By Zach Vlasuk
Sharing major powertrain and chassis components with the Chevrolet Volt, the 2014 Cadillac ELR is an all-new nameplate and the latest entrant into the developing world of high-end green cars. By blending the efficiency of a plug-in hybrid with the sleek silhouette of an upmarket sports coupe, the Cadillac ELR is essentially an amalgamation of two niche vehicles. Starting at $76,000, the ELR's exclusivity factor makes it an attractive alternative to such upscale alternative energy vehicles as Tesla's all-electric Model S, the Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid and, to a lesser extent, the forthcoming BMW i8. The ELR also has an aversion to range anxiety, as its versatile EREV propulsion system provides up to 37 miles of pure electric range before a gasoline generator kicks in to deliver the next 300 miles.
If you've had your eye on a conventionally-powered luxury sports car like the BMW 6 Series or Mercedes-Benz CLS, but express an unshakable interest in eco-conscious transportation, the 2014 Cadillac ELR could be the ticket. Drivers with lengthy commutes will also find the ELR significantly more flexible than the electric-only Model S.
Purchasing a Cadillac ELR is an expensive proposition, even when taking into consideration federal and state tax incentives. Furthermore, the ELR should be viewed as a 2-seater rather than a traditional 2+2 coupe, as the rear seat is unsuitable for all but the smallest children.
The 2014 ELR is an all-new touring coupe and Cadillac's first plug-in hybrid.
Driving Impressions Although Cadillac engineers managed to extract an additional 22 lb-ft of torque out of the Volt's propulsion system, this power increase is largely negated by the ELR's additional heft. Therefore,...... straight-line performance is nearly identical between the Volt and ELR, but that's where the similarities end between the two cars. Cadillac developed an array of specialized suspension components for the ELR, including a HiPer Strut front suspension to help mitigate the effects of torque steer (front-wheel-drive cars can have a tendency to pull left or right under hard acceleration), a semi-independent rear suspension with a Watts Z-link for better stability in corners, and Continuous Damping Control that adjusts shock dampening every two seconds in accordance with the current driving situation. Combined with proprietary Bridgestone low-rolling-resistance tires and a trio of active noise canceling microphones, the ELR delivers a driving experience that's on par with other luxury coupes at this price point.
REGEN ON DEMAND
Activated via steering wheel-mounted paddles, Regen on Demand allows the driver to supplement (or in some instances, bypass) the brakes by converting rolling momentum into stored energy.
SAFETY ALERT DRIVER'S SEAT
Included as standard, the ELR's haptic-enabled seat alerts the driver to the direction of possible hazards by vibrating different sections of the seat.
Although elegant, the ELR's cockpit imparts a somewhat showy feel compared to its rivals. Still, the atmosphere as a whole is one of opulence and sophistication, thanks in part to liberal use of high-quality materials and a well-thought-out center stack. On the other hand, Cadillac's Cue infotainment system and its haptic selection panel will test your tech skills as well as your patience. In terms of aesthetic upgrades, the ELR's 2+2 cabin can be dressed in alternative materials that range from semi-aniline leather to real carbon fiber. If the concept of a 2+2 interior escapes you, just know it takes the expertise of a skilled contortionist to climb into and out of the ELR's rear seats.Exterior
The 2014 Cadillac ELR is based almost entirely on GM's 2009 Converj concept. Visually, the ELR mixes bold angles and sweeping lines to make a powerful statement highlighted by Cadillac's signature vertical lighting elements and 20-inch aero-enhancing wheels. At the same time, aggressively raked front and rear glass are complemented by numerous wind cheating touches like a flush front grille with active shutters and concealed door handles. Together they yield a respectable 0.30 drag coefficient.
Given its limited production numbers and rather lofty price point, the Cadillac ELR comes generously equipped from the get-go. Apart from expected standards like dual-zone climate control, keyless access and start, and a backup camera, the ELR includes such premium features as a Bose 10-speaker audio system, touch-screen navigation with advanced voice recognition, and front and rear proximity sensors designed to help avoid fender-benders during parking maneuvers. On the safety side of the ledger, the ELR comes with eight airbags, a forward-collision warning system, and OnStar's suite of emergency services, including automatic collision warning, crisis assist, and roadside assistance.
As a low-volume model, it should come as little surprise that the ELR offers the shortest options roster in its segment. The lone option package consists of automatic high-beam headlights, blind-spot monitoring, and a rear cross-traffic alert that warns you of oncoming traffic when backing up. The one and only standalone option is a $1,995 adaptive cruise control system designed to maintain a preset distance from the vehicle ahead.
The 2014 ELR gets its motivation from a 1.4-liter gasoline-powered generator, a 16.5 kWh lithium ion battery pack, and a 154 kW electric motor. When put to the test, the ELR can sprint from 0-60 in about eight seconds, only a few ticks slower than a Lexus ES 300h hybrid. Replenishing the battery pack takes roughly five hours using a dedicated 240V charger and anywhere between 12.5-18 hours on a standard household outlet. The hybrid-electric drivetrain can be optimized for peak efficiency or performance by way of four driver selectable modes: Tour (normal), Sport, Mountain, and Hold, which stores remaining energy in the battery for later use.
AC synchronous electric motor/generator
16kWh lithium-ion battery pack
1.4-liter inline-4 gasoline generator
207 horsepower @ 4,800 rpm
295 lb-ft of torque @ 0-4,800 rpm
EPA projected full-charge range: 37 miles (all-electric), 303 miles (on gasoline generator only)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 31 city/35 highway mpg (on gasoline generator), 82 MPGe (all-electric, mpg equivalent)
If you don't consider the Cadillac ELR as nothing more than a glorified Chevy Volt (we certainly don't), then its $76,000 staring price shouldn't send you running for hills. Plus, the ELR is eligible for up to $7,500 in federal tax credits on top of state and local handouts. Looking at the competitive landscape, the all-electric but more limiting Tesla Model S begins in the low-$70,000 range and qualifies for the same federal, state and local tax rebates as the Cadillac. On the high end of the eco-minded spectrum, the $100,000-plus Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid is eligible for up to $4,750 in federal rebates, plus any applicable state incentives. Unlike the Porsche and Tesla, however, resale value is no friend of the ELR, as KBB.com expects it to retain some of the lowest residuals values in the luxury sector.
By Kimmy H on Wednesday, September 03, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 1,600overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "fun to drive, sleek, mileage, touch screen"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"At first I was not impressed with the 43 charge miles, but boy did I change my mind! It uses premium gas, but the tank is only 9 gallons, so in 6 weeks we have spent 46.03 in gas!! The car is sleek, fast and smooth. Not to mention all of the oohs, ahhs and stares that we get. The interior is futuristic, feel like I'm getting into an airplane! Also, the back seat is not to bad, hard to get in the back seat, but kinda roomy in the back (considering the size of the car). The large touch screen, navigation, Cadillac Cue system is AWESOME."
5 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By rkt on Monday, September 01, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 1,900overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great price, good ride, fit and finish A+."
Cons: "back seat is a little small. no problem with us."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I absolutely loved this car when I first saw a picture of it over 2 years ago. I always said I would buy one if the price was right. Well, when the pricing came out last fall, I decided it was a little too expensive for me(retired, fixed income), so I leased a Buick Regal GS. It is a fabulous car, and most anyone would love it. Good performance, fit and finish are top notch, decent mileage 23 mpg, But I had previously owned a Cadillac SRX, but that Buick was not a Cadillac. Then in late June, GM came out with a $12,000.00 discount, and I couldn't resist, I had to have that ELR. That Caddy is the sharpest car on the highway, and I cant tell you how many people have walked up to me and wanted to know all about it. It rides , handles, fantastic, fit and finish is best quality i have ever seen, Leather, suede, seats are very comfortable, only the back seat is rather small, but that doesn't hurt anything, as only my wife and I ever sit in it anyhow. As far as performance goes, It is not a drag car, but why drag anyone with it, as they wouldn't get a good look at it. As far as the performance, it runs very good, and I am too old to be out racing with it anyhow. It will go 100 mph and that is too fast anyhow. Now is the big thing, the gas mileage is wonderful. In the 1900 miles I have driven it, I have only bought 6.8 gallons of that old "LIQUID GOLD". That adds up to 279.4MPG. and it gets better every day. The only time I bought gas is when My wife and I took a 300_ mile day trip up north. The EL meter shows between 45-56 miles all the time. It is only rated at 37 MPG, but it has never been that bad. There were lots of rebates and discounts and credits, along with the great trade I got originally for the Cadillac SRX that I sold to the dealer when I leased the Buick. That all added up to over $65,000 + dollars. So the ELR really didn't cost that much. My wife calls it my forever car. I will probably drive it forever."
2 people out of 2 found this review helpful