Quickies: We Meet Again!

2013 Cadillac ATS 2.0T AWD Premium 9
Photo by Randy Stern

As I mentioned in my 2013 Chicago Auto Show piece, two Ride-and-Drive experiences were actually available on both Media and Social Media Preview days. In a city where you are shuttled between hotel, McCormick Place, private affairs and so far, the opportunity to take the wheel of a vehicle is like serving the best hamburger dish to me.

In the course of being served up a short drive to quickly a feel some vehicles, I ended up driving three. Two of them happen to be cars I reviewed on this site – different variants of each, mind you. In this first-ever Quickie, I will discuss my brief experience with two different kinds of sedans – both with their own interpretation of luxury.

The question is: which one is truly more luxurious?

2013 CADILLAC ATS 3.6 LUXURY: No, I was not done with the reigning North American Car of the Year. In fact, it was a topic of discussion at McCormick Place. My review on here and in Lavender promoted the question of whether I intended to state that the all-wheel drive 2.0litre turbocharged Premium model represented in my review fell short on its quest to the current BMW 3-Series. I stated that I felt the ATS was a great car – which it was!

However, I needed to make sure that I was on the right track and to prove that my intention of the review was indeed in tack, I jumped in another ATS provided in their ride-and-drive. This time, it was the 3.6litre V6 version in the Luxury collection. The choice of vehicle fits well with what I wanted to prove. While I lose some of the nicer features from the Premium collection, I gained the 321-horsepower V6. The result is a slightly different experience firming up the case for the ATS. The V6 certainly has the grunt and propulsion needed to battle its 3-Series equivalent and the absence of the Magnetic Ride Control provided the Luxury collection an honest feel for the road. Perhaps it was the streets of Chicago that made a better case for the attributes of the Sport mode.

The all-wheel drive, combined with traction control, was put to the test. If presented with uneven levels of grip, both systems work by grabbing the most slippery part and correcting it without sending off line. You do not need to correct the grip loss by working the steering, brakes and throttle – the system works briefly and it is done for you.

The ATS is still "just a fantastic car." After experiencing two engines and two trims, if I were to choose between this and the F30 3er, it would be the Cadillac. As to which combination I would choose, well, yes, the Luxury models will be less expensive than the Premium, the turbo gets better fuel economy, and the 17-inch wheels offer more tire wall than the 18's…

Seriously, the choices available to the consumer are what the ATS is all about. Why have you not driven one?

2013 KIA OPTIMA SX LIMITED: This is another example of "having driven other variants, why am I driving this again?" Two years ago, I drove my first current generation Optima in the guise of a rented LX model. Last year, I had the Hybrid. There is still a strong contender in the family mid-sized sedan segment, but that Hybrid almost ruined my overall impression of it.

The Optima has a balancer: the SX Limited. You get a 2.0litre turbocharged engine with 265 horsepower on tap. It scrolls without lag from the get go and motivates the angled body across the tarmac with ease. The driving dynamics package is superb – even better than the prior Optimas experienced. The traction control did take some time to grab the icy intersection, but worked to eliminate slip in the process.

The interior gets a shot of fabulosity with its white Nappa leather interior. It is as you were staying at a boutique hotel (or the W Minneapolis at Foshay Tower) with the ability to over the speed limit. The leather seats are the best amongst all of the Optimas I have driven – they are extremely comfortable and supportive.

The point of the Optima is to put Kia right in the mainstream. Mission accomplished. However, there are elements of the Optima that make it even more desirable. In terms of the SX Limited, mission accomplished. If there was one Optima I would choose amongst the lot, it is this one.

As to the answer to the question in the start of this piece: Advantage goes to the Cadillac, of course!

Now you get the idea of what a "Quickie" is – a brief review based on a limited sampling of a given vehicle. They might come in groups of two or three. However, there is one more Quickie to present. You may want to pay attention to this one…

DISCLAIMER: Vehicles provided by General Motors and Kia Motors America.

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