For the latest model year, Cadillac re-organized the ATS' trim levels and added a few features to the list of standard equipment.
Stylistically, the ATS exhibits a softer, somewhat conservative take on Cadillac's once-edgy Art & Science design language. Narrow, elongated headlights that extend halfway down the sides of the hood are a distinctive touch, while a rising beltline adds a hint of athleticism.
The ATS is smaller than Cadillac's CTS sedan and nearly identical to the 3-Series in all major dimensions. Cadillac says that the ATS undercuts its competitors with a curb weight as low as 3,400 pounds (for base models), which was achieved by employing lightweight materials such as an aluminum hood, magnesium engine mount brackets and natural-fiber door trim panels.
The low mass pays dividends in terms of handling, which is also aided by a suspension setup composed of a multi-link double-pivot MacPherson-strut with a direct-acting stabilizer bar up front with a five-link setup at the rear. Performance is further augmented by an optional sports suspension with GM's impressive Magnetic Ride Control system, which can adjust the dampers in the blink of an eye to prevent body roll during hard corners or keep passengers comfortable while cruising.
Inside, the ATS emulates the CTS with a similarly sharp-edged design and extensive use of premium materials, including stitched surfaces on the dashboard and doors. Befitting its performance-oriented character, the ATS is available with carbon fiber interior trim, while real wood is another trim option.
The ATS is also offered with Cadillac's new CUE infotainment system, which controls navigation, communication and vehicle settings through an eight-inch advanced tactile-feedback touch-screen designed to emulate the look and feel of a smartphone. The system replaces most of the conventional buttons and knobs on the dashboard, and can reportedly be configured for technophiles, troglodytes and everyone in between. It also supports Apple's CarPlay smartphone integration system.
The ATS is available with the buyer's choice of two different engines, automatic or manual gearboxes and rear- or all-wheel-drive.
The base engine is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, which serves up a healthy 272 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual is available for enthusiasts; so equipped, the 2.0-liter ATS returns 19/30 mpg. With the standard six-speed automatic, the motor returns 21/30 mpg with RWD or 20/28 mpg with the optional AWD system. This engine also features an auto stop/start function.
The range-topping engine is a 3.6-liter V6 that pumps out 333 horsepower and 285 lb-ft of torque. Only the eight-speed automatic gearbox can be had with the big six, but buyers can choose between rear- and all-wheel drive.
All engines can run on regular fuel, although Cadillac recommends premium for the turbo.
Trim Level Breakdown
The ATS is available in four trim levels named base, Luxury, Premium Luxury, and Premium Performance. The first two models come with the turbo four, while the last two receive the V6.
The base ATS comes standard with Cadillac's CUE infotainment system, a Bose surround sound system, keyless entry, Brembo brakes, a year-long OnStar subscription, a rear-view camera, automatic start/stop, daytime running lights, tinted windows, heated and power-adjustable mirrors, six-way power-adjustable front seats, projector headlights, 17-inch alloys, a 5.7-inch information screen in the instrument cluster, a wireless phone charger, an air filtration system, Bluetooth connectivity, cruise control, dual-zone A/C, heated rear seats, leatherette upholstery on the seats, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.
The Luxury trim adds a 110-volt power outlet, a memory function for the front seat and the mirrors, a heated steering wheel, heated front seats, a remote vehicle starter, an auto-dimming driver-side mirror, navigation, leather upholstery, specific 17-inch alloys, eight-way power-adjustable front seats, parking sensors on both ends, a heated steering wheel, and split-folding rear seats.
In addition to the V6 engine, the Premium Luxury model benefits from HID headlights, illuminated outside door handles, front performance seats, sport pedals, shift paddles, front collision alert, lane departure warning, lane-keeping assist, automatic wipers, automatic high beams, rear side airbags, locking wheel lugs, and a power sunroof.
The Premium Performance model offers a heads-up display, a mechanical limited-slip differential, Cadillac's magnetic ride control suspension, a bigger cooling system, a sport suspension, 18-inch alloy wheels, and a power tilt and telescopic steering wheel.
All ATS models are fitted with eight airbags in addition to traction and stability control systems and four-channel ABS. In addition, a long list of optional safety features are available, including adaptive cruise control, intelligent brake assist, forward collision alert, brake pre-fill automatic collision preparation, lane departure warning and side blind zone alert.
The ATS is designed to run with the best the entry-level luxury sedan segment has to offer, including the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Audi A4, Volvo S60 and, of course, the benchmark BMW 3 Series.