Cadillac ATS vs. Cadillac CTS

By

Automotive Editor

John Diether has been a professional writer, editor, and producer since 1997. His work can be found on TV, radio, web, and various publications throughout the world.  He is a graduate of Northwestern University and has a 1992 Cadillac Brougham d’Elegance in his garage. 


, Automotive Editor - March 14, 2017

The compact Cadillac ATS, available as a coupe or sedan, is the American luxury brand's take on a small, light, stylish sports sedan. The midsize CTS kicked off Cadillac's renaissance years ago, and the third-generation model gives buyers more room inside and a plusher driving experience, without compromising driving fun.

Both cars perform utter precision and pamper to Cadillac standards. But which one offers the best of both worlds?

See a side-by-side comparison of the ATS & CTS »

What the ATS Gets Right

Cadillac designed the rear-drive ATS from the ground up to be lean and nimble. With the lowest curb weight in its class and near-perfect weight distribution, the ATS handles aggressively without losing its composure. When spirited driving isn't on the agenda, the ATS settles into a proper luxury car with a ride that's firm but not punishing, and a reasonably quiet cabin.

The ATS starts out with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that delivers 272 horsepower to the rear wheels. Enthusiasts might want to stick with the standard six-speed manual transmission, but most buyers spring for the optional eight-speed automatic. The automatic is mandatory with the available 3.6-liter V6, which gives the ATS a boost to 333 hp. Both engines are available with all-wheel drive.

What the CTS Gets Right

The CTS sits firmly in the midsize luxury class, which means there's more room for legs and elbows, and a higher level of interior craftsmanship on display. The CTS still feels sporty inside, like a high-tech performance car with a decorator's touch.

The CTS can get the same 2.0-liter turbo or V6 engine as the ATS, although the manual transmission doesn't make the cut. An eight-speed automatic sends power to the rear axle, or to all four wheels via an optional all-wheel-drive system.

The other engine choice is a twin-turbo 3.6-liter V6, available on the VSport trim, that stirs up 420 horsepower and 430 pound-feet of torque. The twin-turbo gets a specially tuned eight-speed automatic and is rear-drive only.

Boredom Isn't an Option

We have no problem affixing the sport sedan label to either car. Both are rewarding to drive and exciting to a point. The key difference is one of character. The ATS comes off as a scrappy contender that's eager to play. The CTS is the poised grown-up of the pair, content to cruise or rumble as the driver wants.

Our Verdict: Cadillac CTS

The CTS is a Renaissance luxury sedan, adept at any role it's asked to fill.

Take a closer look at the Cadillac ATS »

Take a closer look at the Cadillac CTS »

Side-by-side comparison of features, pricing, photos and more!

, Automotive Editor

John Diether has been a professional writer, editor, and producer since 1997. His work can be found on TV, radio, web, and various publications throughout the world.  He is a graduate of Northwestern University and has a 1992 Cadillac Brougham d’Elegance in his garage.