For the most part, the 2.5L inline four-cylinder Ecotec motor gets a significant amount of criticism, denunciation, and hate from seemingly from all over for being the base powerplant in the Cadillac ATS Sedan. But does the naturally-aspirated four-banger deserve the bad press? We don’t think so, despite the irony in that the less expensive 2016 Camaro gets the 2.0L turbo I4 LTG as the base engine, rather than the more premium ATS. Here is the reasoning behind our thinking.
1. The Owners Like It
At 202 horsepower and 191 pound-feet of torque, the 2.5L I4 LCV is by no means a power monster. But every owner of the 2.5L ATS we’ve talked has loved their ATS, and thinks that the engine is just fine for the vehicle.
Sure, it might not win you any stoplight to stoplight sprints, but that’s not the point. The engine is for those who don’t care about posting the fastest 0-60 or quarter mile sprints, or about being pushed back into their seat upon acceleration. Rather, it’s for those who simply want a comfortable and nice — in the general sense of the word — luxury car, plain and simple. Whether or not you feel that the 2.5L is refined enough is an entirely different question.
And at 33 MPG highway and 21 MPG city, we should also note that the 2.5L is the fuel efficiency champion of the ATS family.
|Metric||2.5L I4 NA LCV||2.0L I4 Turbo LTG||3.6L V6 NA LFX|
2. Competitive Pricing
Consider this: at a starting price of $33,215, the ATS Sedan is the least expensive model in the Cadillac lineup. That price is — you guessed it — is for the ATS Standard trim level (read: base) with the 2.5L I4 LCV engine. Opting for the least expensive ATS with the turbocharged 2.0L I4 costs $36,240, a rather substantial difference of $3,115. That’s why the ATS needs the entry-level 2.5L I4 until the sub-ATS Cadillac is released. This new vehicle will allow Caddy to reach an even lower price point, at which point the 2.5L will likely disappear from the ATS lineup due to the vehicle moving slightly upmarket.
In fact, its the market and segment positioning of the ATS Coupe that has resulted in Cadillac not offering the 2.5-liter in the two-door ATS.
3. BMW 320i
Much like the ATS 2.5, the BMW 320i is the base model of the 3 Series Sedan lineup. It’s powered by a detuned version of the same engine as in the 328i, and carries a starting price of $32,950, undercutting that of the ATS Sedan by $265 (though with less standard features). So, simply to remain price competitive with the Bimmer, Cadillac needs the 2.5L in the ATS.
|Measurement||Cadillac ATS 2.5L I4 NA||BMW 320i 2.0L I4 Turbo||+ / – Cadillac|
|Horsepower (HP / kW @ RPM)||202 / 151 @ 6300||180 / 134 @ 5000-6250||+ 22 / 17|
|Torque (lb-ft / Nm @ RPM)||191 / 259 @ 4400||200 / 271 @ 1250-4500||− 9 / 12|
|Transmission||8-speed automatic (2016 MY)||8-speed automatic||0|
If Cadillac were to discontinue the 2.5L in the ATS and increase the price to the level of the ATS 2.0T ($36,000) then it will be taking out a nice chunk of ATS sales by alienating customers who would have actually bought the ATS 2.5L, while also pushing away shoppers who are attracted to the ATS’ $33,000 starting price — made possible by the 2.5L, and who then end up buying a more potent ATS 2.0T or 3.6L V6.
As a bonus, the ATS’ 2.5L makes 22 more horsepower than the 328i’s 2.0L turbo. Even so, it’s down 9 pound-feet when it comes to the torque metric.
It all comes down to this:
- Owners of the ATS 2.5L actually like the engine in their car, and
- Removing the 2.5L I4 form the ATS lineup will only drive the price of the ATS Sedan higher, thereby making it less price competitive with its biggest and most direct rival — the BMW 3 Series
As such, we should think of it as a necessary component of the ATS family, at least until the sub-ATS model arrives at a lower price point. Until then, dropping the 2.5L from the ATS family wouldn’t help boost ATS sales numbers whatsoever.
But the one thing we would definitely change is that awkward, offset single exhaust pipe on the ATS 2.5; it needs to make up its mind and either get offset more to the left, or — better yet — gain a companion on the right for a nice-looking dual exhaust. But hey, at least there’s an accessory for that.