GM Seeks to Breath New Life Into the Cadillac ATS

Cadillac’s BMW beater has fizzled.

2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe.
2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe.

Nearly four years have come and gone and the Cadillac ATS has failed to meet expectations. Once heralded as the first true small luxury car from GM’s luxury brand, the ATS was supposed to take it to the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4, and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Instead, Cadillac’s entry-level line has seen its sales slide every year since its introduction.

Two Engine Choices

For 2017, the ATS will return, but with some important changes. Chief among them is discontinuing the model’s current base 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine, a normally aspirated power plant found in more pedestrian models such as the Chevrolet Malibu. That engine made 202 horsepower and 191 foot-pound of torque.

Cadillac will continue with the ATS’ other two engine choices — a turbocharged 2.0-liter, four-cylinder and a normally aspirated V-6 displacing at 3.6 liters. The turbo makes 272 horsepower with an output of 295 foot-pounds of torque. The V-6 is rated at 335 horsepower and 285 foot-pounds of torque.

The turbo comes paired with either a 6-speed manual (rear-wheel drive only) or an 8-speed automatic transmission. The V-6 continues with the automatic only.

Combatting Declining Sales

Other changes will have everything to do with prices and trim packages. According to Automotive News, GM’s goal is to give the ATS more value without damaging residuals. Across the board, luxury car model sales have suffered extensively in the past year or two as consumers continue their wholesale shift to utility vehicles. Even the benchmark setting 3 Series has recorded double-digit declines.

With the turbo now the standard engine, the base price of the ATS will rise and come in slightly higher than the BMW. Instead of cutting prices, customers will find better-equipped models.

Indeed, the focal point of ATS’ group of advanced technologies is the Cadillac User Experience or CUE, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto along with advanced smartphone integration and a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot. Beginning with 2017, these features are standard across the model line.

ATS and CTS Trim Levels

The ATS’ trim levels are also shuffled for 2017. Currently, customers can choose between Standard, Luxury, Performance, and Premium editions. For 2017 ATS, Luxury, Premium Luxury and Premium Performance trims are available. Other changes bring in a Carbon Black sport package, a pair of new exterior patinas, and new wheels.

Move up the product line one place and you’ll find the CTS. This model will also benefit from changes for 2017, including a new grille design upfront and an updated fascia at the rear marked by vertical exhaust orientation and valance panel modifications. Trim level changes accompany the 2017 CTS too — CTS, Luxury, Premium Luxury, V-Sport and V-Sport Premium. Cadillac says the changes are in line with what its two all-new models provide — the XT5 crossover and the CT6 sedan.

2017 Cadillac Line

For 2017, the Cadillac product line is composed of the following cars: ATS, CTS, XTS, and CT6. The ATS is composed of sedan and coupe models; the other three are sedans only. Both the ATS and CTS offer high-performance “V” lines. The plug-in hybrid electric ELR coupe has been discontinued.

As for utility vehicles, the XT5 replaces the previous SRX. The only other model is the Escalade, a model Auto Trends is currently evaluating and will publish a review next week.

Looking beyond the current models, a plug-in hybrid version of the CT6 sedan is in the works and will arrive in early 2017. Beyond that, any new models will be composed entirely of utility vehicles as Cadillac seeks to catch up with market changes as well as to match what its competitors are offering.

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Author: Matthew Keegan
Matt Keegan has maintained his love for cars ever since his father taught him kicking tires can be one way to uncover a problem with a vehicle’s suspension system. He since moved on to learn a few things about coefficient of drag, G-forces, toe-heel shifting, and how to work the crazy infotainment system in some random weekly driver. Matt is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association and is a contributor to various print and online media sources.

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