MOUNT WILSON, California — Perseid meteor showers come every August to our summer skies like clockwork. The fiery meteors radiate out of the constellation Perseus, which gives them their name, and are a fun excuse to hang outdoors super late.
Our 2017 Cadillac ATS 2.0T tester had a decent enough sized sunroof and seemed like a good ride for the task.
Getting up the windy roads leading towards the observatory in the ATS 2.0T was a bit of a struggle for the sedan’s turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine.
While it delivers 272 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque for the 3,473-pound Caddy, it, unfortunately, is also mated to a rather lethargic 8-speed automatic transmission.
Caddy’s slacker sedan whined and gasped as we climbed the dark and curvy road off of California Highway 2, its piped-in engine soundtrack seemingly accenting the turbo-four’s lack of displacement.
An ATS-V with a twin-turbo 3.6-liter V-6 and a six-speed manual would be our first choice and is a highly recommended alternative if you can afford the $10,000-plus premium.
As we pulled into a fairly dark and secluded spot to observe the meteor shower, it took several minutes to get the car’s headlights to turn off completely, much to the anguish of our fellow stargazers.
The key fob didn’t seem to be in sync with the locks and I assumed the battery on the device must be low. It wasn’t, so I left it unlocked and the lights finally shut off after what seemed like forever.
We caught the Perseids but a few hours later when we tried to start the car, the ATS didn’t recognize the fob at all.
After several minutes of flipping through the owner’s guide to no avail, I hit the On-Star button for help but was told we were out of cell service area. The thought of walking down the mountain home or hitching a ride filled us both with dread.
I tried the fob again and an error message quickly flashed on the dash that suggested putting the key fob in the center console to start it. It was completely dark by now and we were trying to find it by cell phone light.
Inside, I felt around the inside of the dark center console, where you’ll find two USB ports and a coveted audio auxiliary jack, and finally found the key fob’s hole. (Insert “that’s what she said” joke here.) It’s not illuminated and is located in the far left corner of the console.
Why it isn’t located on the steering column where the key would normally go is perplexing. The bean counters must have saved a fortune for hiding it. At least we now know where it is should we find ourselves next to high-powered radio transmitters again.
While the ATS struggled up steeper road grades, coming down though the San Gabriel Mountains was a breeze. The weight of the ATS spirited its boxy body downhill and handled like a dream on the dark, twisty roads after midnight.
The ATS’ infotainment system is a hassle to use while you are driving and its touch sensitive controls are hard stubs that are difficult to find in the dark without taking your eyes off the road.
An A/C button on the console would be nice since its nearly impossible to turn it off while driving and accessing the function through the touch screen or steering wheel controls.
The transmission shifter is easy to use and straightforward and there’s thankfully a start/stop defeat button located directly beneath it. The Bose Centerpoint Surround Sound 12-speaker sound system rocks, and there’s a nifty hidden storage area behind the center of the console to charge your phone.
Optional sporty beige Recaro front seats look really cool and stylish, but shorter drivers may have a hard time seeing out of them. If you are looking over your left shoulder when driving, a major blind spot is created by the large B-pillar and the extended wing-like shape of the headrest.
Again, it looks great and this is not an issue for taller drivers, but the space in the backseats is extremely limited for passengers in the 6-foot or above range.
Despite the key fob issue, the ATS has an old school foot pedal parking brake, which is preferred over the push buttons ones you tend to find in most new cars today.
Overall the 2017 Cadillac 2.0T ATS is a stylish sedan that’s just a few upgrades for its $38,395/$49,430 price tag to make it a shooting star.
Give us a stick, a bigger sunroof, and better buttons, for starters, and we are nearly sold.
|2017 Cadillac ATS 2.0T Specifications|
|ENGINE||2.0L turbo DOHC 16-valve I-4/272 hp @5,500 rpm, 295 lb-ft @ 3,000 rpm|
|LAYOUT||4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine sedan|
|EPA MILEAGE||22/31 mpg (city/hwy)|
|L x W x H||182.8 x 71.1 x 55.9 in|
|0-60 MPH||5.7 sec|
|TOP SPEED||120 mph (est)|