Video Review: 2013 Cadillac ATS 2.0TA real American hero

2013 Cadillac ATS

For what seems like eons, if you wanted a compact luxury sedan that was also sporty, there was no need to look anything other than a creation of ze Germans. Take your pick because it’s either going to wear a three-pointed star, roundel, or a quartet of rings. Finally, however, there’s a new party person in this category… and it hails from ‘Murica.

I speak, of course, of the 2013 Cadillac ATS. It boasts shapely good looks, a trio of engines (two of which are good), and the ability to order it in a row-your-own form. Still, the ATS has to be pretty damn good before we can consider as a true competitor in this highly competitive segment. I spent a week with the car and during that time I decided to take it to one of Southern California’s best driving roads. I’m talking about Angeles Crest, and I didn’t take it easy on this baby Caddy.

How did it fare? Click past the break and see for yourself.

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[Disclaimer: Cadillac loaned my the key fob to the ATS, and it came with the car as well. I had it spending evenings in my driveway for a week, and the car was delivered with a full tank of gas. Three tanks later, I had to give the car back.]


  1. I saw one in traffic not too long ago. I will say that pictures/video do not do it justice, it is a very handsome car, even more so in person.

  2. This platform has me very happy. I may have heard you wrong, but the 3.6 is good for 321 horse, not almost 300. If the AWD variants of the car had a stick it would pretty much be perfect. I'm not too sure an ATS-V will be hitting the market though. Considering the platform will be under the next generation Camaro, CTS, Grand National (really? a 2.0T bearing the grand national name?) and GNX (with glorious twin turbo 3.6 liter 400 horsepower goodness) there might not be room to slot in a V variant without stepping on someones toes.

      1. I agree and that will probably be the GNX motor too. I don't see anything being in a regular CTS being the ATSV motor if they're on the same platform though. This begs the question of whats going to be in the CTS-V though… I'm guessing the horsepower number will start with a 6 though.

  3. Interesting video, interesting car. Because I don't live in the US I doubt I'll see many (if any), but it's still good to see GM finally stepping up. I appreciate the unique look as well, which is something you can't accuse the German competition of. That I don't particularly like the look is less relevant I guess. Let's say I applaud diversity.

  4. I HATE HATE HATE the headlamp housings coming back to mid-wheel arch.
    Designers. Stop this RIGHT MEOW!
    I'll keep my 2005 V8 STS for now. Rumor has it a new land-yacht RWD beast is close to release.
    Can't wait can't wait can't wait.

    1. On design critique corner, I'll throw in a positive – in spite of being smaller, it doesn't have the CTS' visually tiny rear doors.

      1. I've walked around a parked one on display, a couple of times…and an XTS…still don't like them, but yeah, the mini-looking rear doors on the CTS are odd-looking.
        In fact, an XTS passed my neighbor and I on the street, Saturday, while we were chatting in his driveway.
        I watched it pass and said, "that car is flat-out ugly."
        He started laughing about my candor. I'm not a fan of the stubby trunk look and swoopy everything else.

        1. The trouble with the XTS' ass is the trunk has that weird over-embellished center brake light, which adds a bit of a step to the trunk and accidentally makes it look narrow and tall. I guess the car actually is narrow and tall but that cue, combined with the super tall taillights really emphasizes that.

  5. Jeff, I haven't had a chance to watch the video yet so I am sorry if this is mentioned. I am wondering if the ATS you drove had the revised manual transmission that GM did after the initial reviews did not like it?

    1. It *may* have… I didn't push it has hard as I did on track, so I actually didn't get the 3-2 lockout that I experienced prior. However, it still didn't feel as solid as offerings from Mazda or Honda

  6. Nice review. Informative and straightforward, personable without being hokey, and attractive, stylish production…again without being gimmicky.
    But here's the question you didn't answer, Jeff — given all the other transportation options that are right around the ATS's price of admission, if you were looking to spend that sort of coin out of your own pocket, would you buy this?

    1. A '69 Charger in decent shape – I'm the wrong guy to ask.
      Ok, FINE if I have to play by the rules, I would seriously consider this if I were shopping in this segment. In fact, I don't think the car has any sort of stigma attached to it yet that the others might.

      1. Why a 69? I've had an internal argument since I was 16 or so. I much prefer the 68's front end, I kind of like the 69's rear end better but don't like the chrome split in the middle. The 70 has a cleaner front end to me, but the all black is still preferred in my book. Just wondering what makes you settle on the 69. Maybe I've overlooking something.

  7. I'm surprised how good it looks in sparkly black. I've only seen them in AARP redmaroon, which I hate on everything, particularly this.
    To me the shape is good, but the proportions and position of the features (grille, lights, badges) is just a little off. Seems like the grille needs to be bigger and lower and there's a giant visual blank spot between the front wheel and the rearview mirror.

      1. Agreed on both counts. That Saturn color almost has a hint of orange to it, which redeems it for me. Orange fixes a lot of problems.I view 90% of new cars as ~50k mile propositions, this one included. Wouldn't want to see what happens with that sea of black after 10 years.

        1. I'm not even that scared of a normal black. For some reason that paint gets the web scratches like nothing I've ever seen. At least it did… on Saturns…

    1. I like that color. I think it might because my mom always loved it when I was a boy, but I would rock an ATS in that red.

  8. Jeff, was your test car a manual? Don't have time to watch the video now, but in the reviews I've seen in the past, testers said the manual gearbox was what let the car down.

    1. Its important to note that GM has since revised their manual transmission for the ATS (see my comment above). No ATS`s that have made it to the public have the old transmission apparently. Thats why I was curious which car Jeff drove since I havent seen any official reviews for the revised transmission

  9. Poll: Who is ever driving along with their own music collection playing and thinks "Wait, who is this?"

    1. This guy. I carry a modest 8G with me in the car and due to a lot of record company sampler albums, I don't always know what I'm listening to.

    2. Me, frequently. The unique properties of the internet combined with bands sending me CDs sometimes means that I've got all sorts of music on me that I'm not that familiar with.

    3. Happens to me sometimes. I download so much music and so it's hard to listen to it all, especially since I have to listen to most of it at least three times before it gets into my brain memory compartment. I currently have 14,081 songs.

    4. Routinely. There are 751 artists in my iTunes library…I'm supposed to keep straight who did what?

  10. Great review and great filming. Obviously stepping up the production value, Well done guys.
    And it seems like a fantastic car also. Give me a wagon and I'll take one, even in slushbox form.

      1. Yes, it would have been glorious!
        Actually, it wasn't so much the RWD vs FWD. It's seeing Saab tech put to use in the ATS, what could have been a new 9-3. Or seeing the 9-4X bastardized into the Cadillac SRX and then banished from the fold.
        Ah well, just pining for the fjards, I suppose.

        1. It was only available in AWD. I think rear only would be the foremost saab blasphemy.
          Obligatory: I want a 9-7X Aero.

  11. Love the product placement. Should have had a Hooniverse podcast queued up on the media player!

    1. My phone is called HooniverseJeff – haha. it's like that in every car I connect to Blueteeth

  12. I can't get past those gauges, the font reminds me of the old Astro Van.
    It's good that the 2.0T is competitive, but the V6 doesn't seem to be competitive with the S4 or 335i.

    1. Compared to the 335, it has 20 more horse and 20 less torques. The S4 does have it beat though.

  13. More than anything, I see this killing off the Regal GS – considering they're identically priced and powered with the 2.0T, I imagine quite a few people will take RWD and the 400lbs savings over a few more interior cubes.

    1. I don't think they will, similarly specced the GS is around $10k cheaper than the ATS, at least in the States it is.

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