Buy/Drive/Burn: Three Two-door Cadillacs, One Price Point

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis

Today’s edition of B/D/B is a little different than the norm. Usually, we ask you to choose from competing cars from three different marques all on sale in the same year.

This time we’re asking you to pick a Buy from among three different two-door Cadillacs, all of which cost about the same in 2021.

Through recent research, I’ve noticed something very interesting: In The Current Year, the XLR, CTS, ATS, and ELR (that’s every two-door model Cadillac has produced since 2004) all command the same money on the used market. Their pricing is aligned at around $21,000 to $24,000 (excluding V variants). That’s fairly unusual given their different ages, power, and overall missions. Today we look at the three most traditional options of those four (not in V guise), and leave out the ELR because it sucked.


Oldest car first. The quite expensive XLR was available for model years 2004 through 2009. The only Corvette-based Cadillac ever, XLR was produced at the Bowling Green, Kentucky factory alongside the C6 Corvette (and for a short while alongside the C5). Standard XLR versions used the 4.6-liter Northstar, which in theory had all its issues worked out by this implementation. The XLR-V was much more expensive and used a supercharged 4.4-liter version of the Northstar. Standard XLRs used a five-speed GM automatic from the STS and BMW X5, while the V used a six-speed auto shared with Escalade. XLR was a rear-drive luxury roadster, its experience limited to two passengers. Its party piece was a German-designed fully automatic folding metal roof. Cadillac planned to move between five and seven thousand per year, and never managed it.


The second-generation CTS was produced for model years 2008 through 2014. Available in sedan, wagon, and coupe formats, the latter was the final and most striking version introduced. From 2011 to 2014 the standard coupe and V coupe were offered, with V soldiering on alone as a wind-down model in 2015. Standard on CTS coupe was GM’s 3.6-liter direct-injection V6, a 6.2-liter Corvette V8 was reserved for V. Rear-drive was standard, and all-wheel drive optional. The coupe was also available in five-speed automatic or six-speed manual guises.


The single-generation ATS was available from 2013 to 2019, with the coupe variant offered from 2015 onward. The smallest car here, ATS was wider than its sedan brother. Base power on the ATS coupe arrived from a 2.0-liter inline-four, with turbocharging and 272 horsepower. Up-level power was from the same 3.6-liter mill as found in the CTS above (321 horses). Transmissions had six speeds whether manual or automatic to start, though the automatic was replaced from 2016 onward with an eight-speed. ATS lived on through 2019 before its replacement by the present-day CT4 (an updated ATS), which is not available as a coupe.

Three Cadillacs, two doors each, all commanding around the same money. Which one gets your Buy?

[Images: Cadillac]

Corey Lewis
Corey Lewis

Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Started writing articles for TTAC in late 2016, when my first posts were QOTDs. From there I started a few new series like Rare Rides, Buy/Drive/Burn, Abandoned History, and most recently Rare Rides Icons. Operating from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio, a relative auto journalist dead zone. Many of my articles are prompted by something I'll see on social media that sparks my interest and causes me to research. Finding articles and information from the early days of the internet and beyond that covers the little details lost to time: trim packages, color and wheel choices, interior fabrics. Beyond those, I'm fascinated by automotive industry experiments, both failures and successes. Lately I've taken an interest in AI, and generating "what if" type images for car models long dead. Reincarnating a modern Toyota Paseo, Lincoln Mark IX, or Isuzu Trooper through a text prompt is fun. Fun to post them on Twitter too, and watch people overreact. To that end, the social media I use most is Twitter, @CoreyLewis86. I also contribute pieces for Forbes Wheels and Forbes Home.

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3 of 30 comments
  • Renewingmind Renewingmind on Jul 10, 2021

    Buy: XLR - good looking car and will have panache for a long time Drive: ATS - the chassis on this car is wonderful to drive. Responsive and tight, a joy in the twisties. The stick completes the experience. Burn: CTS - a big bag ful of meh

  • Farhad Farhad on Jul 12, 2021

    Buy: XLR, it's beautiful and of a gone era. Drive: CTS, I've always loved it. Burn: ATS, isn't it just a Chevy Cobalt Coupe?!

    • Corey Lewis Corey Lewis on Jul 12, 2021

      Nope, ATS is rear-drive. It wasn't marketed well I don't think, but that's just how GM works sometimes.

  • IBx1 Never got the appeal of these; it looks like there was a Soviet mandate to create a car with two doors and a roof that could be configured in different ways.
  • CAMeyer Considering how many voters will be voting for Trump because they remember that gas prices were low in 2020–never mind the pandemic—this seems like a wise move.
  • The Oracle Been out on the boat on Lake James (NC) and cooking up some hella good food here with friends at the lake place.
  • ToolGuy Also on to-do list: Read the latest Steve S. fiction work on TTAC (May 20 Junkyard Find)
  • 1995 SC I'm likely in the minority, but I really liked the last Eldorado best. That and the STS.