By on March 6, 2018

Cadillac ATS-V.

My longtime readers know I suffer from a particular fascination with New Orleans, although it’s been six years since I rolled through the city’s streets in a Nissan Cube. You can’t have a NOLA obsession without having a NOLA-music obsession, and you can’t have that without being aware of John Boutte. His rendition of “A Change Is Gonna Come” isn’t better than Mr. Cooke’s — it’s just different, and heartfelt.

Change comes to all of us. When I wrote that Cube review, I was the absentee parent of a toddler, living with a stripper, and consuming a bottle of Ketel One pretty much every week. I had a lot of, ah, short-term romantic partners. It was not sustainable. There had to be a change.

That idea — of making changes because we need to, or just want to — is central to this week’s episode of Ask Jack.

Max writes:

I’ve been daily driving a 2015 Mitsubishi Evo for the last few years, bought new, and have forty-some-odd thousand miles on it in all weather conditions and a four thousand mile jaunt across the US. The car has been spectacular and a thrill to drive, even with it’s stick-in-the-mud five-speed and plastic-laden squeaky interior. But the massive turbo lag, short gearing, and singular purpose of the construction has me reconsidering how much longer I want to drive this.

I’m a one car type of guy, and that’s what makes the most sense right now, and I prefer to buy something a bit more upscale, (not hard to achieve), manual transmission, and American after years of buying imports.

Hate me, but I really enjoy the look and apparent performance of the Cadillac ATS-V, but the absolute apocalyptic depreciation in the first few years buying new is giving me significant pause.

The other option is to just go the Hellcat widebody route and get a powerful comfortable highway cruiser that I may not be able to throw into corners with reckless abandon (knowing AWD trickery will save me), but will be a much more enjoyable and fun everyday car.

Lastly, the Corvette Grand Sport definitely intrigues me. But my fear is that I will just get into the same situation as the Evo after a year or so and get annoyed at living with it day to day.

This will be a car I would likely drive across the country again in the next year or so.

Alright. Sounds like Max is ready to make a change. Just as importantly, he’s financially prepared to make a change. Let’s rank his prospective cars in order of their merit.

At the top of the pop charts, we have the Corvette Grand Sport, which is the best version of the best American car in history. Even my brother likes it. On a racetrack, it’s a subtle sledgehammer. On the street, it’s got a thumping stereo and an oddly calming ride quality. If you can afford a Grand Sport, you should own it. Simple as that. Don’t worry about getting annoyed by it. This is not a Mitsubishi Evo. The only real annoyances are the low seating position and the long nose. If you can deal with those, then you are golden.

Next up would be that widebody Hellcat, a charming if imperfect take on the power cruiser. Not since Yamaha released the original V-Max has there been such a thoroughly masculine roadgoing proposition. I think it looks like a million bucks despite being based on a decade-old rental car. With that said, the interior is a bit dismal for the price and the visibility will never not annoy you. It’s harder to “hoon” the Hellcat on the public roads than it would be to misbehave in the Vette because the forces involved are so much higher. It’s like launching an F-111 from a carrier instead of an F-16. All the mistakes will be bigger.

Last is the ATS-V. This one you might want to buy used. Here’s a nice one with under a thousand miles for at least twelve grand off sticker. In fact, the Internet is full of low-mileage ATS-Vs as low as forty grand. I’m afraid there are some reasons for that. The engine is strong but laggy and far from charming. The interior is cheap and not cheerful. Only the handling requires no explanation or excuses. I have to say, though, I’d rather have this platform underneath a Camaro ZL1 1LE, which is a rocketship.

I think the Corvette is the clear winner here, with the Hellcat a sentimental favorite. With that said, a low-mileage ATS-V for $40k is a lot of car. Spending that much money at a BMW dealership gets you a four-cylinder slug. Let’s not dismiss it out of hand. I’ve advised Max via email to drive a Grand Sport at his earliest convenience. Were I a betting man, I would say that a change is gonna come, and that change is going to wear a crossed-flag badge.

[Image: General Motors]

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!


78 Comments on “Ask Jack: Theories of Evolution...”

  • avatar

    I agree, Corvette is the clear winner of the three with Hellcat as an honorable mention. In three years, the C7 will also be the resale winner as well.

  • avatar

    I endorse all these choices and any of them is likely to feel like a Rolls Royce after being in an Evo.

  • avatar

    SS Sedan 6MT.

    • 0 avatar

      If you can find one, this will hit all the best points of the three options. The Vette’s going to be low and you can’t see. The Hellcat’s like sitting in a well and is like putting a V8 into a Studebaker Buckboad. The ATS has a cheap as hell interior and that’s not getting into depreciation or looks.

      SS is definitely the way to go. Just don’t get Vauxhall badges for it like one of my neighbors.

  • avatar

    Why did NOLA’s own Zebra never get the love? Was it because they sounded too much like Rush and Triumph? Did they eventually go crazy like King’s X?

    Is the power trio a doomed configuration, and, if so, should Max be looking at a fourth car?

    Wouldn’t he really fill that massive hole in his heart with a Continental with the big engine or, more in the price range of an ATS, an SHO Taurus? A greased pig can move fast.

    • 0 avatar

      I did not come here (or anywhere really) expecting to see a reference to Zebra….and then King’s X??

      Here is your +1000, sir (or maybe madam?)

  • avatar

    It depends. We don’t know how old the OP is. If he’s still a fairly young, uninjured person, the Vette may be the one.

    That aside, here’s how I would rank them: ATS-V (used, they’re an outstanding value), Hellcat and Vette. I love the current Vette, but you are always on display. People who don’t know an Edsel from an earthmover know what a Corvette looks like. Every LEO knows what they look like, too.

    At least with the Hellcat Chally, get it without all of the racing stripes, it’ll blend in with traffic. One thing the OP needs to know is that no Hellcat is AWD. The ATS-V will definitely blend in with traffic, a real Q-Ship.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree with you, geozinger. I don’t know this segment well, but doesn’t ATS-V also come in four doors? This may sway Max as well. If I were a betting man, I’d bet against Jack on this one. At the end of the day, ‘laggy’ in a 3.6 has got to be better than ‘laggy’ in a 2.0, weight difference notwithstanding.

      I got a chuckle out of the BMW comment… is it a 320i you get these days for forty large?

      • 0 avatar

        Yeah, the 320i is a pricey, pokey ride. The Accord is a better car in every way. And it’s a lot less money.

        • 0 avatar

          This. I love, love, love the new Accord. I’m actually considering selling my E90 M3 6MT to get one. It’s not as ridiculous a notion as some folks might think to compare them.

          • 0 avatar

            Don’t do it, cognoscenti.

            While the 320 is just too expensive for what it is, I have no problem with a four banger in the 330 (or 328 cpo). The Accord is too big (unless you have children and need one). Besides, I’m not all sold on the fact that while an Accord may compare favorably to a BMW at mileage 0, the same will hold true at mileage 80k. (Note that this is not an argument about reliability, but luxury/comfort).

          • 0 avatar

            That car would have an Accord for lunch! If Honda hadn’t gone so “greenie-weenie,” and ripped the V6 out of the Accord, given the tech improvements (though there are teething problems which have shown up in that regard) and improvements in interior fitment, you might be happy.

            But I couldn’t see anyone used to a BMW, particularly an M3, being happy stepping down to a blown four! And given the new transmission (since the 2.0T Sport, the only one with a stick and the stronger motor is still missing a few goodies), and especially the unproven turbo (yes, even from Honda; there have been some instances of the intercooler plumbing not being properly clamped, causing the hose to pop off, which forces the engine into a “limp-home” mode), I would steer you to the Acura TLX (if you don’t mind the older tech and owning a lame-duck car), since the turbo nonsense is coming to that car with the redesign a year from now, and though a turbo V6 may eventually make it into a sporty variant, Lord knows how long the wait will be!

            Unlike with the last Accord, the 2013 in my avatar (and the first year of the 9th-Gen), I wouldn’t consider purchasing the first year of this Accord (unless something happened to my current car). Too much risk!

      • 0 avatar

        The 330i is $40,250 and does 0-60 in 5.5 seconds. Not exactly what I would call pokey. The 320i is $5K cheaper and 1.5 seconds slower to 60. Still not exactly slow unless you are a racecar driver of Baruthian talent levels.

        Accords are fine if you buy your cars by the pound, I guess. A bit dull, and well, everybody has one, and they are all the same three shades of blah.

        OP seems to be missing some other interesting choices. A Golf R will get the performance and all-weather capability of the EVO in a far more refined and adult package.

        Of the three, I’d go for the Caddy as a CPO. Corvettes are for old dudes with inappropriately young wives no matter thier road talents. The Hellcat is just kind of silly and in the real world does nothing that the regular V8 versions don’t do just about as well for half the price.

        • 0 avatar

          Would you prefer a base Golf being used as the yardstick to justify a 320i as a terrible idea? Same ~7 second 0-60, still Germanic (although won’t impress any neighbours), and really, how many people in North America are able to consistently drive on roads that reward RWD (although let’s be honest, are there many 320i’s that aren’t xDrive/auto?). I drove a 320i wanting to like it (since they’re reasonably cheap off-lease) and was just underwhelmed.

          • 0 avatar

            The VWs have been improving in reliability, at least according to Consumer Reports’ latest auto issue.

            Unfortunately, the memory of my Mom’s MkIV Jetta still makes me squeamish, especially considering that the local VW dealer’s picture is still in the dictionary under “useless!”

  • avatar

    Agree 100% with Jack. If you can live with the ‘Vette, buy it.

    • 0 avatar

      Seems like the quietly mentioned Camaro ZL1 might also make a compelling notion. Most of the thrust of the Corvette, not so much the track pedigree, but if the user isn’t going to drive it on one, it won’t matter. A backseat has it’s merits as does a trunk if driving cross country.

      • 0 avatar

        Terrible visibility. That would drive me crazy

        • 0 avatar

          + infinity!

          I honestly have no idea how, given my perspective after sitting in one of those at the auto show this year, how anyone could safely change lanes to the right!

          Even if a blind-spot monitor were standard, I still need to visually confirm that there isn’t another vehicle there!

          Which is simply not possible in a non-convertible Camaro! (The outside mirrors might as well not exist, they’re so small!)

      • 0 avatar

        zamoti, even if you could overlook the fact that you can’t see out of a Camaro (which I can’t, by the way), I think any self respecting car should probably own a Corvette, if only once.

        Plus, this guy sounds like he’s not 60 and doesn’t dress like he just stepped out of a Jimmy Buffett concert. That’s gotta be a step forward for the ‘Vette owner gene pool, you know?

        • 0 avatar

          Day late, but wow, everybody hatin’ on the Camaro. As a Camaro owner, I don’t see a big deal with the visibility. I drive it every day and it’s really not that big of a deal. No backup cam or anything. It’s no mid-90s Toyota in terms of visibility, but it’s not the end of the world.

  • avatar

    Disagree 100% with Jack. OP strikes me as not wanting to stand out and a bit over sports car compromises. The ATS-V ticks all the boxes, the whole interior thing is seriously overblown.

  • avatar

    One question to ask is do you need the V? what about saving $25k and getting a regular one with a sport suspension and a manual?

  • avatar

    Living with an Exotic Disrobing Technician isn’t automatically bad!

    I mean, if they’re someone of low moral character, who brings out the worst in everyone around them, who also happens to be an EDT, well, then, THAT’S bad.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Hellcat. It has more utility than a Vette without the snoot factor of a Cadillac.

    • 0 avatar

      Cadillacs have snoot factor? Since when?? I guess maybe if you are 85 years old.

      • 0 avatar

        Cadillac have the opposite of a snoot factor, just like the other two cars. All three are the type of vehicles the truly snooty look down upon

      • 0 avatar

        Well I stepped into a Caddy dealer at the ripe old age of 32 and was barely given the time of day. They weren’t interested in letting me test drive an ATS-V, so all I got to do was sit in one. Male, caucasian, middle class, clean clothes on, showered… not sure why I got snooted, but there was definite snoot detected. Was driving a nice IS at the time. Sat in a camaro and giggled at the interior and pillbox-like sightlines. Bought a mustang gt after test driving it and laughing out loud with joy.

    • 0 avatar

      There is a definite DB factor amongst Caddy drivers, not up to BMW levels but still tweaking the needle. In fairness, it’s usually younger folks who don’t appreciate what a Cadillac was, but what they interpret one to be. It’s like crowing about mp3 sound having never listened to vinyl. Anyway, the Hellcat is the choice here.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    Lots of thoughts and some questions.

    I have an o5 c6. Love it. I scrape the nose leaving my driveway, there is a plastic band that hangs down underneath. Worst case scenario you wear it out and have a new one popped in, or do it yourself.
    I drove a C6 grand sport and it was magnificent, and out of my budget. Single guy, no kids, has some cash, a subtle vette is the way to go. Blue, white or black tends to blend in.

    Another options would be a CTS-V. Cadillac has a decent CPO program, and you might be able to find one of these for a reasonable entry point and not have to suffer the depreciation hit quite as bad. Plus, this gets you supercharged LS goodness. If you think an EVO makes you smile, wait till you get some ya some of that!

    • 0 avatar
      Tele Vision

      I have a 2007 CTS-V. It’s fun to blast the coal-rollers around these parts – and it handles like a dream. Not having looked I’d bet that USD$11,000 would get a great one. 400hp/395tq; 0-60 in 4.6 seconds; easy to bypass the skip-shift; and many peeled cows in the interior. A Champagne car for beer bucks and one of the few remaining 6MTs that will ever come down the line.

  • avatar

    The Triumph Rocket III has been out for how long, and you’re still mentioning the V-Max? I can only assume you’ve never ridden one. By comparison, the V-Max is a girl’s bike.

  • avatar

    Hmmm, a powerful, comfortable American car that won’t be annoying to drive on a daily basis and has good resale value? Sportiness aside, that screams GM truck/SUV with the 6.2L to me.

  • avatar

    Wouldn’t a Chevy SS be a better option? It would likely not have the epic depreciation of the ATS (if the Pontiac G8 GXP prices are a guide), and it has a better interior (or at least an interior that doesn’t make you ask “how much is this car?”).

    Is it bad that at first glance I thought the photo was of an SS, and not the ATS-V?

  • avatar
    GS 455

    The OP mentions that he will drive the car across the country so I’ll add this caveat: C&D measured the Corvette’s 70 mph noise level at 76 dB, the Hellcat 71 dB and the ATS V had 67 DB. Depending on how sensitive his ears are the Vette could become annoying very quickly.

  • avatar

    Corvettes are noisy, a huge plastic tube over giant rubber noise makers just behind your ears all the time. Perfect roads make this tolerable, anything else requires noise blocking headphones or the transplant of 17 year old gonads. The Hellcat is a cartoon, a one trick pony, best left to those who only turn left. A manual Caddy is a drivers car, having the chassis capable of turning in any direction and the fun of hooning the hell out of it without raising the eire of the police. Performance is good enough to satisfy and comfort can be quite good.

    I once owned a Miata, which is the best car you can drive for 50 miles then you must get out of the noisy, hardriding, cramped machine. Comfort is actually something to aspire to.

  • avatar

    Golf R?

  • avatar

    Not that this has anything in particular to do with this choice (I’d pick the Corvette too FWIW), but I couldn’t help but notice this line RE the Grand Sport:

    “The best version of the best American car in history”

    No more love for the ACR, Jack? Your Viper reviews have probably been the most gushing things I’ve ever read from you. Or is the GS just that good? I’ve never driven one but now I’m curious.

  • avatar

    I drive an old C4 all summer – you must be wussies !!

  • avatar
    01 Deville

    From original options

    CPO American
    Twin Turbo CT6.

    My pick
    CPO S65 AMG

  • avatar

    If you can live with 2 seats the Corvette is the obvious choice

  • avatar

    He drives an EVO now thus anything is upgrade. Now if you had TWO cars one of them should be the ‘Vette. However if you only want ONE car it shouldn’t be a ‘Vette IMHO.

  • avatar

    GS-F? (I need the back seat so I’m biased).

  • avatar

    “It’s like launching an F-111 from a carrier instead of an F-16. All the mistakes will be bigger.”

    This made me laugh–great analogy. Did you select the Falcon over the Hornet intentionally? Just wondering….

    • 0 avatar

      I was wondering this too. There doesn’t seem to be many mistakes bigger than trying to launch an F16 from a carrier because if you’re lucky, the worst that will happen is your nose gear will be ripped off by the catapult and the plane will crunch on to the deck, and that’s if there’s even a way to hook it up. The F-111 was at least developed for and tested off carriers, even if the Navy never bought it.

      • 0 avatar
        Jack Baruth

        I picked the Falcon because of weight. The Hornet is much heavier. But yeah an F16 was never meant for carrier deployments.

        • 0 avatar

          To be fair to Jack,when the YF-16 and YF-17 had their flyoff,the winner was supposed to go into service w/both the USAF and the Navy. The Navy threw a snitfit and demanded a two engine aircraft and turned the YF-17 into the F-18.(After all the F-17 was a loser,while the F-18 was a brand new NAVY airplane.)

        • 0 avatar

          All Viper pilots secretly want to be Carrier pilots.

        • 0 avatar

          The easiest way to spot folks who pretend to know something about fighter planes, but dont’, is when they call an F-16 a Falcon. It’s a “Viper”.

    • 0 avatar

      Actually, the F-111 was originally designed for use by the Navy and Air Force, and they built a few Navy-variant prototypes that could launch off a carrier deck.

      The Navy rejected the F-111 because it was awful at dogfighting, but its’ engines, the variable-geometry wings, and radar/weapon systems were eventually incorporated into the F-14.

  • avatar

    If you can afford a Corvette Gran Sport, but want a higher driving position and AWD security, how about a 6.2 liter Tahoe? Almost the same sticker price, same V-8 power – only downside is 10 speed automatic is required. Otherwise I think the SS or CTS-V are the better options than the Hellcat or ATS.

  • avatar

    I’m old and wear sensible shoes, so I concur with DearS. Even when I was newly married right out of college, I resisted the lure of a new car, let alone a new sports car. I did nearly buy an old first gen Lotus Elan, but it had more issues than I wanted to deal with. Two Fiat 124s, Spider and Coupe, were cheap fun instead. My wife and I didn’t own a new car until we’d owned a house for two years.
    The OP may want to ponder the old saying its more fun to drive a slow car fast than a fast car slow. And all the extra bucks in the wallet may slow that slow car down a little more too.

  • avatar

    2015 Ford Mustang GT

    5.0L V8
    6-speed manual
    0-60mph: 4.5 seconds
    25mpg on the highway
    Usable trunk
    Upscale feeling interior
    2+2 design if you really need to carry passengers
    Available launch control, accelerometer, Recaro seats

    This seems like the perfect transition from a tinny boy-racer to more refined American GT.

    • 0 avatar

      Nailed it. And this is what I bought after cross-shopping: wrx, wrx sti, gti, srt-8, ss, camaro (hilarious), g37, and ats-v. golf r was too pricey, even used.

  • avatar

    absolute apocalyptic depreciation…modus operandi la bow tie.

  • avatar

    I’ll jusf say, there’s going to be V8 RWD American cars for as long as people can turn steering wheels, but there will never be another Evo. So that’s my choice

  • avatar

    The Chev SS is NOT an American car but since some people want it on the list, how about considering the Kia Stinger?

  • avatar
    Compaq Deskpro

    I’d go with a Charger or Challenger R/T with the regular V8, much more livable and usable vehicle than a Hellcat or Corvette, and you can drive it in bad weather.

  • avatar

    Thinking about the discussion above, I realized I’m not sure where you stand vis-a-vis the F30, Jack. I know you have a lot of respect for the E90 (I remember a piece you wrote about your friend’s 100k mile car). Did you ever take a sustained look at one? I’d be interested to know. However, you can not ‘cheat’ with the regular models, it has to be at least the 328/330i, and it has to have at least sport package, if not M-Sport.

    I say this because 2014/15s with 50k miles can now be found under $20k easily. It’s one thing to be asked to respect them nearing fifty grand, and quite another at 18 grand.

  • avatar

    ” $40k is a lot of car. Spending that much money at a BMW dealership gets you a four-cylinder slug. ”

    Ain’t that the truth. Add to that the cheap interior, door rattles and a 40,000 mile warranty. German quality !

  • avatar

    Has anyone put a tune on an ATS-V ? As I learn about performance GM, I read more and more about the need to do a transmission tune to allow you, not the computer or GM engineers, to drive the car. My CTS is a different beast with just a trans tune…..and turning down the Torque Management

  • avatar

    I guess I’d go the opposite order from Jack 0 ATS-V, Hellcat, then the GS. To me, the GS is way too “LOOK AT ME!!!!!” to me a daily driver (yes, the caps and exclamation marks are there because it really screams the message). No disagreement that the Vette is a great car, but IMHO it’s way too showy for an only car. The Caddy is subtle, yet gets the job done.

    Now if the OP was looking for a fun second car, I would totally agree with Jack….

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • Scoutdude: Many high draw or under-hood components have always hot power feeds. They also have a ignition switched...
  • ToolGuy: Rocket Surgery level (11 pages): /ford_tsb_08-7-6.pdf [Page 2, Figure 1...
  • ToolGuy: It is interesting (to me) to compare the similar press releases from other years. Here’s 2018...
  • ect: You remind me that I saw a guy in San Francisco many years ago wearing a t-shirt that read, in large letters,...
  • ect: Oklahoma, pshaw. If a car company is looking for a suitable place to name a CUV or SUV or truck after, they...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Matthew Guy
  • Timothy Cain
  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Chris Tonn
  • Corey Lewis
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber