Cadillac is making some changes to the 2017 ATS in an effort to address the car’s substandard market performance. While no major redesign or significant changes are in order, the car is shedding an engine and some option packages in an attempt to build up its image with the buying public.
Cadillac is ditching the 2.5-liter four-cylinder base engine from the ATS for 2017. This means that the 272 horsepower 2.0-liter turbo will be the standard fare on the car, while the 3.6-liter V-6 will continue to be optional. Additionally, the luxury brand has simplified the packaging on the car and redesigned the hideous gauge cluster.
“We want to emphasize the 2.0-liter turbo and the car’s features while attacking the market on the product side, rather than using increased incentives,” Cadillac’s global product planning director, Hampden Tener told Automotive News.
Hailed as the car that was going to transform the Cadillac brand back when it launched in 2012 as a 2013 model, the ATS has fairly consistently underperformed on the market. The car had a rough launch from the get-go, with several production delays and launching to a dealership body that was more accustom to selling Escalades and the now-deceased DTS.
Making matters worse for the ATS has been a fairly bloated option list. The packaging on the car has been overly complex since it launched. There’s been three engine choices with multiple “collections” (trim levels in Cadillac land) for each engine. Throw in free-flow options and consistent price-hikes over the last few years, and this car quickly looks like a mess.
One of the primary side effects of the above has been dwindling resale values. As resale deflates on the car, the lease deals on the new one are just getting worse and worse. In a segment where a decent chunk of buyers opt to lease, this is proving to be a big hurdle for Cadillac dealerships and the ATS.
Cadillac feels that making the more livable 2.0-liter turbo engine standard, the car will gain some caché on the marketplace. Ditching the anemic 2.5-liter will undoubtedly boost the car’s image with potential buyers, but it’s the fact the turbo engine will now carry a lower base price that may seal the deal for most. In fact, Cadillac is saying pricing for the 2017 ATS has been reduced on most trim level combinations.
Will these efforts be enough? It’s hard to say. The car, at this point, is in need of a redesign. There’s also the difficult-for-Cadillac fact that the small luxury sedan segment has two very well established players running the reputational show.