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2015 Cadillac ATS vs. 2015 Audi A4: Which Is Better?

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Doug DeMuro June 2015

If you're interested in a new luxury car with sporty credentials, we don't doubt that the 2015 Cadillac ATS and the 2015 Audi A4 are on your shopping list. Both models have a lot to love, including luxurious equipment, sporty powertrains, modern styling and well-crafted interiors. But which one is better? To find out, we've created a detailed comparison between the two cars, but first let's see what's new with the ATS and the A4 for the 2015 model year.

2015 Cadillac ATS

Despite its recent debut, the ATS is already refreshed for 2015 with an updated front fascia and the latest version of Cadillac's emblem. The ATS also offers more power in 2.0T form, along with new features such as a 4G Wi-Fi hot spot and wireless cellphone charging capabilities.

2015 Audi A4

Following several updates over the last few years, the A4 is unchanged for the 2015 model year.

Reliability

According to reliability experts at J.D. Power, both the ATS and the A4 earned a four-circle score, indicating better-than-average reliability in the firm's Power Circle Ratings. When it comes to warranty length, the Cadillac offers a slight advantage: While both cars tout 4 years or 50,000 miles of bumper-to-bumper coverage, only the ATS offers 6 years or 70,000 miles of powertrain warranty coverage. While that gives the ATS a slight advantage in this category, the truth is that both cars offer roughly the same excellent level of reliability.

Fuel Economy

Three engines are available in the ATS. In base models, there's a 202-horsepower 2.5-liter 4-cylinder, which reaches as high as 21 miles per gallon in the city and 33 mpg on the highway. Midlevel ATS 2.0T models offer up to 272 hp and boast up to 21 mpg city/30 mpg hwy. Topping the ATS range is a 321-hp V6, which offers up to 18 mpg city/28 mpg hwy.

Meanwhile, the A4 only offers two powerplants. Most models use a 220-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder, which is mated to front- or all-wheel drive. Fuel economy reaches as high as 24 mpg city/32 mpg hwy. Drivers who want extra performance can get the high-performance S4, which offers a 333-hp 3.0-liter supercharged V6 and up to 18 mpg city/28 mpg hwy.

So which one is better? It depends on what you're looking for. The A4 offers better gas mileage than the ATS, but it surrenders 50 hp to the midlevel ATS 2.0T model. Meanwhile, the S4 and the ATS V6 offer roughly the same fuel economy and power output. If your overall priority is gas mileage, the A4 wins, but the ATS offers a lot more power with only a slight fuel economy penalty.

Safety

In National Highway Traffic Safety Administration crash testing, both the ATS and the A4 earned a perfect 5-star overall rating. In crash testing carried out by the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the ATS has not yet been tested, but the A4 earned a troubling Poor rating in the firm's challenging small front-overlap assessment. That's not good news for a luxury car.

When it comes to safety features, the ATS offers a clear advantage. The A4 offers many standard features and even some high-tech safety options such as a blind spot monitoring system and a forward-collision warning system that primes the brakes if it detects an impending collision. But the ATS offers many more new safety features, including a lane-departure warning system, lane-keep assist, rear cross-traffic alert, a nifty Safety Alert Seat and forward-collision warning with automatic braking. For that reason, and due to the A4's worrying IIHS crash-test scores, we think this category belongs to the ATS, though we might reconsider if the ATS also has trouble with the IIHS's crash tests.

Technology

Just like it did in the safety section above, the ATS outshines the A4 in terms of overall technology. The ATS's CUE infotainment system, for instance, offers more functionality than the A4's MMI system. The ATS also offers several other features that aren't available in the A4, including automatic high beams, a color head-up display, a heated steering wheel and a series of packages for sport-minded drivers that include items such as an engine-oil cooler, upgraded brake pads and a limited-slip differential. As a result, choosing a winner in the technology category is easy: It's the newer ATS, which is loaded with the latest features that help prove its worth in the challenging entry-level luxury-sedan segment. The older A4 just can't compete.

Value

In these comparisons, the American car typically boasts a huge value advantage over its German rival by offering more features, more technology and more power for less money. This time, though, that's not the case: The ATS's $34,200 starting price is only around $2,000 less than the A4's base MSRP, and if you upgrade to the ATS 2.0T -- which nearly all drivers will -- you'll find that the Cadillac is just as expensive as the Audi.

Given the comparable pricing between the two cars, we think the ATS is the winner in the value category. Indeed, the American offers more features than its German rival -- and more power. It also offers a better safety record, similar gas mileage and improved reliability.

Autotrader's Advice

For us, this one is a no-brainer: The 2015 Cadillac ATS is a better car than the 2015 Audi A4. That's not to say that the A4 is a bad car, but it's simply been outclassed by newer rivals like the ATS. Ultimately, the ATS offers more power, more features, a better safety record and improved reliability, all for about the same price -- and we happen to think the Cadillac drives better, too. Plus, the Cadillac is the only model available as a coupe, which is an advantage for drivers who want to get in touch with their especially sporty side. It's an easy decision -- and we hope Audi readies a more competitive redesigned A4 soon.

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2015 Cadillac ATS vs. 2015 Audi A4: Which Is Better? - Autotrader