Wednesday, December 4, 2013

2014 Cadillac ATS 2.0T test drive review. Obsessed with Red Obsession

Make no mistake; the Cadillac ATS is a world-class sports sedan.  Sure, it’s easy to dismiss it as just another Cadillac, but don’t let the familiar looks fool you.   If you’re in the market for a BMW 3-Series and you don’t test drive an ATS, you’re not doing yourself any favors.  Take this 2014 ATS 2.0T Premium that I had the opportunity to drive last week.  Not only was it a great running and handling car, but certain aspects of the styling were beyond expectations.

And those certain aspects are also known as “the interior.”  This car had what Cadillac called a Morello Red interior with Jet Black accents, and it was one of the prettiest combinations I’ve seen in a late-model car in a very long time.  That red leather was just gorgeous, and even the carbon fiber inlays on the instrument panel were exactly right.  I’m sure some people would complain that the red was garish or too extroverted, but I’m here to tell you that those peoples’ opinions are incorrect.  The colors, materials, stitching, fit, and finish of this cabin were as beautiful as anyone could ever want or deserve.

Most high-end new cars have some version of an infotainment system at this point, and the CUE system in this Cadillac did everything you would want or expect.  Naturally, it linked to your mobile devices, had all the satellite, Pandora, and terrestrial radio options, and presented it to you through crystal-clear Bose speakers.  Of course, you can get that in a Chevrolet.  The little gimmick that makes this setup Cadillac-worthy is the haptic controls that appear as you put your hand close to the screen.  Personally, I’d rather just be able to see the button and push it instead of moving your hand up there to see where it’s going to be, but it does clean up the look of the display, and it impresses first-time passengers.

Outside, the ATS has a clean, if not somewhat understated appearance.  I’ve spent some time in and around lots of different Cadillacs, and I still have trouble telling an ATS apart from the larger CTS at first glance.  The ATS does have some great lighting details, like those awesome blades that cut from the fog lights, up the headlights, and back down the top of the fender.  The LED lighting in the door handles is also a really cool touch.  The styling is tight, crisp, clean.  It’s like a perfectly pressed, athletic fit suit.  There’s no bulk here.  Nothing is out of place.  This is a handsome car.

I have driven a 3.6-liter V6-equipped ATS before, but my Red Obsession Tintcoat tester had a turbocharged 2.0-liter four connected to a 6-speed automatic transmission.  You could tell that it wasn’t as powerful as the V6, but with only 3,500-lbs to push around, it was more than adequate.  This midlevel version had 272-hp with 260-lb/ft of torque, so you never felt like you were driving a wheezy econo-car.  Fuel mileage was listed at 21-mpg/city, 31-mpg/highway.

Another huge feature of this car is the handling.  It had all the handling goodies: Magnetic Ride Control, electronic power steering, and Stabilitrak.  Combined with some pretty 18-inch aluminum wheels and big Brembo brakes, this car always felt nimble and confident.  This is where you learn to accept that the small backseat, narrow shoulder room, and dinky cup holders.  Once you’re behind the wheel; once you realize what a premium driver-centric car is like; you understand that not everything needs to coddle you like a sofa on wheels.  This car feels light, tossable, and satisfying.  Those pretty red leather seats have the right amount of bolstering.  It’s hard to describe unless you drive it, but once you do, you’ll like it.

This car had an as-tested price of $47,615.  Yeah, that’s a lot of money for anything.  But you’re in luxury car territory here, and in Cadillac terms, this isn’t all that unreasonable.  Believe me; people will think it was $60,000-$70,000.  It looks that good, and Cadillac has that kind of reputation.  No one will ever question your affluence or impeccable taste when you arrive in one of these.

And so, we wrap up the review of another great-looking, great-driving entry from General Motors’ flagship division.  America is on a roll here, folks, because this car is a class standout whether the competition is German, British, or Japanese.  Take a look at it in the slideshow below, or click this link for a nicer version of the pictures.


  1. That is a nice car. I would much rather buy this than a BMW, since I wouldn't even consider a BMW. I love that GM is making good cars like this for those of us who want to buy from an American company.