2018 Cadillac ats 2.0t vs. 2018 ford mustang ecoboost premium performance – motor trend

In standardized testing, though, it’s anything but a draw. The stronger, heavier Mustang is quicker to 60 mph and through the quarter mile, though the ATS nearly caught up by the end of the drag. The Mustang stops 8 feet shorter from 60 mph, pulls higher average g on the skidpad, and laps our figure eight test quicker and at higher average g. Also, the Mustang sounds better.

Although the raw horsepower and torque of the EcoBoost engine can be credited for the speed advantage, it’s the tires that make the difference in most of the testing. The Cadillac—with zero window sticker options to keep it price competitive—rides on Continental ProContact all-seasons.


The Mustang, meanwhile, is equipped with the EcoBoost Performance package, which among other things buys you a limited-slip differential and Pirelli P Zero summer performance tires.

The tire discrepancy made itself known during our evaluation. The Cadillac has a wonderful chassis, but it doesn’t work with these tires. Attempting to drive aggressively gets you a handful of understeer as the tires quickly cry uncle. OK, slow in, fast out, right? Nope. The tires can’t put the power down, either, so you get draconian traction control intervention. I generally don’t turn off any of the nannies while on the street, but with the Cadillac’s traction control, I made an exception. It makes the car drivable on a good road, and you still are protected by the stability control safety net. Budget an extra grand for better tires to make this car handle as it should.

Although the Mustang has vastly superior front-end grip, it’s not perfect. Power tends to come on like a hammer, especially in the various Sport modes, and it’ll easily overwhelm the rear tires and rouse the stability control. Mustangs like to snap oversteer and need to be driven with finesse, and the little-engine model is no exception. Drive it like you stole it, and it’s like trying to wheel a classic Mustang in Bullitt. Learn its bad habits, and on a mountain road it’ll leave the ATS for dead. In everyday driving, there’s no denying the Ford feels quicker and sportier than the Cadillac.

The Mustang’s all-new 10-speed automatic transmission also contributes to its performance. It was brilliant on the road. The shifts were smoother and quicker than the Cadillac’s, both up and down, and it always knew what gear to be in. In Sport mode, it behaved so well that it made the paddle shifters superfluous.

Despite the Mustang outperforming the ATS, we could never find an ideal setup. The damper settings are permanently tied to the multiple-choice driving modes, and the steering weight is adjustable only in some modes. As a result, we ended up in Sport mode—where the dampers are too soft but the steering isn’t ridiculously heavy and the throttle isn’t hair-trigger. Even the customizable My mode wouldn’t let us mix and match settings the way we wanted.

Still, the Mustang, as equipped, is clearly the better sports car. But which is the better luxury car? Here, the race tightens. The Mustang registers the loudest interior of all eight cars in this comparison, but the Cadillac’s is the second loudest. Likewise, the Mustang, despite its optional MagneRide active dampers, rides more like a sports car than the luxury-oriented Cadillac.

Despite that, we still prefer the Mustang’s cabin. We admire Cadillac’s commitment to “cut and sewn” materials, but we take issue with the materials chosen to cut and sew. The sheets of vinyl stitched to the dash call quite a bit of attention to themselves, and not the good kind. If you’re not going to wrap the dash in leather or suede, don’t bother. The Mustang’s soft-touch dash is plastic, but it doesn’t look like it’s trying too hard. We’re calling a draw on the Cadillac’s plastic wood trim versus the Ford’s dull gray plastic.

Elsewhere on the dash, we come to a tale of two infotainment systems. Both have long suffered software development issues, and both seem to have finally gotten it right. We find Ford’s Sync 3 more intuitive than Cadillac’s CUE, but the latter looks more hip and modern. The Cadillac’s lack of navigation is to be expected at this price and is mitigated by Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. (Ford provides both, as well.) Unfortunately, there’s no getting around the fact that CUE’s entirely touch-sensitive interface is housed in a waterfall of black plastic cascading down the dashboard while the Mustang gets cool metal toggle switches and knurled knobs.

Likewise, the ’90s-inspired gauges in the ATS look dated next to the Mustang’s futuristic-looking digital gauges. Although Ford’s interface might look better, with layer upon layer of menus and multiple buttons scattered around the steering wheel, it’s a lot less intuitive than the Cadillac’s.

It’s a similar story when you consider the seats you’ll be sitting in. The Cadillac’s imitation leather is plenty convincing, but even then you don’t get enough of it, thanks to some cloth patches substituted in places Cadillac thinks you won’t notice. The Ford’s seats are sportier with leather and contrast stitching, though we’re split on which is more comfortable. Not up for debate: At this price point, the Mustang’s seats are both heated and cooled; the Cadillac’s

The extra room in the front of the Ford is appreciated, but it makes the rear seats less useful. To be fair, the Cadillac’s rear seats are only slightly more utile. Kids only in the back for both. Don’t bring too much stuff with you, either, because neither car has a big trunk. The ATS has a larger opening to get your bags through, but the Mustang has a larger and more usable trunk because it doesn’t have the ATS’ intruding wheelwells.