This may sound obvious, but the Cadillac ATS is a new car. It's the first small, rear-wheel-drive sedan Cadillac has ever produced, rides on a new platform, and is bristling with high-tech features. It's no surprise that editors have been eager to grab the keys to our Four Seasons model.
Most of the early first impressions are about the way the ATS drives. Our initial review of the ATS praised above all its dynamic excellence -- it impressed both on back roads and on the racetrack. Those feelings have only been strengthened during the first month of our test.
"The ATS is genuinely fun to drive and really satisfying to hustle," notes Jake Holmes.
A "taut suspension" doesn't always work in a long-term car's favor, since we have to deal with the pothole-riddled roads of southeast Michigan roads. (See our long-term test of the 2011 BMW 535i and 2011 Mini Countryman). So far, however, most of us have been pleased with the ATS's ride-and-handling trade-off. "The ride is surprisingly sweet on crappy roads," notes editor-in-chief Jean Jennings, although she adds that there is some head toss as speeds below 20 mph. Credit the optional magnetorheological dampers as well as the car's relatively low 3460-pound curb weight.
The ATS's controls are just as finely tuned, with a firm brake pedal and communicative steering. "The steering wheel is a finely tuned weapon, although it is cocked a bit to the left," says Jennings. (About that last part: we visited the dealer for a four-wheel alignment, but the steering wheel itself still seems a bit off-center.)
We're also rather satisfied with the ATS's 3.6-liter, 321-hp V-6. "The powertrain is smooth, has plenty of oomph, and emits a great exhaust note," reports associate web editor Donny Nordlicht. That said, some wonder if we'll grow to regret choosing the least efficient engine in the ATS lineup. So far. we've observed fuel economy in line with the EPA's 22 mpg combined rating. (The 2.0-liter turbo is rated 2 mpg higher.)
Our ATS's cabin is a glitzy affair, with large swathes of real carbon fiber and dark red leather seats that have drawn comparisons to raspberries and pig's blood. Minor packaging quirks -- a hump in the front footwell, longish seat cushions, and a low rear roofline -- have drawn some criticism, but most have found the ATS comfortable, even when carrying three passengers.
The comfort level is much lower when it comes to Cue (Cadillac User Interface). Infotainment systems of any kind take some getting used to, and Cue is particularly daunting for first timers due to its heavy reliance on touch-sensitive controls and multilayered submenus.
"I want some real damn buttons," grumbles copy editor Rusty Blackwell. "The touch points are too small, and I'm taking my eyes off the road for too long to hit them."
Even simple operations can cause distress. The volume slider, for instance, sometimes responds to one's touch, sometimes doesn't, and sometimes pops up unwanted when one reaches for another control.
After some acclimation, however, the system is starting to make more sense. "The first thing I did when I climbed into the ATS for the weekend was take fifteen minutes in the parking lot going through all the settings," says associate web editor Donny Nordlicht. "That's key to avoiding frustration." He adds that any real customer should get a similar orientation before leaving the Cadillac showroom. Of course, as Jennings notes, "Getting used to Cue is different than liking Cue."
We'll see if we continue to like the ATS overall as we get used to it.
|Body style||4-door sedan|
|Base price (with dest.)||$47,590|
|Price As tested||$49,735|
|Engine||24-valve DOHC V-6|
|Displacement||3.6 liters (217 cu in)|
|Power||321 hp @ 6800 rpm|
|Torque||275 lb-ft @ 4800 rpm|
|EPA Fuel Economy||19/28/22 (city/hwy/combined)|
|Turning circle||36.0 ft|
|Suspension, Front||Strut-type, coil springs|
|Suspension, Rear||Multilink, coil springs|
|Brakes F/R||Vented discs|
|Tires||Bridgestone Potenza RE050A|
|Tire size||225/40R-18 88W/255/35R-18 90W|
|Headroom F/R||38.6/36.8 in|
|Legroom F/R||42.5/33.5 in|
|Shoulder room F/R||55.2/53.9 in|
|Track F/R||59.5/60.9 in|
|L x W x H||182.8 x 71.1 x 55.9 in|
|Passenger capacity||90.9 cu ft|
|Cargo capacity||10.4 cu ft|
|Weight dist. F/R||51.5/48.5%|
|Fuel capacity||16.0 gal|
|Est. fuel range||350 miles|
|Fuel grade||91 octane (premium unleaded)|
|STANDARD EQUIPMENT||Adaptive suspension dampers Limited slip differential Stainless-steel dual exhaust Brembo performance front brakes 18-inch aluminum wheels w/performance tires Leather-trimmed interior Power front seats Split-folding rear seats Cue w/8.0 –inch touchscreen Navigation Bose surround sound audio system SiriusXM satellite radio w/3-month trial subscription Leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob Bluetooth audio and phone connectivity Magnesium paddle shifters Aluminum pedals Automatic dual-zone climate control Auto-dimming rearview mirror and exterior mirrors Rain-sensing windshield wipers Keyless entry and ignition Front and rear parking assist Dark-chrome grille Rearview camera Hill-start assist|
|Cold weather package||$600||Heated steering wheel and front seats|
|Front license plate bracket||$15|