Suggestion No. 1 – 2014 Cadillac ATS Sedan 2.0L Standard RWD
As luxury cars go, the ATS is handsome if a touch bland. Designers seemed to focus on clean, elegant styling instead of flash-in-the-pan gimmicks employed by competitors. It may lack punch today but the trade off is longevity; this is a car that will probably look good decades from now, with its restrained bodywork and classic rear-wheel-drive proportions.
It’s the same story inside, where the ATS’s cabin features a no-nonsense layout and high-quality materials. But it’s what you don’t see that really counts. This machine is an inspiring piece of engineering; pound for pound it’s one of if not the lightest car in its segment, and what a group of peers it has. The ATS competes with sterling nameplates like the BMW 3 Series, Infiniti G37 Q50 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class.
Our favorite version of this sports sedan is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. This lion-hearted powerplant delivers 272 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. Those figures grace the ATS with spirited performance but that’s not the only reason we prefer it; this is the only engine Cadillac offers in the car that can be had with a manual transmission, a six-speed unit.
To date, the range-topping powerplant is a 3.6-liter V6. It cranks out 321 hp and 275 lb-ft of torque. Where the turbo-four is like a scalpel this is more akin to a three-foot-long razor blade thanks to its strong top-end pull. Regrettably, the only gearbox offered with this engine is a six-speed automatic.
And then there’s the base unit, something we’d prefer to just ignore but we know you’re burning with curiosity so here are the details. Value-(un)conscious shoppers can opt for an unforgivable 2.5-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder that’s about as appropriate in the ATS as a chicken coop in the back seat or kegerator in the trunk; it’s perfectly fine in the Chevy Malibu but it has no business in a luxury car. If price is that important maybe you shouldn’t be looking at a Cadillac. Perhaps Mr. V should redirect his hatred from the Northstar to this malnourished unit.
SEE ALSO: 2013 Cadillac ATS Review
Skipping unnecessary options, an ATS with the 2.0-liter engine and a manual transmission can be had for a reasonable $36,020, including $925 in destination fees. At that price you get 17-inch wheels dressed in all-season run-flat tires, an active aero grille and projector-type headlamps. Inside, passengers are treated to a 4.2-inch information screen, Bluetooth connectivity and bovine-friendly “leatherette” seating surfaces
But best of all the ATS is blessed with a masterful chassis that makes the car a joy to drive. Overall this package can be described in one word: impressive.