This article is part of the GM Authority Wish List series for the Cadillac ATS — a collection of changes, updates, and modifications we’d like to see made to the current family of compact luxury vehicles, as well as to its CT# replacement. The purpose of the Wish List is very simple: to create awareness of the issues we have found with the vehicles so that Cadillac can address them in the future, whether via a refresh or a next-generation model, all in an effort to make the best luxury cars on the market, bar none.
The GM Authority staff has collectively spent a significant amount of time with the ATS, both as drivers and as passengers, in both Sedan and Coupe body styles, with all four engines, all five trim levels, and with various degrees of features and equipment. In other words, this wish list is not the result of a knee-jerk reaction after a day or two with the car. It’s the result of living with the cars, sometimes for several months. In fact, one of our founders happens to own an ATS (2015 2.0T Premium, six-speed manual).
We should note that at times, the Wish List series might appear like nitpicking, as it will point out the smallest features, characteristics, or components. If it seems that way, it’s for a reason, since we believe that the devil is in the details, especially when it comes to prestige luxury vehicles. As such, we honestly believe that addressing these issues will improve the product, grow the brand, and — ultimately — lead to an uptick in Cadillac sales. And as journalists who also happen to be GM and Cadillac enthusiasts, few things would make us happier. If nothing else, it would result in a Cadillac we’d be proud to buy, to own, and to show off to anyone willing to look and listen.
Keeping in mind that this wish list is by no means in order, here is the fifth item on our list: a capless fuel filler system on the ATS Sedan.
The look and feel of a vehicle’s fuel filling system — the fuel door, gas cap, and the way in which the entire mechanism works together — is nowhere near the top purchase considerations for a vehicle. So why are we wishing for Cadillac to change it on the ATS Sedan? Because the devil is in the details.
Consider this: it’s entirely possible that an owner of a vehicle might never come into contact with some features and components, like legroom in the second row. On the other hand, the driver will most definitely come into contact with unavoidable elements like the key fob, door handles (inside and out), the steering wheel, shifter, window and door lock switches, and the vehicle’s fueling mechanism, which is comprised of the fuel door and gas cap. And on the ATS Sedan, the cap along with the “string” it’s attached to leave a lot to be desired.
In fact, we don’t see any difference between the plastic-fantastic fuel cap in the ATS and that in the Chevy Spark or Sonic. This should not be the case for a Cadillac. Moreover, the hook to “hang” the gas cap while fueling the vehicle (so as not to scratch or otherwise damage the paint with the cap) simply pales in comparison to the built-in cap holders of German rivals.
Nitpicking? Indeed. But we’re looking at the details for a very good reason here: luxury products like the Cadillac ATS Sedan must exude a premium luxury feel at each and every touch point. Every time a touchpoint does not live up to that standard, it deteriorates the user satisfaction/experience and the perception of the product, both of which impact purchase/repurchase consideration, that funnel into conquesting new customers and retaining existing ones.
To understand our point of view on this subject, simply check out the way the gas cap mechanism feels in Mercedes-Benz C-Class, BMW 3 Series, and Audi A4 lineup. Twisting to remove and replace the cap in those vehicles feels very smooth, much smoother than the ATS Sedan. And each one of those vehicles offers a highly-refined method to “hang” or otherwise store the gas cap while fueling.
The good news is that Cadillac can not only catch up to, but actually bypass its three rivals from Germany by equipping every ATS, regardless of trim level, with a capless fuel fill system. The setup replaces the fuel cap and cap string with a one-way valve, essentially eliminating the gas cap from the fueling system altogether.
Now, we are perfectly aware that zero ATSes will be sold on the inclusion of the capless fuel filler feature alone. Even so, the capless filler is a differentiator — something that Cadillac needs more and more of, especially today. Plus, the capless fuel filler will improve convenience (user/owner experience) and customer satisfaction, while elevating the breed of Cadillac vehicles.
Ultimately, it’s the little details — ones that customers may not have experienced or tested during the test drive — that count and delight owners after the initial purchase decision. This is one of those details that, done right, could delight owners and instill confidence in the product, plus increase satisfaction and convenience… all in one fell swoop.
What we wish for: a capless fuel filling system to be included as a standard feature on the Cadillac ATS Sedan lineup (the ATS Coupe has it standard).
Why we wish for it: increase in convenience and refinement while being more modern and cleaner to use than a traditional gas cap system.
Who to look to for examples: Cadillac vehicles that currently include the capless fuel filling system, such as the ATS Coupe, XTS, CT6, and Escalade.