You get no buttons on the center console and that keeps the look sleek (but the system isn’t as functional as other competitors in the class; more on that later).
The only downside to the ATS’ look: This is a small vehicle, by any measure, and has limited cargo room. The back seat isn’t a place I recommend anyone but children sit, and the trunk has limited usefulness. The vehicle is also very low to the ground.
It also has some very strong competitors in its class: Including the Lexus IS, Audi A4, BMW 3 series and Benz C-Class. So it’s critical that looks impress, since all those vehicles are impressively designed. Thankfully for GM, it comes through both inside and out.
HOW’S THE RIDE?
Buyers of the 2017 ATS, which comes in sedan or coupe versions, have a couple options.
Standard is a 2.0-liter, turbo four-cylinder engine with an 8-speed automatic transmission (six-speed manual also offered). It offers 272 horsepower and 295 lb.-ft. of torque.
When you get to the top trim levels, only a 3.6-liter V6 engine is offered (offering 335 hp; 285 lb.-ft.), and you only have the auto transmission option.
The ATS comes with auto stop/start, which helps with fuel mileage but can be a bit jarring for some people; and you can get shift paddles for the steering wheel if you have an auto transmission.
Those who want to upgrade the performance aspect of the ATS can spring for the V-Sport suspension package ($2,265), which features a performance suspension and 18-inch run-flat tires. Other performance upgrade options include a performance exhaust kit ($1,650). There are also the physical upgrades (Slotted rotor and brake pad upgrade for $1,190; Power sunroof for $1,050; Black chrome accented grille ($820) and V-series rear spoiler ($665). Not only can you make it drive extra sporty, you can make it look that way too.
Whether you have the standard or sport suspension, the 2017 ATS coupe is absolutely a blast to drive, and is built to attack the roadways. Handling is superb and takes on all corners on your journey with ease, and the braking is extremely responsive. This is a car aimed at someone who loves driving, not just getting where they need to go.
It’s not a boring vehicle by any measure; and remains one of the best options for those seeking an entry-level luxury vehicle, especially if they love driving.
The ATS coupe handles bumpy roads well compared to others in class, but the ride can still be a bit rough with the sport suspension. The engine can be noisy at times, but not to a level that’s distracting.
The ATS coupe is overall very impressive in terms of technology and safety features.
Let’s start with the infotainment system. The CUE system has taken its lumps over the years, but is starting to improve and get more responsive. It’s growing on me, but I still feel it lacks in overall usability compared to the dial based systems you’ll find on most of the European luxury competitors.
The frustration comes in due to the lack of buttons, meaning your gaze will be diverted to use it more often than if it was a button or dial-based system you could use via feel. Also, when using the virtual buttons, they don’t always respond as quickly as I would like (though it’s better than in previous years).
On the plus side, all controls on the steering wheel worked well and were easy to figure out; and the voice commands did not disappoint.
Among the standard tech features on the ATS: Rearview camera; keyless ignition; CUE system with voice controls; Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility; 8-inch touchscreen; Bluetooth; Bose audio and OnStar. You also get the option of a 4G WiFi connection in the vehicle. Standard safety features include: Traction and stability control; front, knee and side airbags; anti-lock brakes; and OnStar (which includes automatic crash notification).
Upgrading from there can get you features such as navigation, parking sensors, collision alert, blind spot warning and lane departure warning, xenon headlamps with auto high beams, and a head-up display.
You get some other strong standard tech features, like Teen Driver -- which allows you to monitor what your children are doing with the vehicle and set the rules. Also, Safety Alert seat buzzes if you are going out of your lane (though it can be a bit too overactive at times).
Last but not least, crash test ratings are among the best in the business, so safety is not an issue despite it being a smaller vehicle.
Official fuel mileage numbers on the 2017 ATS couple I tested (with RWD) are 22 city/31 highway/25 combined. I was right on target during my time in the vehicle, averaging 24.7 mpg.
The 2017 Cadillac ATS coupe starts at $37,595 for the base model and can run up to $60K+ if you get the highest trim level with all the trimmings. My test vehicle came in at $54,445. The sedan version of the ATS starts at $34,595, so you’ll be spending a few thousand less wherever you fall on the ATS spectrum.
This price is on par with most of the ATS’ competitors, and slightly less than others. Owning a luxury vehicle, even an entry-level vehicle, is never going to be cheap. Like most luxury models, you’re paying in part for the Cadillac name.
The 2017 Cadillac ATS coupe is a beautiful vehicle; and while not practical for everyone it has a distinct look and performance is top-notch. The ATS stands out in its class of entry-level luxury vehicles, even though it’s against some heavy hitters, and it’s made in America by GM (in Lansing, Michigan, to be exact), which may help attract buyers who want to remain loyal to U.S. brands.
Matt Myftiu can be found on Twitter @MattMyftiu.