The Cadillac ATS, now featuring PALEnlarge Photo
If you’ve driven on a track, you know that maximum acceleration out of a corner generally requires you to be in a lower gear. On the street, however, most drivers prefer smoothness and fuel efficiency over acceleration, which is why most transmissions are hesitant to downshift mid-corner, unless you really put your foot into it.
On Cadillac ATS models with the six-speed automatic transmission, PAL detects when a driver is entering a corner in an enthusiastic manner, and automatically downshifts to a lower gear to aid acceleration and provide a degree of engine braking.
PAL is only active when the driver has the ATS in “Sport” suspension mode, and the computer will hold lower gears as long as the car is being driven in a spirited manner. We assume it’s smart enough to know when downshifting would cause snap oversteer, testing the capability of the car’s stability control system.
As soon as the driver goes back to a more leisurely pace, PAL disengages and the computer selects gears that favor fuel efficiency over performance. Cadillac says its six-speed automatic now features faster shift times, too, designed to improve rev-matching on downshifts.
We’re not sure that PAL will ever be up there with ABS and EST in common usage, but we’re glad that Cadillac is giving automatic transmission ATS buyers an extra portion of performance. Whatever they decide to call it.