The Cadillac ATS is an interesting vehicle. On the one hand, it comfortably fits into the same smaller-luxury vehicle category that features such notable mainstays as the Audi A3/A4, BMW 2/3/4 series or Mercedes Benz C-Class cars. The ATS is a smaller luxury car that competes with these German imports on equal grounds.
Cadillac does not offer the ATS as a vehicle which is ‘just as luxurious, but at a value…!’ The ATS is offered as a straight up competitor to those prestigious import brands. In most regards, the Cadillac ATS provides similar luxury car benefits at a similar price point to its competition.
The ATS can go toe-to-toe with almost every other vehicle in its class. It does not lack in performance and its appearance is an appropriate blend of elegance and an aggressively aerodynamic stance. The ATS looks and feels like a genuine European style sports-luxury vehicle, and it lives up to those standards rather capably.
The Basic ATS Information
The ATS is a smaller car. It would be fair to compare the ATS’ size to the Chevy Cruz or Buick Verano, two similarly sized vehicles within the General Motors family. Across the spectrum, the ATS is a similar size to the BMW 3 series or Mercedes-Benz C-class vehicles.
The ATS comes with three models: a Sedan, a Coupe and a sport model ATS-V. Beyond the obvious variation in sizes between the Sedan and Coupe, the ATS is essentially the same vehicle across the board; the separate body-styles offer the same packages, while the ATS-V is a similar but sport minded upgrade to the ATS Sedan.
With a base model MSRP of $33,215 dollars, the ATS’ price range starts where most fully-loaded cars in the smaller sedan category stop. The base sedan comes with a standard 2.5L 4-cylinder engine that produces a respectable 205hp; the base power-train has been reviewed as, ‘sufficient.’ The ATS Sedan can be upgraded to the 2.0L turbo engine, and both the Sedan and Coupe can be upgraded to the even more powerful 3.5L V6 engine that produces 335hp; both models jump in price for the 3.5L V6, with the Sedan’s price escalating to $42,355 MSRP.
What Features Does the ATS Have?
Cadillac is regarded as a luxury brand and the ATS demonstrates why. This is a proper luxury car, and it comes with the sort of standard and unique features one would expect from a high priced vehicle.
The ATS comes with a few of the unique features and tech goodies that are exclusive to GM, such as the first fully integrated 4G wifi hotspot generation. Some reviewers were unenthusiastic about the ATS’ infotainment operating system, CUE, with a few reviewers describing it unwieldy, cumbersome or unnecessarily complicated. Across all trim levels, the ATS can be upgraded with a Bose sound system, navigation and wireless charging options for external electronic devices.
No reviewer complained about the standard or optional safety features, however. The ATS comes with a number of standard safety features, including Brembo brakes, heated mirrors, high-quality crash tested frame and a backup camera. Optional safety features are included for every trim level. The optional safety features include lane assist, blind spot monitoring, rear traffic warnings, automatic windshield wipers and forward collision warnings. For higher trim levels, auto-tightening safety belts, electronic parking brakes, driver assist packages, heads-up-display, adaptive cruise control and automatic braking are all available.
The ATS offers a number of performance options, as well. The Leather and Premium package groups can have magnesium paddle-shifters included with the vehicle for semi-automatic driver shifting; this comes standard at the ATS’ highest Premium trim. The Premium trim also comes with adaptive magnetic shock absorbers that more accurately configure the suspension system to hug the road. Larger wheel size that can better grip the road are also available at the higher trim levels.
All ATS trim packages can be upgraded to include All Wheel Drive functionality.
How Does the ATS Compare to Imported Rivals?
How does the ATS compare to its rivals, especially the German imports of BMW, Mercedes Benz and Audi? Simply put, even among the toughest competition in the world, the ATS is still a very solid car.
The ATS cannot boast of any one particular area where it excels beyond its competition. There is no particular category where the ATS outshines its competition completely, but it stacks up very well overall. In terms of performance, the ATS was very well reviewed, with a generous selection of superlatives added to many of the road-test articles and reviews that were published.
The ATS falls flat in a few categories, however: the rear seat is cramped for adult passengers and some reviews noted the upscale fit and finish of the interior, but lamented that the fit and finish of the interior was not as impressive as other cars in this category.
In terms of pure performance, the ATS Sedan matches up well, but it may lack a bit of the functionality that competitors like the Audi A4, BMW 3 series or Lexus IS can offer. For those who do not need to transport large numbers of people in the rear seat, the ATS’ excellent driving experience and sporty quality might make the vehicle a purchase worth marking.
The ATS in Fuel Efficiency
The ATS is roughly average in fuel efficiency. At 22mpg city and 32mpg highway, it falls right into the middle of the pack. The highly rated Audi A4 gets 22/34, and the Mercedes Benz C class gets 25/34, but those are estimates on lower engine specs. The more performance oriented offerings get similar fuel efficiency ratings as the Cadillac ATS Sedan.
One notable exception would be the BMW i3, which is technically a part of the smaller luxury sedan category; it is an electric vehicle, however, so it would naturally have a wholly separate paradigm to consider in terms of efficiency.
One vehicle in the class that gets much better fuel efficiency is the Volvo S60, which gets 26/38mpg. While the S60 gets excellent mileage, it has been noted to lack the raw speed and drive quality of the ATS or similarly performance minded luxury sedans in this class size.
The ATS: Pros and Cons
Here is a list of the pros and cons of the 2016 Cadillac ATS Sedan.
First, the pros.
- Universally praised performance ratings from major car reviewers.
- Feature rich, highly customizable and upgradable vehicle.
- Elegant and attractive styling that compares favorably to rivals in the class.
- Refined and comfortable interior for passengers in the front seat.
- Every comfort feature a luxury sedan of this size should come with.
Then, the cons.
- Back seats are cramped and some adults would be uncomfortable riding in the rear.
- Only average fuel efficiency.
- The ATS prices are only average, while lacking some of the utility of its closest rivals.
The general picture of the ATS is one of a refined and performance oriented sedan. While lacking some of the utility other vehicles in this class might offer, the ATS offers performance and style to spare.
The ATS is perhaps a niche vehicle, essentially a sports car with some of the utility a sedan would offer added as an afterthought. Anyone looking to buy a smaller sedan for its ability to comfortably transport people or cargo might want to look elsewhere; anyone looking for a car that can go fast and be an awful lot of fun to drive should seriously consider the ATS.