12 MONTH CAR REVIEWS: 2013 Cadillac ATS - Introduction

June 13, 2013
2013 Cadillac ATS Front Right View
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The history of compact Cadillacs is not a happy one. Granted, the Seville got off to a good start, but that car wasn't really small. The Cimarron that came next was certainly the nadir, not just for small Cadillacs but for the brand in general. The next try, the Catera, was a forgettable failure. Things improved with the CTS, but that car is now moving on to the mid-size segment, leaving the compact arena to the ATS. Arriving on the scene late last year, the ATS impressed us with its sporting credentials, but we think Cadillac's new entry is significant enough to merit a closer examination. How does it fit in the firmament of established competitors, particularly the German triumvirate that is so obviously its target: the Audi A4, the BMW 3-series, and the Mercedes-Benz C-class?
2013 Cadillac ATS Front Left View 2
We recently said good-bye to a Four Seasons BMW 328i, so that will be a natural point of comparison. Whereas we went for the newly introduced four-cylinder turbo in the BMW, with the ATS we bypassed both four-cylinder offerings -- the base 2.5-liter and the turbocharged 2.0 -- in favor of the 3.6-liter V-6. With 321 hp, the normally aspirated six has more than enough power for this application, and it also has the polish and sophistication that its four-cylinder siblings just can't match.
The ATS 3.6 comes in three flavors; our Premium version is the richest of the bunch, and with it comes Cadillac's Cue interface with navigation, a head-up display, forward collision warning, lane-departure warning, and the unique safety alert seat. Mechanically, the Premium includes Magnetic Ride Control, eighteen-inch wheels, a performance suspension, and Brembo brakes. Strangely, it does not include a sunroof, which we added, along with the Michigan winter survival kit -- better known as the cold-weather package (heated front seats and a heated steering wheel); however, we did skip the available all-wheel drive. Add a couple of minor items and our entry-level Caddy rings in at nearly $50,000, a long way from the 2.5-liter base car's $33,990 starting price.
Has the ATS brought Cadillac a long way from its previous efforts in this class? Can it change the way people think about a compact Caddy? That's what we'll have one year to find out.
2013 Cadillac ATS Front Left View
Body style 4-door sedan
Accommodation 5-passenger
Construction Steel unibody
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
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Drive Rear wheel
EPA Fuel Economy 19/28/22 (city/hwy/combined)
Steering Electrohydraulically assisted
Lock-to-lock 2.7 turns
Turning circle 36.0 ft
Suspension, Front Strut-type, coil springs
Suspension, Rear Multilink, coil springs
Brakes F/R Vented discs
Wheels 18-inch aluminum
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
Wheelbase 109.3 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 3461 lb
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
Power sunroof $750
Cold weather package $600 Heated steering wheel and front seats
Rear spoiler $480
Front license plate bracket $15

Long-Term 2013 Cadillac ATS Reviews to Date:

2013 Cadillac ATS - Introduction
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