CADILLAC’S FIRST ELECTRIC VEHICLE HAS COMFORT, LOOKS, HIGH PRICE

2014 Cadillac ELR

By Tom Crosby

The 2014 Cadillac ELR is the company’s first full-line luxury electric vehicle with extended driving range via its four-cylinder gasoline engine and lithium-ion rechargeable batteries.

The plug-in electric gets up to 35 miles per charge before engaging with the gasoline engine, which means a total travel distance of 340 miles after a premium gasoline fill-up.

Fuel costs won’t despair owners, after paying more than $75,000 for the ELR coupe, minus government tax credits.

The single-model ELR’s sleek profile boasts a sharply rising beltline, tastefully placed chrome strips, an enlarged front grille, integrated rear spoiler and 20-inch high-performance all-season tires. It invites a wolf whistle or two.

It gets better inside with a luxurious and comfortable interior that eliminated fatigue on a 1,000 mile drive that exceeded the EPA’s gas rating with two extra mpg on the highway (35 mpg).

The ELR uses similar technology and components as the less expensive Chevrolet Volt but luxury and looks diminish comparisons.

Our test-drive added $1,995 to include adaptive cruise control and collision preparation. A $1,695 luxury package included ultra-bright aluminum wheels, blind spot alerts and rear cross traffic alerts with the rear camera. Cadillac’s unique vibrating seat – triggered when the vehicle veers out of its lane – is standard.

Four driving choices vary performance and efficiency. The gasoline motor generates power for the electric motor but plug-in battery recharging is necessary.

Full recharge takes 5 hours via a 240-volt charging station and 12.5 to 18 hours using a 120-volt outlet.

Handling is responsive with front-wheel drive and steering wheel mounted paddles simulating manual transmission downshifts that provide regenerative braking, called “Regen on Demand” by Cadillac. It won’t stop the car but slows it down.

The ride is smooth, quiet except during sharp highway acceleration, and the suspension systems use continuously variable real-time damping to conquer minor road imperfections.

Rear seating is couple-like tight but access is eased with power slide forward. The sloping rear truncates headspace making rear seating better for those under 6-feet tall. The shallow trunk hosts the electric plug-in cord; tire sealant (no spare) and battery pack.

Inside, the center gauge includes feedback information points and the Cadillac User Experience (CUE) manages the voice-active 8-inch dashboard screen for navigation, entertainment/internet connections and real-time traffic. Tightly stitched leather, chrome, wood trim and velvety suede help create a luxurious interior ambiance.

LIKES: Looks, luxury, mileage, handling, ride, quiet
DISLIKES: Price, cargo space
BOTTOM LINE: It makes a nice environmental statement but at a truly premium price

FACT FILE: CADILLAC ELR

  • Base price w/destination charge $79,995
  • Vehicle curb weight 4,050 lbs.
  • Wheelbase 106.1 inches
  • Length 186 inches
  • Width 72.7 inches
  • Engine specs 1.4-liter, in-line four cylinder gas; 16.5-kWh electric
  • Horsepower 157 with electric and 84 with gas @4,800 rpm
  • Torque 295 lb.-ft. with electric drive
  • Transmission Automatic w/manual paddles
  • EPA Rating 82 mpg electric only; 33 mpg gas only
  • Range 9.3-gallon tank, premium unleaded
  • Performance 0 to 60 seconds in under 8 seconds