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A Luxury Brand on the Cheap(ish)

Senior consumer reporter and “Deal of Day” columnist Kelli B. Grant navigates the New York International Auto Show in search of the best, worst and coolest from automakers’ new lineups. Join her as she roams the exhibit floor before the show’s public opening on Friday, with dispatches here and on Twitter @kellibgrant

Drivers in the market for one of the less-expensive luxury vehicles, like a BMW 3 Series or Lexus ES may have another brand to consider.

Cadillac’s new ATS is the brand’s first foray to appeal to “entry-level” luxury consumers. Chief engineer David Masch says they hope it will appeal to consumers who want something a little smaller and sportier, but with all the same bells and whistles. “It’s absolutely still the full Cadillac experience,” he says. Prices for the new ATS have yet to be announced, but Masch says they will be competitive with other vehicles in the category, which start at roughly $30,000 and price up to $45,000 with options. (That’s potentially $5,000 cheaper than other Cadillacs.)

More brands are putting luxe appointments in even their entry-level cars, experts say, and the ATS is no exception. Safety features including adaptive cruise control and lane departure warnings come standard. So does the new CUE (Cadillac User Experience) system, an 8″ screen and dashboard display that sync with your smartphone for voice commands, calls and a variety of other features.

But experts say it’s still worth shopping around. Even compacts and subcompacts are increasingly getting luxe interiors and high-tech features — and for much less than the luxury segment, says Alec Gutierrez, senior market analyst for Kelley Blue Book. “Manufacturers have responded by making those vehicles more attractive to consumers,” he says.

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