First Drive- 2013 Cadillac ATS – AKA the ROADRUNNER

by Tony West and Jamar Lee
2013 Cadillac ATS
2013 Cadillac ATS

The 2013 Cadillac XTS Platinum Edition got our vote for the best 60 grand buy. So it’s no wonder the ATS won the North American Car of the Year Award this year. The new ATS has everything a car buyer wants in a luxury sports sedan for 30 grand. Even with 3 powertrain options and Premium and Performance models offered, the ATS has standard smart luxury and speed that is refreshing at this price point.


Lighter Lower Stance Perfect for Speed

The rear-wheel-drive ATS hits efficient performance out of the park achieving a 50/50 weight balance with a low curb weight, long wheelbase, and wide front/ rear tracks. The ATS has the familiar chrome-accented mesh grille, this time with active shutters which close at certain highway speeds, improving aerodynamics and fuel economy. As a compact car, the ATS feels more responsive than the XTS. Where the Cadillac XTS is about composed luxury with a sport edge, the ATS refutes caution. A tap of the gas sends it from 0-60 in about 6 seconds. And it balances well at sharp turns and brakes swiftly.

Even with all its powertrain options, I wish the ATS was a coupe instead of a sedan. The front has 42-inches of legroom, and the rear 33.5-inches. With a center console that sweeps through the center rear seat, there is hardly space for 3 adults to sit comfortably in the rear. Even our 5”5’ Editor needed to push the driver’s seat way back to get comfortable in the front. Honestly when whipping the ATS and punching the gas, I don’t miss rear passengers complaining.

2013 Cadillac ATS
2013 Cadillac ATS

The ATS is offered with three powertrains: the standard 2.5 liter 4-cylinder engine with an output of 202 horsepower and 191 lb-ft of torque; the 2.0 liter turbocharged 4-cylinder with manual transmission, 272 horsepower, and 260 lb-ft of torque; and lastly with a 3.6 liter V6 engine with 321 horsepower, 275 lb-ft of torque, and a max rpm of 7,200.The 2.0 liter turbocharged 4 cylinder engine is said to be the most power-dense engine in the industry. It’s available with a 6-speed manual transmission. The turbocharged ATS is agile with quick gearshifts and optimal handling. All 3 powertrains feature direct injection and dual overhead camshafts with variable valve timing. The 2.5 liter 4-cylinder and 3.6 liter V6 have a 6-speed automatic transmission with Hydra-Matic 6L45 automatic with tap-shift control.With a low curb weight and low center of gravity the ATS whips like a Porsche.

The ATS is equipped with front multilink MacPherson strut suspension and rear 5 link independent suspension, the first ever on a Cadillac. The spectacular suspension enhances stability and optimizes steering in the harshest road conditions and the tightest turns. The lighter, swifter more agile ATS also has impressive fuel economy. The 2.0 liter turbo has an EPA of 21/31 mpg’s, 22/33 mpg’s for the 2.5 liter 4 cylinder, and 19/28 mpg’s for the 3.6 liter V6.For optimal handling, all models come with ZF Systems electric variable assist power steering. This allows for the more precise responses, driver correctness, and less fuel consumption. Included with the Premium Collection is the FE3 Sport Suspension package with Magnetic Ride Control, mechanical limited-slip differential, and a high capacity cooling system. The FE3 sport suspension package has adjustable settings where the driver can select ranges of damping for Magnetic Ride Control.

The brakes on the ATS were made for compelling speeds with Brembro Brakes available on all models matched with a 4-channel ABS with Stabilitrak.


Interior Design from Lux Sport to Premium Cool

The interior of the 2013 Cadillac ATS certainly doesn’t feel like a compact car…from the front seat anyway. The interior is designed with a range of color schemes to compliment the exterior color. Leather, wood, and carbon fiber are the perks we expect from Cadillac. The ATS adds a youthful athletic twist with the available sport seating, the 5.7-inch instrument panel, an 8- inch LCD touchscreen with CUE technology, paddle shifters, and a 7-speaker Bose Sound System.

2013 Cadillac ATS
2013 Cadillac ATS

I enjoyed having my media controls at the steering wheel as well as the easy-to-use LCD screen with navigation, real-time traffic and weather updates, and Sirius XM Satellite Radio. Cadillac’s CUE technology allows drivers to access Bluetooth and apps as well as infotainment and music commands.The ATS works for both young and old because of its driver focused cockpit with user friendly features matched with an exhilarating ride and optimal comfort. It was nice to see the popular configurable instrument panel that allows the driver to see climate, oil life, tire pressure, and battery life as part of their customized display.

Standard on the ATS are safety features like a very precise Forward Collision Alert, Lane Departure Warning, Hill Hold/Start Assist, Side Blind Zone Alert, Intelligent Brake Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control, and a Rear Camera. Front and Rear Automatic Brakes use radar technology to prevent low speed collisions. Overall the ATS is a thrill ride for me and my front passenger. For my rear passengers- a tight fun ride. If the ATS were a coupe, I’d have very little criticism. But it was very difficult to get comfortable in the driver’s seat. And in the rear, it would be very hard to put a child seat in with 2 adults comfortably. I say, who cares- because I prefer to whip the ATS alone, or ride with 1 fun-loving chica.

Cadillac’s 2013 ATS deserves all the accolades it receives. For 30 grand, buyers get more standard luxury, efficiency, and powerful powertrain than most other compact sedans.

Check out more photos from our review of the 2013 Cadillac ATS with Correspondent Jamar Lee on our Facebook page!

Jamar in the 2013 Cadillac ATS

Check our Video Review of the 2013 Cadillac XTS