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      12-31-2012, 10:00 PM   #1
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Alamo Cadillac ATS Rental

Arrived in Las Vegas for the New Year's celebration and thought perhaps I'd kill two birds with one stone -- ring in the New Year and get an extended test drive of Cadillac's new ATS.

I thought 75 bucks a day was a little pricey for the shiny black Cadillac with barely 4K miles on it, but I'd been hearing so much hype about the ATS I decided I'd try it out for a few days.

The rental car had no sun roof. I thought it a bigger deal than it ended up being. I get that we have to be nickled and dimed about everything, but perhaps Cadillac could take the lead in start including things like a sun roof as standard.

Second, the car didn't have navigation. I didn't realize that you get the CUE screen no matter whether you get the upgrade Navi or not. Like the new F30 it is difficult for the casual observer to tell whether you have the navigation or not because the screen and knob are standard.

Third, the car had the least powerful engine, the 2.5L four cylinder. I asked the clerk about the ATS's in stock and she asserted (unconvincingly) that they all came with exactly the same features.

Impressions

The ride reminds me of the e92 - driving the short distance from the Car Rental Site to the Casino it rode quite similarly and over a longer drive that was confirmed. Initially it felt a little tight inside and that feeling went away somewhat over a longer drive.

The next day -- today -- we drove to the Calico Ghost Town off of Route 66 today. Put nearly 300 miles on the car. Drove at speeds from 60 to 115. Highway speeds aren't tiring but when I paced a early model Mercedes E55 for about 70 miles you could clearly feel the ATS was winded. Its geared to accelerate fairly quickly at in town speeds. But to jump from 65 to 85 on the interstate requires stomping on it and hearing it complain or else there's a bit of a wait to get to the desired speed. And there's no sport mode to switch to keep the engine in the sweet spot.

Did not feel fatiqued and felt the car's seats were well designed. Tried to sit in the back seat without moving the front seat and I thought it was really tight. The standard stereo was pretty good. And over the entire trip the computer claimed it got 27 mpg.

The Cue System

Its a lot more intuitive than I guessed. I assumed that you'd have to really concentrate to use it while driving. And right off the bat when pairing the bluetooth a warning indicated that for safety reasons the car must be stopped to proceed. However, it lit up in the corner a "waiver" option. Really neat, that allowed me to pair while driving. And btw, perhaps one of the fastest pairings. Faster than a phone reboot.

The main reason though I think the CUE works (in a way that Sync in the Lincoln MKS i recently rented doesn't) is that are a sufficient number of redundant buttons that you can do some actions without using the touch pad at all. In the MKS simple things like turning on the heated seats or adjusting the fan speed or even changing the stations require going through the touch screen. On the ATS, there are actual buttons below the screen that make these tasks even easier to do.

One neat feature is that the buttons below the screen hide a cubby hole large enough to hold your wallet, cellphone, and sunshades. One press it rises up to open. Another press it lowers to close.

However there are some quirks with the ATS. I had to climb down on my back to find the hood release button and the hazard warning light is over to the far right of the middle console area making it awkward to identify. Unlike the MKS, reaching dials is quite easy.

The car actually looks sharp. I like the look F30 and am eagerly looking forward to the F32, but I felt the ATS had an upscale look that was satisfying.

Time for dinner. Happy New Year!
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      12-31-2012, 10:36 PM   #2
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Nice write up! I'm hoping Hertz gets some so I can have a go, though unless they make a wagon I wouldn't buy one....
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      01-01-2013, 08:51 AM   #3
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Nice review. But even remotely comparing a 2.5 4 cylinder to an e55 (5.4L V8?) is not fair?


I like the ATS (in theory).
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      01-01-2013, 09:37 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CarFan View Post
the car had the least powerful engine, the 2.5L four cylinder.
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      01-01-2013, 10:34 AM   #5
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Isn't the ATS a FWD car based on the Chevy Malibu? One of Cadillac's alphabet-soup cars is for sure (typical GM marketing scheme). I know the Buick Regal is basically a Chevy Cruze underneath. Motor Trend has had some articles on these cars and I wasn't impressed at all.
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      01-01-2013, 10:46 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roundel335 View Post
Isn't the ATS a FWD car based on the Chevy Malibu? One of Cadillac's alphabet-soup cars is for sure (typical GM marketing scheme). I know the Buick Regal is basically a Chevy Cruze underneath. Motor Trend has had some articles on these cars and I wasn't impressed at all.


Not really. The ATS is RWD and mostly based on the BMW e46 (at least the chassis & dimensions). (GASP!)


Definitely a few steps in the right direction.
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      01-01-2013, 11:03 AM   #7
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So which one is based on the Malibu, then? Is there an ATX, maybe? A couple of the car magazines ran articles about one that is based on the Malibu.

Nonetheless, it's a GM car, which doesn't appeal to me at all after nearly 50 years of driving just about everything. It's encouraging that they're starting to realize there's a market for BMW-type cars, but underneath, it's still union-built and designed by bean-counters (I worked for a GM division back in the late 80s, so I've got some insights).
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