2019 Audi A4 vs. 2018 Cadillac ATS Sedan

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

For enhanced safety, the front and rear seat shoulder belts of the Audi A4 have pretensioners to tighten the seatbelts and eliminate dangerous slack in the event of a collision and force limiters to limit the pressure the belts will exert on the passengers. The Cadillac ATS Sedan doesn’t offer pretensioners for the rear seat belts.

For enhanced safety, the front seat shoulder belts of the Audi A4 are height-adjustable to accommodate a wide variety of driver and passenger heights. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages passengers to buckle up. The Cadillac ATS Sedan doesn’t offer height-adjustable front seat belts.

The A4 has a standard Audi Backguard System that uses a specially designed headrest to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the Audi Backguard System moves the headrests forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. At the same time the pretensioning seatbelts fire, removing slack from the belts. The ATS Sedan doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

The A4 has standard Secondary Collision Brake Assist, which automatically apply the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The ATS Sedan doesn’t offer a post collision braking system: in the event of a collision that triggers the airbags, more collisions are possible without the protection of airbags that may have already deployed.

The A4 Prestige has a standard Top and Corner View Cameras to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The ATS Sedan only offers a rear monitor and front and rear parking sensors that beep or flash a light. That doesn’t help with obstacles to the sides.

Both the A4 and the ATS Sedan have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver and front passenger knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems and rear cross-path warning.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does side impact tests on new vehicles. In this test, which crashes the vehicle into a flat barrier at 38.5 MPH and into a post at 20 MPH, results indicate that the Audi A4 is safer than the Cadillac ATS Sedan:

 

A4

ATS

 

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Chest Movement

1.1 inches

1.1 inches

Hip Force

308 lbs.

325 lbs.

 

Rear Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Spine Acceleration

56 G’s

64 G’s

Hip Force

777 lbs.

888 lbs.

 

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Max Damage Depth

12 inches

13 inches

Hip Force

666 lbs.

776 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

For its top level performance in all IIHS frontal, side, rear impact and roof-crush tests, its standard front crash prevention system, and its available headlight’s “Acceptable” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the A4 the rating of “Top Pick” for 2018, a rating granted to only 85 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The ATS Sedan has not been fully tested, yet.

Warranty

The A4’s corrosion warranty is 6 years longer than the ATS Sedan’s (12 vs. 6 years).

Reliability

The Audi A4’s engines use a cast iron block for durability, while the ATS Sedan’s engines use an aluminum block. Aluminum engine blocks are much more prone to warp and crack at high temperatures than cast iron.

A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without a vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports rates the A4’s reliability 47 points higher than the ATS Sedan.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Audi vehicles are more reliable than Cadillac vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Audi 13th in reliability, above the industry average. With 45 more problems per 100 vehicles, Cadillac is ranked 27th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Audi vehicles are more reliable than Cadillac vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Audi 21 places higher in reliability than Cadillac.

Engine

As tested in Car and Driver the A4 45 TFSI is faster than the Cadillac ATS Sedan 2.0 Turbo:

 

A4

ATS

Zero to 60 MPH

5.2 sec

6.2 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

13.9 sec

16.5 sec

5 to 60 MPH Rolling Start

6 sec

6.9 sec

Quarter Mile

13.9 sec

14.8 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

100 MPH

95 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the A4 gets better fuel mileage than the ATS Sedan:

 

 

A4

ATS

 

2WD

 

n/a

20 city/29 hwy

2.0 Turbo/Manual

 

40 TFSI/Auto

27 city/34 hwy

22 city/31 hwy

2.0 Turbo/Auto

 

 

n/a

20 city/30 hwy

3.6 V6/Auto

AWD

45 TFSI/Auto

23 city/34 hwy

22 city/30 hwy

2.0 Turbo/Auto

 

 

n/a

19 city/27 hwy

3.6 V6/Auto

Regardless of its engine, the A4’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) Cadillac only offers an automatic engine start/stop system on the ATS Sedan Auto.

Transmission

The A4 offers a standard sequential manual gearbox (SMG). With no clutch pedal to worry about and a fully automatic mode, an SMG is much more efficient than a conventional automatic but just as easy to drive. The ATS Sedan doesn’t offer an SMG.

The A4 Auto’s launch control uses engine electronics to hold engine RPM’s precisely in order to provide the most stable and rapid acceleration possible, using all of the available traction. The ATS Sedan doesn’t offer launch control.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the A4 Quattro’s front brake rotors are larger than those on the ATS Sedan:

 

A4 Quattro

ATS Sedan

Front Rotors

13.3 inches

12.6 inches

Rear Rotors

13 inches

12.4 inches

The A4 stops much shorter than the ATS Sedan:

 

A4

ATS Sedan

 

70 to 0 MPH

155 feet

167 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

105 feet

124 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the A4’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the ATS Sedan (245/40R18 vs. 225/40R18).

The A4 has a standard space-saver spare tire so you can replace a flat tire and drive to have the flat repaired or replaced. A spare tire isn’t available on the ATS Sedan; it requires you to depend on its run-flat tires, which limits mileage and speed before they are repaired. If a run-flat is damaged beyond repair by a road hazard your vehicle will have to be towed.

Suspension and Handling

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the A4 is 2.4 inches wider in the front and .3 inches wider in the rear than on the ATS Sedan.

The A4 Prestige Quattro handles at .90 G’s, while the ATS Sedan pulls only .83 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

The A4 Premium Plus Quattro executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1.4 seconds quicker than the ATS Sedan (25.3 seconds @ .74 average G’s vs. 26.7 seconds @ .66 average G’s).

Chassis

As tested by Car and Driver, the interior of the A4 Prestige Quattro is quieter than the ATS Sedan:

 

A4

ATS Sedan

At idle

42 dB

42 dB

Full-Throttle

70 dB

76 dB

70 MPH Cruising

63 dB

71 dB

Passenger Space

The A4 has .3 inches more front headroom, .7 inches more front shoulder room, .6 inches more rear headroom, 2.2 inches more rear legroom and .6 inches more rear shoulder room than the ATS Sedan.

Cargo Capacity

The A4 has a much larger trunk than the ATS Sedan (13 vs. 10.4 cubic feet).

A low lift-over trunk design makes loading and unloading the A4 easier. The A4’s trunk lift-over height is 26.9 inches, while the ATS Sedan’s liftover is 28 inches.

With its sedan body style, valet key, locking rear seatbacks and remote trunk release lockout, the A4 offers cargo security. The ATS Sedan’s non-lockable folding seat defeats cargo security.

To make loading and unloading groceries and cargo easier, especially for short adults, the A4 has a standard power trunk, which opens and closes automatically by pressing a button, or optionally by just kicking your foot under the back bumper, completely leaving your hands free. The ATS Sedan doesn’t offer a power trunk.

Ergonomics

The A4’s front and rear power windows all open or close with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside of the car. The ATS Sedan’s rear power window switches have to be held the entire time to close them fully.

If the windows are left open on the A4 the driver can close them all at the outside door handle. The driver of the ATS Sedan can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The A4’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The ATS Sedan’s standard manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

Heated windshield washer nozzles are standard on the A4 to prevent washer fluid and nozzles from freezing and help continue to keep the windshield clear in sub-freezing temperatures. The ATS Sedan doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) conducts detailed tests on headlights for their range both straight ahead and in curves and to be certain they don’t exceed acceptable amounts of glare to oncoming drivers. The A4’s available headlights were rated “Acceptable” by the IIHS, while the ATS Sedan’s headlights are rated “Poor.”

In poor weather, headlights can lose their effectiveness as grime builds up on their lenses. This can reduce visibility without the driver realizing. The A4 has standard headlight washers to keep headlight output high. The ATS Sedan doesn’t offer headlight washers.

The A4 has standard heated front seats. Heated front seats cost extra on the ATS Sedan. The A4 also offers optional heated rear seats to keep those passengers extremely comfortable in the winter. Heated rear seats aren’t available in the ATS Sedan.

Optional air-conditioned seats in the A4 keep the driver and front passenger comfortable and take the sting out of hot seats in summer. The ATS Sedan doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.

Economic Advantages

Insurance will cost less for the A4 owner. The Car Book by Jack Gillis rates the A4 with a number “5” insurance rate while the ATS Sedan is rated higher at a number “8” rate.

The A4 will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the A4 will retain 46.36% to 48.7% of its original price after five years, while the ATS Sedan only retains 38.82% to 39.32%.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the A4 is less expensive to operate than the ATS Sedan because it costs $207 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the A4 than the ATS Sedan, including $17 less for a water pump, $521 less for a muffler, $46 less for front brake pads, $283 less for fuel injection and $470 less for a power steering pump.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® chose the Audi A4 as its “Top Pick,” the highest scoring vehicle in its category, based on reliability, safety and performance. The Cadillac ATS Sedan isn't recommended.

Motor Trend performed a comparison test in its June 2017 issue and they ranked the Audi A4 Premium Plus Quattro three places higher than the Cadillac ATS Sedan.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the A4 first among compact premium cars in owner reported satisfaction. This includes how well the vehicle performs and satisfies its owner’s expectations. The ATS Sedan isn’t in the top three.

The Audi A4/S4 outsold the Cadillac ATS by almost three to one during the 2018 model year.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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