By on December 15, 2017

After a relative lull in product introductions, Cadillac has a pipeline of new vehicles ready to boost the brand’s fortunes. Or so the General Motors division hopes.

In early 2016 Cadillac launched the XT5 crossover and CT6 sedan, following it up with a refreshed XTS in late 2017. Next year brings bigger news in the form of the XT4 compact crossover, with at least one other crossover waiting to plug another hole in the brand’s utility lineup.

But what about Cadillac’s older sedan lineup — the one that’s not bringing in anywhere near the passenger car volume the brand once enjoyed? There’s a long-range plan to deal with that, but first the company has some careful surgery planned.

Going by GM VIN code documents submitted to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for the 2019 model year, it appears changes are afoot for both the ATS and CT6. The smallest Cadillac offering, the ATS, is listed as a coupe-only proposition for 2019. Powertrains carry over from the previous year, but there’s no sedan in sight.

The CT6 line drops its entry-level 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder for 2019, with the 3.6-liter V6 serving as the powertrain floor. The 2.0-liter remains in the higher-end plug-in hybrid model. With the exception of that variant, all-wheel drive is standard across the range.

Both the CTS and XTS carry over from 2018 unchanged.

When asked to comment on the ATS sedan elimination (or potential omission), Cadillac wasn’t in the mood to talk. The company wouldn’t comment on future products, though Cadillac product communications representative Donny Nordlicht was happy to focus our attention on the XT4 bowing in 2018. (Interested in the XT4? Here’s a peek at your XT4.)

2017 Cadillac CT6 - Image: Cadillac

The ATS coupe appeared for the 2015 model year, offering a buyers a handsome vehicle in a bodystyle whose popularity is shrinking faster than George at the pool. Actually, the same can be said for the ATS line overall. U.S. sales have fallen each year since 2013, the model’s first full year on the market. Over the first 11 months of 2017, ATS sales are down 37.5 percent compared to last year. In November, just 831 ATS models moved off dealer lots — the lowest number since the model’s first month on the market, September 2012.

Under NHTSA rules, an automaker can submit information on upcoming models until 60 days before the start of production, so it’s possible Cadillac’s 2019 lineup isn’t yet set in stone.

Should the changes occur, it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise. The ATS, CTS, and XTS are due to disappear after that model year. This past summer, Cadillac president Johan de Nysschen described the brand’s plan to “rebalance its sedan portfolio,” stating that a CT5 sedan will target buyers in the $35,000 to $45,000 range, with a smaller sedan arriving later to fill a lower price bracket. The remaining CT6, he implied, would go further upscale — and potentially further downscale.

After seeing the changes to the 2019 CT6, the latter possibility doesn’t seem as likely anymore.

[Images: General Motors, NHTSA]

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49 Comments on “2019 Cadillacs: CT6 Drops Entry-level Engine, and Is the ATS Going Coupe-only?...”

  • avatar

    Good moves. In particular, the turbo-four CT6 was a bad idea from the beginning.

    • 0 avatar

      The 2.0T base model should never have been offered. I have yet to see one in the wild. The problem is the eggheads at GM will now make the 3.6 AWD version the new base trim and that means CT6 will start in the low 60K range. Meanwhile one can land an AWD 3.7 V6 Continental for around 48K sticker or 46K in FWD format.

  • avatar

    OK so you have a car that does not sell, and you make it even less desirable by removing 2 doors?

    • 0 avatar

      Or there could be changes that they don’t won’t out yet. maybe the replacement is closer than we know or they just haven’t finalized changes for 2019 sedan. Manufacturers send in revisions and updates for their VIN decoders throughout the year

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve of two minds, Marcus.
      – The ATS has a relatively useless back seat, so it the ingress/egress doesn’t matter too much.
      – OTOH, it’s also a design where the two- and four-doors look about the same. Post-1970s, this is true of most passenger cars with a few exceptions. Accords, I think, have had some stylish two-door variants. A lot of cars, however, look about the same whether two-door or four (E30’s, Golfs, 1980s GM A-bodies, and so forth).

      Grain of salt: Some taller drivers do objectively prefer having the B-pillar further back in their peripheral vision. This is a very legitimate preference but probably not one that can drive much of a market segment.

      • 0 avatar

        “OTOH, it’s also a design where the two- and four-doors look about the same.”

        All the more reason to keep the sedan, as the coupe is pointless. As the Q60 and RC demonstrate, coupes are supposed to arouse, or at the minimum render an opinion. The ATS coupe is about as exciting as the Elantra coupe.

  • avatar

    If the ATS goes coupe only it will truly be the “Camaro Bertillina”

  • avatar

    this is not unusual and will continue. GM intros great vehicles, marketing destroys them. these new products will suffer the same fate. at GM the results don’t change, only the excuses. they just don’t get it.

    • 0 avatar


      I think I missed the part where GM introduced the great vehicles, especially for Cadillac. When was that, please?

      • 0 avatar

        Escalade is one, nice name attached. as for Buick, the new Lacrosse is exceptional, maybe the best Buick ever, marketing screwed up calling it such. it has nothing in common with previous machine. if named Roadmaster it would have flew off the shelf. hardly any Lacrosse buyers are taking. I home delivered one and the lady had us come get it and replace with an Equinox. Caddy had it going on with CTS as a car, poor name even. then Buzz Lightshare with his Project Pinhead decided to jack the price sky high and killed it.

  • avatar

    As a former veteran of the Cadillac orthodoxy, something must be done. I still hear my training exec saying to me “a caddy is a man that carries golf clubs, David. A Cadillac is a fine automobile”. I never shortened the name again. I also realized very quickly that in 1978 the money was in the imports, not the domestics. Ergo, my time there was short. I still catch myself silently rooting for them to succeed and always go down and drive the new models. To my eye and seat, they’re making a very good car. The V variants are outright tire shredders (if you push the buttons enough) that reach velocity at blinding speed. But that might be their problem as I’m not the market they should be targeting.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    I find the CT6 to be such a striking car. I like the angles, the size, the general presence. It seems to be as close as we’ll get to the old long-and-low American sedan in the current age. Installing a 2.0T Chevy EcoTec under the hood of this was a fundamental incongruity that I’m surprised they attempted it.

    Even the 3.6 seems unambitious since it can be found in Cadillac sedans a full 2 sizes and price classes down, but a 100mph trap speed is probably adequate for many buyers. Anyone driven a 3.6 CT6 and care to comment on the power delivery, NVH, and appropriateness of this engine in an executive sedan of this price?

    • 0 avatar

      To be fair, that 2.0T is a GM engine and not a Chevy engine, in the same sense that an EA888 is a VAG engine and not a VW engine.

      That said, it would be nice if we lived in a world where Cadillacs got division-specific engines built to different criteria (for example, more effort would be spent on achieving excellent NVH characteristics).

      I have next to no personal experience with them, but internet chatter seems to indicate that, by and large, Cadillac engines up through the pre-8-6-4 368 V8 of the 1980 model year were successful in meeting luxury buyers’ expectations (even if other aspects of their lineup had slipped). And even though they evolved from the hated HT-4100, the 4.5 and 4.9 probably can be considered as worthy Cadillac-specific engines.

    • 0 avatar

      2.0T would have been OK in a Volt style PHEV setup.

    • 0 avatar

      I’ll start by saying that I am NOT generally a fan of the GM 3.6. I feel it’s a poor follow-up to the 3800, particularly in the NVH department.

      However, I had the opportunity a year and a half ago to drive a CT6 for a day while my car was in service. The combination of the 3.6 and the 8-speed transmission worked well. Having the extra speeds helps to mitigate NVH from this engine and relatedly helps take advantage of the engine’s narrow torque curve. I liked the car. For most buyers, the 3.6 is more than adequate. Keep in mind that the previous full size RWD Cadillac, the 1996 Fleetwood, had only 260 hp with a bit more size and weight.

      Still, I am of the opinion that a full size Cadillac should have a V8. So while I liked the CT6, I won’t be buying one at least until they put a V8 in it. And even then it would be used given the current GM pricing structure.

      • 0 avatar

        CT6 has awful ride quality, atrocious interior fit/finish/materials, is overpriced, will be a nightmare to work on or repair if in an accident, and will be a depreciation monster.

        • 0 avatar

          No, it *IS* a depreciation monster. Even worse than most in the luxury sedan segment. The fit and finish are alright, but the materials could use an upgrade for the price. The ride is just fine and it’s no more of a nightmare to work on than any other car designed/built in the last ten years. But the car is overpriced for sure. As are all GM products. Their MSRPs mean nothing anymore, not sure why they still try.

  • avatar

    CTS is way to overpriced for what it is. Throw on just a couple options and it’s more expensive than the “flagship” XTS with that tiny 4-pot and 2 inches of back seat room. It would sell well or at least better priced in the mid $40s.

    • 0 avatar

      Agreed on all your points. The CTS should have been priced about 5-7K less in most configurations than it currently is.

    • 0 avatar

      The CTS undercuts the E Class and 5 Series – the problem is that it still isn’t seen as being a good value as the Germans offer more interior space and luxury.

    • 0 avatar

      Actual transaction prices on the CTS are much, much lower than MSRP.

      I don’t think people realize how dire the Alpha sedan situation is. At one point Cadillac was selling about 6000 CTSs/month in the US. Last month they sold 656. At one point Cadillac had ~900 dealerships in the US though they sought out to cut that down to about ~500. Still, that means dealers went from selling ~7 CTSs/month to being happy to sell 1. It’s a very dire situation, especially when you consider how many ATSs and CTSs are gathering dust on dealer lots.

      • 0 avatar


        Every single thing I predicted regarding the ATS and 3rd Gen CTS has come true, even in more dire ways than I predicted, and faster than I predicted, yet many here, since 2012 when I predicted such things, steadfastly told me that I was too harsh on Cadillac.

        The ATS and CTS are literally selling in near-exotic sedan territory (6,800, CTS, to 7,800, ATS, per year; there was a time when the 2nd Gen CTS sold well above 35,000 copies per year).

        The ATS has -and this is incredible – seen consecutive month-over-month and year-over year sales declines in massive %’s ever since it was introduced.

        The CTS now sells at a rate that is approximately 1/4 on an annual’basis as it did in 2012.

        I predict that the CT6 will end up in exactly the same terminal sales decline as both the ATS and 3rd Gen CTS, despite it only selling about 9,400 copies in its 1st full year), with an ultimate sales rate of around 6,000 copies annually.

        The XTSpala sells many more copies than the ATS, CTS and CT6 because it a) sells in heavy fleet volume, b) is roomy and rides more comfortably than any other Cadillac, c) is not trying to be a BMW, and d) sells for around the same price as a mid-level ATS or base level 3rd gen CTS.

        And to Buickman’s statement about how it’s not the vehicles, but the marketing, he’s wrong; it’s both (but moreso the vehicles, which are genuinely subpage in terms of reliability, fit/finish, ride quality, etc., overpriced, and atrocious in terms of resale value, for good reasons).

        Cadillac is on life support only because of the XT5 (5, not S) and Escalade, and the XT4 will be launched into the most competitive environment in terms of the number (as well as aggressive pricing from truly premium makes) of compact CUVs thus far on offer.

        • 0 avatar

          Wow, finally a measured, reasonable, hyperbole-free post from DW. Thank you.

          I agree 100% and was also mocked when I made such predictions earlier. Genesis is the same bag. And truthfully, just as Cadillac and Genesis missed the boat on luxury sedans, they seem positioned to miss the boat on crossovers- for Caddy the compact, and for Genesis everything. As the ES & RX demonstrate it’s better to be early rather than late, even if your product is not a heads-and-shoulders benchmark.

          To add to that, for Cadillac, the origami dodgeball look of the XT5 will look worse on a smaller body, especially compared to the surprisingly attractive new Terrain. I’m still of the mind that GM should scrap the whole Alpha sedan thing and split Caddy into 2 lines… the Escalade subbrand and a hotbed for experimentation like Oldsmobile used to be. A discounted CTS can be in the mix, but I still feel like a “Super Volt” with a bigger, smoother range extender (3.6 V6?) and styling that makes good on all those gorgeous A&S concepts we saw would do well. Give the cars some NAMES as well.

  • avatar

    ATS probably isn’t long for this world. I like the car, but the backseat (or the area of the car normally occupied by a back seat in the case of the ATS) is a killer for this car. Takes it immediately off the shopping list of more than half of all potential buyers I bet. I wouldn’t put anyone back there, not even kids. The CTS is actually a relative featherweight for its size, it can occupy that space, be slightly larger, less expensive and better equipped than the 3 series, A4, C Class, IS. But the price has to come down a little as well. Cadillac only needs the CTS and CT6 in my estimation. I suppose they sell plenty of XTS’s to rental fleets, but need to make the next CTS (or whatever they are calling it) be all things short of a flagship. From entry level, fleet queen, to mid to large luxury sedan. CT6 remains flagship, and Cadillac can get down to the business of selling SUV’s and crossovers like every other brand having all their sedan bases covered. Bottom line, CTS needs some equipment and price adjustments. It is a beautiful car, probably my favorite Cadillac. But too much $$

  • avatar

    “The ATS coupe appeared for the 2015 model year, offering a buyers a handsome vehicle in a bodystyle whose popularity is shrinking faster than George at the pool.”

    Actually, George’s significant shrinkage occurred in the Hamptons at the beach…just sayin’

  • avatar

    Dispose of the ungainly alphanumeric nonsense and we’ll talk business.
    Imagine a medical professional hoping to prescribe something for your “XT5XT4” condition. . .
    Wow, now it’s time for Cadillac to follow Lincoln!
    In my garage right now sits an immaculate 2000 ETC in the Cashmere color scheme… and it says E L D O R A D O in the center of the trunk!

  • avatar

    The white one at the top would look right at home with a KIA badge on it.

  • avatar

    Holy crap GM did TWO things I suggested.

    Finally time for MCGA?

    • 0 avatar

  • avatar

    Here is how I would start renaming and rebranding Cadillac…

    The new mid-engine Corvette should be a Cadillac. I would name it the “CADILLAC AEGUUS” meaning equal/center in Latin. This would reference the mid-engine configuration.

    The ATS Coupe is gorgeous and should be the halo performance car. The name should change to the “Cadillac DETWA” It is a play on the real pronunciation of Detroit and sounds French! The car should be proud of it’s Detroit/Lansing roots and marketed that way.

    After renaming all the vehicles with real names, I would then create sub-groups of the vehicles. The groups created would be based on the category of the vehicle. It could be broke into categories such as luxury, extreme luxury, utility, technology, and performance.

    For example, the Eeguus and the Detwa would fall under performance based cars. I would put all performance vehicles under the “SERIES 62” designation.
    Series-62 would retain a time in history when Cadillac was the standard of the world. I would still add the “V” designation on the highest performance versions. But they would still fall under the Series-62 designation.

    You could use other historical Cadillac SERIES for the other groups.
    Maybe Series-45 for the FWD cars, Series 90 for the extreme luxury, Series 85 for full size SUV and 75 for CUV’s. You get the drift.
    This would work!

    • 0 avatar

      A follow up on renaming the other models.
      I say pull out the old names with brand recognition.
      * CTS – Eldorado
      * XTS – Seville
      * CT6 – Fleetwood
      * XT5 – Deville

      If implemented, it will get tons of press with positive and negative comments. However either way it will make the public look at all the models during all the controversy. Do it! Build on history and previous brand recognition.

      • 0 avatar

        I’ve been saying this for decades now. would have had better luck going to Milford and talking to the crash dummies.

      • 0 avatar

        Forget the bad memories with the old names and give the entire current line to Buick as the Avenir line. Then build only real luxury vehicles like the Ciel and the Elmiraj – and use those names.

      • 0 avatar

        XTS = DTS (Deville)
        XT5 = Escalade “Velar” of sorts
        XT6/7 = Escalade Sport (Bring back mid-size BOF. Make a Blazer and an Envoy for economies of scale. Bring back the Blazer SS and Envoy Denail, while you’re at it.
        CTS = CTS
        CT6 = STS / SLS (Seville)
        CT7? = El Miraj
        Escalade = Escalade

        That’ll be $5M, Cadillac. Contact me for wire transfer details.

  • avatar

    Based on the answers here an extra-terrestrial vising the Earth would be forgiven to come to the conclusion that yes indeed its the names that are causing Cadillac to go out of business.

    Who in his/her right mind shops or worse yet, purchases cars based on names?

    It ain’t the names, it’s the product, stupid.

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