By Matt Degen
KBB Expert Rating: 8.2
Cadillac set its eyes on rivals like the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class when it introduced the ATS three years ago. In that time it has proved itself as a rewarding entry-level luxury vehicle and has spawned a sleek coupe and the high-powered ATS-V variants. The 2016 ATS continues to up its game with fresh powertrains, advanced safety systems, and technology that includes 4G LTE wireless connectivity and Apple CarPlay integration. This year marks the introduction of the ATS-V sedan and coupe, $60,000-plus high-performance cars that can give BMW M and Mercedes AMG foes a run for their money. The ATS has the looks, handling and hardware to take on the segment's best, but still faces challenges wooing buyers from entrenched competitors.
If you've been craving an American alternative to the familiar stable of compact-luxury sedans and coupes, the ATS brings fresh looks, technology and fine handling. Boasting 464 horsepower and high-performance components, the new V-Series version of the ATS is thrilling on a track and compliant for daily commutes.
KBB Expert Ratings
The 2016 Cadillac ATS trades its previous 6-speed automatic transmission for an 8-speed, while the CUE touch-screen infotainment is faster and now features Apple CarPlay capability. V6 models gain a more powerful yet more efficient engine. The track-ready 2016 ATS-V performance sedan and coupe are new to the lineup.
The standard Cadillac ATS has three distinct personalities depending on engine. The 2.5-liter 4-cylinder in base sedans gets the job done with 202 horsepower, but isn't for...
... enthusiasts. At the higher end is the new 3.6-liter V6 with 333 horsepower. A V6-powered ATS has ample power, but it’s up against a tough alternative within its own lineup: the 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder. That smaller engine has terrific balance of power and efficiency. It enables the ATS to hit 60 mph in the mid-5-second range while offering better fuel economy. In corners the ATS is lithe, though its steering feel isn't as spot-on as a BMW's. The 464-horsepower Cadillac ATS-V is a whole other beast. We found the car thrilling on a track. In real-world driving we like the ATS-V more than the M3, at least in automatic-transmission form. Whereas the BMW's 7-speed dual clutch can feel rough, the ATS-V's 8-speed is silky-smooth.
FIRST-CLASS HANDLING DYNAMICS
This is the premise behind the ATS: Can an American manufacturer build a sports sedan that matches the best of the fabled European and ascending Japanese models? The answer is yes. The new ATS-V takes that challenge further, staying in step or even ahead of the BMW M3 and Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG.
Some enthusiasts still want the engagement only a 3-pedal car can bring. The ATS offers one and it’s a joy to use. The ATS-V is even more special. It has no-lift shifting, allowing you to keep your foot planted on the accelerator as you operate the clutch pedal and gear shifter.
Whether in sedan or coupe form, the 2016 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. Posed curbside, Cadillac's compact-sports sedan shows a confident, well-planted stance. The 2-door ATS Coupe has the same 109.3-inch wheelbase as the sedan, but is slightly wider, lower and longer. Models labeled ATS4 signify all-wheel drive vs. the standard rear-drive. The all-new 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.
Standard equipment on the 2016 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 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 a turbocharged engine, 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 Performance trims come with the CUE infotainment system, 10-speaker Bose sound and Driver Awareness Package that includes lane-departure warning and forward-collision alert. Premium trims add navigation, split-folding rear seat and head-up display. Other options include blind-spot monitoring, automatic front and rear emergency braking, wireless phone-charging and magnetic ride suspension. All-wheel drive (AWD) is available in lieu of the standard rear-drive (RWD) for models with the 2.0-liter turbo engine and the V6. The ATS-V can be had with an 8-speed automatic transmission with magnesium paddle shifters.
The 2016 Cadillac ATS offers a choice of three engines, with the Standard 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 ATS Coupe. Top-line models get a 333-horsepower V6. Except for the RWD ATS turbo that is available with a 6-speed manual transmission, all other versions come with the new 8-speed automatic. AWD is optional on models with the 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder or the 3.6-liter V6. The
2016 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 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.
202 horsepower @ 6,300 rpm
191 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/32 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: 22/31 mpg (RWD, automatic), 22/30 mpg (AWD, automatic), 20/29 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 over $34,200, the 2016 ATS luxury sedan is the least expensive Cadillac. The coupe starts just under $39,000. 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 $61,460 for the sedan and $63,660 for the coupe. With options, the 2016 ATS-V can pass the mid-$70,000 mark. A base ATS Sedan is in line with the starting prices of 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.