2013 North American Car of the Year - Cadillac ATS
by Mitch McCullough, editor, New Car Test Drive
Right out of the gate, the new Cadillac ATS has earned America's most prestigious car award, 2013 North American Car of the Year. The 2013 ATS won votes from a jury of 49 of America's top automotive journalists.
The awards are designed to recognize the most outstanding new vehicles of the year. These vehicles are benchmarks in their segments based on factors including innovation, comfort, design, safety, handling, driver satisfaction and value for the dollar. To be eligible a vehicle must be all new or substantially changed.
The 2013 Cadillac ATS was designed and engineered from the ground-up on an all-new platform.
Now in their 20th year, the North American Car of the Year and North American Truck/Utility of the Year awards are unique in the United States because instead of being given by a single media outlet they are awarded by a group of automotive journalists from the United States and Canada who represent magazines, television, radio, newspapers and web sites.
The jurors considered dozens of new vehicles before sending their ballots to Michelle Collins, a partner at Deloitte & Touche, in December. The awards are administered by an organizing committee and are funded with dues paid by the jurors. There are no paid positions. Automakers do not pay to have their vehicles considered or to use the awards in ads.
The Cadillac ATS was among three finalists for the car award. The jurors gave the Cadillac ATS 207 points, the Honda Accord 159 points and the Ford Fusion 124 points.
Most of the jurors who voted for the ATS compared it favorably with the BMW 3 Series, though some included caveats and others talked about what the ATS does for General Motors.
Ken Gross from Playboy magazine said the ATS is " A very impressive, well-engineered, light and nimble sport sedan that seriously challenges the BMW 3 Series and makes you doubly glad the Feds helped GM survive."
"The Cadillac ATS is all new, rewarding to drive, beautifully appointed, and a competitive offering in a market segment hitherto dominated by German makes," said Tony Swan, Car and Driver magazine.
Karl Brauer credited it with "world-class handling dynamics."
"Cadillac's first serious effort at a high-performance compact sedan is an uncompromised tour-de-force that sets some new benchmarks in the class," wrote veteran journalist Dan McCosh. "Among the most important is its light weight, achieved with a stiff body structure that underpins a chassis notable for agile, predictable handling. The drive train choices start with quick, and then get quicker. It is slightly less refined that its major competitors, but all in all a sports sedan that can satisfy the critical enthusiast."
"The ATS changed the way GM develops vehicles and lifted Cadillac to the front-row of global luxury brands," wrote Marc Phelan from the Detroit Free Press. "It offers an outstanding combination of performance, efficiency and value."
"The ATS is a meticulously engineered gem that steers, handles and brakes better than BMW, Audi and Mercedes competitors," said Drew Winter from the industry publication Ward's. "It truly is a transformative car for Cadillac."
In New Car Test Drive's review, Laura Burstein wrote, "The Cadillac ATS was tuned on the track, including Germany's famous Nurburgring, often used by European car companies during the development process. The result is a light but solid chassis with near 50/50 weight distribution (a la BMW) that performs beautifully on the road. Inside, fit and finish rivals that of any Audi or BMW."
"This is a very meaningful honor for the entire Cadillac team, especially the men and women who build the ATS in Lansing, Michigan, and our dedicated and talented designers and engineers," said Bob Ferguson, GM vice president, global Cadillac. "A car like ATS is the result of incredible commitment and focus. That's the only method for creating a great performing luxury car." Cadillac said the new ATS is the lightest car in its class with a unique architecture designed for nimble driving performance.
A compact sports sedan, the ATS is offered in rear- and all-wheel drive versions, with a choice of powerful and efficient four- and six-cylinder engines. It recently received a 5-Star overall crash test rating in the New Car Assessment Program run by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Cadillac ATS rates an EPA-estimated 22/33 mpg City/Highway with the 2.5-liter engine, 21/31 mpg with the 2.0-liter engine, 19/28 mpg with the 3.6-liter V6. Regular gasoline is recommended for all ATS models, so there's no need to pay for Premium.
The 2012 North American Car of the Year was the Hyundai Elantra.
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