadillac ATS

2013 Cadillac ATS
A new player in the sports sedan game

By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor, Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel

The rear-wheel-drive 2013 Cadillac ATS is an all-new, 5-seat, compact-luxury sport sedan that is new to the Cadillac brand and new to the U.S. automotive marketplace. The ATS doesn’t replace anything in the Cadillac line-up. It was designed from a clean sheet and is intended to bring Cadillac some younger but still affluent buyers not only here in the U.S. but globally.

The target competitor benchmark was the BMW 3 series. Need I say more.

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The 2013 Cadillac ATS is offered in 16 trim levels (see all below review); three engine choices…two different 4-cylinders, one of which can be had with a manual transmission, and a V6…either rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, and four trim-levels with prices starting at $33,990. So yes, there is no V8. I’ve never driven a 4-cylinder Cadillac and that is probably a good thing. But knowing what engine technology can deliver today, I was definitely interested to drive this new baby from Caddy.

The ATS is offered in a standard model and in Luxury, Performance and Premium Collection models. The engine lineup starts with a standard 202HP 2.5L four-cylinder, and a 272HP 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder and 321HP 3.6L V-6 are available. The 2.5L engine only comes in rear wheel drive and in standard or Luxury trim and the V6 is not offered in standard trim.

The 2.5L Luxury Collection ATS that I lived with for a week certainly proved satisfactory from an overall exterior and interior design as well as interior comfort standpoint. This engine coupled to the six-speed automatic has the best ATS EPA fuel economy ratings at 26mpg combined with 22mpg city and 33mpg highway. EPA numbers drop off with the other two engines and with AWD. This Luxury Collection model had a base of $37,590 and when you add in the Cadillac User Experience (CUE) & Navigation option plus Cold Weather Package and the Special Thunder Gray Chromaflair paint the price ran right up to $41,375.

The 202 horses coming from the engine did an alright job of moving the ATS around the local city streets and nearby Chicagoland expressways. I didn’t find myself feeling in the lurch although performance is a bit lackluster. I was left a little flat with the engine sound, not that it was bad, but just that it didn’t match the expectations in my head for a Cadillac. I would really like to drive the 2.0L Turbo back-to-back with the 2.5L to see if I still felt the same.

I wondered what percentage of all ATS sales will be with the 2.5-liter engine. GM like most all car companies doesn’t usually provide sales volume projections nor model-mix sales information. “Price leaders” don’t just exist in the lower priced car segments. In the Chicago Tribune the ATS with 2.5-liter is advertised for zero down and $299 a month on a 36 month lease at 10,000 miles per year. If I was shopping an ATS I would want to test drive all three engines.

The 2.0L Turbo starts at $35,795 in the standard model with rear drive. The V6 starts at $42,090 in the Luxury Collection model. All-wheel drive adds $2000 more with either of these engines. The Tremec 6-speed with the 2.0L Turbo comes with an $1180 credit.

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The long wheelbase, relatively speaking, coupled with the wide track, short overhangs and overall length just a shade under 183 inches made for a comfortable ride coupled with easy maneuvering and parking in crowded city streets. Driver and front seat passenger have plenty of room with good support from the seats. The rear seat has plenty of headroom but I found it a little tight around he knees. The trunk is a bit small at 10.2cuft and the 16 gallon fuel tank is good for an all day road trip.

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The CUE…Cadillac User Experience…is for control of audio, heating and cooling, navigation and connectivity. An 8-inch LCD multi-touch screen at the top of the center instrument panel looks like a smart phone and below is a faceplate using capacitive touch technology. The system is a quick study to use but does pull your eyes from the road. It’s also a bit slow and requires a few too many steps. I’d prefer a couple of good old knobs. Also, I didn’t like the fact that it gets full of fingerprints that are especially noticeable in bright sun. A small cloth should come with the ATS to wipe it clean frequently.

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Cadillac touts the ATS’s 50/50 weight distribution, low curb weight of around 3400 lb. coming from the use of aluminum and magnesium, and the long list of safety equipment that we all look for today including rearview camera and radar based technology for adaptive cruise control, intelligent brake assist, forward collision alert and rear cross traffic and side blind zone alert. The more and more popular Brembo front brakes can be had too. All good stuff.

Noteworthy is that Esquire Magazine named the 2013 Cadillac ATS its Car of the Year.

Larry Nutson

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