Seat Time: 2014 Cadillac ELR

June 16th, 2014 at 10:19am

2014 Cadillac ELR

Seat Time is a chance for us to share our impressions of vehicles being tested in the Autoline Garage and at media previews from around the globe.

Reviewer: John McElroy
Manufacturer: General Motors
Make: Cadillac
Model: ELR
Type: 2-door, 4-seater
Competitors: Tesla Model S, BMW i3
Price: Base: $75,000. As tested: $82,135
Made in: Detroit, Michigan, USA
Drivetrain: 162 kW electric motor, 16.5 kWh li-on battery; 1.4 L I-4 range extender
EPA Ratings: 82 MPGe electric mode; 33 mpg gasoline only. Observed: 40 mpg combined.

Final Impression:

2014 Cadillac ELRThe Cadillac ELR is a plug-in hybrid built off the same architecture as the Chevy Volt. It’s a stunningly good looking coupe with a luxurious interior and a lot of improvements over the Volt. One of the most fun features that I came to love about driving this car is that you practically never have to touch the brake pedal.

On the ELR, the paddles behind the steering wheel don’t shift the transmission. Instead, they engage the regenerative braking, which activates a generator that helps recharge the battery. But that regenerative action is enough to slow the car down.

And I mean slow it down! As soon as you pull on the paddles the car slows noticeably to the point that you practically never have to use the brake pedal, except to bring the car to a complete stop. And even at that, the regen braking will slow the car to about 1 mph. I came to rather enjoy driving in traffic without having to lift a foot to press the brake pedal.Talk about a different kind of driving experience.

Another feature I came to appeciate is the “Hold” mode which allows you drive with the range extender in operation. This way, you can drive in EV mode from your home to a major roadway, then engage the “Hold” mode and rely on the range extender to do most of your driving, then return to EV mode to quietly roll up to your destination where hopefully everyone will notice that your car is whisper quiet. I like being able to control the EV mode, but there’s a danger in this, too. I found myself getting lazy, and not feeling compelled to plug-in every time I arrived at work or returned home. After all, I still had plenty of juice in the battery, so why bother?

But that hurt my overall fuel economy. While the “life-time mpg” readout showed the car was averaging 50 mpg, my time in the car only produced 40 mpg. Neither is a bad number for a luxury car, but each is far below the car’s capability for someone who consciously plugs-in every chance they get and runs the car in EV mode at every opportunity.

2014 Cadillac ELR

And that calls into question what this car is all about. Cadillac says people will buy the ELR simply because it is “drop dead gorgeous.” And it is. But the purpose of a plug-in is to get motorists to refuel off the grid, and not at their local gas station. I’m not sure the ELR will do that. And besides, the “drop dead gorgeous” strategy isn’t working either. Sales are abysmal.

That’s too bad. The ELR is a legitimate luxury car, bristling with relevant technology, that is a pleasure to drive and will turn heads wherever you take it.

It’s early in the game, so Cadillac still has time to get sales moving. But if it doesn’t and this car turns out to be a flop, here’s a tip: go out and get one. Then park it in a garage, throw a tarp over it, and wait for a couple of decades. The ELR has all the hallmarks of becoming an instant classic: a beautiful car with interesting technology that is only available in very limited numbers. In thirty years time this car could be a hit at every Concours.

3 Comments to “Seat Time: 2014 Cadillac ELR”

  1. Bradley Says:

    Are the seats different color front/rear? Or are the images from two different cars?

    If the prices was cut in half, I think this would be significantly more successful.

  2. John McElroy Says:

    We’re running interior shots of two different cars to show you the color schemes that are offered.

  3. Dickson Says:

    Have seen the ELR at the local Cadillac dealer. Its looks are truly eye-popping, but the price is way too high (especially for the Cadillac customer, who is value-conscious). It would sell if it was around $10K less (like the Maserati Glibi).