As you can tell from my nick, I am one of extreme size. I'm really 6'11", 300 lbs. but my legs are longer than my torso proportionally so they really belong on someone 7' or 7'1". Being this height has had the effect of limiting what I can buy or rent among automobiles to a select few vehicles. If you've seen the Shaquille O'Neal commercial for the Buick Lacrosse...well, that's me in that car too. For example, when my wife wanted to buy a car last year, but the catch is that I had to be able to drive it too. So I went to several dealerships and completely eliminated entire brands including:
Toyota (my wife who holds a PhD in sustainability wanted a Prius...no dice)
Nissan (no dice with the Leaf either)
Chevrolet (ditto for the Volt, but the Traverse is ok)
Lincoln (well, I guess I could do the Navigator but my wife would never drive one)
What's left I can do includes certain specific models like:
Chrysler 300 & Dodge Charger (my favorite car rentals when I travel on business...leg room for days)
Buick Lacrosse (mentioned above) and Enclave)
Jeep Grand Cherokee
Mercedes S-class (but not E or C)
Lexus LS, new GS is ok but not great
BMW new 3 series and 7 series (but not the new 5 series)
You can see a pattern here of larger (and usually expensive) cars which is one reason I've driven Cadillacs since college (a used '80 Deville back then). But there is one weird outlier...MINI. I can drive their entire line of cars because of MINI's efficient interior packaging and non-obtrusive dashboards. In fact we would have bought a normal MINI Cooper had it not been for the fact that in order for me to fit, the seat has to go back all the way until it meets the rear seat. That's not good when you have two kids, so after briefly considering the MINI Clubman, we settled on the Countryman. I wouldn't drive it long distance but it's ok around town.
Which brings me back to Cadillac. The ATS is an important car for the future of the brand and I consider myself a bit of a Caddy buff. But my dealer warned me that after they all sat in it at a dealer briefing earlier this summer that they thought I had no chance (and they mentioned me by name!). In fact the owner of the dealership said he would have thrown down his wallet on a bet that I couldn't have fit in it comfortably. And I've watch cars get smaller and smaller over the last 30 years to the point that I couldn't count on all Cadillacs to work for me. For example, the 2nd gen Escalade couldn't work because of the orientation of the column mounted gear shifter. And of course the XLR was actually worse than the Corvette it was based on.
So I looked around the ATS at the very tidy dimensions remarking that it looked handsomer in person than I'd seen in photos...much like a pressed suit. Given Caddy's recent propensity to make the shield grill the size of a steam locomotive cow-catcher (even on the XTS), I was wondering how the smaller shield grill was going to work since I never thought it worked on other cars like the XLR. I'm pleased to say that the execution of the styling works a lot better than I thought it would. I opened the door and really wasn't sure this was going to come even close to working. But I let the seat all the way back. Then I lowered the seat and fortunately that adjustment is on an include so I got some additional rear travel.
I lowered myself into seat and...
WOW, this actually seems ok. Well I could use a little more room between my right knee and the steering wheel but I've seen worse...and oh, I forgot to adjust the steering wheel. After telescoping the wheel toward me, I was faced with a very nice fit.
To put it in perspective, the recently late-2011 STS could not fit me because of the way the interior was packaged...and that was a much larger car. I've always liked the CTS (and I owned a 1st gen model a decade ago). In some ways it's better than the CTS since my knees don't block the HVAC controls in this car.
Comparing it to the list above, I can also fit in the BMW 3 series (the outgoing car and the new one). A couple of months ago I took a 328i on a rental for about 150 miles through New Jersey and while I certainly fit, I found the experience wanting since I could never get enough thigh support from the seat adjustment. This did not seem to be a problem in the ATS. Also, the seat in the lowered position gave me enough clearance for the sunroof, something the chopped roofline CTS Coupe can't provide for me.
Sadly, I probably won't consider the ATS for my next car. The main reason why is the same reason my wife didn't buy a MINI Cooper. Once you extend the seat all the way back (and the adjustment lowered all the way), it is impossible to put any human (grown-up or child) behind me, save a rear facing baby seat (and my youngest kid is six years old). I still want to drive it though and see what the fuss is about. Hopefully either Hertz or Avis will them at the rental counter soon to allow a long distance test drive.