Cadillac has always been synonymous with luxury, however, the lack of fresh blood to their lineup in the last decade left them tired and overlooked. That changed with the introduction of the 2013 Cadillac ATS. A new segment for Cadillac, the ATS brings the performance and luxury Cadillac is known for to a smaller, sportier platform. I was “tasked” with driving an ATS for a weekend and I have to say I was nothing less than impressed. I, like many others in my generation, initially thought Cadillacs were only enjoyed by those with an AARP card tucked into their wallet and spending their days on the golf course. I’m happy to say my assumptions were dead wrong.
At first glance this car is gorgeous. It sports the new, more aggressive front fascia that would later appear on the CTS, XTS, ELR, and future updates to Cadillac’s lineup. With features like swept back LED headlamps, 18-inch polished aluminum wheels, and a noticeably sportier stance than Cadillac’s past you can’t help but appreciate how far Cadillac has come. Currently one of the oldest American car brands, second only to Buick, Cadillac is amongst the oldest car brands in the world. Founded in 1902 with lineup consisting of 2 vehicles, the Runabout and Tonneau, both of which resembling the iconic Ford Model-A, Cadillac has spent the last 111 years perfecting the engineering found in their modern day offerings.
I’d love to tell you that I had a grand adventure during my time with the ATS but that would be quite a stretch from the truth. My weekend consisted of errands and traffic that the ATS took from mind-numbingly boring to fun in an instant. Equipped with the optional 321hp 3.6L V6 under the hood, I found myself smiling and giddy over making it to the next red light quicker that my fellow commuters. Its combination of available power, sport suspension, and remarkable list of safety features made driving this little beauty an absolute delight. The wide array of safety features that can be found in the ATS make you feel as if you have a co-pilot in the passenger seat. Getting too close to the car in front of you? Let me apply the brakes for you. Drifting into the next lane on accident? Let me warn you by vibrating your seat. The list goes on with features like adaptive cruise control, heads-up display, and parking assist to name a few.
Despite its efforts to appeal to a growing tech-savvy generation, Cadillac has taken some heat over the technology found in their new lineup. At the center of the criticism is the Cadillac User Experience (CUE) System. CUE is not something you master while at highway speed on your way to work. It takes some getting used to with its stylish interface that noticeably lacks buttons and dials. I spent my initial 15 minute commute home listening to the 70’s channel due to the fact that I couldn’t immediately figure out how to change the station. After spending about 10 minutes in the driveway upon arriving home, the CUE System was at my every command. So for those who have deemed the system too difficult to use, they simply haven’t taken the time to understand how it works.
Many would argue that Cadillac’s shift to a sportier offering sacrificed things like comfort and space. I’m here to tell you that’s not the case. Among my various weekend outings I had the pleasure of attending a baby shower for a good friend. Why have I deemed this notable you ask? To my surprise I was easily able to load the backseat of the ATS with gifts, including a stroller/car seat combo that was by no means easily portable while still in its box. A feat I would have thought impossible for a vehicle boasting the smallest platform of a brand’s lineup. In terms of comfort, Cadillac couldn’t go wrong if they tried. Every surface is adorned in supple leather with aluminum trim accents and features like heated seats and heated steering wheel make this one comfy ride. It’s worth mentioning that the suspension found in the ATS is quite a bit sportier that those found in it’s bigger brothers which results in a stiffer ride but by no means uncomfortable.
All in all the ATS offers a lot of power, technology, and sophistication in a smaller, more wallet-friendly package. Going into this “task” I was less than optimistic about what I might be able to highlight about the ATS. Now I find myself trying to turn every conversation into one about my time with the ATS, warranted or not. It all comes down to this: Cadillac is here to stay and if you think they’re still meant for your Grandmother you’re in for a surprise the next time she’s in the driver’s seat. I’d strongly recommend wearing your seatbelt.