January 17, 2013

2013 Cadillac ATS 4 Luxury

I’ve been watching ATS commercials on YouTube for eons, or at least three months.  The commercials have followed me over to network TV, specifically the NFL playoffs.  I’m over the commercials because I want to be able to do everything in those commercials, but I want to be like those guys and get paid to do it.  

Base Price: $33,095
As Driven: $46,980
Engine: 3.6L V6, 321hp
Transmission: 6-Speed Shiftable Automatic
Curb Weight: 3,629 lbs.
Wheelbase: 109.3 in
MPG Rating: 18 city/26 highway

A V6-powered Cadillac sedan seemed underwhelming.  I drove a V6 CTS-4 last year and was less than awed.  

The ATS is listed as a compact sedan.  Makes sense because the CTS is a regular sedan and the XTS (Grandpa’s car) is a large sedan, so the ATS has to be a compact.  This is the most hyped compact sedan I’ve encountered in quite a while.

The ATS handles like a dream.  This car was tested and developed at the Nurburgring.  Normally that’s the butt of a James May joke, but the ATS whips.  It has the same magnetic ride control as the CTS-V and the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1.  The ATS destroys corners.  I was disappointed when the roads were straight. 

The V6 power plant is robust.  The 3.6L V6 engine produces 321 horsepower.  This is the most athletic naturally aspirated V6 I’ve ever driven.  Most V6’s have some power, but are boring and okay on the mpgs.  The ATS six cylinder motor is great.  You get over 300 horsepower, a great exhaust note, and the feeling that this motor wants to go.  I found myself hammering the ATS, not because I wanted to, but that’s when the car felt the most in the sweet spot between handling and speed.  Maybe there’s something to developing a car at the Nurburgring.  

I can still smell the engine...
The Cue system was easy to use, but the buttons on the center console are touch-sensitive.  Car Manufacturers, please don’t take away the analog buttons (Get off my lawn).  Having to hit the button and then hammer it a second time to make sure it works is frustrating and dangerous.  Taking your eyes off the road to make sure that the button you just pressed worked is unsafe.  I liked the Cue system, which was easy to navigate.  I didn’t use the Navigation or sync my phone, but overall the system seemed pretty simple and straight forward.  I know one ATS owner and he’s pretty content with Cue.  Based on my statistical data, Cue is the best infotainment system EVER. 

The interior is equipped.  The seats are supportive and comfortable.  There is a heated steering wheel, which came in handy for the cool windy day.  The backseat isn’t large.  The rear legroom measurement on the ATS is smaller than the Audi A4 and the BMW 335i, but is .1 inch larger than the Mercedes C350, so there’s that.  

The noise that comes out of the V6 is amazing.  Most V6’s sound like the usual minivans and Honda Accords; lame.  This motor and exhaust sound fantastic and the noise only gets better the more revs you give it.  I continually found myself getting into the throttle just to hear more of the exhaust noise.  I was driving with the windows down on an unseasonably cool day.  This is where the heated steering wheel came in handy.  With the windows up in the tranquil cabin; the exhaust note is relegated to just another background noise.  

I’ve seen all the ATS ads: from Patagonia to the China cave road to the Grand Prix of Monte Carlo. The cave road looks gnarly, but I really think the ATS could take it.  Before driving this car I thought it was a wasted effort on Cadillac’s part.  Turns out, that the V6 ATS is actually a fun car to drive.


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