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Were The Cadillac CTS And ATS Successful?

Were The Cadillac CTS And ATS Successful?

All things considered, the Cadillac CTS was no flash in the pan, with production lasting from 2002 to 2019. Meanwhile, the Cadillac ATS was a bit more short-lived, with production lasting between 2012 and 2019. However, now that both models are out the door to make way for the new CT4 and CT5, the question is this – were the CTS and ATS successful? It’s a question that’s rife with variables, and opinions can vary greatly depending on the point of view. So, we decided to ask Cadillac President Steve Carlisle what he thought of the CTS and ATS. This is what he had to say.

Speaking to Cadillac Society at the recent debut of the 2021 Cadillac Escalade, we launched into the topic by asking Carlisle if the Cadillac CTS and ATS were profitable. His response was somewhat cagey:

“They all go through their lifecycles, right? They’re better in the beginning than they are at the end, but we won’t discuss that level of detail,” Carlisle said.

Pressing the issue, we then asked Carlisle if the Cadillac CTS and ATS were successful, to which he resounded:

“They both enjoyed success from a sales point of view at different points in their lifecycle. I think they did a lot to shift the brand. There are no customers more loyal than V-Series customers, so I think both of those cars did an enormous amount for us.”

For reference, the Cadillac CTS saw its best U.S. sales figures towards the start and middle of its lifecycle. For example, Cadillac sold 55,042 units of the sedan in 2011. However, the numbers declined every year after that, with just 6,965 units sold in 2019.

It’s a similar story with the Cadillac ATS, which had its best performance in 2013 with 38,319 units in the U.S. The numbers quickly dropped off after that, with 10,859 units sold in 2018.

But then again, sales numbers only tell a part of story, and success can be measured in a number of different ways. Even sales numbers themselves must be considered against shifting market demands and a multitude of other factors with regard to success.

Do you think the Cadillac CTS and Cadillac ATS were successful? Let us know in the comments, and make sure to subscribe to Cadillac Society for more Cadillac CTS news, Cadillac ATS news, and around-the-clock Cadillac news coverage.

Written by
Jonathan is an automotive journalist based out of Southern California. He loves anything and everything on four wheels.

20 Comments

  1. Sales of the 2005 CTS reached 61K.

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  2. I personally love the CTS-V. I’ve owned for Cadillacs which of those two worried 09 CTS-V I trade it in for a 2018 CTS V. I believe in my own opinion there was a huge success over the years and I hope they also keep continuing to produce the v-series Cadillac..

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  3. I personally love the CTS-V. I’ve owned 4 Cadillacs which of those two worried 09 CTS-V I trade it in for a 2018 CTS V. I believe in my own opinion there was a huge success over the years and I hope they also keep continuing to produce the v-series Cadillac..

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  4. I owned a 2014 V-Sport. It was my third Cadillac. I thought it was an very good car. Both the CTS and ATS did well in auto magazine Comparos. With the drop in sales I am not surprised that they were discontinued. I traded it in for a CT6 twin turbo and just traded that in for a CT6 V.

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  5. I’ve always loved the CTS-V and will probably buy the last generation model if I ever get rid of my ATS-V. Too bad I don’t share that enthusiasm for the either the 4 or 5.

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  6. Loved my first gen CTS, great styling and affordable, but then they got rid of the sharp edge design that made it distinctive and raised the price significantly. No wonder the volume dropped off.

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    • I had a 2003 and a 2005. Loved the design. We’ve all become so used to the themes and details of what Cadillac called the “Art & Science” design language that we forget what a stunning watershed it really was at the time. That, and no succeeding generation of CTS sold as well asvthe 03-07 model. The posted article is incorrect about 2011 being its best sales year.

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  7. I owned 5 CTSs an 04, 08, 11 Coupe, 13 and 17. All were great cars and in my opinion seriously competitive with the 5 Series BMW and E-Class Mercedes, but a much better value. The reason Sales dropped off is simple…there was no advertising support. I would be willing to bet that the decline in sales was consistent with the decline in Advertising support. I think it was a huge mistake to let the CTS die because the CT5 is not a suitable replacement.

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    • I think you are right: The advertising/marketing was HORRIBLE.

      The other factor: Gen 2 CTS was a great value.
      When they significantly raised the prices for Gen 3 is when the sales erosion happened.

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      • ACCad
        I agree with you on all accounts. The first and second generation was to offer more for less and with the reputation that Cadillac had I think it was a good strategy. Where they got into trouble was when the third generation tried to offer less for about the same money. Still don’t understand why Cadillac can’t figure out space utilization. They produce vehicle with about the same exterior dimensions as the competition but in just about all interior dimensions the interiors are smaller especially the trunk. Then you have the CT4 which grew exterior but decreased in interior in just about all areas. Why?

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      • Gen 3 CTS was a solid entry in its segment so the raised prices were valid. Did sales erode? Yes. But that was a missed opportunity for Cadillac to reposition itself. JDN was willing to forego immediate short term sales volumes for long term gain.

        It’s understandable that the buying public would be skeptical of the higher pricing. How do you win them over in the long run?
        Keep bringing to market well executed vehicles that build upon the strengths of preceding models. Not unlike Audi did when its vehicles were known for unintended acceleration back in the 80s.

        As well the last gen CTS’s was not a tight fit. Some nit-picking airheads tried to allude that backseat room was minimal but such wasn’t the case.

        @Felix
        The CT4’s interior volume has not decreased in comparison to the ATS. It remains the same for a .02 gain in second row hip room. Whoop-di-do!!!

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        • @Gary: 👍

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          • I think the Gen 3 CTS was a huge step forward as I did consider upgrading. The fit/finish/interior materials were substantially better but it’s hard to justify a $70K vehicle if you are already not a Cadillac fan/supporter especially if the previous generation was $50K. I think the Gen 2 version is still the sexiest but the Gen 3 model was a huge step forward.

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    • The sales on the CTS dropped when Cadillac introduced the ATS. At that point two models were competing for the same customer. Their COMBINED sales did not drop much.

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  8. I love the CTS coupe & have looked to buy one used not new. The car itself is amazing but I am always pulled back from buying one because of the problem with their engine & head gasket problems that ar ed so very expensive to fix that it keeps accruing so I am forced to pass on this car. Does anyone reccomend another coupe that offers the same or more without the engine problem? Please share,
    [email protected]

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  9. They are great looking cars inside and out and I have always admired the styling. I am looking forward to test driving a few as I consider replacing my DTS.

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  10. I have owned 4 DeVilles, V8 -FWD. Loved them all. Did everything you asked and got good mileage too. Next was a first gen SRX AWD V6. I was reluctant to own a V6 but it never gave me concern in the years I owned it. Poor gas mileage although typical of other AWDs. Then came our 2012 CTS Premier, 3.6 V6 with Direct Injection & AWD. I still own this car and it is a solid performer. The CTS models of that era are very attractive in my opinion and that’s important to me. I have no immediate plans to get rid of this car.

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  11. If not for cts-v I would not have looked at Cadillac. The car raised the bar for Cadillac. To not have a replacement is dumb. Even if they only sell a few and they sell at loss they sell the brand.

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  12. From a sales point of view, no in the overall they were not immensely successful. But in terms of showing the public that GM had the capability to build competitive vehicles – yes they had their shortcomings – they were successful.

    Remember back the 80’s when Audi’s vehicle were known for unintended acceleration? Sales tanked but Audi kept coming to market with well executed cars that over time won the buying public over. That same strategy Cadillac should’ve followed – The CTS and ATS were solid efforts and the brand could’ve built upon their strengths and addressed their shortcomings with their followups of the CT5 and CT4. But the followups come across as diluted and watered down versions of what could’ve been.

    CT4 is nothing more than a warmed-over ATS with disproportionate exterior styling with interior volume that still keeps it undersized for its original vehicle segment. So what does Cadillac do? Move it down-market to compete against smaller cheaper vehicles. That’s not the makings of a REAL luxury brand! Translation: We were too cheap to engineer the vehicle to be a serious contender for its original size class so we’ll move it down-market. If I were an ATS owner, I’d be irritated to know that the same vehicle is now cheaper.

    CT5’s wonky exterior styling, engine choices and prices do not work together to make the vehicle compelling to purchase.

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    • Totally agreed, people already knew what an ATS and CTS were, so why discontinue those nameplates and bring something called CT4 and CT5. These vehicles look really cheap to be luxury cars by the way

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