Cadillac ATS 2.0T: Angular and Sharp

by The Car Family

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A handy Cadillac? Yep, the ATS is eager to please, a snap to park, gets around 26 mpg in mixed driving and makes driving truly unCadillac like. But it is this sedan’s angular exterior, that proves to be eye candy for those tired of the jelly bean designed competition. The powerplant is equally appealing as the rear wheels on our test vehicle being powered by an optional turbocharged 2.0 liter, four cylinder engine. A chassis that sparkles as it soaks up bumps, carves up canyons, and handles tax dollar deprived pot holes with equal aplomb is the final adornment for this action-oriented Cadillac that clearly is marking its territory with little concession to the competition.


Mom’s view: Understated elegance; this is no ordinary entry level luxury sedan, it is the rare combination of good electronics, appearance, performance, interior design and safety. For about what you would pay for a Prius Plug-in, albeit without the 65 mpg average, you can own one with a plethora of air bags, stability and traction control, excellent headlights, ABS, and even tire pressure monitoring. Also available is OnStar with its myriad of reassuring uses. I would recommend all optional safety equipment anyone of which could save you from an accident . Cadillac offers a Driver Awareness package that provides a forward collision alert, rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning, rear seat side airbags and more. Add to that the Driver Assist packages with adaptive cruise control, and blind-spot monitoring. I especially liked Cadillac’s collision mitigation with brake assist that can actually stop the car in some emergency situations. This is very reassuring while driving through thick coastal fog or desert dust storms. The ATS simply sparkles and leaves the competition struggling to match its ride and appointments. Although I have been spoiled with luxury cars for decades, this is one of the few that combines so many features with a vault like feel and enough performance to melt mountain passes. If I wanted additional acceleration, I would order the optional V6 engine, but it will cost you about ten percent more at the gas pump. A good time to buy American.

Dad’s view: We tested a fairly basic ATS 2.0 and it was far from basic. I frequently had to remind myself that this was a Cadillac. The trunk and glove compartment are on the smaller side, but I liked the turbocharged engine as it combines the best combination of fuel economy and performance and sips regular unleaded, although it is not Lexus quiet. Three engines are available for the 2014 Cadillac ATS. The base 2.5 has a four-cylinder engine that produces 202 horsepower. Our test vehicle had the 2.0 Turbo with its turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 272 horsepower. The more upscale model’s 3.6-liter V6 is much more powerful providing 321 horsepower. If Cadillac ever decides to add a V model with a V8 engine you might need a pilot’s license to drive it. All the engines use a smooth shifting six-speed automatic transmission, but you could also have a manual with the 2.0. All-wheel drive is optional for the more powerful models. Getting to 60 mph was a 6.5 affair and look for the V6 model to be about a second faster. I never felt acceleration lacking whether passing on California 395, taking the back roads to Arrowhead, or visiting Mt. Wilson. There are an abundance of rivals in the ATS niche, but none have its cache. The six-speed standard transmission had short shifts and a solid feel. Finding reverse took practice, but the car had enough power to skip from first to third without lugging. A very athletic car and the steering is superior.

Young working man’s view: The Cadillac’s voice command functions work quite well, but an ancillary set of knobs for more commonly used functions would be a benefit. An option worth considering is the CUE or Cadillac User Experience with its surround-sound system that comes with a HD radio and CD as well as an eight-inch touchscreen, and a ten speaker Bose sound system. You operate the system using your fingers to tap the screen and when you can feel a small pulsing feel. I like this option, even though it takes a while to master and can be slow to react at times. In the early days, Cadillac was known for its advanced features and the ATS does not disappoint right down to an available active aero grille. I am not sure my age group is even aware that Cadillac exists, which is a pity considering its playful nature and utility.


Working woman’s view: The ATS is a five-passenger, luxury-oriented sport sedan and comes with an exceptional limited warranty and enough options to frustrate an Affordable Care web designer. Getting in and out is typical for the class, meaning you have ample room in front, but the rear seats are a bit tight for those who have drifted out of the average American demographic for weight and height. The trunk holds a little over ten cubic feet of space and so ordering a model with a folding rear seat is well worth it. The elephant in the room for the ATS isn’t Chris Christie, its the BMW 3 Series. No question the small German sedan is a true road runner, but Cadillac’s interior, unique features and dramatic looks provide a choice American consumers now have the luxury of making.

Family conference: There is no shortage of competition with BMW, Mercedes, Lexus, Infiniti, and Audi all being candidates for the consumer’s contract, but the mere fact that we are mentioning Cadillac in the same paragraph of those stalwarts tells you the progress this marque has made and it may be the best fun-sized family vehicle Cadillac has ever made.

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