AutoComparison Pick of the Year 2013 Cadillac ATS

New Car Game Changer of the Year Award: The 2013 Cadillac ATS Sedan

By Staff Contributor

Although this is the first year we have put this award into place, we realized that each new model year there is always a new vehicle that comes in and truly redefines what is expected of that type of car and often times readjusts the automaker pecking order in regards to who is leading and who is floundering.

We truly felt this was the case this year after having the privilege of piloting the 2013 Cadillac ATS Turbo around a wide open race track where it shamed every German out there when it came to offering a truly visceral and fun to drive experience whose suspension did nothing but flatter the driver’s skills. Our test turbo also boasted one of the finest manual transmissions we have tested recently in any sports sedan, BMW most definitely included.

2013 Cadillac ATS

We also drove the more luxury oriented ATS with the 3.6 liter 321 horsepower V6 mated exclusively to Cadillac’s excellent 6-speed automatic which delivers imperceptible shifts whenever you need extra power. We also love this 3.6 liter V6 for its characterful engine note—too much of the luxury
competition now relies on turbocharging their 6-cylinder motors and as such the driver loses out on the unique rhythm of a well-designed, high powered 6-cylinder. Again, that may have been a reference to BMW but that is up to you to decide. All we know is, BMW used to make cars that were as exciting to drive and offered as many variations to buyers as Cadillac is now doing with the 2013 ATS.

Prices start as low as $33,095 for a model with the base 2.5 liter 202 horsepower direct-injected 4-cylinder we have yet to drive but even the most basic trim model with the 2.0 turbo engine we so loved starts just over $35,000 and offers up a BMW 328i beating 272 horsepower. Both 4-cylinders are available with either 6-speed manual gearboxes or 6-speed automatic transmissions both of which impressed us greatly for their precision and overall sporty feel.

Trust us, you won’t miss out not having 7 or 8 gears with your luxury car automatic transmission. Maybe if other luxury brands focused on what mattered to real world luxury sport sedan buyers (hint: gimmicky adjustable suspension/steering systems don’t help), they too could have come up with a model like the utterly pure ATS which is nothing short of a true revolution for the Cadillac brand. Finally, Cadillac is ready to go not only toe to toe with BMW, Audi, Mercedes, Lexus, Volvo, Infiniti and Acura’s most driver focused models but it pretty much kicks the ass of most of their similarly priced offerings in the process.

2013 Cadillac ATS

Lastly, not even hallowed Audi is safely ahead anymore when it comes to interior design, materials quality, the use of realistic and expensive trim accent pieces and being the perennial class leader when it comes to crafting “special” feeling cabins. First off, Cadillac’s in-dash CUE system is a snap to learn and easily integrates all of your smartphone/navigation/Bluetooth and various other functions into one of the easiest to use touch screen systems out there. And the Leather quality mixed with the wide variety of optional hide colorings and trim contrasts made us feel like every ATS model we sat in was quite special.

2013 Cadillac ATS

This is not your grandfather’s Cadillac or even your dad’s CTS. This is Cadillac taken from the promise of the CTS-V sub-brand and brought into the realm of affordability of most luxury sedan shoppers. The 2013 Cadillac ATS absolutely belongs on your test drive short list no matter which brands you have been loyal to previously.

(Note: All vehicles provided by manufacturers for comparison test purposes. Photos provided by Cadillac.)