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It's joined the Cadillac lineup as of the 2013 model year for a simple reason. As they pass from generation to generation, most cars inevitably get bigger. The Mercedes-Benz C Class and the BMW 3-Series have followed that trend, and it's also been the case for the CTS, Cadillac's now mid-size sedan.
The 2013 Cadillac ATS sedan is a true compact, and it wears the latest evolution of the brand's "Art & Science" styling theme. It's been diluted over the years since the first CTS wore sharply angled lines, back in 2001. The ATS is more discreet, with a softer wedge and more anatomic curves stamped into its body. From some angles, its proportions are a dead ringer for today's C Class--which lets it blend in seamlessly into its competitive set. The interior's a winning piece of design, with a center stack most often dominated by LCD touchscreen controls, by ambient lighting and by a high grade of interior trim, from wood to metal to carbon fiber.
The new architecture that underpins the ATS will one day lead to other body styles with the same nameplate--and maybe a new Camaro for Chevy, too. For now it's a sedan, and it's fitted with a choice of three engines, all with direct injection. There's a 2.5-liter four-cylinder with 200 horsepower and 188 pound-feet of torque, and a related turbocharged four with 270 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. The most powerful version sports GM's 3.6-liter V-6, rated at 321 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque.
Six-speed manual and automatic transmissions are available, but the manual comes only on the turbo-four edition. Fuel economy figures as high as 31 mpg, while 0-60 mph times are estimated as low as 5.4 seconds for the V-6 version. The swift acceleration and competitive gas mileage trace back to the ATS' low curb weight of 3,400 pounds, among the best in the class. The suspension is fully independent, and the ATS' weight is balanced at 50:50; handling isn't just competitive, it's stellar, and the ATS' electric steering teaches the racks in the BMW and Audi's A4 some valuable lessons.Cadillac's new CUE system controls infotainment on the ATS, and it sits front and center with a large LCD touchscreen on its more elaborate iteration. In that form (there's a base version without touch features on entry-level ATS sedans), CUE uses an 8-inch capacitive touchscreen on the dash and a 5.7-inch reconfigurable screen on the gauge cluster to control everything from navigation and audio, to climate control and vehicle settings. Voice commands are another way to run those systems, as they are on Ford's MyFord Touch. The instrument panel also has touch-sensitive buttons that can control main audio and climate control functions quickly. It's a system with its detractors and its fans--and a long, steep learning curve no matter which side you take.
The ATS backs up the in-cabin tech with a myriad of safety features including eight standard airbags and StabiliTrak. It's also earned the NHTSA's best score of five stars overall for crash protection. Optional technology includes full-speed, range-adaptive cruise control, Intelligent brake assist, brake pre-fill automatic collision preparation, and much more. With all this optional technology available, Cadillac is not only looking towards the technology and driving-enthusiast crowd, but the safety-conscious crowd as well. With a base price of just under $34,000, the fully equipped Cadillac ATS with all-wheel drive and a V-6 can cost more than $56,000.
For more information, including pricing with options, see The Car Connection's full review of the 2013 Cadillac ATS.