Third Place – Cadillac ATS 3.6 AWD Premium
Cadillac set out to build a vehicle to rival the very best from around the world. Stop us if you heard this song and dance before. But, unlike some lukewarm attempts in the past, this time it appears Cadillac was serious. The all-new ATS doesn’t just match the Germans in chassis dynamics, it actually beats them. Plus, it has plenty of unique style.
The gorgeous ATS features Cadillac’s physics-defying magnetic ride control suspension and trails only the S4 for chassis feel. It takes a horribly maintained road, or complete lack of judgement to upset the Cadillac’s suspension. Being adjustable, the ATS’s ‘comfort mode’ may not be able to rival the C350 or 335i for smoothness, but the ‘sport mode’ out does them both handily.
GERMAN AUTOMAKERS BEWARE
The 3.6L V6 engine lacks the torque of the boosted engines in this group, but is far more responsive than the Mercedes or Volvo motors. In fact, the 321 hp engine rivals the BMW’s boosted motor for second best overall in terms of flexibility, sound and throttle response. With the V6, there is only a 6-speed automatic which, like the Volvo, is down a gear or two to all others. Downshifts and upshifts are a bit more delayed than they should be in a performance sedan and this transmission was voted the second least responsive after the Mercedes-Benz.
Other issues with the ATS include steering that feels too loose around town, a tiny trunk, a cramped backseat and some interior finish issues. We’re not fans of the gray leather seats, nor the chrome wheels equipped on this car. Both can be changed by selecting different trim or color packages, but the one thing that cannot be omitted is CUE. CUE, which stands for Cadillac User Experience, controls all the infotainment and HVAC systems. It is easy enough to use, but conventional set ups, or multi-function dial setups, are still more intuitive. The piano black plastic that adorns CUE also drew a lot of criticism.
See Also: 2013 Cadillac ATS Review – Video
The ATS is an exceptional vehicle in need of a polish. The good news for Cadillac is that most of the issues we found with the ATS can easily be addressed in a mid-cycle refresh. BMW and Audi better keep a wary eye on the Cadillac ATS; it’s coming for you.
- ENGINE: 3.6 L V6, 321 hp and 274 lb-ft
- TRANSMISSION: 6-speed automatic
- FUEL ECONOMY: 18 mpg city and 26 mpg highway
- PRICE: Base price – $47,795. As tested price – $51,585
- Powerful engine
- Great handling
- Gorgeous looks
- Sounds great
- Cramped rear seat
- Small trunk
- Chrome wheels
- Gray seats