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Cadillac ATS 2017 Review

2017 Cadillac ATS is, a small luxury sedan are many. There's the 3 Series, of course. It has more rear seat space than the ATS, and its six-cylinder engine is noticeably more powerful. If it's a supremely classy cabin you want, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class is way to go. As if those aren't enough, there's also the fully redesigned Audi A4, all-new Jaguar XE and popular Lexus IS to consider. Still, it's a credit to Cadillac that the ATS manages to distinguish itself in this company. It's worth your attention.

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Smaller and lighter than its CTS stablemate, the ATS serves as Cadillac's counter to the BMW 3 Series. Introduced for the 2013 model year, the ATS continues today as fundamentally the same car, though it has received enhancements along the way. With its lively steering, nimble handling and attractively creased sheet metal, the 2017 ATS is going to appeal to you if you're searching for a small luxury sedan with a healthy dose of performance and attitude.

Having received revised engines and a new transmission last year, the 2017 ATS carries over largely intact. Its calling card, though, remains its playful handling and pin-sharp steering. It's genuinely entertaining to drive and is the most convincing entry-level luxury sedan ever produced by an American automaker. It's not entirely without faults, as its CUE infotainment interface isn't the benchmark in the class and the ATS has a smaller backseat and cargo area than its competition.


Two engines are available for the 2017 Cadillac ATS. All ATS engines come standard with rear-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic transmission.

The base engine is a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder rated at 272 hp and 295 pound-feet of torque. All-wheel drive is optional, as is a six-speed manual transmission (but only with rear-wheel drive). Equipped with the automatic, the base 2017 ATS is expected to return the same results as in 2016 — an estimated 26 mpg combined (22 city/32 highway) in rear-drive configuration and 25 mpg combined (22 city/30 highway) with AWD. With the manual gearbox, the 2.0T is rated at 23 mpg combined (20 city/29 highway).

The optional 3.6-liter V6 cranks out 335 hp and 285 lb-ft of torque. No manual transmission is available with the V6, but all-wheel drive is optional. The ATS 3.6 is rated at 24 mpg combined (20 city/30 highway) with rear-wheel drive and 22 mpg combined (19 city/27 highway) with AWD.


With its big-hearted power delivery and eagerness to play, the 3.6-liter V6 turns the ATS into a little hot rod. It's the handling poise that really puts the cherry on the ATS sundae, though. This is an impressive all-around driver's car, with nimbless and precision in equal measure. Its quick steering has actual feel, and the brakes are responsive and inspire confidence. In this respect, Cadillac has out-BMW'd BMW. Get the summer tires and sport-tuned suspension and you'll likely find all sorts of excuses to exercise your ATS on twisting roads. Be aware, however, that the ride quality suffers noticeably with the sport suspension, particularly when driving over rough pavement.

The base 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder delivers a satisfying amount of forward thrust, though its refinement and noise level under hard acceleration leave something to be desired. Its fuel-efficiency benefit over the V6 isn't tremendous, either. And although it's nice to have the option of a manual transmission, the ATS' isn't our favorite. Shifts aren't as smooth as they could be, and the shifter doesn't feel particularly impressive in your hand.


The cabin in the 2017 Cadillac ATS is trimmed in a variety of reasonably high-quality materials, including tasteful wood and metallic accents. While it's attractive enough, we've noted a few more fit and finish issues in the ATS than in similarly priced competitors.

The standard CUE infotainment interface features an attractive 8-inch touchscreen and operates similarly to a smartphone or tablet, via taps, swipes and pinches. Furthermore, what's known as haptic feedback lets you know when you've pressed a virtual button by pulsing when you touch it.

When the car is turned off, the sleek, buttonless center stack looks uncluttered and even futuristic. In practice, however, the lack of discrete buttons is frustrating because its use depends on your vision and not simply feel. Some of CUE's features, such as the slide bar for volume adjustment, turn out to be more troublesome than conventional controls. Until you get accustomed to the system, expect to glance at the center stack frequently any time you make a minor adjustment to the fan or radio settings. In this class, we prefer the BMW iDrive, Mercedes COMAND and Audi MMI systems, all of which employ a multidirectional knob-based controller.

Many drivers will find it easy to get into a comfortable driving position, and our experience shows that the firm front seats provide ample support even on long drives. Curiously, the optional sport seats don't provide much more lateral support than the standard seats, even with the addition of power-adjustable bolsters.

The compact size of the ATS is a blessing and a curse, as its backseat is smaller than those of most other entry-level luxury sport sedans. These tighter backseat confines aren't necessarily a deal-breaker, but be aware that taller adults will find headroom, shoulder room and legroom in short supply. Likewise, the trunk of the ATS is similarly lacking in space. In spite of its wide opening, it offers just 10.4 cubic feet of capacity, and the base trim does not have folding rear seatbacks.


Standard safety features for the 2017 Cadillac ATS include antilock disc brakes, traction control, stability control, active front head restraints, front-seat side and knee airbags, and full-length side curtain airbags. Also standard is OnStar, which includes automatic crash notification, on-demand roadside assistance, remote door unlocking, stolen vehicle assistance and turn-by-turn navigation. A rearview camera is standard on all trims.

A Teen Driver system, which can be used to set and monitor certain vehicle parameters for young drivers, is a new standard feature this year.

The Safety and Security package and the Driver Awareness package both add a blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert, automatic wipers, automatic high beams, lane departure prevention, a forward collision warning system, and the Safety Alert seat that buzzes the driver seat bottom as an additional form of warning. Also included is a lane-change alert system that detects quickly approaching vehicles in adjacent lanes when the turn signal is activated.

The Driver Assist package bolsters that content with a head-up display, adaptive cruise control, and a forward and rearward collision mitigation system with automatic emergency braking.

In Edmunds brake testing, an ATS 2.0T with summer tires came to a stop from 60 mph in 112 feet, an average distance for this segment. Impressively, an ATS 3.6 stopped in 113 feet despite wearing slipperier all-season tires.

In government crash testing, the ATS received an overall score of five stars out of five, with five stars for overall frontal crash protection and five stars for overall side crash protection.