By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 8/14/2012
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.You'll Like This Car If...
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."You May Not Like This Car If...
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.What's New for 2013
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 It 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.Favorite Features
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.Notable Standard Equipment
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.Under the Hood
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
The 2013 Cadillac ATS goes on sale later this summer with the 2.5-liter Standard model starting at $33,990. Opt for a fully loaded V6 Premium variant with all-wheel drive and that figure can top-out at over $50,000, but you really have to push it. If you're budgeteer insists that you keep your Caddy under $50K, that won't be a problem. When it comes to resale value, Kelley Blue Book expects the ATS to hold its own against Audi and Mercedes-Benz – less so compared to the always strong BMW 3 Series and the Japanese luxury juggernaut. To help make your smartest deal on a new Cadillac ATS and see what others in your area are paying, always check out the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price.