2013 Cadillac ATS Review

Having been crowned several key industry accolades this year including North American Car of the Year we have been eager to experience the Cadillac ATS first hand. Over a week in July, we had the opportunity to test out Cadillac’s new ATS model and it made an excellent first impression.

Based on GM’s new Alpha platform, the 2013 ATS features a front-engine, rear-drive layout along with a newly designed exterior. Primarily marketed to compete with the successful BMW 3 series, the ATS provides Cadillac with some new ammunition. Offered with three engine and powertrain options, including a manual transmission, automatic transmission and an all-wheel drive configuration it provides customers with lots of choice, a key differentiator in the luxury sedan segment.

Sitting pretty

Sitting pretty

Our tester came equipped with the manual 2.0-liter turbocharged, four cylinder engine that includes 272 HP and 260 lb-ft of torque. The best part of this configuration is the slick and sporty manual transmission. Since when was the last time you saw a Cadillac with a stick? Providing a manual transmission option is a testament to the renewed focus on making Cadillac products more sporty, which has been well received in the marketplace.


To experience the sportiness of the manual transmission we headed north to the beautiful four season resort town of Collingwood, Ontario. The Cadillac performed well on the winding backcountry roads and ate up the hills with its perfectly balanced sports suspension providing an authentic sports car feel but with all the creature comforts of a luxury sedan. The solid torque from the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine makes the ATS a blast to drive as it is (0 to 60 times are in the high fives) well in the range of its rivals in terms of performance. As for stopping power, our Cadillac came equipped with race inspired Brembo front brakes, a real plus in reducing overall stopping distances.


The Cadillac ATS comes loaded with all the bells and whistles associated with GM’s top marquee. With a base price of $35,195 and a total price as tested of $43,935 our tester included the following options:

  • Xenon High-Intensity Discharge (HID) headlights with Adaptive Forward Lighting and LED daytime running lights
  • Performance front bucket seats
  • 10-way power front bucket seats with 2-way power lumbar support and a 4-way adjustable head restraint
  • Full-colour Head-Up Display (HUD)
  • Electronic parking brake
  • Illuminated exterior door handles
  • Dual exhaust with outlets integrated into rear fascia
  • Sport alloy pedals
  • Bose® 5.1 10-speaker Cabin Surround® audio system
  • Rear outboard seat-mounted side-impact airbags
  • Lane departure warning
  • Forward collision alert
  • Rear vision camera
  • CUE communications and entertainment system

Fuel economy:

The 2.0T with manual transmission is rated at:

  • City 10.6L/100 KM
  • Highway 6.7L/100 KM
  • Combined 8.8L/100 KM


Our tester came equipped with the optional Cadillac User Experience (CUE) infotainment system which includes a 8-inch touch screen that operates like a smartphone or tablet. Although the touch screen did require some initial acclimation, we did like it overall but we could see how it could be difficult for more mature drivers who may not be as familiar with smartphone technology. As well, the climate controls are included in this system and for the older demographic not having physical buttons could be problematic.

Front seats

Although not for everyone, we were partial to the sexy red interior and its plush leather bucket seats with lumbar support make you want to drive farther as you pull into your destination.

Cadillac ATS

The back seat is best designed for two adults and legroom is about standard for any sport luxury sedan. Having hot and cold ventilation in the back seats is a great touch, especially during a July heatwave where temps reached the mid 40s with the humidex.

Cadillac ATS

The ATS has 10.2 cubic feet of trunk space which is slightly less than some of its competitors, however, we found the space ample for our weekend cottage trip and really how much more space do you need in a luxury sports sedan?

Competition: These are some heavy hitters for sure.

  • Audi A4 sedan
  • Lexus IS sedan
  • BMW 3-series sedan
  • Mercedes-Benz C-class
  • Infiniti G37 sedan

Final thoughts:

With its sleek, sexy styling the Cadillac ATS is a real eye pleaser. So, it was no surprise throughout the week, people would come up and ask what Cadillac model it was – the ultimate compliment for any car owner. Having only the opportunity to test the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine with the manual transmission we can only speak to the one model. However, we thoroughly enjoyed our time behind the wheel while experiencing first hand the fruits of Cadillac’s R&D labour to create this award winning new product.

Time will tell how overall sales do in comparison to its rivals as Cadillac has stiff competition with BMW, Audi and Mercedes as their brands are already entrenched and successful in this segment. Nevertheless, we are positive there is room for one more player in the segment and the 2013 Cadillac ATS should be able to hold its own among these German juggernauts.


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