By Joe Tralongo, Contributing Editor
KBB Expert Rating: 8.1
The 2017 Cadillac ATS luxury-performance series has not only proven itself worthy of world-class status, it actually has some German rivals running to play catch-up. In its more subtle clothing, the compact ATS performance sedan and coupe offer sophisticated luxury and outstanding performance credentials easily the equal of cars like the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4. The gloves come off with the 464-horsepower 2017 Cadillac ATS-V, a track-inspired terror that chases down BMW M and Mercedes-Benz AMG cars without breaking a sweat. Of course, there is a price for perfection, and the 2017 ATS and ATS-V tend to cost more than their nearest competitors from Lincoln and Chrysler, but oh to be the standard of the world once again sure feels great.
If you think Americans can’t build cars as sophisticated as the Europeans, prepare to have your eyes pried wide open. From the most basic ATS coupe with its technology-rich cabin, to the astoundingly adept high-performance Cadillac ATS-V for 2017, this compact-luxury performer wants for nothing.
KBB Expert Ratings
For 2017, the Cadillac ATS luxury-performance cars receive mostly cosmetic changes. The 2.0-liter turbo is now the standard engine, and all models receive a revised instrument cluster plus an updated CUE infotainment system with Teen Driver and Cadillac Collection.
There is no “soft” suspension with the 2017 Cadillac ATS Sedan and Coupe, just varying degrees of firmness. The ATS corners and accelerates as well as any BMW, although the...
... steering feel isn’t as precise. For 2017 the ATS’s CUE infotainment system gets a much-needed upgrade designed to be more user- and app-friendly. At the extreme end of the ATS spectrum is the almighty V. With 464 horsepower on tap and a 3.8-second 0-60-mph time, the ATS-V slips past the BMW M3 by a hair. The Caddy’s blistering 189-mph top speed, however, leaves the 156-mph BMW in its rearview mirror. A favorite at the famed Nurburgring, the ATS-V proves itself with a fine balance among chassis, engine and adjustable magnetic suspension to make even the novice driver look like a pro. We also preferred both the ATS’s 8-speed automatic and around-town driving characteristics to those of the BMW.
FIRST-CLASS HANDLING DYNAMICS
Designed to be a sports car from the ground up, Cadillac’s ATS for 2017 easily matches the best from Europe, and betters most from Japan. In the case of the ATS-V, the V truly is for “Vendetta,” obliterating similar-class cars from the BMW M3 to the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG.
Despite recent advancement in manually shifting automatics, purists will say the measure of great drivers is their ability to flog a manual transmission. Not only is the 2017 Cadillac ATS’s manual a joy, the V version features no-lift shifting, allowing the accelerator to remain planted when the clutch is depressed.
Whether in sedan or coupe form, the 2017 Cadillac ATS has a sophisticated, well-appointed interior. Leather seating is standard in most models, while base trims use Leatherette. Available wood or carbon-fiber trim also makes 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 even more so in the 4-passenger coupe. The available CUE touch-screen infotainment center isn't perfect, but it's better than some systems out there. Rear visibility, especially in the coupe, is compromised from the ATS-V's sloping roof.
Angular bodywork set off with Cadillac's signature LED-infused vertical lighting elements gives the ATS an edge. The 2017 Cadillac ATS Coupe has the same 109.3-inch wheelbase as the sedan, but overall is slightly wider, lower and longer. The 2017 ATS-V is noticeably more muscular. An aerodynamic front splitter, side body panels and rear spoiler help keep the car planted at high velocities. Rounding out every ATS-V are quad tailpipes and 18-inch forged aluminum wheels wrapped in specialized Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires. To achieve a 50/50 weight balance, the ATS-V's hood is made from pricey but lightweight carbon fiber.
Standard equipment on the 2017 Cadillac ATS Sedan and Coupe expands as you move from the base models up through the Luxury, Premium Luxury and Premium Performance grades. Spend the least 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. Base ATS Coupes include rearview camera, Brembo performance front brakes and 18-inch wheels. ATS-V models have magnetic ride-control suspension, Brembo brakes and a 5-mode traction-management system with launch control for the best possible off-the-line acceleration. All models include a trial of GM's OnStar communications system with emergency assistance.
The ATS Luxury trim brings leather interior, power front seats and rearview camera, while Premium Luxury trims come with the CUE infotainment system, 10-speaker Bose sound and Driver Awareness Package that includes lane-departure warning and forward-collision alert. Other options include blind-spot monitoring, automatic front and rear emergency braking, wireless phone-charging and magnetic ride suspension. The ATS-V can be had with an 8-speed automatic transmission with magnesium paddle shifters. A Performance Data Recorder similar to what's used on the latest Corvette records video, audio and driving data onto an SD card for later viewing on the CUE display screen or a computer.
The 2017 Cadillac ATS compact-performance sedan and coupe offer a choice of two engines, with the ATS Turbo Sedan and Coupe getting a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder good for 272 horsepower. Premium Luxury and Performance models get a 333-horsepower V6. The ATS turbo is available with a 6-speed manual transmission; all other versions come with the 8-speed automatic. All-wheel drive (AWD) is optional on all models except the V series cars. The 2017 Cadillac ATS-V Sedan and Coupe use a twin-turbocharged 3.6-liter V6 that generates 464 horsepower. The ATS-V high-performance cars are rear-wheel drive (RWD) only and come with a 6-speed manual transmission or optional 8-speed automatic. Standard ATS models use regular unleaded gasoline; the ATS-V desires premium.
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: 22/30 mpg (RWD, automatic), 20/28 mpg (AWD, automatic), 19/30 mpg (RWD, manual)
333 horsepower @ 6,800 rpm
285 lb-ft of torque @ 4,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/30 mpg (RWD), 19/28 mpg (AWD)
3.6-liter twin-turbocharged V6 (ATS-V)
464 horsepower @ 5,850 rpm
445 lb-ft of torque @ 3,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/23 mpg (manual), 16/24 mpg (automatic)
With a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) just under $35,600, the 2017 ATS Sedan is the least expensive Cadillac. The ATS Coupe starts just under $38,600. Like its rivals, the ATS's price range is broad. Loaded versions can pass $50,000. The brawny Cadillac ATS-V is even higher, with an MSRP of around $61,760 for the sedan and just under $63,900 for the coupe. With options, the 2017 ATS-V can pass the mid-$70,000 mark. A base ATS Sedan is in line with the BMW 3 Series and Volvo S60, and higher than the Acura TLX. It is below most other rivals. The ATS-V sedan starts a few hundred shy of the BMW M3. Check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying. The ATS's resale value is expected to be in line with the 3 Series and A4 but trail that of the Lexus IS.