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Michael Lopez

Bakersfield Life's assistant managing editor Jorge Barrientos and wife Carla Barrientos cruise through the Haggin Oaks neighborhood in the 2013 Cadillac ATS.

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Michael Lopez

For 2013, Cadillac unveiled the new ATS model.

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Michael Lopez

You can manuever nearly all controls in the 2013 Cadillac ATS using the steering wheel panel.

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Michael Lopez

The 2013 Cadillac ATS is a luxury sport sedan.

Who knew luxury and sport could fit so well together? Apparently, Cadillac did. For 2013, Cadillac unveiled a new model, the ATS -- a luxury sport sedan that is sure to bring some competition to the market. In fact, already the ATS has received the 2013 North American Car of the Year award given by a national panel of 49 automotive journalists.

After test driving the ATS throughout Bakersfield for several days, it's no wonder. The ATS handles amazingly and is extremely powerful, packed with easy-to-use technological features and is luxuriously comfortable.

And it's aggressive. That is, it's out to take out its competition, said Mike Thomas, senior sales manager at Three-Way Chevrolet Cadillac.

It's going after the BMW 3-series.

"It's affordable, compared to the BMW, and with more features," Thomas said. "You get more bang for your buck."

The Washington Post agreed. It wrote that the ATS "easily competed with the BMW, and the proof was in the drive and the pricing.

"It is the tightest, best-built car Cadillac has made, and one of the most fuel-efficient," according to The Washington Post.

Here's a few more details of what the new ATS offers:

* Rear- or all-wheel-drive, three engines to choose from (2.0-liter, 270-horsepower turbo four; 2.5-liter, 202-horsepower four; 3.6-liter, 321-horsepower V6), six-speed automatic or manual; and three trim levels ranging from $34,000 to $52,000.

* The new Cadillac User Experience system, or CUE, with navigation. This touchscreen system allows you sync with your phone via Bluetooth to play music and make phone calls. Actually, the entire panel -- to set everything from temperature, to heated seats and volume -- is used by touch, like an iPad. In fact, each ATS purchase comes with a new iPad, Thomas said.

The Bose audio system is top notch, too, and the navigation is first-rate.

* Tons of other neat features: keyless engine start, USB plug, rear view camera, voice recognition, and driver assistance to help prevent accidents.

What stuck out to me the most was how powerful and sporty the ATS felt and how classy it looked at the same time. The handcrafted leather French stitched interior (chocolate brown for my model) and exotic wood trim simply made for an fast, elegant ride.

It's a brilliant fusion of luxury and sport.