Five-Point Inspection: 2013 Cadillac ATS 3.6L V6

Sami Haj-Assaad
by Sami Haj-Assaad

This week we have another Five-Point Inspection for you, focusing on the six-cylinder 2013 Cadillac ATS. The ATS is a rear-wheel drive sport-sedan, with a starting price of $33,095.

That price grants you access into the 2.5L four-cylinder model, hardly a sporting choice. With a V6, the ATS starts at $42,090, and the model we tested was the Performance package that costs $47,590.

Does Cadillac have what it takes to run with the Germans in the sport sedan segment? We take a look at five reasons why you should, or shouldn’t consider a Cadillac ATS.

While the turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder provides solid power and is a great enthusiast car with it’s available 6-speed manual, the most powerful engine available in the ATS is a 3.6-liter V6, making 321-hp and 275 lb-ft of torque.

The ATS is made for this V6 powertrain. It’s the soul of this genuine American luxury sports sedan. It growls like a big cat, and gets going with the ferocity of one too. While the turbo-four is impressive in its own way, the V6 delivers more power while also delivering the smoothness that’s expected from the Cadillac nameplate.

For those reading the last point and groaning about the lack of a manual transmission for the V6, the good news is that the automatic that’s paired here is a surprisingly competent unit, and again, something fitting for the Cadillac brand.

That means that when left on its own, the automatic changes gears leisurely and without a jolt. However since this is a sport sedan, when you choose to take things into your own hands by using the paddle shifters, the ATS responds quickly. Even more impressive is the rev-matching downshifts that let you hear more of that wonderful V6.

Where the ATS differs from its Cadillac roots, is in its steering feel. While some luxury automakers have an overly-fake steering feel, the ATS is firm but natural. Steering feel is one of those things that can ruin an otherwise good car, but here a properly executed system makes the ATS feel like it belongs in the upper echelons of sport sedans.

Pair that feel with the car’s low weight, superb brakes and magical Magnetic Ride Control and the ATS handles unlike any Cadillac ever before – save for the CTS-V.

2013 Cadillac ATS. (07/18/12)

A newly established trend in luxury cars involves loading the vehicle with the latest and greatest technology. The ATS features Cadillac’s User Experience, (CUE) which is a new and unique infotainment system. While the system’s capacitive touch-screen and proximity sensors are two highlights of the car, they also make for a potentially lengthy (and dangerous) distraction.

Luckily, the Cadillac ATS also features the latest safety technology to help get your eyes back on the road when it matters. A lane assist feature subtly vibrates your seat when you’re drifting over the lines and a collision alert also lets you know that you’re quickly approaching another vehicle, perhaps because you’ve been fiddling with CUE for too long. Separately these two elements are interesting tech-demos of what can be done, together they’re a superb realization of just how technology should be used in a car.

2013 Cadillac ATS. (07/18/12)

Thanks to the addition of CUE, which also controls audio and climate control, the center console is clean and free of buttons. In comparison to its German competition, the ATS looks modern, but make no mistake, looks don’t make the interior more ergonomic. Without knobs and the iDrive-like controls, the controls in the ATS can be vague, meaning you have to see what you’re poking at, and how much you’re adjusting certain settings.

We’re eager to see an improved version of CUE in the near future, but until then, there’s little reason not to recommend the ATS, and recommend it highly.

Are you interested in a luxury Sports-Sedan, or think that the Cadillac ATS is for you? Then check out our new car buying section, where you can build the car the way you want it, and get a quote. You can see all of Cadillac‘s offering, or jump straight to the 2013 Cadillac ATS. Not convinced? Check out the competition from BMW, Mercedes and Audi.

To read Autoguide’s full Cadillac ATS review, click here.

Sami Haj-Assaad
Sami Haj-Assaad

Sami has an unquenchable thirst for car knowledge and has been at AutoGuide for the past six years. He has a degree in journalism and media studies from the University of Guelph-Humber in Toronto and has won multiple journalism awards from the Automotive Journalist Association of Canada. Sami is also on the jury for the World Car Awards.

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 1 comment
  • Nonymous Nonymous on Sep 07, 2012

    Seems to me that your evaluation should have included tiny facts like: The 6 cylinder is only three tenths of a second faster than than the turbo 2.0 The turbo 2.0 gets considerably better gas mileage and gives up little in trade. The 2.0 would be less costly than the six. TheBMW 3 series is still faster and is still a better overall vehicle, but Cadillac definitely made strides. Now, this fact, you couldn't have included. I tested Cadillac's CUE system, which claims immediate response to natural speak. I got delays and repeated misunderstandings of what I instructed. Almost every time, it asked me to repeat myself. The navigation system is irritating as it gives you a long speech after it finally gets your address entered from voice commands. The salesman justified this with the intelligent statement of..."Well, most people just punch it in themselves thru the screen." WHAT??? This is a sales pitch??? I think not!