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2016 Cadillac ATS Coupe review notes

Best-looking luxury coupe


ROAD TEST EDITOR JAKE LINGEMAN: I love the look of the ATS. It looks like what a child would draw if you told them pen a kickass, slab-sided coupe. The hood and trunk have just-right proportions and overhangs. I’m not sold on this Cadillac red/wine color, but the wheels look great and the wheel wells are small.

Inside, it’s a little hit and miss. I think it looks great -- a decent mix of sporty and luxury cues. The feel is where the problem comes in, especially on the armrests, which are pretty hard. My elbows were banging even on my short commute home. The upper dash looks nice, and is well cut and sewed, but it’s hard to the touch all the way around. The center console is symmetric, though, which my OCD mind needs to feel comfortable. The back seat, like in any coupe, is a little tight -- too tight for a 6’1” lunch colleague.

Power from the 3.6-liter V6 is good, plenty to push around this semi-lightweight. Thrust is strong right from the start and shifts from the eight-speed are extremely smooth. The paddles aren’t lightning quick, but they hold gears to redline, and are of some use getting on the expressway. The engine/trans combo is quiet, though, which led me to leave the car in fifth for the majority of my commute without even knowing. There is a bit of road and wind noise, more than I expected.

2015 Cadillac Escalade review notes

Stepping out in style


ASSOCIATE EDITOR WESLEY WREN: Lux-ur-ry. That is what anyone who basks in the glory that is the 2015 Cadillac Escalade Premium Edition must think when they see it rolling around. It looks like money. I mean, the reason it looks like money could be due to the fact that it costs more than a lot of homes in Detroit.

But the 2015 Escalade does more than just look good on the outside -- it looks good everywhere. There are cameras front and rear to aid in pulling into and backing out of parking spaces (which isn’t necessary but is absolutely helpful). The front camera is also tied into the adaptive cruise control, which takes a second to get used to if you aren’t familiar with it. Adaptive cruise control is actually one of the most fascinating parts of this luxury liner because of the way it allows you to set a cruising speed and then basically not worry about touching the accelerator or brake, even when you come up on traffic.

There are blind-spot sensors in the mirrors that illuminate a little icon to warn you about changing lanes, which is a good idea -- but considering the magical lack of blind spots on this hulking vehicle, they were just a little cherry on top of the lane-changing sundae.

The Cadillac ATS has a 3.6L V6 engine.

2015 Cadillac ATS 3.6 review notes

As good as the Germans … and just as expensive


DIGITAL EDITOR ANDREW STOY: Put the 3.6-liter V6 in an ATS, and the result is a mixed bag. This car with the 2.0-liter turbo four is one of my favorite GM sedans, but the V6 “upgrade” has traditionally done nothing but add weight, cost and some disappointing NVH characteristics.

To its credit, Cadillac seems to have spent some time on the 3.6-liter engine’s refinement; it’s not so much smoothed out as it is muffled, but the effect is basically the same, and it finally delivers its decent power output in a fashion befitting a luxury marque.

Thing is, there’s still no reason to opt for it. The base V6 ATS starts $6K higher than the 2.0-liter turbo, and by the time you move up to the Premium trim level like our tester, you can still save two grand by sticking with the arguably better four-cylinder.

The Cadillac ATS Coupe is designed to be lighter and more agile than its competitors.

World class and gorgeous

2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe 2.0T RWD review notes


ROAD TEST EDITOR JAKE LINGEMAN: This is the best paint job I’ve seen on a luxury car in years. It’s called Majestic Plum Metallic and I love every fleck. It looks a little brown in certain light, gray in others and sometimes purple. I don’t know if I’d want it on my Mustang, but for a luxury sedan, definitely.

The ATS coupe looks badass. It’s somehow both sleek and blocky. There was a CTS coupe in the parking lot and boy if it didn’t look dated next to this car. And the CTS is only three years old or so. The lighting package is great too, as is the rim choice with the dark and light pockets.

The ATS has a fantastic shifter feel. The knob is just the right size and the linkage feels solid. I’m not going to say it’s as good as the Mazda MX-5, or Acura/Honda S2000 setup, but it has a short throw and a satisfying thud when it goes into a gear. I’m not a fan of first and reverse being right next to each other -- you might grab reverse on accident if you’re in a hurry. The saving grace is that the ATS beeps loudly when you hit reverse, and turns the rearview camera on, which should tip you off. It might get annoying on a daily basis.

The 3.6L V6 is rated at 420 horsepower and 430 lb-ft of torque.

Boost makes it better

2015 Cadillac CTS 3.6-liter TT Vsport review notes


EDITOR WES RAYNAL: Confession: I scheduled this car for a black-tie charity event. Cadillac is a sponsor/donor, so I thought showing up in a Cadillac fitting. Since I would be chauffeuring ladies in long dresses, I didn’t want them to have to climb in and out of, say, an Escalade. So, the CTS it is.

It’s a fun car to drive and looks good doing it, all long and low and creased. The car is relaxing to drive slowly and a hoot to drive fast. It feels lighter and wieldier than the competition, powering in and out of corners like a smaller car. Body roll is minimal, the ride is about perfect, and the steering provides good feedback. Cadillac used a lot of lightweight materials in the chassis and you can tell -- the car has a German sedan’s rock-solid rigidity without the weight.

I like the interior, too: well built, generally good materials, and quiet in there with little road noise. I’m coming to terms with the CUE infotainment system. Getting used to it, I suppose. I don’t know if it’s my imagination, but CUE seems to work easier -- the touch sense controls for seat heat, fan speed and temp control and whatnot seem to work better than before (though I do know a GM employee that got out of his Cadillac and into an Impala because he couldn’t stand CUE -- an employee!).

We test the 2016 Cadillac ATS-V on the road and at the Circuit of the Americas race track in Texas.

No excuses

2016 Cadillac ATS-V is a true Euro tuner alternative


What is it?

The 2016 Cadillac ATS-V sedan and coupe aren’t particularly complicated, even if their engineering and performance technology are cutting edge. The smallest, lightest V Series cars to date form Cadillac’s one-two punch at a luxury-performance category long dominated by European brands, excuses no longer necessary.

The competitive set includes some of the best, most interesting high-performance sedans and coupes in the world, including the Audi RS5, the Lexus RC-F and the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG. Cadillac vehicle chief engineer Tony Roma calls the ATS-V “a bi-modal car” that compromises neither luxury nor performance, yet he makes no bones about its ultimate target and benchmark. That would be the long-time track star among these compact-class hot-rods—the BMW M3/M4.

2015 Cadillac Escalade Platinum review notes


DIGITAL EDITOR ANDREW STOY: Bear with me -- I have to get a bit existential here.

What is an Escalade? Yes, I know its manufacturer and its history and its curb weight and all that stuff, but what is it to the people who buy it? After all, they could get a GMC Yukon for tens of thousands of dollars less and load it up with nearly identical equipment. The Mercedes-Benz GL350 offers the cachet of the three-pointed star plus the far greater efficiency of a diesel engine. The Lincoln Navigator…OK, scratch that one, but you get the point.

What we’re looking at in the Escalade’s success, then, is the power of presence. That massive, chiseled exterior styling, those bloody-sword taillights -- it was positively remarked upon by every stranger and neighbor who asked about it. Years of in-your-face styling have built the Escalade into a brand unto itself. The fact that it has a recognizable, evocative name (the exact opposite of the incredibly uninspired “CT6”) is a huge part of it, too.

The CTS Vsport is the “everyman’s” high-performance sedan in the Cadillac lineup, and it carries itself just fine, even with big-brother CTS-V waving 640 horsepower in its face.

2015 Cadillac CTS Vsport review notes


DIGITAL EDITOR ANDREW STOY: Really, really outstanding -- The CTS Vsport is the “everyman’s” high-performance sedan in the Cadillac lineup, and it carries itself just fine, even with big-brother CTS-V waving 640 horsepower in its face. There’s nothing to apologize for here--the Vsport is sane, everyday-fun horsepower and more than enough to get you into trouble should you go looking for it. Yes, the exhaust note is raspy turbo six versus fat, grumbly V8, but that can be refreshing when you fire it up on a quiet suburban morning -- maybe I’m too old, but I don’t need it loud all the time.

One thing I will take all the time is the CTS’ chassis tuning; like the ATS, this car has the same sense of rigidity I get from German sedans, but it’s got an addictive sense of lightness that completely masks its curb weight. The good thing is the chassis dynamics I enjoy seem to be in every class of CTS--you don’t have to spend $60K on a Vsport to enjoy the same sprightly handling.

The CTS has been consistently a good driver. This is a sedan with a chassis good enough to take on the Germans.

2015 Cadillac CTS 2.0T review notes


EDITOR WES RAYNAL: This is my second drive in a turbo four-powered Cadillac CTS. Like the 3.6-liter V6s I’ve driven before, it’s a good-lookin’ thing -- long and low and creased and nicely proportioned. The exterior shape looks just right to me -- no question it’s a Cadillac. That’s a compliment. The front LEDs look cool at night -- they make the car look powerful. I like the interior, too: well built, good materials, and it is quiet in there with very little road noise. I’m even coming to terms with the CUE infotainment system. Getting used to it, I suppose. I don’t know if it’s my imagination or not, but CUE seems better, with improved response of the touch sense controls to change seat heat, fan speed and temp control settings.

The CTS has been consistently a good driver. This is a sedan with a chassis good enough to take on the Germans. It’s nimble, quick and feels balanced and rock solid. The steering is about perfect and the suspension is firm but compliant. There’s an agility here no other U.S. midsize sedan can match. None I can think of off the top of my head, anyway. The turbo four-cylinder is obviously not as spirited as the V6, but it’s no dog. Sounds like, well, a four. According to the in-dash mpg numbers, I averaged about 23 mpg in a fairly even city/highway mix.

2015 Cadillac ATS 2.0T Performance Coupe review notes


EXECUTIVE EDITOR RORY CARROLL: The ATS coupe is better-looking than the BMW 4-series. Not that the BMW is ugly; the Cadillac just looks more grown-up to me. Sure, it’s got a big brushed-aluminum-look grille and some other chrome touches here and there, but the 4-series has a black plastic boomerang glued to both front fenders.

The interior of the ATS we’re testing now is the best I’ve seen in a modern American car. Materials are, for the most part, impressive. The “for the most part” is in reference to the center console, which is covered in hard, heavily pebbled leather and houses the shiny plastic CUE system, which isn’t any good.

The chassis is fantastic. It’s my favorite in what used to be called the entry-level luxury class. The turbo four provides ample power even if it sounds a little weird under heavy throttle. The transmission works well once you’re up to speed, but downshifts are a little slow. The manual transmission offered in the ATS is not without its flaws, but predictably, I prefer it.

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