By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.8
The 2014 Cadillac ATS is a red-blooded American sports sedan with a distinctly Cadillac look. It stands out in the crowd, its handling characteristics were developed on some of the world's toughest tracks, it offers powerful 4-cylinder and V6 engines, and includes Cadillac's exquisite CUE infotainment system. With rear-wheel drive (RWD) or all-wheel drive (AWD), the ATS is going after the market that's been dominated by such gems as the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4, Mercedes-Benz C-Class and Infiniti G (now Q for 2014) sedans. There's a new player in town, and it's a Cadillac. That's why we named the ATS one of the 10 Best Luxury Cars Under $40,000 for 2014.
The Cadillac ATS is a first: an entry-luxury sports sedan with rear-wheel drive and great performance from an American manufacturer. If that appeals to you, head down to the local Cadillac store and give it a try.
Here's a reason not to at least give the 2014 ATS some consideration: It lacks a BMW emblem. It's the newest entrant in the field, and you may want one of the recognizable standards.
Introduced just last year, the Cadillac ATS has few changes for 2014: Intellibeam automatic high-beam control is added to a couple of packages, some models get a 110-volt outlet, a larger-diameter leather-wrapped steering wheel is included with paddle shifters, plus a few new colors and a new assortment of dealer-available accessories.
Driving Impressions Three distinct personalities can be assigned to the 2014 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 for the enthusiastic driver. At the high-performance end is the 3.6-liter V6 and its 321-horsepower contribution 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 the enthusiast that lurks in many of us, we recommend the 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder – with the 6-speed automatic if you must, but with the available 6-speed manual transmission if you want to give BMW's 328i sedan a run for pavement glory. The 272-horsepower 2.0-liter delivers determined acceleration and legitimate lightweight sports-sedan handling, aided in no small measure 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. We bet you've never driven an American production 4-door sedan that worked as sweet as this.
FIRST-CLASS HANDLING DYNAMICS
This is the entire premise behind the ATS: Can an American manufacturer build a sports sedan that matches up to the best of the fabled European and ascending Japanese models? The answer is yes. The ATS is proof. That's why it exists. Point made.
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 and leatherette trims set off with plated-metal and carbon-fiber accents, the Cadillac ATS features a wraparound dash, driver-centric controls, LED gauges and subtle ambient lighting. While in no danger of putting Audi out of business, the ATS cabin is much more elegant than might be expected, which is a very good sign in a luxury-car interior. Front-seat legroom is adult-sized, but headroom can get cramped with the sunroof. In classic compact-sedan fashion, rear legroom can be described as iffy, but not excruciatingly so.Exterior
Boldly angular bodywork set off with Cadillac's signature LED-infused vertical lighting elements gives the ATS an aggressive edge. Posed curbside, the sedan shows a confident, well-planted stance. Standard 17-inch alloy wheels and optional 18-inch upgrades add even more visual intensity to the mix. It looks pretty snappy from any angle.
The standard equipment content on the 2014 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 included as standard on Premium models.
As with 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 comprehensive array of safety-oriented features, including Full-Speed Range Adaptive Cruise Control, Adaptive Forward Lighting, Lane Departure Warning, Side Blind Zone Alert and Brake Pre-Fill Automatic Collision Preparation.
The 2014 Cadillac ATS offers three different engines, with the Standard trim models getting a 202-horsepower 2.5-liter 4-cylinder. The Turbo versions have the impressive 272-horsepower turbocharged four. The top-line models get a 321-horsepower V6. Except 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: 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: 21/31 mpg (automatic, RWD), 20/29 (AWD, automatic), 19/30 (RWD, manual)
321 horsepower @ 6,800 rpm
275 lb-ft of torque @ 4,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/28 mpg (RWD), 18/26 (AWD)
The 2014 Cadillac ATS has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the 2.5-liter Standard model starting at around $34,000. Opt for a fully-loaded V6 Premium variant with all-wheel drive and that figure can top-out at over $50,000, but you'll be checking off just about everything on the options list. If your budget 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, but to do less well compared to the always-strong BMW 3 Series and various Japanese entrants from Infiniti, Lexus and Acura. 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.
By PJW on Sunday, February 23, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 1,800overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Design. Cost, Quailty, Horsepower, Ride, Gadgets."
Cons: "Small backseats (same with all in class)."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I owned a used CTS for years and loved it. Looked at BMW, Mercedes, Audi, Lexus etc. The ATS is the clear winner. Better ride. Better engine (V-6 in mine). Better design. Better quality Less cost. The 321 Horsepower V-6 is almost scary off the line but the AWD and traction control keep it under control. The only negatives on this car are the smaller backseat, but that is true for all the other similar cars. The trunk is smaller but very functional."
4 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By MP on Thursday, February 06, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 3,800overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "A blast to drive!"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This is my first Cadillac but it won't be my last. The handling is supreme and the 2.0 Turbo is lightening fast off the line. This car corners like it's on rails and the Brembo brakes are simply the best. I feel spoiled every time I get in....this is simply a beautiful car. The CUE system is the easiest and most user friendly system I have ever seen. Anyone who doesn't think so just doesn't know how to use it. And, last but not least, the price is excellent. Buy this one with no regrets!"
7 people out of 9 found this review helpful
By m555Sheridan on Thursday, January 02, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 13,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "handling, power, finish, braking"
Cons: "stiff ride; CUE, tires"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"quiet, plush interior. with 18" wheels (standard with premium trim) there's not much rubber between the chassis and road--expect to feel every little bump. handling is sublime. looking forward to hitting the pacific coast highway! it's a low-rider...good exercise for me (6'4") getting in and out of the vehicle. once in, somewhat snug sideways but very comfortable--plenty of head (without sunroof) and legroom for tall folks. fitting things in the glove compartment can be tricky if the (optional with lower trim) CD player is installed. it doesn't consume that much (of the already limited) volume but projects into space needed for arranging items. I have only a handgun and two cases for eyeglasses and I frequently have to rearrange them to get the door to close. I'm going to have the CD player removed. rear seats are suitable only for two short adults. fit and finish are superb. CUE cannot deal with even simple directory structures when reading solid-state media (unlike my $7 mp3 player!) or CD's. While this is no big deal per se, figuring it out has taken months of experimenting and working with the dealer...ridiculous! Caddy should at least inform owners (and dealers) of these kinds of limitations. This issue is not addressed in 2014 CUE. For music files on SD, USB, or CD, to be safe put individual files in the root directory, no subdirectories (folders). CUE does a fine--although slow--job of organizing the files if the mp3 tag data are present. The resource-intensive user interface plus so much unutilized potential puts CUE years behind today's standards. It's baffling and annoying, for another example, that date and time have to be manually set on a GPS-equipped vehicle. Cue on the whole is a little scary for me. It's distracting to do even simple things--I have to meticulously discipline myself to keep my attention on traffic while fiddling with it. After a few close calls I now just pull over to do most things rather than risk an accident. As of today I wouldn't buy another vehicle that is (2013-14) CUE equipped. I have not yet learned to fully utilize the voice capabilities of CUE (they are good except a little slow, and spotty when road-noise levels are high) and this could mitigate some of my issues. The rear tires that came on the vehicle--Bridgestone POTENZA RE050A 255/35RF18--were almost bald at 12K miles. I understand the ATS is intended to be sporty but...crikey! front and rear tires are different size--no full rotations. of course, no spare tire (a worrisome item for me). rain sensing wipers are a waste of effort. they frequently activate when it's bone dry and sometimes fail to activate when it's sprinkling. the ride is so low that the front end often doesn't clear the concrete stops in parking lots. one learns to stop a little short of them. I routinely get 28+ mpg at 75-80 mph and 24-25 overall mpg (rear-wheel drive). the few flaws in this vehicle have simple solutions. hopefully caddy will step up. overall, the more I drive the car, the more I like it. it is a very civilized ride while fast and sporty enough when needed."
6 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By honest john on Monday, December 30, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 9,500overall rating 3 of 10rating details
Cons: "see below"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"2.5L engine runs surprisingly effortlessly at speed but comes nowhere near 34mpg, gets 29 in flat Fla. Handling is great but road noise TERRIBLE. Ride stiff in any mode. Radio, A/C controls, etc are ridiculously overcomplicated and non-intuitive. The salesman didn't know how to use them. Would be better off with twist or slide levers. Touch the panel anywhere and settings change and leave fingerprints. My radar detector cord changes settings. Prefer my 97 cargo van for its more luxurious ride and lack of road noise!"
4 people out of 11 found this review helpful
By KarenB on Monday, September 30, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 8,700overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "FUN TO DRIVE"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This is my first Cadillac and I can honestly say this is a World Class Vehicle. It is fun to drive, has safety features on it that are not even available on a comparable Audi, Mercedes C class or BMW 3 series. The safety alert seats has already saved me from an accident. The CUE technology is awesome. The natural voice recognition works great; I love the 3D navigation map and the bluetooth technology. I love the way the outside lites up when I unlock it. With the Brembo brakes and the coating on the brakes, I get no brake dust on my wheels. This is a Turbo and premium fuel is only recommended so I use regular fuel. It only affect my MPG by 1 mile (I get 24 city/30 hwy); I get no hesitation, no sputtering...just a great driving car. I would recommend this car to anyone!"
22 people out of 26 found this review helpful
By Micaamry on Monday, May 20, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 1,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Style, drive performance, overall value"
Cons: "iPhone integration and trunk space"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"After doing research and analysis on over 10 different cars in this division (incldg BMW 3; Lincoln MKZ; Lexus ES350; Audi A4; Mercedes C-Class, Infinity G37 and the new Q50, Acura TL, etc.) I choose the ATS. In fact, when I began looking I wasn't even considering a Cadillac. However, once I saw it and once I drove it I was sold. Very stylish both inside and out. Strong technology. However what really sold me was the drive. The ATS 2.0T Premium model performed very well. I compared the drive to my 2006 Infiniti G35...but with a little less horsepower. The ATS is a very nice car...I love driving it! My two minor complaints are that accessing the music on your iPhone is not easy (I use a seperate iPod now) and the trunk could be a little larger. Other than that...it's GREAT!"
31 people out of 42 found this review helpful