The 2013 Cadillac ATS Luxury Compact Sedan is a hit with the media, but still has a way to go in gaining consumer acceptance of this distinctive luxury compact Cadillac sedan.
The 2013 Cadillac ATS Luxury Compact Sedan appeared in dealer showrooms in September 2012. It shows considerable promise for Cadillac in reaching a younger target demographic and bringing them to the Cadillac brand instead of going to BMW or Mercedes Benz for their first luxury sedan.
In developing the ATS, Cadillac used design and performance keys from the earlier very successful CTS mid size luxury sedan (and then coupe) that had enabled them to compete with similar sized BMW and Mercedes Benz luxury vehicles.
GM looked to reach out to younger first time Cadillac buyers by offering a CTS-like luxury compact sedan with latest technology engineering and performance options in the market at an even lower price point than CTS, that would target a younger consumer looking to make their first luxury vehicle purchase and wanting to consider options to BMW 3-Series or the Mercedes Benz C-Class.
The 2013 Cadillac ATS is available in 16 power train and trim line model configurations with MSRP entry price points from $33,990 for the rear wheel drive (RWD) and $37,795 for the all wheel drive (AWD). With three power plant options and four trim line levels, there are 16 combinations that the consumer can choose from with MSRPs topping out at $47,590 for the RWD and $48,690 for the AWD.
The trim lines for the ATS are Standard, Luxury, Performance and Premium. Not all trim lines are available for all power plants.
We have had the opportunity to drive a 2013 Cadillac ATS for this past week. The vehicle we tested was a Luxury trim line RWD vehicle with a 2.5L 4-cylinder direct injection engine mated to a 6-speed electronically controlled automatic overdrive transmission with tap shift generating 202 horsepower with 191 lb.-ft. of torque. The EPA estimated fuel economy was 22/33 mpg city/highway.
The CTS styled exterior is distinctive and draws attention as intended. This one had a Thunder Gray Chromaflair exterior with a Morello Red / Jet Black hand cut and sewn leather interior.
The ATS is equipped with a sports suspension, ZF electric variable steering, Brembo performance front brakes, Stabilitrak-Stability Control w/Traction Control, outside power and heated mirrors and 17-inch polished aluminum wheels.
On the inside the ATS has driver and passenger 8-way power seats with power lumbar adjustment. The steering wheel was leather wrapped and contained audio and cruise control switches. The information display in the instrument cluster is 5.7 inch color that was easy to read.
Other technologies included were the Rear Vision Camera System with Dynamic Guidelines, Hill Hold and Start Assist, Front and Rear Parking Assist, Remote Keyless Entry and Keyless Push-button Start.
The new CUE (Cadillac User Experience) infotainment system is installed with an 8-inch full color touch display. The system included AM/FM and SiriusXM and HD Satellite Radio with Bluetooth connectivity and Bose 7-speaker sound system.
This test ATS was upgraded with the optional CUE & Navigation System for $1,295. It added Navigation and surround sound to the Bose system. A Cold Weather Package added heated seats for both driver and passenger plus a heated steering wheel for $600. The Thunder Gray Chromaflair color was $995 additional.
With delivery, this 2013 Cadillac ATS 2.5L RWD Luxury trim level sedan priced out at $41,375.
This 2013 Cadillac ATS, overall, did not quite satisfy my expectation. The major short fall for this one is the power train.
It is simply under powered with the 2.4L engine for what I was looking for in this vehicle.
With either the 2.0L direct injection turbo (272 hp and 260 lb.-ft. of torque) or the 3.6L V6 (321 hp and 275 lb.-ft. of torque) plus all wheel drive (AWD) and adding the optional 18-inch wheels and tires, I believe this ATS would have met my expectations in both power and performance.
A couple of other areas that lowered my rating of the ATS was the use of the high gloss black surfaces and bright chrome on the interior that were fingerprint magnets and, frankly, did not communicate “luxury” to me. Other interior treatments including the leather and stitching along with other tertiary surface finishes in carbon fiber trims were, in contrast, very good.
Overall, I think the 2013 Cadillac ATS is very good and exemplifies, pretty well, the Cadillac tradition for style, engineering and performance with this new luxury compact sedan entry.
It is worthy of note that, with the 16 power train and trim level combinations, there is a significant list of other features available as options or included with different trim levels including some the latest technologies like Forward Collision Alert, Brake Automatic Collision Preparation, Lane Departure Warning, Side Blind Zone Alert and Adaptive Forward Lighting and more.
The new 2013 Cadillac ATS has garnered a lot of media notice and some notable awards since it entered the market in September 2012.
Awards include the Esquire magazine 2012 Car of the Year (awarded in September 2012), the Motor Press Guild 2013 Car of the Year, Popular Mechanics 2013 Luxury Car of the Year and recently the winner of the recent Motor Trend V6 Compact Luxury Comparison with the BMW 3-Series and Mercedes Benz C-Class.
The 2013 Cadillac ATS is also on the “short list” for the prestigious 2013 North American Car of the Year title to be awarded at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) at Detroit in January. Notably, the BMW 3 Series is also on that same short list.
Though the ATS originally was intended to complement the mid-size CTS, offering the CTS “look” in a smaller size and price to yet a different consumer, the sales of the Cadillac CTS fell by 1574 units in October 2012 after falling by 1,560 units in September. The new, less expensive Cadillac ATS introduced in September has not sold well enough to make up for the lost CTS sales. Comparing year to year 2011 – 2012, the ATS and CTS combined are down 8% from the CTS’s sales for the period in 2011.
The consumer jury appears to still be out with respect to acceptance of the new 2013 Cadillac ATS Luxury Compact Sedan and it appears it’s market entry may possibly also have “muddied” the water for its bigger brother’s market based on these latest numbers.
But, then again, the CTS started out slowly and then built considerable momentum as CTS customers slowly aligned themselves with the trim level and power train performance options they wanted in the CTS.
The ATS offers a similar considerable range of options with, it is rumored, even more interesting options to come including a coupe and a V-Series model.
Only two months into the introduction, it is too early to measure how soon and to what level, the consumer will sort out the options available in the Cadillac brand for luxury performance sedans in both compact (ATS) and mid-size (CTS) segments and embrace them.
Though appearing to struggle early in the ATS introduction, I am betting that both the CTS and ATS will be successful for Cadillac in enabling the brand to reach a wider target market and bring more younger owners to the brand.