2014 Cadillac ELR, an extended-range hybrid, is the most
premium Cadillac on the market, including far more upscale
features as standard equipment than any other Cadillac to
Most of what
you’ve probably heard about the three-star 2014 Cadillac ELR
extended-range electric car is wrong. First and foremost, it’s not
a Cadillac version of the four-door Chevrolet Volt. It’s a
legitimate luxury coupe with unique styling, a lush interior, a new
wheelbase and suspension and much more.
The ELR I
tested also consistently outperformed EPA projections for how far it
could go on battery power alone despite sub-zero temperatures. Its
lithium-ion battery proved more than a match for the polar vortex,
keeping the car moving and its occupants toasty.
The ELR uses a
version of the Volt’s drivetrain, but the two cars are otherwise
main competitors are alternate-power luxury cars such as the BMW i3
and i8, Porsche Panamera plug-in hybrid and Tesla Model S, as well
as stylish high-end coupes such as the BMW 640i. The Volt competes
with mainstream cars like the Nissan Leaf, Ford C-Max and Fusion,
Honda Accord and Toyota Prius plug-in hybrids.
start at $75,000. That gets you a striking, low, wide body; LED
exterior lighting; adaptive suspension; Bose audio and active noise
cancellation, and more. I tested a loaded ELR with options that
included adaptive cruise control.
blind spot and cross traffic alerts were among the options, despite
the fact that they’re standard on vehicles costing one-third ELR’s
My test car
stickered at $81,140, excluding destination charges.
It’s hard to
say what the market price for alternate power luxury cars will be.
The decidedly unstylish BMW i3 EV will start at $45,200 with an ELR-style
range extending gasoline engine. The base model of BMW’s i8
plug-in hybrid sports car will cost $135,700. A base Tesla S sedan
costs $69,900. The Porsche Panamera plug-in hybrid starts at
$99,000, and rumor has it Porsche’s radical 918 Spyder plug-in
hybrid will cost $845,000. In that company, the ELR could be a
bargain, particularly since its range on battery power should exceed
the i8, Panamera and 918.
eligible for a variety of federal, state and local incentives that
can knock $10,000 off the price and deliver such goodies as free
public parking and single-rider access to fast-moving car pool
lanes. As a further incentive, Cadillac is giving early ELR buyers a
240-volt home charger — worth $2,000 or more. A 240v charger is a
must for any electric car owner. It reduces the time needed to fully
charge the car to about five hours versus 12.5 hours at a
conventional 120v outlet.
The wedgy ELR
cuts an imposing figure on the road. Its interior is equally
striking. My test car had rich brown optional Kona leather and black
wood, carbon fiber and suede trim. The front seat has plenty of
room, but rear leg and headroom are minimal. The trunk is small,
with a narrow opening.
panel has big, crisp gauges. Cadillac’s fine combination of touch
screen and spoken commands controls most features. Blue accent
lighting adds to the interior’s appeal at night.
provides plenty of power to accelerate. The suspension keeps the ELR
poised in quick maneuvers and absorbs bumps for a comfortable ride.
Extremely useful steering-wheel mounted paddles let the driver
maximize regenerative braking to increase the battery’s range.
The EPA says
the ELR should cover about 37 miles on a full charge before its
engine turns on to generate more electricity. The market for luxury
electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids is so young that the EPA hasn’t
certified the i3, i8, 918 Spyder and Panamera plug-in’s claims for
range and fuel economy yet.
The ELR is a
strong early player in that nascent market for alternate-power
vehicle: Front-wheel-drive four-passenger
out of four stars
Electric motor, lithium-ion battery and 1.4L four-cylinder engine
horsepower; 295 pound-feet of torque
Single-speed direct drive
economy rating: 37 mile electric range; 87 mpge; 33 mpg combined
city/highway using engine. Premium gasoline.
Weight: 4,050 lbs.
buy: Fuel economy, looks, technology
Rear passenger space, luggage room, price