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2019 Cadillac ATS Review

2019 Cadillac ATS Review
The 2019 Cadillac ATS pares down to only a two-door coupe this year as it heads toward the sunset as Cadillac's sporty compact.

The 2019 Cadillac ATS drops two doors this year, but retains its European character and manners. With lackluster sales numbers and a shifting strategy from Cadillac, the ATS will be offered only as a coupe going forward. Even though the sedan is off the table, the remaining coupe is fun to drive and relatively luxurious, and deserves a 6.4 out of 10 overall rating.

The ATS comes in four trims this year: Standard, Luxury, Premium Luxury, and Premium Performance. Standard and Luxury trimmed models are equipped with 2.0-liter turbo-4 that makes 272 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. The top two trims get Cadillac’s 3.6-liter V-6 that makes 335 hp and 285 lb-ft of torque. An 8-speed auto is the standard offering, but certain trims of the ATS can be configured with a Tremec 6-speed manual that’s more fun. All but the Premium Performance model are available with all-wheel drive.

Cadillac didn’t drop the rocket ATS-V—it’s still around to pester the BMW M4 and Mercedes-AMG C63. We cover that model in a separate review.

Our pick is the Standard ATS with 6-speed manual. This model still gets Cadillac’s excellent 8.0-inch infotainment unit with Bose sound system and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. The allure of a quick-footed coupe with a potent V-6 is strong, but the fun loses its shine when the $10,000 price bump shows up on the sticker.

All ATS models are equipped to levels befitting a Cadillac, but base model’s accommodations can feel meager at times when details like its synthetic leather upholstery are considered. After adding a few options, the ATS moves uptown fast, with real wood or carbon fiber trim and heated/ventilated leather seats.

Thankfully, all ATS models come equipped with Cadillac’s responsive, colorful, 8.0-inch touchscreen with Bose sound, Bluetooth connectivity, and Apple Carplay/Android Auto.

There’s a utilitarian feel to the ATS, with only what’s needed and not much more. That’s not necessarily what we want from a Cadillac.

The 2019 Cadillac ATS carries a familiar, aged look that hasn’t changed much since the model’s introduction several years ago. We don’t mind it, but it’s average by now. We rate the 2019 ATS 5 out of 10 for its buttoned-up appearance and aging—but not bad—exterior lines. 

The ATS carries such a recognizable design at this point, any changes to the exterior seem to pale in comparison. The look has aged well, but only because it didn’t wear the trailblazing silhouettes that some of Cadillac’s other vehicles have.

The ATS is a less-sharp approximation of Cadillac’s CTS, with rounded lines coddling the grille and lower front bumper. The now-ubiquitous swept-back headlight shape looks almost out of place here, oddly pointy on an otherwise pedestrian profile.

Inside, visibility is aided by a low dash and well-placed controls. In some colors, the dash can feel imposingly dark and drab, but the minimalist look works well to draw the eye to the ATS’ 8.0-inch infotainment screen and capacitive controls beneath it. Neat features like wireless charging are almost lost in the otherwise uninspired design.

The 2019 ATS has nearly all the elements required to be a fun, all-around performer.

The 2019 ATS is fun to drive and much livelier than its unassuming appearance lets on. We rate it 8 out of 10 for its strong powertrains, entertaining ride, and superb handling, all of which are vitally important for a sports coupe to get right. 

Two engines are offered across the ATS line in 2019: a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 that makes 272 horsepower and a 335-hp 3.6-liter V-6. Both powerplants are paired to an 8-speed automatic, but the turbo-4 can get a smooth-shifting 6-speed manual for a match made in twisty-road heaven.

Surprisingly, the smaller, less-powerful engine will win the enthusiast’s heart in the ATS. The pairing of a lighter engine with the option to click through your own gears makes for a pleasurable driving experience, and one that is more usable day-to-day than competitors like the Mercedes-Benz C300 and BMW 328i.
Move up the model line to the Premium Luxury and Premium Performance models, and the ATS gets an efficient, but powerful, V-6 powerplant. Equipped with cylinder-deactivation tech that cuts two cylinders under light loads, the bigger engine nearly matches the 2.0-liter’s fuel economy. The V-6 delivers a smoother, more effortless driving experience, but may feel disconnected or distant to some drivers.

No matter the trim or engine, the ATS handles corners effortlessly. Even the base model with a more mainstream tire setup offers plenty of grip. Higher trim levels with stickier tires and magnetically charged fluid-filled damper system tighten up drives even more. In these configurations, the ATS shares much of its suspension technology with the Chevrolet Corvette, and it’s a welcome addition to the Cadillac coupe.

The ATS is an all-around performer and a thrill to drive. The coupe has a wider track than the recently departed sedan that offers sharpened handling without sacrificing ride quality. Brembo-supplied brakes handle stopping duties for all ATS models.

Comfort & Quality
The 2018 ATS’ upscale interior finishes are easy to forget when sitting uncomfortably in the back seat.

Even at entry level, the ATS has one of the most complete tech and convenience offerings of any vehicle in its class. Despite this, the coupe loses a point for a back seat and interior that feels tight by any standard. We rate the 2019 ATS 6 out of 10 for its comfortable front seats and overall quality feel. 

Standard versions are equipped with questionable synthetic leather. The ATS gets interesting with a few options boxes checked, where real wood and carbon fiber accent an interior coated in high-end leather. This setup places the ATS firmly in the upper levels of the luxury pack, where it almost catches the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, and handily smacks down many other competitors’ offerings.

The sporty coupe’s seating designs are a stark departure from the Cadillacs of years past, where firm and supportive now take the lead over cushy comfort. Both front seats are highly adjustable and along with the low dash make for good outward visibility. Rear seats lack head, hip, and leg room, which makes anything longer than a quick jaunt uncomfortable for anyone over five feet tall.

Even though interior cabin storage is placed in thoughtful and useful places, the 10.3-cubic-foot trunk is small in its class. Most people wouldn’t buy a coupe for home improvement store runs, but the ATS’ shortage of usable cargo space could make it a difficult daily driver for many.

The 2019 ATS is perfectly safe in base trim, but advanced safety features are locked away in more expensive models.

The 2019 Cadillac ATS is pared down this year to a two-door version that hasn’t yet been tested by federal or independent authorities. We’ve withheld our safety score pending those results, but given the low numbers of coupes sold, we’re not holding our breath. We will update this section as more data is released. 

The 2019 ATS can be equipped with an array of optional advanced safety tech like forward collision warning, lane-keep assist, rear-cross traffic alerts, auto high-beams, and more, but the tech is not available on base models at all and is optional on Luxury trims. Premium and Premium Performance trims get the features as standard equipment, but we’re then talking about vehicles that are almost $50,000 before options and tax.

The 2019 ATS can be set up to please almost any taste.

The 2019 ATS is offered in four trims, two engine choices, and rear- or all-wheel drive available across most of the range. With an entertaining 6-speed manual available in certain configurations, the ATS has the right elements in place to be a true sports coupe and all-round performer. We give the ATS an 8 out of 10 for its high degree of customization and innovative infotainment system. 

The ATS lineup consists of Standard, Luxury, Premium Luxury, and Premium Performance models. Standard and Luxury models come with a 2.0-liter turbo-4, while Premium Luxury and Premium Performance trims are equipped with a 3.6-liter V-6.

All models are equipped with Cadillac’s feature-rich 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment unit. With haptic feedback and standard Apple CarPlay/Android Auto compatibility, the ATS is tech-heavy even in base trim.

The ATS Standard comes equipped with keyless ignition, 4G LTE hotspot capability, wireless smartphone charging, synthetic leather seating surfaces, and 18-inch wheels.

Premium Luxury and Premium Performance models turn the luxe up to max levels with the full suite of advanced safety features, advanced security system, paddle shifters, power sunroof, and illuminated outside door handles. The Performance model carries exclusives like magnetic ride control, color head-up display, and an optional track performance package.

Premium Performance models are available in rear-wheel drive only and come equipped with summer tires on a sport wheel package.

Fuel Economy
The ATS is middle of the pack in fuel economy, but the V-6 is a real miser for an engine of its size.

The 2019 ATS isn’t a gas mileage overachiever by any stretch, but does well enough to hold fast among competitors. We rate it 5 out of 10 for its surprisingly efficient V-6 and decent fuel economy in rear-wheel drive models. 

ATS models with the turbo-4 are EPA-rated at 22 mpg city, 31 highway, 25 combined. Versions equipped with a V-6 manage 20/30/24 mpg, which nearly matches its less powerful sibling. Opting for all-wheel drive cuts 2-3 mpg across the board.


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