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Cadillac ATS

The Cadillac ATS (ATS as an acronym for Alpha Touring Sedan) is a compact executive car (D-segment) manufactured by General Motors and marketed by Cadillac from 2012 to 2019, available in both four-door sedan and two-door coupé body styles. In the US, it is the brand's first locally-built entry-level premium car since the Cimarron, and in Europe, it is the successor of the Swedish-built Cadillac BLS. The ATS was developed at the General Motors Technical Center in Warren, Michigan and assembled the ATS at the Lansing Grand River Assembly plant in Lansing, Michigan.

The ATS is based on General Motors' Alpha platform and is offered in either rear- or all-wheel drive configurations. The ATS base engine had been a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter I-4 gasoline engine that produces 202 hp (151 kW), until the 2016 model year. Optional engines include a 2.0-liter turbocharged I-4 gasoline engine that produces 272 hp (203 kW) and a naturally aspirated 3.6-liter V6 gasoline engine that produces 321 hp (239 kW). The 2.0-liter engine replaced the 2.5-liter engine as the base engine for the 2017 model year. All versions were equipped with a 6-speed GM 6L45 Hydra-Matic automatic transmission as standard until the 2015 model year. An 8-speed automatic transmission was introduced for the 2016 model year. The 2.0-liter turbocharged, rear-wheel drive version can be mated to an optional 6-speed Tremec M3L TR-3160 manual transmission.

Prior to the debut of the ATS, Cadillac's smallest vehicle was the E-segment CTS. The CTS was comparable in price to D-segment competitors like the Audi A4, the BMW 3 Series, the Lexus IS and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, however was comparable in size and weight to the more expensive BMW 5 Series. Although Cadillac believed that customers would favor a Mercedes-Benz E-Class-sized sedan at the price of a 3 Series, this assumption was proven to be incorrect. Cadillac's research found that target customers who already owned vehicles like the 3 Series or A4 did not want a larger vehicle.

Cadillac debuted the ATS to the press in the United States in January 2012, placed the ATS into production in July 2012 and began selling the ATS in the United States in August 2012 as a 2013 model. GM began selling the ATS in China in November 2013. Cadillac sold the ATS in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Europe, the Middle East, China, Japan, and South Korea. The ATS was replaced by the Cadillac CT4 in 2019 for the 2020 model year.


Cadillac, upon discovering that the public wanted something small and designed with consideration, began full-scale development of a compact car from 2009; that car being given the designation "ATS". The ATS was developed by GM engineers working principally at the General Motors Technical Center in Warren, Michigan, United States. General Motors invested US$190 million to upgrade the Lansing Grand River Assembly plant for ATS production which created 600 jobs in the result of a second shift of workers. GM began assembling vehicles intended for sale to customers on 26 July 2012. In August 2009, vice president of design Edward Welburn revealed a full-size styling buck of the ATS alongside the XTS luxury saloon. To establish parameters around which they would design the ATS, GM engineers benchmarked the 1999-2006 BMW E46 3 Series, which ATS chief engineer Dave Masch and his team regarded as the most dynamic and driver-focused iteration of the 3 Series. The engineers emphasized low weight when developing the ATS and their efforts resulted in a finished vehicle that weighs less than the BMW E46 benchmark. To achieve this result, Masch suggested that the engineering team disregarded certain GM product development rules that, had they been followed, would have resulted in a heavier vehicle.

During the early development of the ATS, GM engineers determined that downsizing the GM Sigma II platform that underpinned the second-generation CTS would result in a vehicle that was too heavy and that using an economical, front-wheel drive platform would sacrifice performance expected of a Cadillac sedan. Under the leadership of Dave Leone, GM engineers created a brand-new platform which was designed to be light and compact, to be capable of handling both rear- and all-wheel drive configurations and to have a near 50/50 weight distribution. The new platform developed by the GM engineers for the ATS is now called the GM Alpha platform.

Cadillac took two years to conclude the development of the ATS. Ken Kelzer, engineering executive for GM, said that it would have been possible to simply cut down a CTS, which would have resulted in what Kelzer calls a "pretty good car". However, he states that as the BMW 3 Series was its direct competitor, a unique platform would be optimal. Larry Craig, the ATS Program Engineering Manager says that several iterations were completed until a compromise was made between manufacturability, weight and strength. Consequently, the lightest ATS weighs 3,315 lb (1,504 kg), compared to a BMW E46 328i at 3,461 lb (1,570 kg). Dave Leone, vehicle line executive for rear-wheel-drive and performance cars, knew that downsizing the larger CTS would result in a small car would not be able to deliver the performance wanted in the segment. Leone states, that him and his team established a dollar-per-kilogram strategy to measure the cost-effectiveness of weight-reduction. The engineers made sure to monitor materials used in developing the ATS; this resulted in an almost-perfect weight distribution figure of 51 percent and 49 percent for both front and rear, respectively.

The exterior was designed by a team under the direction of Bob Boniface. Boniface says the well-designed exterior was due to its well-constructed interior and chassis, and so the design team desired to make its exterior as quality as its system. The design team worked closely with the engineering team to make sure its exterior design met all of the performance metrics they set out. Taki Karras, ATS design manager, stated that it was significantly harder to make an entirely new architecture rather than reskinning something else. Cadillac previewed a two-minute video, which featured an interview with General Motors North America President Mark Reuss, test-driving a pre-production development variant of the ATS, along with the ATS engineers and developers David Leone, Chris Berube, and Kevin Zelenka.

Kelzer states that it took two years to develop kinematics models and building six mules to test theories, and additionally an extra three and a half years to go from formal program approval to production. Tony Roma was the chief engineer of the ATS-V, which has 25 percent greater structural stiffness than a non-V ATS. Cadillac debuted the production ATS to the press on 8 January 2012. General Motors began selling the ATS in the United States in August 2012 as a 2013 model. Sales in China began on 21 November 2013. Chinese-market vehicles were initially imported from the United States by Shanghai GM. The Chinese-assembled ATS-L was launched in China in August 2014.


As is becoming increasingly more common, the ATS benefits from electric power steering, which was a rack-mounted, variable-assist and belt-driven system from ZF Friedrichshafen, internally known as the "ZF Lenksysteme". Kelzer states that when GM was looking for suspension layouts, they were also were looking at the various electric power steering systems available. Cheaper systems were available, but he states that it would have forced them to give up the premium feeling that the driver expects. The ATS uses cast-iron for the rear differential, unusual for its class, as its competitors use aluminium housings. However, the heavier metal helps preserve the vehicle's 50:50 weight distribution, allows for improved fuel efficiency, among other benefits. As cast iron has a lower thermal expansion rate than aluminium, the differential bearings have a lower pre-load. Noise is suppressed better, and the driveshafts are attached by bolts instead of splines, eliminating spline take-up and defeating noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH).

The ATS features Cadillac's first five-link independent rear suspension. On all four sides, the upper and lower control arms make up four of the links, with the fifth being a toe-control link to increase control over the wheel on a horizontal plane, primarily during cornering. The front suspension is a MacPherson strut, double-pivot set up, using a pair of ball joints and lower control links. Third-generation Magnetic Ride Control active suspension is optional on the Premium trim level in rear-wheel drive. A mechanical limited-slip differential is standard with the manual transmission variant and is an available on the premium automatic. Straight steel arms are used in place of aluminium, each with lightening holes stamped in. Underbody aero shields help redirect wind around and under the car, additionally contributes to decreasing noise in the cabin. The ATS achieves a drag coefficient of 0.299 Cd. The ATS benefits from advanced materials in multiple locations, which includes ultra high strength steels (UHSS) placed throughout the car, aluminium hood and magnesium engine mounts, a laminated windshield, which is lighter than traditional tempered glass, and door trim panels that are made from natural fibers, which is lighter than the standard plastics.

The ATS offers 10.4 cubic feet (290 L) of boot space, which has been considered relatively low for its class compared to an F30 3 Series rated at 13 cubic feet (370 L). The ATS was available in four interior color combinations; Jet Black, Light Platinum with Jet Black, Kona Brown with Jet Black, Morello Red with Jet Black. Three interior colors, Leatherette, Leather, and Semi-Aniline leather were all available seat trim materials. Standard features in the 2019 Cadillac ATS include dual-zone automatic climate control, proximity key entry, push-button start, remote start, a rearview camera, and the Teen Driver system. The 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system which comes standard, features Bluetooth, 3x USB ports, voice recognition, a 12-speaker Bose surround-sound stereo, satellite radio, HD Radio, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, wireless smart phone charging, and a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot. Optional features include navigation, a sunroof, a 110-volt power outlet, and rain-sensing windshield wipers. The ATS features an instrument panel that wraps into the doors and a center stack in the mid-instrument panel that flows into the center console. The gauge cluster features LED lighting which allows for clear, at-a-glance viewing in all conditions, while ambient lighting emphasizes the functional elements of the console and doors.

Safety systems

The ATS's safety development was based on what GM calls a "control and alert" strategy which makes effective use of advanced technologies to help avoid crashes. Don Butler, vice president of Cadillac marketing, states that the ATS features systems that can "react faster than humans". It features visual and acoustic alerts, depending on the alert feature, which helps drivers identify forthcoming crash incidents and intervene when a crash threat appears more imminent.

Available safety systems include: adaptive cruise control, which senses traffic in front of the ATS to adjust the vehicle speed, including automatically stopping the vehicle in heavy traffic and accelerating again. This feature benefits from radar technology. Intelligent brake assist detects abrupt braking and applies full power to the brakes for quicker stopping. Forward collision alert also features radar technology which detects a possible crash and alerts the driver, giving them time to stop or switch lanes. If the driver doesn't react or doesn't react fast enough, autonomous emergency braking will apply the braking in an effort to avoid the crash. Lane departure warning warns the driver of unintentional lane changes. The rear-view camera identifies traffic lane markings and provides acoustic alerts. Blind zone alert uses radar sensors placed on both sides of the car, which searches for other cars in blind zone areas of the car and lets the driver know using LED symbols in the outdoor mirrors. Rear cross-traffic alert warns the driver of the ATS of traffic when backing out of a parking spot. Visual and acoustic alerts will be activated if moving vehicles are detected. The rear-view camera allows for a view of objects directly behind the ATS, while the dynamic guidelines provide a reference that helps make parking and other maneuvers less complicated. A display is in the center stack infotainment system. The start assist applies the brakes for 1.5 seconds to prevent the vehicle from rolling back when the driver forgets to enable the parking brake.

The ATS features frontal and side airbags for the driver and front passenger, side curtain airbags for all, and knee protection airbags for driver and front passenger. The frontal airbags for the driver and front passenger also feature Passenger Sensing System and automatic passenger airbag suppression. Two packages are available: the ESS I includes lane departure warning, forward collision alert, rear thorax air bags and Rainsense wipers. The ESS II features side blind zone alert, rear cross traffic alert, autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control and a full-color head-up display.


Testing conducted by the United States National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration scored the 2013 and 2014 ATS, in both rear- and all-wheel drive variants, at five stars in frontal crash, side crash and rollover protection, resulting in five stars overall, the highest possible score. The NHTSA notes the availability of three NHTSA recommended technologies on the ATS: electronic stability control, forward collision warning and lane departure warning.

Trim levels

In North America, and other countries excluding China, at the time of the model's introduction, the 2013 ATS was available in four trim levels: Standard, Luxury, Performance and Premium. Standard features on the base trim include 17-inch alloy wheels, heated mirrors, automatic headlights, aero grille, cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control, six-way power front seats with power lumbar, vinyl upholstery, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, General Motor's OnStar system, Bluetooth connectivity, a seven-speaker Bose sound system with satellite radio, and an auxiliary audio jack. On the base ATS, optional features include Cadillac User Experience infotainment system and an upgraded sound system, which adds HD Radio, an 8-inch touchscreen audio display, 10-speaker Bose sound system with a CD player, and a rear-view camera.

Cadillac User Experience comes standard on the Luxury trim, which additionally adds run-flat tires, keyless entry and start, remote engine start for automatic transmission models, eight-way power front seats, front and rear parking sensors, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, leather seating, memory functions and a 60-40 split-folding rear seat. Adding to the Standard and Luxury trims, the Performance trim adds dual exhausts, a Driver Awareness package which comes with a variety of safety systems, xenon headlights, an upgraded 10-speaker Bose surround-sound audio system, and sporty front seats. The Premium trim adds 18-inch wheels, navigation system, and a color head-up display. Rear-wheel-drive Premium trim levels additionally feature with run-flat summer tires, a sport-tuned suspension, adaptive suspension dampers and a limited-slip rear differential.

In China, at the time of the model's introduction, the ATS is available in five exterior colors and two interior colors over four trim levels: Standard, Luxury, Elite and Comfort.


In mid-December 2011, Cadillac unveiled the newly-developed 2.0-litre engine, intended for use in both the ATS and the Chevrolet Malibu. Extensive efforts went into minimizing friction, resulting in the engine being able to produce 90 percent of its torque at just 1,500 RPM. At the time, the ATS' 276 hp (206 kW) 2.0 engine had the highest specific output of any General Motors engine, and is the most power-dense engine certified by the Society of Automotive Engineers, at 138 hp (103 kW) per litre.

The ATS was initially offered three engine options and two transmissions; the range started at the entry-level 2.5-litre LCV inline-four engine producing an output of 202 hp (151 kW) and 190 lb⋅ft (258 N⋅m), available with a 6-speed automatic transmission. Its top speed is limited at 220 km/h (140 mph) and it has a 0–100 km/h acceleration of 7.5 seconds. A 2.0-litre LTG inline-four model available with either a 6-speed automatic or a 6-speed manual producing 272 hp (203 kW) and 260 lb⋅ft (353 N⋅m) was available at launch; its acceleration was rated at 5.9 to 6 seconds for rear-wheel drive models, while it was rated at 6.1 seconds for the all-wheel drive 6-speed automatic model. Each model had a top speed of 225 km/h (140 mph). Lastly, a 3.6 LFX engine, benefitting from a V6 configuration was available, which produced an output of 321 hp (239 kW) and 274 lb⋅ft (371 N⋅m). Its 0–100 km/h acceleration was rated at 5.4 seconds, while its top speed was limited to 245 km/h (152 mph). General Motors had stated at debut that a diesel model would be available of both the ATS and the CTS, however these plans had never came to fruition.

In 2014, for the 2015 model year, Cadillac had made minor engine adjustments. General Motors increased torque figures to the 2.0-litre model by 47 N⋅m (35 lbf⋅ft), representing a 14 percent increase over the previous model. This was achieved by engine calibration that resulted in increased boost pressure for better performance. In 2015, for the 2016 model year, Cadillac had redesigned the 3.0 V6 engine, which features a new paddle-shift eight-speed automatic transmission. The 2.0-litre turbo and the 3.6-litre V6 models both introduce Stop/Start technology, while the 3.6 model adds Active Fuel Management, a technology initially used by GM cars such as Holden, Chevrolet, and GMC vehicles which allows the V6 engine to "turn off" half of the cylinders. This technology, General Motors says, enhances fuel economy up to a company-estimated 9 percent than the previous V6. The 2-door coupe variant went on sale in Q2-Q3 of 2014 as a 2015 model.

Due to the 23 percent decrease in sales of the ATS through May 2016, Cadillac had decided to streamline the lineup for 2017 by discontinuing the 2.5-litre engine, which had left the 272 hp (203 kW) 2.0-litre turbo inline-four engine as the ATS' entry-level offering.

EPA estimated fuel economy

Model year changes


In May 2014, Cadillac had announced the ATS would receive a minor facelift to better replicate its coupe counterpart. The front receives the updated Cadillac emblem, which removes the laurel wreaths around it and increases the emblem's size. Featuring a more streamlined design, the recently-released ATS Coupe was the first Cadillac model to adopt the new badge, the second being its four-door counterpart. The other large change applied to is the redesigned lower grille. The outgoing model features a three-piece unit with added chrome detailing and vertical fog lamps. The facelift reunites the three-piece grille into a singular unit, horizontally crossed by a slim chrome line. The ATS offers two new colors, which include Crystal White Tricoat and Dark Adriatic Blue Metallic. Cabin changes are more significant as the model features revised upholstery and trim combinations as well as additional safety systems and features. The CUE infotainment system is updated with Text Message Alerts, Siri Eyes Free compatibility and a Teen Driver function which enables owners to set a radio volume limit and establish a speed warning between 40–70 mph (64–113 km/h), among other features. The model can optioned with Cadillac's DockSpot inductive charger which can recharge compatible smartphones without plugging it in.


Cadillac had updated the ATS for 2016. Engines are slightly modified, as well as start-stop technology on some models. The ATS is available with a Hydra-Matic 8L45 paddle-shift eight-speed automatic transmission, updated safety systems replacing ESS I and II, Cadillac User Experience enhancements, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability, and new exterior colors, including Cocoa Bronze Metallic, Moonstone Metallic and Stellar Black Metallic.


Cadillac had updated the ATS significantly for 2017. Trims levels were renamed for customer clarity; these consist of the Standard, Luxury, Premium Luxury and Premium Performance. 17-inch premium alloy wheels, 17-inch alloy wheels, and 17-inch Sterling Silver premium alloy wheels have been slightly altered for 2017. The Sterling Silver wheels are no longer available, however the other two have been revised. A Carbon Black sport package, which blacks out the chrome and adds body-colored door handles and spoiler are also available for 2017 in addition to optional Recaro seats, complementing the Cadillac signature exterior and interior design. This model is available with exterior colors consisting of Black Raven, Phantom Gray Metallic, Red Obsession Tintcoat, Crystal White Tricoat, and interior colors including Jet Black or Light Platinum.


For 2018, Cadillac had removed the Moonstone Metallic, Deep Amethyst Metallic, and Bronze Dune Metallic colors, with the addition of the Satin Steel Metallic color, discontinued the Carbon Black Package and Black Sport Appearance Package, removed the CD glove box, introduced an updated CUE system, and replaced the heated steering wheel with an automatic heated steering wheel, which turns on the heated steering wheel automatically based on ambient air temperature.


In July 2014, Cadillac announced that it would be producing a long wheelbase version of the ATS for the Chinese market known as the ATS-L. The ATS-L has a wheelbase 85 mm (3.3 in) longer than the standard ATS sedan and was manufactured in China by Shanghai GM.

Prior to the introduction of the ATS-L, standard wheelbase vehicles had been imported to China from GM's Lansing manufacturing facility in Michigan. However, models from 2014 destined for the Chinese market where built at a recently-established factory in Shanghai. General Motors invested approximately US$1.3 billion on building the factory, for which the ATS-L, exclusive to the market, would be produced in. The 2.0 litre LTG turbocharged petrol engine is standard across the range producing 230 and 279 horsepower. The ATS-L previously ran on the GM 6T70 automatic gearbox for 2014 and 2015 and used the GM 8L45 automatic gearbox from 2016 to 2019. Trim levels are known as the 25T and 28T. Production ended in September 2019.



The 2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe debuted at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show. Cadillac had made the two-door ATS to compete with the German Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe and the BMW 4 Series. It went on sale in the summer of 2014 as the 2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe. Slightly longer and wider than the sedan model, two models were available at launch; a 2.0 L four-cylinder engine with 272 hp (203 kW) and 295 lb⋅ft (400 N⋅m) of torque, and the other with a 3.6 L engine with 321 hp (239 kW) and 275 lb⋅ft (373 N⋅m) of torque. Buyers have a choice of six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission, and standard rear-wheel drive with optional all-wheel drive. The wider track of the ATS Coupe improves the steering precision and response. The roof has been lowered, thus contributing towards a lower center of gravity, reducing roll and improving steering response. The 2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe is the first production model to wear Cadillac's newly revised brand logo without its previous laurel wreath, and was first shown on the Cadillac Elmiraj concept car. The ATS coupe received 4G LTE connectivity with a WiFi hotspot, CUE interface with Siri Eyes Free, and a Bose stereo with 12 speakers. GM discontinued the compact executive coupe after the 2019 model year without any replacement planned due to poor sales and the growing popularity of crossovers and SUVs. However, the sedan version of the ATS was replaced by the Cadillac CT4 sedan for the 2020 model year.


The Cadillac ATS-V is the high-performance variant of the ATS compact executive sedan and coupe. The coupe variant was revealed in early-November 2014, while the four-door was revealed eight days later. Designed to compete with the Mercedes-AMG C63 and the BMW M3/M4 (for the coupe), the ATS-V is available exclusively in a rear-wheel drive configuration. The ATS-V had opened orders in February 2015, and had started production in March of that year. Tony Roma was the chief engineer of the ATS-V, who had also chief engineered the third-generation CTS-V. The ATS-V is available with settings that allows the driver to adjust vehicle parameters, like steering, suspension, and throttle. Offering a 0 to 60 time of 3.9 seconds, its tested top speed is rated at 189 mph (304 km/h). Power and torque outputs are rated at a SAE-certified 364 kW (488 hp) and 601 N⋅m (443 lbf⋅ft) respectively. The hood is made of carbon fiber, which has an air-extraction vent that removes hot air out of the engine compartment.

The ATS-V features a Brembo high-performance brake system developed to provide durability and capability for track day car performance. The transmission options are a Tremec TR6060 six-speed manual with active revolution matching and launch control or a HydraMatic 8L90 eight-speed automatic with launch control and Performance Algorithm Shift.

Motor Trend conducted a comparison between the BMW M3, ATS-V, and Mercedes-AMG C63-S. The Cadillac managed to accelerate faster than both German vehicles and was the fastest around Willow Springs International Motorsports Park; it was also the least expensive in the test.

Cadillac competed at the Pirelli World Challenge from 2015 to 2017 with the Cadillac ATS-V.R, a racecar based on the ATS-V under the GT3 regulations, developed in collaboration with Pratt & Miller. Johnny O'Connell won the championship in 2015, finished fourth in 2016 and sixth in 2017. In addition, Michael Cooper finished third in 2016 and second in 2017.

The ATS-V sedan was replaced by the Cadillac CT4-V. The coupe ATS-V was discontinued without replacement.


The following table represents sales figures for the ATS in both the United States and other markets.




General sources

External links

  • Cadillac ATS Sedan (official US site) at the Wayback Machine (archived 2018-04-01). Additional archives: ATS-V Sedan, ATS Coupe, ATS-V Coupe.


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