- Introduced in 2013; the smallest car in the Cadillac lineup
- Competes with other luxury sport sedans like the BMW 3-Series and Audi A4
- 50/50 weight distribution and low weight give it excellent handling
The introduction of the ATS was the latest salvo in Cadillac’s bid to change its brand and the new luxury sport sedan returns for 2014. Cadillac was not shy when discussing the design process of the ATS – it is squarely aimed at the class of the segment, the BMW 3-series, which is a tall order.
Changes for the 2014 model year are minimal; the Driver Awareness package adds auto on/off high beams and there is a range of newly available dealer-installed accessories, like new wheels and black chrome grille.
The ATS’ exterior design carries many familiar Cadillac cues from the last few years, with a few unique wrinkles. It looks similar to the larger CTS sedan with a large front grille that is dominated by the big Cadillac badge that sits smack in the center. The vertically stacked headlights are a nice touch as is the wide rear brake light that sits atop the trunk lid. All in all, it’s a handsome package that while not breaking any new styling ground, doesn’t make any missteps and is still quite attractive.
For the ATS to really compete with the Germans, it has to be up to par in two important areas: handling and speed. The ATS’ handling is helped by its lightness (weighing less than competitors like the Audi A4, Acura TSX, and of course the BMW 328i sedan) and near 50/50 weight distribution, which improves balance and responsiveness. Brembo brakes and a limited-slip rear differential are optional, as is Magnetic Ride Control, a very cool piece of technology that can read the road 1,000 times per second and adjust the suspension instantly to adapt to changing conditions.
Under the hood, there are three engine options: a pair of four-cylinders and a V-6. The base engine is a 200-hp, 2.5-liter four-cylinder, followed by a 270-hp, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder found in turbo models. Lastly is a 318-hp, 3.6-liter V-6 which is sourced from the CTS. A six-speed automatic is standard, while a six-speed manual is also offered on some trims. All-wheel drive is available on all models.
The 2014 ATS interior is comes with wood and metallic or carbon fiber trim pieces, which help to break up the blackness found all over. The instrument panel is a customizable 5.7-inch LCD screen which relays information to the driver about the audio system, navigation, fuel economy, or phone. Standard features include faux-leather seating surfaces, dual-zone automatic climate control, a Bose audio system, and Bluetooth/USB connectivity. Options include HD/satellite radio, real leather upholstery, heated front seats, and a memory package. Also offered is Cadillac’s CUE entertainment system, which adds an 8-inch touchscreen to the center console and connects to phones and other devices either via Bluetooth, USB, or an SD card. CUE replaces many of the physical buttons with touch controls, which takes some getting used to.
Standard safety features include eight airbags, antilock brakes, and an electronic stability system. On par with other luxury vehicles, there are also a litany of high tech safety options such as radar-based automatic braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure and blind spot warning systems, and adaptive headlights.