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  • William Maley
    William Maley

    Detroit 2012: Another One Bites The Dust, Cadillac ATS

    William Maley

    Editor/Reporter - CheersandGears.com

    January 8, 2012

    Joining the growing list of vehicles showing up before the embargo is the new Cadillac ATS. Pictures of the new model were released a few hours ago and show the ATS is gunning for the BMW 3-Series.

    Design of the new ATS takes many cues from its big brother, the CTS, but with some softer lines up front and on the flanks. Around back, the ATS sports Cadillac's trademark vertical tail lamps, plus a pair of inset exhaust tips.

    Cadillac is very confident that the new ATS will give the 3-Series a run for its money. The ATS boasts a nearly 50/50 weight distribution, and features a five-link independent rear suspension; a first for Cadillac. The ATS is also the lightest Cadillac, tipping the scales at 3,400 lbs.

    Power will come from engines; the base is a 2.5L four-cylinder producing an estimated 200 HP and 188 lb-ft of torque. Next is the 2.0L turbo-four producing 270 HP and 260 lb-ft of torque. And there is the stalwart 3.6L DI V6 producing 318 HP and 267 lb-ft of torque. Transmissions will include a six-speed manual or automatic.

    Inside, the ATS takes it up a notch, with eye-catching interior colors, the choice of either wood or carbon fiber trim, and cut-and-sew stitching on the dash and seats. The ATS will also feature Cadillac's CUE infotainment system which offers a eight-inch LCD touchscreen, Bluetooth, USB, auxiliary inputs, and a SD card slot.

    Cadillac hasn't announced pricing or fuel economy for the new ATS, but has said the ATS will be on dealer lots this summer.

    Press Release is on Page 2

    For release: Sunday, Jan. 8, 2012, 6 p.m. ET

    2013 Cadillac ATS Challenges the Status Quo

    • All-new, lightweight, rear-wheel-drive architecture with one of the lowest curb weights in the segment – less than 3,400 pounds (1,542 kg)

    • Broad lineup of engines, including two four-cylinders and a V-6 for North America, capitalizes on lightweight structure for performance with efficiency

    • Cadillac CUE, a comprehensive, in-vehicle experience that merges intuitive design with auto industry-first controls and commands for information and entertainment data

    DETROIT – Cadillac today introduced the 2013 ATS, an all-new compact luxury sports sedan intended to challenge the world's best premium cars. Developed on an all-new, lightweight vehicle architecture, Cadillac's entry into the world's most significant luxury car segment goes on sale this summer.

    The rear-drive ATS brings Cadillac's blend of technologically driven performance, elegance and design to a new audience of spirited drivers. Its sophisticated driving experience is enhanced with Cadillac CUE, a comprehensive, in-vehicle user experience that merges intuitive design with industry-first controls and commands for information and media data.

    "Designed with quick, nimble and fun-to-drive dynamics, ATS expands Cadillac's portfolio into a crucial global segment," said Don Butler, vice president of marketing for Cadillac. "For a new group of luxury consumers, this is a car that will fit their lifestyle and challenge the segment's status quo."

    The Cadillac ATS is a new expression of Cadillac's Art & Science execution philosophy, built on a foundation of driving dynamics and mass efficiency. It is the most agile and lightweight Cadillac, with one of the lowest curb weights in the segment – less than 3,400 pounds (1,542 kg).

    Germany's famed Nürburgring served as one of the key testing grounds, along with additional roads, racetracks and laboratories around the globe, ATS engineers balanced performance with Cadillac's trademark refinement. Contributing components and features include:

    • Nearly 50/50 weight balance

    • Cadillac's first five-link independent rear suspension using lightweight, high-strength steel and efficient straight link designs

    • A multi-link double-pivot MacPherson-strut front suspension with direct-acting stabilizer bar

    • Driver-adjustable FE3 sport suspension with Magnetic Ride Control real-time damping

    • Underbody aerodynamic shields

    • Premium (belt driven) electric variable-effort steering gear from ZF Steering Systems

    • Four-channel ABS with available Brembo performance brakes

    • Available all-wheel drive

    "More than just another new entry, the ATS aims to change the status quo of the European-dominated segment," said Butler. "That is why our approach in all elements of its development is so extensive and focused."

    A broad lineup of engines – including two four-cylinders and a V-6 for North America – delivers strong power to the ATS and capitalizes on the car's lightweight structure to complement its performance with efficiency. The optional engines include an all-new 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder rated at 270 horsepower (201 kW) and Cadillac's award-winning 3.6L V-6, estimated at 318 horsepower (237 kW).

    At 135hp/L, the new 2.0T is one of the most power-dense engines in the industry, topping engines from European competitors. ATS will offer both manual and automatic transmission options, along with rear-wheel and all-wheel-drive configurations.

    The ATS will deliver peak highway fuel economy of more than 30 mpg.

    A spirit of lightness and balance

    Making the ATS one of the segment's lightest cars was a fundamental criterion for and the guiding principle during its development, but it was done in a nuanced manner that ensures a refined driving experience.

    "Low weight gives the ATS a more nimble and controllable feel, while also optimizing the performance and efficiency of the powertrains," said David Masch, ATS chief engineer. "But we were careful to manage the weight while maintaining Cadillac's signature levels of refinement."

    Optimizing the ATS's mass was the result of a four-pronged philosophy that included strict adherence to original architectural goals, measured load management throughout the vehicle, benchmarking components to see if lighter solutions were available and an overall culture that "weighed" the mass of every component in the car against all aspects of its development.

    An aluminum hood, magnesium engine mount brackets and even lightweight, natural-fiber door trim panels contribute to the ATS's low overall mass – and reflect the systematic approach of evaluating every gram that went into the car. But some weight was deemed not only beneficial, but essential to the ATS's driving experience. An example is the cast iron differential: Engineers found they could improve fuel economy with a cast iron differential rather than a lighter aluminum version.

    And while the rear suspension is mostly steel, the focus on load management and straight links enabled significant weight savings without using alternate materials. This helps offset the weight of the engine and transmission at the front of the vehicle, helping the ATS deliver its near-perfect 50/50 weight balance, while also contributing to lower noise and vibration. A similar approach was taken on the wheels, where extra structural aluminum was strategically added to further reduce vibration.

    "We approached development by counting all the grams in the ATS," said Masch. "We minimized them where we could and put them to the best use where they were needed."

    Tailored design weaves in signature style and refinement

    The 2013 Cadillac ATS interprets Cadillac's Art & Science design language in a new proportion, tailoring the signature styling and refinement cues for the most compact Cadillac while upholding – and advancing – the exemplary attention to detail and technological elements for which the brand is known.

    A long, 109.3-inch (2,775 mm) wheelbase and wide front/rear tracks are the cornerstones of the ATS's firmly planted stance, which is enhanced by short overhangs and taut sheet metal that appears to wrap tightly around the tires. Seventeen-inch wheels are standard and 18-inch wheels are available.

    Bold vertical lighting elements – including new LED front signature lighting detail – as well as illuminating door handles and active grille shutters lend technologically advanced style and function to the ATS. The grille shutters close at certain highway speeds to reduce aerodynamic drag and enhance fuel economy.

    A driver-focused interior with integrated technology and crafted materials complements the exterior elements and supports the ATS's driving experience. Everything from the placement of the pedals to the position of the shifter is designed for effortless and intuitive performance driving. Available performance seats have power-adjustable bolsters to optimize lateral support during high-load cornering.

    Contributing to the interior's intuitive feel is an instrument panel that wraps into the doors and a center stack in the mid-instrument panel that flows into the center console. LED lighting for the bold gauge cluster enables clear, at-a-glance viewing in all lighting conditions, while ambient lighting accents functional elements of the console and doors.

    Real wood, plated metal plating and carbon fiber trim and Cadillac's cut-and-sew cut-and-sew instrument panel, console and doors enhance the emotional connection to the ATS. Choices of many interior color themes, each with unique accent trim material, cover a wide range of flavors – from light, open and warm to black and serious, to bold, technical and sporty.

    CUE and ATS technologies

    The ATS is offered with Cadillac CUE, a comprehensive, in-vehicle experience that merges intuitive design with auto industry-first controls and commands for information and entertainment data. It is designed to be unique for each consumer, from the "simple user" to the fully connected "super user."

    CUE, which stands for Cadillac User Experience, pairs entertainment and information data from up to 10 Bluetooth-enabled mobile devices, USBs, SD cards and MP3 players with a vehicle infotainment system that reduces complexity through customized information, voice commands and fewer buttons and larger icons. For example, most of today's luxury cars have around 20 buttons controlling the radio and entertainment functions. CUE has only four.

    The heart of CUE is the eight-inch LCD multi-touch sensitive screen, seamlessly integrated into the top of the central instrument panel and a motorized fully capacitive faceplate at the bottom concealing a 1.8L storage area. The vibrant LCD screen displays CUE's home page, which resembles a smart phone's screen by using large, easy-to-target icons to execute commands. Capacitive technology refers to using electrodes to sense the conductive properties of objects, such as a finger.

    In addition to CUE, the ATS is offered with other technologies, including:

    • Bluetooth phone connectivity with voice recognition

    • USB, auxiliary and SD memory card ports

    • SiriusXM Satellite Radio with three-month trial subscription

    • Keyless access and keyless push-button start

    • Reconfigurable 5.7-inch instrument panel cluster display

    • Full-color reconfigurable heads-up display.

    The ATS is offered as a well-equipped standard model and in Luxury, Performance and Premium Collections. A Bose® Cabin Surround audio system is offered on the standard model, as well as Luxury and Performance Collections. It is standard with the Premium Collection. A navigation system is also available with Luxury and Performance Collections and standard with the Premium Collection.

    'Control and alert' safety strategy

    Safety in the ATS is based on Cadillac's "control and alert" strategy that employs advanced technologies – including radar, cameras and ultrasonic sensors – to help prevent crashes.

    The safety features bolster driver vision and awareness of road hazards, and intervenes to help the driver avert potential crashes. In some cases, Cadillac's advanced crash-avoidance systems will act without the driver, such as automatic braking, which will activate based on information indicating potential hazards.

    Among the most sophisticated of the features is Front and Rear Automatic Brakes. This relies on short-range radar technology and ultrasonic sensors to help the driver prevent front and rear low-speed collisions via a progression of alerts that extend to complete braking, if necessary.

    Optional advanced safety features include:

    • Full Speed Range Adaptive Cruise Control

    • Intelligent Brake Assist

    • Forward Collision Alert

    • Brake Pre-Fill Automatic Collision Preparation

    • Lane Departure Warning

    • Side Blind Zone Alert

    • Rear Vision Camera With Dynamic Guidelines

    • Adaptive Forward Lighting

    • Hill Hold/Start Assist (Standard, manual transmission)

    The advanced technology safety features complement the ATS's roster of other safety features, including eight standard air bags (10 with optional features), safety belt pretensioners and load limiters, StabiliTrak electronic stability control system with traction control and four-wheel disc brakes with four-channel ABS.

    ATS also features OnStar standard for one year. It can use GPS and cellular phone technology to automatically call for help in the event of a crash. OnStar service also includes myCadillac and OnStar myLink mobile apps, which offer vehicle information, controls and OnStar services via the customer's iPhone or Android smart phone.

    About Cadillac

    Cadillac has been a leading luxury auto brand since 1902. In recent years, Cadillac has engineered a historic renaissance led by artful engineering and advanced technology. More information on Cadillac can be found at media.cadillac.com.



    Model: Cadillac ATS Sedan

    Body style / driveline: 4-door luxury sport luxury sedan, RWD/AWD

    Construction: Unitized welded steel body with direct-mounted front cradle and rubber-isolated, multi-link independent rear suspension

    EPA vehicle class: small car

    Manufacturing location: Lansing Grand River Assembly, Lansing, Mich.


    2.0L Turbo DI VVT 2.5L I-4 DI VVT 3.6L V-6 DI VVT

    Displacement (cu in / cc): 122 / 1998 150 / 2457 217 / 3564

    Bore & stroke (in / mm): 3.39 x 3.39 / 86 x 86 3.46 x 3.97 / 88 x 101 3.7 x 3.37 / 94 x 85.6

    Block material: cast aluminum cast aluminum cast aluminum

    Cylinder head material: cast aluminum cast aluminum cast aluminum

    Valvetrain: DOHC, four-valves per cylinder, continuously variable valve timing DOHC, four valves per cylinder, continuously variable valve timing DOHC, four valves per cylinder, continuously variable valve timing

    Fuel delivery: direct high-pressure fuel injection direct high-pressure fuel injection direct high-pressure fuel injection

    Compression ratio: 9.2:1 11.4:1 11.5:1

    Horsepower (hp / kW @ rpm): 270 / 201 @ 5300 (est) 200 / 149 @ 6200 (est) 318 / 237 @ 6800 (est - gas)

    Torque (lb-ft / Nm @ rpm): 260 / 353 @ 2400 (est) 188 / 255 @ 4500 (est) 267 / 362 @ 4900 (est - gas)

    Recommended fuel: premium recommended but not required regular unleaded regular unleaded or E85

    Maximum engine speed (rpm): 6350 7000 7200

    Estimated fuel economy: TBD TBD TBD


    Tremec M3L TR3160 Hydra-Matic 6L45

    Type: fully synchronized six-speed manual with single overdrive six-speed, electronically controlled, automatic overdrive with torque converter clutch

    Gear ratios (:1):

    First: 4.12 4.06

    Second: 2.62 2.37

    Third: 1.81 1.55

    Fourth: 1.30 1.16

    Fifth: 1.00 0.85

    Sixth: 0.80 0.67

    Reverse: 3.75 3.20

    Final drive ratio: 3.27 3.27 (2.5L, 3.6L)

    3.45 (2.0T)

    Chassis / Suspension

    Configuration: rear-wheel drive

    Differential: open (FE2 suspension); mechanical limited-slip (FE3 suspension)

    Front: MacPherson-type with dual lower ball joints and direct-acting stabilizer bar; Magnetic Ride Control (FE3)

    Rear: independent five-link with monotube shock absorbers; Magnetic Ride Control (FE3)

    Steering type: ZF rack-mounted electric, power-assisted and variable assist

    Steering ratio: FE2: 16.8:1

    FE3: 15.3:1

    Steering turns, lock-to-lock: FE2: 3.16

    FE3: 2.86

    Turn circle (ft / m): FE2 RWD: 36.38 / 11.09

    FE3 RWD: 35.99 / 10.97

    FE2 AWD: 38.05 / 11.60

    Chassis control: four-channel StabiliTrak w/ brake assist and traction control

    Wheels and Tires

    Wheel size and type: 17x8-inch aluminum (painted)

    17x8-inch aluminum (polished)

    18x8-inch aluminum (machined-face)

    18x8-inch aluminum (polished)

    Tire size: P225/45R17 90H all-season

    P225/45R17 90V run-flat all-season

    225/40R18 92V run-flat all-season

    225/40R18 88W / 255/35R18 90W run-flat summer-only

    225/35ZR19 88Y / 255/30ZR19 91Y run-flat all-season (LPO)


    Type: four-wheel disc with sliding calipers on base; four-channel ABS/TCS w/ DRP; Brembo brakes with fixed calipers on Luxury, Performance and Premium collections

    Rotor type and thickness (in / mm): Standard front: 11.8 x 1.02 (300 x 26) vented, with Ferritic Nitro Carbunized process for corrosion resistance

    Standard rear: 12.4 x 0.90 (315 x 23) vented, with Ferritic Nitro Carbunized process for corrosion resistance

    Uplevel front: 12.6 x 1.18 (321 x 30) vented, with Ferritic Nitro Carbunized process for corrosion resistance

    Uplevel rear: 12.4 x 0.90 (315 x 23) vented, with Ferritic Nitro Carbunized process for corrosion resistance



    Wheelbase (in / mm): 109.3 / 2775

    Length (in / mm): 182.8 / 4643

    Height (in / mm): 55.9 / 1421

    Width (in / mm): 71.1 / 1805

    Track (in / mm): front: 59.5 / 1512

    rear: 60.9 / 1548

    Curb weight (lb / kg): less than 3,400 / 1,542 (approx.)

    Weight distribution (% front / rear): 51 / 49


    Legroom (in / mm): front: 42.5 / 1079

    rear: 33.5 / 851

    Headroom (in / mm): front: 38.6 / 980

    rear: 36.8 / 935

    Shoulder room (in / mm): front: 55.2 / 1345

    rear: 53.9 / 1370

    Hip room (in / mm): front: 53.0 / 1345

    rear: 52.3 / 1328


    Seating capacity (front / rear): 2 / 3

    EPA passenger volume (cu ft / L): 90.9 / 2573

    EPA trunk volume (cu ft / L): 10.2 / 290

    Trailer towing maximum (lb / kg): 1000 / 454 (3.6L)

    Fuel tank (gal / L): 16 / 60.5

    Engine oil (qt / L): TBD

    Cooling system (qt / L): 8.1 / 7.7 (2.0T)

    7.1 / 6.7 (2.5L)

    11 / 10.4 (3.6L)

    *SAE certified.

    Note: Information shown is current at time of publication.

    User Feedback

    Recommended Comments

    The chrome wheels are a bit Chrysler 300C, in photos it looks a bit tacky, but I'd have to see it in person. I still don't like the headlights and I think the front end is a bit too rounded off. That "softened" Art and Science look is boring, not a fan of the black plastic around the fog lights either. It isn't a bad looking car in any way, but it just doesn't look like an expensive luxury car, and reminds me of a Chevy in some ways.

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    The chrome wheels are a bit Chrysler 300C, in photos it looks a bit tacky, but I'd have to see it in person. I still don't like the headlights and I think the front end is a bit too rounded off. That "softened" Art and Science look is boring, not a fan of the black plastic around the fog lights either. It isn't a bad looking car in any way, but it just doesn't look like an expensive luxury car, and reminds me of a Chevy in some ways.

    The head-on photo in silver reminds me of the '13 Malibu as far as the front fascia...similar.. but still, distinctly Cadillac.


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    I like the way the DRL strip in the headlights lines up with the fogs. I could see that being very distinctive & cool looking at night.

    Interesting..that's what this is...reminds me also of the lighting on the Ciel..

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    i remember dwight saying something about the headliner not being tucked into the roof at the front on GM vehicles

    There is one thing I'll like to see Cadillac do... under tuck that headliner!!! Every time I get in a GM vehicle, I'll run my fingers between the windscreen and the edge of the headliner. Till today I can always feel the cut edges of the fabric and the exposed foam. Audi, BMW, M-B and even Acura undertucks the headliner fabric at the edges. This is one way I gauge if the manufacturer is cutting unseen corners. Over the long run this practice also has the practical purpose of forestalling the dreaded sagging head liners so prevalent in older GM vehicles.

    Is this one any different?

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    Agreed with Cubical, the front end does remind me of the 2013 Malibu how the hood raises. The first gen CTS, even the current really share no styling cues with other GM product, the ATS seems to have Chevy cues all through it. As if the same team designed it, the Cruze and Malibu and ran out of ideas so they just shared.

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    Very interesting how the chrome deck trim is below the license plate pocket instead of above it as they normally are...

    that is weird, it's not even on the trunklid.

    Ah, yeah..top of the bumper, looks like

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    Some odd quotes from the Cadillac facebook page

    "Come on guys... Show us something a little more sporty."

    "Please make a coupe and call it an Eldorado"

    • "dis ma future car but mines gone be purpleor neon green"
      "What's the point of this? It's like a CTS."

    "Not great,looks common,where's the flair? I know a woman named della with more sexy than this car"

    "too small ! the cts is just right..."

    "Would this be in the Chevy Cruze and Buick Verano platform?!"

    " Did this take the place of DTS??? If so I might have to get one!!!"

    "It will never sell because anyone who can afford it will buy an equally nice rear wheel drive car. Historically speaking luxury cars do not sell when paired with FWD. Ex. Cadillac Alante, Cadillac deville, Ford Taurus/Lincoln MKS, hell I don't see too many of this Buicks this is built on. I don't know what dumbass got it approved, even Hyundai was smart enough to chose RWD when making luxury cars. GM will lose money on it."


    "Ahhhh man i jst made a mess in my pants :)"

    "I just saw a stupid local news reporter say this ATS was a compact please say it isn't so because if so v series or not Chevy will be a more luxurious brand"

    "oh my god pathetic this is a outrage what Cadillac style owner would want to be seen is this crap didn't you make another PC of crap like this for Europe FIRE THE CREATOR OF THIS PATHETIC $h!"

    "what's next the Cadillac version of COBALT LMAO....COBALT V .....SELLOUTS"

    Three seperate comments by the same guy^

    All the other ones were praising the car, since it is on the cadillac FB page

    Edited by CanadianBacon94
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    Maintains & extends the family design language well. Has a bit of flare in the front end (lights, lower fascia at the ends).

    Don't know what those saying 'not shocking' were expecting. I think Cadillac struck a very good balance here.

    Of course, with a marque as storied as Cadillac, the expectations/demands are all over the board.

    Others in this field, and here the IS250/350 comes readily to mind, look positively cheap & rebadged in comparison.

    3-series also manages to look cheap & dated in comparison.

    Looking forward to comparison road tests (tho I normally hate that format).

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    Regarding the 2.5 - Reuss says it will get well over 30 mpg.

    Z06 and I got one of the project managers to blush when we told him our guess as to what the HP rating would be. When we asked, he said 200+ hp. I suggested that the range would be more like 210 - 215, and how we came up with that number, and he nearly choked on his water.

    He told us we would have to wait and see.

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    Regarding the 2.5 - Reuss says it will get well over 30 mpg.

    Z06 and I got one of the project managers to blush when we told him our guess as to what the HP rating would be. When we asked, he said 200+ hp. I suggested that the range would be more like 210 - 215, and how we came up with that number, and he nearly choked on his water.

    He told us we would have to wait and see.

    Hopefully he will check the site out if he hasn't already!

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    I like the play-by-play reporting in this thread. And the photos. Some of them have a deviant orientation (sideways!), but I'm sure we're all thankful for you guys taking the time to journey to Detroit and report back with original content. I wish I was there, too, but this thread is almost like being there. Thanks!

    And the car is a beauty. Cannot wait for more of your original photos.

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    Love the variety of two tone interiors. This car is awesome and Cadillac really did a great job in focusing on the right segment. I believe it will be a hit.

    I was surprised to see so many color and trim choices for the interior...I like the red and the brown in particular. I noticed the comment that the manual will be available in all trim levels, I wonder if it will be available w/ all engines?

    Edited by Cubical-aka-Moltar
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    From an exterior standpoint, this is my favorite Cadillac in next year's lineup. Very mature look to it, but still very Cadillac. It does a great job of maturing the CTS design without softening itself up too much (XTS is very boatlike and looks like it could've been a better Buick). The interior may not be as great as the XTS, but that's the pricepoint. I feel like they could've given it a slightly better IP design.

    Overall, I'd love to drive a 2.0 turbo / manual transmission version to feel the dynamics of it. It looks and sounds 'tidy'. Interesting to note is its weight... I think this speaks volumes for GM taking a much harder look at their vehicles' weights. Considering the chassis of the ATS, I have a good feeling about the 6th Gen Camaro...

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    The Mustang is 3700 lbs in base form. This is a sedan that weighs 3400 in base form. That give Chevy a lot of wiggle room.

    Another perspective: In base form, the ATS is 100lbs more than a Verano and 200lbs less than a Regal.

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    That's true, but I'm sure Ford will also find a way to eliminate some weight from the Mustang in its next form. It actually only weighs like 3450-3500 in base form right now. Whether it'll be able to eliminate enough to be as light as the Camaro (I'm guessing that a potential base 2.5 or 2.0T Camaro will be about 200 lbs lighter than a base ATS? -- pure guess) at around 3200 lbs is another question. However, you also have to consider an Ecoboost four-cylinder in the Mustang instead of the V6 its got too, and I'm sure the four-cylinder will be lighter as well.

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    • That's hella ugly, but people will buy it because it says "off road"   Look at how it tackles that gravel road that a Nissan Sentra could easily navigate.
    • True, but some larger apartment complexes or parking garages could put in level 2 chargers, maybe even level 1 for places like an airport extended parking.  If people have their car sit 12 hours at their apartment, or 8 hours in a parking garage while at work, there is opportunity there also for charing without having to build out expensive super chargers. And really it is rural America that should be embracing EV's way more because there aren't many gas stations when you get into farm country, you might have to drive 30-40 minutes to find a gas station in some parts of rural America, but they have houses with electricity and can easily charge.  
    • Meh, just another forgettable appliance...styling very similar to the Polstar something something...
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