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Cadillac ATS in Denver reveals entry-level luxury

The Cadillac ATS is the company's entry-level offering for the luxury compact sedan market, competing against the BMW 3 and the Audi A4 using terms unfamiliar to Caddy like "nimble" and "quick."

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The new Cadillac ATS entry-level compact luxury sedan is slated for a 2013 release. It will be competing with others in this hot segment like the BMW 3 and the Audi A4 and, frankly, will probably give them a run for their money.

The car is very well-made and is one of the better-looking vehicles in this segment. Several standard features, like Brembo brakes, all-around ABS, rear-wheel drive, and many interior amenities make the ATS a real player. It suffers heavily from a lack of rear leg room, however, and poor rear visibility.

The terms "nimble" and "quick" are not usually associated with Cadillac, but with its near 50-50 weight distribution, the 109-inch wheelbase on a 183-inch total body, and a weight coming in well under 3,400 pounds, those words might be fitting. The 2.5-liter, 202 horsepower entry level 4-cylinder engine is a good start on that, but the power-dense 2.0-liter 270 horsepower turbo is a better option for balancing performance and economy. A 3.6-liter, 6-cylinder option is also available.

Added items like the aluminum hood, magnesium engine mounts, lightweight, high-strength steel components, and aerodynamic shields and an overall wind tunnel design keep this Caddy in the running for great numbers from the Environmental Protection Agency, though EPA tests have not been completed yet.

The interior is plush, well-appointed, and comes in a variety of color and trim options. From striking reds to dark blacks and muted golden browns, there is definitely a look for every driver. Cadillac's new CUE, featured in several of the brand's models, is infotainment combined with vehicle controls and customization. This Cadillac User Experience includes connections for up to ten Bluetooth mobile devices, USB plugs, SD card slots, and more. Four simple buttons control everything through an integrated 8-inch LCD multi-touch display screen at the center of the dash. Controls are smartphone-like.

The physical interior is aimed entirely at the driver. The driver's seat is roomy, comfortable, fully adjustable, and nicely made. Leg room is good, even for a very tall person, and headroom is adequate for someone up to six and a half feet. The passenger's side has similar appointments, though knee space is slightly more limited due to the larger dash intrusion.

The rear is an entirely different story. A tall person (like myself, at 6 feet 3 inches) requires the driver's seat to be nearly all the way back, which puts it within two or three inches of the rear seat cushion. This makes even installing a rear-facing car seat impossible there. Even with the driver's seat most of the way forward, seating room in the rear is cramped and headroom is limited for someone larger than pre-teen.

Overall, the Cadillac ATS is a good entry for the company into the hotly-contested compact luxury sedan arena. See the accompanying Cadillac ATS picture gallery from the Denver Auto Show to see more of this beautiful car.

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