By Matt Degen
KBB Expert Rating: 7.7
In the two short years since its debut, the Cadillac ATS has done what some thought impossible: It proved an American brand can successfully challenge European benchmarks like the BMW 3 Series or Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Not only did Cadillac's compact luxury sedan go toe-to-toe with its German rivals, it attracted young and upwardly mobile buyers to General Motors' luxury nameplate. For 2015, the ATS expands its lineup with a stylish coupe to take on 2-door rivals such as the BMW 4 Series and Audi A5, while also upping its game where technology and power are concerned. The 2015 Cadillac ATS doesn't have the name recognition that competitors have taken decades to establish, but in just about every other regard, it matches or outperforms them.
If you want to stand out with a fresh entrant in the compact luxury sedan or coupe segment, the 2015 Cadillac ATS enables that while still wearing a revered American badge. The ATS also differentiates itself with its angular (some may say edgy) exterior design.
With the sedan off and running, 2015 marks the arrival of the sleek Cadillac ATS Coupe. Across the lineup, ATS models with the turbocharged 4-cylinder get a nearly 14 percent boost in torque to 295 lb-ft. New tech upgrades include wireless phone charging and 4G LTE with Wi-Fi hotspot.
Driving Impressions The 2015 Cadillac ATS has three distinct personalities, each related to your engine choice. At the practical level, the 2.5-liter 4-cylinder in base sedan models gets the job done with...... 202 horsepower, but isn't for the enthusiastic driver. At the high-performance end is the 3.6-liter V6 and its 321 horsepower. The V6 is smooth and has vast power reserves, but it's not necessarily the powerplant we would recommend – even if you can afford it. We instead suggest the 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder, which has a better balance of power and efficiency. Standard in coupes and available in sedans, this engine enables the ATS to sprint from 0-60 mph in the mid-5-second range (just a tick behind V6 models) while offering better fuel economy. Like the other engines, it plays nicely with the standard 6-speed automatic transmission, but if you like a manual gearbox, the one available here is a joy to use. In corners the ATS is lithe, though its steering feel isn't as spot-on as a BMW's.
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. With a 2-door coupe model now in the mix, the ATS lineup is all the more attractive.
2.0-LITER TURBOCHARGED ENGINE
If this review could convince you of only one thing, it should be to at least try out an ATS with the 2.0-liter engine. For the 2015 model year, it's even more impressive with 295 lb-ft of torque – up 35 lb-ft from last year and now 20 more than the larger V6.
Whether in sedan or coupe form, the 2015 ATS has a sophisticated, well-appointed interior. Leather seating is standard in most models, while base trims use the faux "leatherette." Available wood or carbon-fiber trim also make the ATS look and feel the part of a luxury car. Front-seat legroom is adult-sized, but headroom can get cramped with the sunroof. Rear-seat legroom is tight in the 5-passenger sedan, and feels even more so in the 4-passenger coupe. The available CUE touch-screen infotainment center plays a starring role in the center of the dash, but can be frustrating to use, especially when traveling at higher speeds.Exterior
Boldly angular bodywork set off with Cadillac's signature LED-infused vertical lighting elements gives the ATS an edge and clearly identifies it as the midsize Cadillac CTS sedan's younger brother. Posed curbside, Cadillac's compact sports sedan shows a confident, well-planted stance. Standard 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels and optional 18-inch upgrades add even more visual intensity. The 2-door ATS Coupe has the same 109.3-inch wheelbase as the sedan, but is slightly wider, lower and longer. Cadillac says that the only sheet metal shared by the coupe and sedan is the hood. All ATS models feature a new Cadillac crest on the grille. Models labeled ATS4 signify all-wheel drive vs. the standard rear-wheel drive.
Standard equipment on the 2015 Cadillac ATS sedan and coupe expands as you move from the base (Standard) models up through the Luxury, Performance and Premium grades. Spend the least on a Standard edition ATS and you'll still get dual-zone climate control, keyless entry, Bluetooth wireless connectivity, and 7-speaker Bose premium audio with USB/SD/Auxiliary ports (note: If you have big CD collection, a player is optional). Base ATS Coupes include a turbocharged engine, rearview camera, Brembo performance front brakes, and 18-inch wheels. All new ATS models also include a one-year trial of GM's OnStar Directions and Connections Plan with emergency assistance.
Stepping up to a Luxury trim brings leather interior, power front seats and rearview camera, while Performance trims come with the CUE infotainment system, 10-speaker Bose sound and a Driver Awareness Package that includes lane-departure warning and forward-collision alert. Premium trims add navigation, a split-folding rear seat and a head-up display projecting driver information onto the windshield. Other options include blind-spot monitoring, automatic front and rear emergency braking, the DockSpot wireless phone-charging system, and magnetic ride control suspension. Additionally, all-wheel drive is available in lieu of the standard rear-drive for ATS models with the 2.0-liter turbo engine and the V6.
The 2015 Cadillac ATS offers three different engines, with the Standard trim sedan getting a 202-horsepower 2.5-liter 4-cylinder. The Turbo versions have the impressive 272-horsepower turbocharged four, which is the base engine in the new ATS Coupe. Top-line models get a 321-horsepower V6. Except for the rear-wheel drive (RWD) ATS turbo that is available with a 6-speed manual transmission, all other versions of the Cadillac ATS will come with a standard 6-speed automatic. All-wheel drive (AWD) is optional on ATS models with the 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder or the 3.6-liter V6. Unlike some luxury rivals, the Cadillac ATS is happy running on regular unleaded gasoline. Premium grade is recommended for models with the turbocharged 4-cylinder to get the best power output, but it's not required.
202 horsepower @ 6,300 rpm
191 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/33 mpg
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4
272 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
295 lb-ft of torque @ 3,000-4,600 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/30 mpg (automatic, RWD), 20/28 mpg (AWD, automatic), 19/30 mpg (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 mpg (AWD)
The 2015 Cadillac ATS Sedan has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting just over $34,200, while the ATS Coupe, which comes standard with the upgraded turbocharged engine, starts just under $39,000. Like its rivals, the 2015 ATS has a broad price range. Loaded versions can pass the $50,000 mark. Compared to rivals, a base ATS Sedan is in line with the starting prices of the BMW 3 Series, Volvo S60 and Lincoln MKZ, and higher than the new Acura TLX. It starts below the Audi A4, Lexus IS, Infiniti Q50 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Coupe variants slightly undercut the BMW 4 Series and Audi A5. Before buying, check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for Cadillac's compact luxury car. Down the road, the ATS' resale value is expected to be in line with the 3 Series and A4 but trail that of the Lexus IS.
By KMKF on Friday, November 07, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 17,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great Performance, High End Features, Design"
Cons: "CUE system is slow"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I have waited for a long time for GM to finally listen to consumers. As a sports car lover I enjoy a driver's car. A car that has performance and feedback. GM has built too many cars that lacked this that were not Corvettes or Camaro/Firebirds. As I have gotten older, and started a family, driving one of those daily isn't an option and forking over $75K for a CTV-V isn't either. Meet the ATS, enough power to be interesting, a great suspension, light weight, and well appointed. Finally GM has something that can compete with BMW and Mercedes who understood what the consumer in the niche wanted all along. Anyone who needs 4 doors, but enjoys a sporty performance car, owes it to themselves to drive an ATS. It's not your grandpa's Cadillac. This is a true performance sedan. Just for the record, I did trade in my BMW 3series for this car. Now that the coupe is out, I would love to see a convertible and a V model to round out the offering."
14 people out of 27 found this review helpful
By C Rodgers on Friday, October 03, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 11,570overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Just an outstanding value, fun to drive"
Cons: "Limited Back Seat leg room"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I have owned Porsche's, BMW's & Audi's over the years as well as 06 GTO, G8, Oldsmobile Aurora 4.0 among others, but this Cadillac is just a great handling vehicle and fun to drive. It backs up against any of these for bang for the buck. I got Black Raven with the Carmel interior which really pops so I get compliments all the time. Installed after market stainless grills with LED lights. Th8is will not be my last Cadillac!"
27 people out of 50 found this review helpful
By Boomer2 on Monday, September 29, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 6,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "great handling and pick up"
Cons: "small back seat and trunk"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I have always driven a big car but after reading reviews I took it for a test drive. I love the handling. I am an older woman and at one point raced sports cars and I feel like I am driving one again. I have owned other Cadillacs and I call this one "Baby" because it is so small. I miss the trunk and back seat space a little but the maneuverability and overall car makes up for it."
6 people out of 7 found this review helpful