By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.9
Cadillac's all-new compact luxury sport sedan, the 2013 ATS, puts its own spin on the division's sharp-edged design philosophy. The new ATS trumpets bold looks, handling dynamics tuned on Germany's famed Nürburgring circuit, the choice of 4- or 6-cylinder power, and all of Cadillac's latest technology, including the new CUE infotainment interface. This rear-drive/all-wheel-drive 4-door has its sights set on bettering the best from Europe and Japan, including the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 and Infiniti G sedans.
The Cadillac ATS is something we haven't seen in a while: an entry-level luxury sedan with standard rear-wheel drive from an American automaker. The 2013 ATS is meant to challenge rivals like the BMW 3 Series, as well as the notion that Cadillacs must be large and piloted by drivers who "look good for their age."
If you want an immediately recognizable compact luxury sedan whose purchase requires little to no explaining to friends, you might want to stick with a BMW 3 Series. As the new kid on the block, the ATS will have to prove itself against more established entries and win over the competition from Germany and Japan.
Cadillac steps back into the compact-sedan arena for the first time in 20 years with a premium-grade offering that's all-new and fully qualified to take on the world's best sport/luxury starter sedans.
Driving Impressions Three distinct personalities can be assigned to the 2013 Cadillac ATS, and each is determined by one of the three available ATS engines. At the practical level, the 2.5-liter 4-cylinder...powerplant gets the job done with 202 horsepower and a 6-speed automatic transmission, but isn't interested in putting in overtime. At the Euro end of the ATS equation comes the 3.6-liter V6 and its 321-horsepower valentine to autobahns and boulevard cruising. The V6 power makes the 6-speed automatic's job easy, but that's not the combination we'd recommend – even if you can afford it. For you, we've picked out the 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder – with the 6-speed automatic if you want it, but with the available 6-speed manual transmission if you want to give BMW's sweet, new BMW 328i sedan a run for its (or rather, your) money. The 272-horsepower 2.0-liter rewards calling your own gear-shots with bullet-feel acceleration and legit lightweight sports sedan handling, a truth aided measurably by the available FE3 suspension with "Magnetic Ride Control", a term that did not strike us in the least as an overstatement either on the road or at the track.
CUE AUDIO/PHONE/NAVIGATION SYSTEM
If you own an iPhone or an Android, you can learn the ins and outs of this in-car entertainment and communications system in seconds. Even better: If you're not living in a smartphone-centric universe, the touch-screen-based CUE system uses the same intuitive logic that's making Apple gazillions.
2.0-LITER TURBOCHARGED ENGINE
If we could convince you of only one thing in this entire review, it would be to at least try out an ATS with the 2.0-liter engine. This is an easy-to-drive engine with class-leading power and class-comparable fuel economy.
Offering a well-finished assortment of real wood and supple leather/leatherette trims set off with plated-metal and carbon fiber accents, the new Cadillac ATS features a wraparound dash, driver-centric controls and LED gauges, and subtle ambient lighting. While in no danger of putting Audi out of business, the ATS cabin feels a breath or two more elegant than expected, which is a very good sign in a luxury car interior. Front-seat legroom is adult-sized, but the ceiling can get cramped if you get the sunroof. In classic compact sedan fashion, rear legroom can be precisely described as iffy, but not scandalously so.Exterior
Boldly angular bodywork set off with Cadillac's signature LED-infused vertical lighting elements gives the new ATS an aggressive edge. Posed curbside, the sedan is endowed with a confident, well-planted stance. Standard 17-inch alloy wheels and optional 18-inch upgrades add even more visual intensity to the mix.
The feature set on the 2013 Cadillac ATS expands as you move from the base (Standard) model up through the Luxury, Performance and Premium grades, but even the Standard ATS comes with a full range of attractions. Want the easy life? Power-assist everything, dual-zone automatic climate control, 7-speaker Bose audio, and Bluetooth hands-free connectivity are all yours. Want peace of mind? Eight airbags and Front and Rear Automatic Braking that can prevent low-speed impacts are looking out for you. The magical Cadillac CUE infotainment interface and Bose Cabin Surround sound system adorn higher-grade ATS versions, with navigation coming standard on Premium models.
Like the standard features, available extras for the ATS are somewhat trim-grade dependent. Beyond available all-wheel drive and a 6-speed manual transmission on the rear-drive 2.0-liter turbo model, key ATS upgrades include a ton of make-me-safer features with vaguely descriptive names like Full-Speed Range Adaptive Cruise Control, Adaptive Forward Lighting, Lane Departure Warning, Side Blind Zone Alert, and Brake Pre-Fill Automatic Collision Preparation.
The 2013 Cadillac ATS offers three different engines with the Standard trim models getting a 202-horsepower 2.5-liter 4-cylinder. All Turbo versions will be fitted with a 272-horsepower turbocharged four. The top-line models get a 321-horsepower V6. Save for the rear-drive ATS turbo that will be available with a 6-speed manual transmission, all other versions of the Cadillac ATS will come with a standard 6-speed automatic.
202 horsepower @ 6,300 rpm
191 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy (estimated): 22/33 mpg
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4
272 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
260 lb-ft of torque @ 1,700-5,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy (estimated): 22/32 mpg
321 horsepower @ 6,800 rpm
275 lb-ft of torque @ 4,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy (estimated): 19/28 mpg
By Bob on Tuesday, March 24, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 3,280overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Handling looks 3.6 power stereo fit and finish"
Cons: "tight back seat in the coupe rough idle 3.6 paint"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"I am very surprised at the fit and finish, handling, size and style. Handling is first rate. The new 3 series is just not what it used to be and this car had the looks and lease offer for me to give it a try. The 3.6 has power but is no where as smooth as a BMW or Audi. I have owned all German Cars since 1995 and have seen them slip over the years. The only other car I would consider at this time is an Audi S4 or a Mercedes. I am happy with my ATS 3.6. I guess it is the Name Plate that bugs me, it carries a lot of Baggage. Thumbs up!"
1 person out of 2 found this review helpful
By Marine78 on Sunday, March 01, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 15,000overall rating 4 of 10rating details
Pros: "Good looking car"
Cons: "Poor quality and very noisy on the road."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 3
"Car has been to the Dealership 4 times already for a low idle misfire. The dealership and General Motors are telling me it's a low idle roughness inherent to this 2.5 GM engine. Ya Right! You mean General Motors can't build a 4 cylinder engine with a smooth idle. Car stumbles while sitting in traffic and now jumping in and out of gear while drive in the city. Car is biggest piece of junk I've ever owned. Recommend not buying a Cadillac or GM."
6 people out of 16 found this review helpful
By Mike on Saturday, February 21, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 24,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "great handling, outstanding performance, looks nic"
Cons: "options not user friendly"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"very quick/nimble. When I go from my Gran Sport Corvette to ATS doesn't miss a beat. The Priemium model is a great buy, glad I choose this over the CTS."
2 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By Realtor on Thursday, February 12, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 39,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Looks, Power, Handling, Comfort"
Cons: "Small Trunk"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I have owned many "luxury" cars and I all but live in my car with my job, I was hesitant to buy the caddy because it was not your typical higher end car.. I traded my Lexus in for the ATS 3.6 L Performance and have never been happier. This car drives and looks better than the Benz, BMW , Lexus and The Audi I drove... Buy it!! You wont regret it!"
25 people out of 43 found this review helpful
By Aspen on Saturday, January 24, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 3,434overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Some people do not like the CUE system, but it is very similar to an I-pad that you need to get use-to. Also the trunk is small but it is a smaller car. Great handling and pick-up with the 3.6."
29 people out of 57 found this review helpful
By 41melissa on Friday, January 23, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 11,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Interior stylish, comfort, quiet and fun to drive"
Cons: "Very low front end!"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I absolutely love this car! This car is so stylish. Fast when needed! Handles great on turns. Comfort, has all the bells and whistle one would want. Quiet when driving. Only thing is the front end is so low. I wish there was some sort of protection. If you go into a driveway you have to be very careful. It does have the warnings but not coming onto a driveway or slight hill. I just had the Engine Control Module reprogramed and new spark plugs installed do to the recall. Other then that, I give this car excellent rating!!!!"
8 people out of 12 found this review helpful