2016 Cadillac ATS Coupe 3.6L Premium Review

There’s nothing wrong with continuous improvement.

The ManufacturerphotographerJake Holmeswriter

After one year and 27,001 miles with a 2013 Cadillac ATS, we had few complaints about the way the car drove. A strong engine, great brakes, a playful chassis, and outstanding steering feel helped us ignore awkward interior packaging and temperamental touch-sensitive controls. For 2016, Cadillac hasn't addressed any of our concerns about the cabin environment, but it has upgraded the V-6 engine and added two more ratios to the automatic transmission. Though neither change transforms the character of the 2016 ATS, they add up to a nice example of the way in which continuous improvement can keep a car relevant in the marketplace.

The all-new 3.6-liter V-6 now has an extra 12 hp and 7 lb-ft, which are more than welcome even though the engine was already a cracker. With the revised engine, the 2016 Cadillac ATS continues to be a quick, responsive car, with a sonorous snarl that makes us eager to wind out the engine as often as possible. Just like our Four Seasons 2013 ATS sedan, this 2016 coupe will tear to 60 mph in just 5.5 seconds. And thanks to the incorporation of cylinder deactivation and stop-start into the new engine package, fuel economy improves from 18/28 mpg (city/highway) to 20/30 mpg.

Unfortunately, this V-6 transmits an annoying amount of vibration into the cabin at idle, just like the engine in our Four Seasons ATS. Fortunately, a seamless stop-start feature means you're rarely sitting still with the engine idling. We think this is one of the smoothest stop-start functions around, promptly shutting the V-6 off at stops and restarting it the instant you lift your foot off the brake.

The eight-speed automatic impresses because it is essentially unnoticeable. It shifts perfectly smoothly at all times, and it never seems to get confused if we suddenly ask for more power or instead lift off the throttle unexpectedly. The only downside is that the smoothness extends to manual shifts in Sport mode, since we'd like crisper, more immediate gear changes when we tug the shift paddles on the steering wheel.

As great as the revised powertrain might be, other aspects of the 2016 Cadillac ATS coupe continue to frustrate us. The back seat is so cramped that even our shortest, skinniest friend complains she's bumping her head on the ceiling. The trunk hinges intrude into the already cramped trunk space. And given that the new 2017 Cadillac XT5 has reverted back to physical controls for the electronics, we really wish the ATS would ditch its CUE capacitive-touch center stack.

The 2016 Cadillac ATS coupe still isn't perfect. It remains great to drive, with more power and efficiency than before, and its angular exterior design has tons of curb appeal. But we still find the interior of rivals like the BMW 4 Series, Lexus RC, and Mercedes-Benz C-Class coupe to be more appealing places to spend time. Even so, continuous improvement to its engine and transmission help the 2016 ATS remain a strong contender in the sporty luxury segment.

2016 Cadillac ATS Coupe 3.6L Premium Specifications

  • On Sale: Now
  • Price: $51,830/$56,415 (base/as-tested)
  • Engine: 3.6L DOHC 24-valve V-6/333 hp @ 6,800 rpm, 285 lb-ft @ 4,800 rpm
  • Transmission: 8-speed automatic
  • Layout: 2-door, 4-passenger, front-engine, RWD coupe
  • EPA Mileage: 20/30 mpg (city/hwy)
  • L x W x H: 183.6 x 54.8 x 72.5 in
  • Wheelbase: 109.3 in
  • Weight: 3,530 lb
  • 0-60 mph:

    • 5.5 sec
  • Top Speed: 149 mph

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