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 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 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 (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): 21/31 mpg (automatic, RWD), 20/30 (AWD, automatic), 19/30 (RWD, manual)
321 horsepower @ 6,800 rpm
275 lb-ft of torque @ 4,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy (estimated): 19/28 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 KarenB (FL) 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!"
10 people out of 12 found this review helpful
By Micaamry (CA) 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!"
20 people out of 23 found this review helpful
By ngpetersen3 (OR) on Saturday, April 06, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 1,200overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "fun to drive, looks great, great value"
Cons: "clumsy infotainment (CUE)"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I purchased the base 2.5 recently and am nothing short of thrilled with my new ATS! It fits my family of 5 better than my previous ford did. Kids say back seat is much roomier and comfier. It handles superbly and so much fun to drive. It looks great inside and out and offers great features at the base level. I did some some comparison shopping and for the same amount of money with similar options, I could have purchased a Ford Taurus, Kia Optima, or Hyundai Azera. I'll take the Caddy thanks! Plus, none of those guys will pay for my maintenance for 4 years/ 50k like Cadillac does. My only complaint is with the CUE. I had SYNC in my ford and I have to say that was a little better for hands free calling than the Cadillac. I am used hitting a phone button, then a voice button and saying the name from my contacts in my phone. In the Cadillac I have to use the voice system to activate the dialing feature, then speak the number I want to dial (for some reason it wont recognize the namers from contacts). All in all, a total score for the price!"
13 people out of 15 found this review helpful
By K.D. (IL) on Saturday, March 30, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 1,000overall rating 6 of 10rating details
Pros: "attractive fun to drive"
Cons: "TERRIBLE MPG AND POOR RADIO SOUND"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 6
"Ihave had this car for 2 months Im only getting 16 MPG combined dealer says its all working in specs. Hyundai WAS SUED FOR FALSE EPA MPG and they are now paying $$ to owners . I suspect Cadillac will also end up in a class action suit on false MPG numbers on the ATS TURBO I love the looks and drive of car but the mpg and radio sound quality really are disappointing ."
12 people out of 20 found this review helpful
By cliff (OH) on Wednesday, February 27, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 1,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "over all great car"
Cons: "small back seating rarely used"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"drove many cars before the ats ! went back to it because it had it all! looks styling performance! nissan toyota honda no stones !dogs! even v6 verisons!and no awd sedans where offered !go drive one today ! cady is back!"
6 people out of 11 found this review helpful
By Pghgator (FL) on Tuesday, December 25, 2012
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 85overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Best Value in its Class"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"First let me say, I own a MB C300 and have owned a Lexus IS, and BMW 5 Series. Previously I would have NEVER considered this car. I researched the BMW 1's &3's, Audi A4, and MB C300 and found this car to offer more for the money. Finally Cadillac has what I believe a car to be superior to those above. I'm still not a fan of the hard angle exterior, but the interior treatments match and IMO are better than the competition. I believe you will find the same things I found. I purchased the entry level model as it is for my wife's commute. I would have purchased the Luxury line, but she was satisfied with the entry level and the price was right. The base engine is sufficient, but not impressive. I'd recommend you test drive the turbo and decide for yourself. We both love the car and it is expected to hold its value to match the imports. T me, this purchase is a no brainer and as someone who has owned nearly every German made vehicle, this one has me sold"
31 people out of 33 found this review helpful