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#5

in Upscale Midsize Cars

MSRP: $33,065 - $48,195
Invoice: $31,246 - $45,062
MPG: 22 City / 33 Hwy
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Cadillac ATS Performance

Play 2014 Cadillac ATS Performance Review Video Video: ATS Performance 2014 Cadillac ATS Performance Video Review

The 2014 Cadillac ATS earns reviewer praise for its strong engine options and buttoned-down, sporty handling. Many agree that the ATS is a formidable rival to the BMW 3-Series, long considered the benchmark of rear-wheel drive sport sedans.

  • "The ATS is Cadillac's first shot at competing directly with the world's best entry-level luxury sedans - including the benchmark BMW 3-Series - in terms of size, handling, technology and refinement. Riding on GM's new rear/all-wheel-drive Alpha platform, the ATS was optimized at the demanding Nurburgring track in Germany and has the responsive driving dynamics to prove it." -- Left Lane News
  • "We bet you've never driven an American production 4-door sedan that worked as sweet as this." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The 2014 Cadillac ATS is an impressive all-around performer, thanks to its poised ride, sure-footed handling and excellent response from the steering and brakes. More demanding drivers might criticize the steering's so-so levels of feedback, but overall, the compact Cadillac is a fine daily driver that can also provide plenty of entertainment on a Sunday morning drive." -- Edmunds
  • "Cadillac's ATS strategy was simple: Duplicate BMW 3 Series dynamics, including its eager responses, supple ride, quiet interior, and surgically precise steering. The ATS nails most of that list, particularly because of Cadillac's auto-damping magnetorheological shocks (better known as Magnetic Ride Control), part of the FE3 suspension." -- Popular Mechanics (2013)

Acceleration and Power

The ATS is available with one of three engines. The base engine is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 202 horsepower. The first option is a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 272 horsepower, and the second option is a 3.6-liter V6 rated at 321 horsepower. A six-speed automatic is standard with all engines, and a six-speed manual is available on models with the 2.0-liter turbo engine. The ATS is rated up to an EPA-estimated 22/33 mpg city/highway with the base engine, which is good for the class, though competitors like the base BMW 3-Series and Audi A4 use a bit less fuel.

Reviewers say the base engine provides adequate power, but doesn't make the ATS feel especially fast. For quicker acceleration, test drivers recommend stepping up to one of the two optional engines. Some reviewers say that while the V6 is the most powerful engine in the lineup, the manual transmission that’s available with the 2.0-liter turbo engine is a joy to use. Reviewers also say that the ATS’ automatic transmission is a great match for the turbocharged four-cylinder engine.

See full 2014 Cadillac ATS specs »

  • "The base 2.5-liter engine is smooth, but it delivers tepid acceleration compared with other entry-level powertrains in this class. Fortunately, both the 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder and 3.6-liter V6 provide thrust more in keeping with this Cadillac's athletic personality. Of these two, the V6 would be our choice, mostly because the 2.0-liter turbo gets noisy under hard acceleration and isn't as refined as the four-cylinder engines in rival sedans." -- Edmunds
  • "The V6 power makes the 6-speed automatic's job easy, but that's not the combination we'd recommend - even if you can afford it. For the enthusiast that lurks in many of us, we recommend the 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder - with the 6-speed automatic if you must, but with the available 6-speed manual transmission if you want to give BMW's 328i sedan a run for pavement glory." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The manual gearbox is precise, slick, and satisfying; the automatic is well matched to the engine's torquey output." -- Car and Driver (2013)
  • "The V-6 emits a decent rasp as you lay into it. It's one of the better 60-degree V-6 sounds out there, considering how hard it is to make that type of engine sound good. The turbo-four, meanwhile, makes something of a soft growl that, again, is pleasing for a four-cylinder. Both engines doled out power in a nice, smooth pull to redline, though the V-6 didn't feel all that much faster on the road than the turbo-four." -- Motor Trend (2013)

Handling and Braking

The ATS comes standard with rear-wheel drive, and all-wheel drive is optional with all but the base engine. Test drivers say the ATS has impressive handling befitting a sport sedan and a fairly firm ride. Most agree that the steering is responsive, though some say that it doesn't offer much feedback. One reviewer says the brakes don't have great pedal feel, but otherwise deliver linear stops and good control.

  • "The 272-horsepower 2.0-liter delivers determined acceleration and legitimate lightweight sports-sedan handling, aided in no small measure by the available FE3 suspension with 'Magnetic Ride Control,' a term that did not strike us in the least as an overstatement either on the road or at the track." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "In every setting, body motions are tightly controlled and the ride is surprisingly firm over Michigan's lousy pavement." -- Car and Driver (2013)
  • "The electric power steering is precise and well-tuned - not the best feedback I've experienced, but certainly not the worst. The brakes were similar - not the best feedback and pedal feel, but fine controllability, very linear on application and decent on release, both with the standard and Brembo brakes." -- Cars.com (2013)
  • "If there's one place that BMW is getting ripped off here, it's in the ride/comfort/handling balance. It leans ever so slightly towards luxury, but this isn't a Camaro. It's much better." -- Jalopnik (2013)
  • "And it does handle, fancy shocks or not. Cadillac claims the ATS weighs as much as 160 pounds less than the last 3 Series we tested, but it retains a solid, weighty feel on the road. It comes off planted and confident, ready to glide through corners with ease rather than attack them with unbridled fury." -- Motor Trend (2013)
Review Last Updated: 9/17/14

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