Cadillac’s Stealth Electrified Full-size Sedan
Waaaay back in 2014 Cadillac offered the short-lived, but very cool looking ELR PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle). Based on the Chevrolet Volt platform and technology, the ELR coupe was ahead of its time for the traditional Cadillac buyer, which was too bad. Fast forward to 2018, the CT6 PHEV is the electrified version of Cadillac’s full-size flagship sedan, delivering the expected Cadillac comfort and luxury, but also quick acceleration and impressive fuel economy.
Cadillac’s big move–big car, big MPG
When Clean Fleet Report reviewed the 2014 ELR we noted that Cadillac had created a car unto itself, as there were no other luxury, two-door, plug-in electric hybrids on the market. This time around Cadillac has put its formidable PHEV technology into a full-size sedan, which places it against some of the most recognizable big luxury cars from around the World. The challenge for Cadillac is how to create awareness and interest in an electrified car that happens to be a sedan. With sedan sales in the US declining over the past few years, and SUV and crossover models becoming the vehicles of choice, Cadillac as well as all other auto manufacturers are grappling with how to stabilize or reverse this trend.
Powerplant and Performance
The rear wheel drive 2018 Cadillac CT6 PHEV is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine and twin 100-horsepower (hp) electric motors mated to an electric variable transmission (EVT). Total system power numbers are impressive at 335 hp and 432 pounds-feet of torque. Clean Fleet Report was able to get consistent zero-to-60 runs at 5.2 seconds. The twin-motor EVT is a wonderful technology as it provides smooth acceleration and seamless ready-when-needed power at any speed.
Smooth power and ride along with a battery boost
The suspension is on the firm side, which is not a bad thing as Cadillacs of years past could get floaty or too soft. The ride, with 18-inch ultra-bright machined aluminum spoked wheels and all-season tires, is oh-so Cadillac smooth, with handling that borders on surprisingly agile. As a full-size sedan, it cannot and should not be compared with midsize sports sedans. Cadillac doesn’t do it, so set your expectations of it being a large sedan that has little body roll or motion, with good feel for the road through the electric-variable steering.
The size and weight of the CT6 PHEV is never a distraction as the car is well-balanced. Cadillac’s iBooster and electronic stability control system, with four-wheel ABS and disc brakes, are parts of the regenerative braking system. Other stopping aides include front pedestrian braking and forward and reverse automatic braking.
How Far and How Efficient
Combined fuel economy for the electric and gasoline propulsion system, which includes being able to drive 31 miles only on electricity, is rated at 62 MPGe. MPGe is a measurement of how far a car can travel electrically on the same amount of energy as is contained in one gallon of gasoline. Once the electric power has been depleted and operating in hybrid mode, the fuel economy is rated at 25 mpg. In 249 miles of 85-percent highway/15-percent city driving, we averaged 41.8 mpg. An impressive number for a car weighing in at 5,511 pounds.
The driver can control the battery regen and use
The 18.4 kWh lithium-ion (li-ion) battery is charged by plugging into a 120V (Level 1) or 240V (Level 2) outlet and through regenerative braking. To replenish the li-ion battery’s 31-mile driving range, estimate eight hours for the former and 4.5 hours for the latter. The CT6 PHEV does not come with a 480V (Level 3) option.
The regenerative charging system converts kinetic energy into electric energy when applying the brakes or coasting and stores it in the battery. This process can be viewed on a dash gauge where you can watch the power flow into and out of the battery and engine. The CT6 PHEV has Regen On Demand technology that is activated by pulling on the paddle shifters located on the backside of the steering wheel. Pulling on the paddle shifters applies the brakes and allows for one-pedal driving. Once you get the hang of it, this will be your go-to method of driving.
It is important to note that fuel economy numbers reported by Clean Fleet Report are non-scientific, representing the reviewer’s driving experience in our reviewer’s city. If you live in cold weather, high in the mountains or spend time in the city or stuck in rush hour traffic, then your numbers may differ.
The CT6 PHEV has three drive modes—Tour, Sport and Hold. Tour is for everyday driving, Sport advances the throttle and tightens-up the steering, and Hold forces the car to not use any of the battery charge, therefore saving it for around town where it can deliver the most efficient driving. The transition between battery-only power and when the gasoline engine engages is seamless and only minimally noticeable.
Cadillac Style: Exterior
The exterior styling on the 2018 CT6 PHEV is clean and sophisticated. The evolution from the sharp angles of a few years back to a softer look immediately draws attention among large, luxury sedan aficionados. From the front grille with distinctive cross hatching and the proud Cadillac emblem, and the sharp-looking LED head lamps to the LED tail lamps that extend vertically over the fenders, the look is simple and pure Cadillac.
Large eco-luxury is here
Cadillac Style: Interior
Cadillac says the CT6 can seat five passengers, which technically is true. But anyone sitting in the center rear seat will be grumbling they pulled the short straw. Let’s just agree that the large, roomy and high-quality interior of the CT6 is better suited for four adults.
The interior materials complement each other with soft and supple leather seats and chrome, wood and carbon fiber trim pieces. About that carbon fiber trim: it really does not match well in the side-by-side placement with the wood trim.
The long list of standard equipment on the 2018 CT6 is what is to be expected on a car of this quality and price. Our CT6 had heated and ventilated driver and passenger seats. Both had 16-way power seats and 4-way power lumbar adjustments. The leather-wrapped, heated steering wheel, with power tilt and telescopic adjustments, made finding a comfortable seating position quite easy.
The backseat view will be more common in China
The driver’s seat has a surprise for you if you have not been forewarned: it vibrates as part of the lane departure warning system. If you did not use the turn signal when crossing into an adjoining lane on the highway, the driver’s seat will vibrate to let you know about your lane drift. I found myself changing lanes sans blinker on purpose just for the momentary rush, but after a while it became annoying, but effective, in reminding me to stay in my lane. The true safety impact of this feature is, if the driver is dozing off, the vibration, small as it may be, would wake the driver and hopefully prevent an accident.
The rear leather seats, separated by an armrest with cup holders, are best suited for two adults. On a long driving trip, luggage for four adults might be a stretch for the CT6 PHEV as the battery reduces trunk storage capacity. The power rear sunshade and manual rear side window shades are a nice touch as is heating in the outbound seats. Also worth noting are the 10-inch, pop-up color monitors located in the front seat backs. These come with wireless headphones and remotes.
The CT6 is well-equipped with true convenience features, including a panoramic power sunroof and shade, power rear deck lid, wireless phone charging, remote keyless entry with remote start, power door locks, adaptive cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control, rain-sensing windshield wipers, keyless push button on-and-off and three years of OnStar.
A note regarding OnStar: a simple push of a button connects you with a friendly General Motors representative to handle emergencies, directions and general assistance to make your driving experience safer and more enjoyable. This is one area where GM is the industry leader and, after the three-year service plan expires, it is well worth renewing.
The CT6 incorporates an open cockpit design with the center stack separating the front seats. Everything is nicely laid-out and within easy reach. The infotainment system on the CT6 starts with the CUE System, for information and media control, and a 10-inch full-color touchscreen display for the Bose Premium surround sound audio system with 10 speakers. Included are AM/FM HD radio with SiriusXM (90-day trial), Bluetooth hands-free phone and audio with multiple USB ports, 12V charge stations, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
In our opinion, the CT6 PHEV interior is nicer than a Tesla Model S. The CT6 PHEV is luxury, while the Tesla is premium. Go see for yourself.
30+ EV miles per charge, but gas to take you as far as you need to go
The CT6 PHEV comes standard with a tire pressure monitoring system, eight airbags, rear vision camera, surround view camera, forward collision alert and lane departure warning (with the previiously mentioned vibrating driver’s seat), pedestrian safety signal (useful when at a crosswalk and someone walks in front of the car), automatic vehicle hold (nice when stopped on a hill), front and rear park assist, and blind zone alert.
Pricing and Warranties
The 2018 CT6 PHEV comes in one trim level with an MSRP of $75,095, plus the $995 destination charge. The CT6 PHEV qualifies for federal and (many) state tax credits that could reduce the final purchase price. Clean Fleet Report recommends contacting your CPA before considering a CT6 PHEV. Not relying on the dealer to provide this information will serve them and you best.
Also worth noting is that in California the CT6 PHEV qualifies for the coveted car pool lane stickers allowing solo driving in the HOV lane. This is no small thing when trying to get anywhere on a freeway in the Golden State.
The 2018 CT6 PHEV comes with these warranties:
Bumper-to-Bumper Four years/50,000 miles
Scheduled Maintenance Three years/36,000 miles
Battery Eight years/100,000 miles
Powertrain Six years/70,000 miles
Roadside Assistance Six years/70,000 miles
Courtesy Transportation Six years/70,000 miles
Observations: 2018 Cadillac CT6 PHEV
The badge is discreet
The 2018 Cadillac CT6 PHEV is the real deal for luxury, performance and fuel economy. Plus it stacks-up well with standard features, better fuel economy and lower price in an apple-to-apple competition with BMW, Audi and Jaguar.
Here’s the catch. The CTS PHEV probably won’t be a big seller in the United States, which Cadillac most likely isn’t fretting over. Where big sales numbers for the CTS PHEV are vital, and important, are in China, where strict restrictions on air pollution are being implemented. Built in Shanghai China, the CTS PHEV is a prime candidate for the Asian market, where executive cars that are easy on the environment are popular.
It is a shame that more people may not consider the CTS PHEV over a SUV or crossover. This is a very nice car in many ways and it really needs to be promoted as such.
Clean Fleet Report suggests calling ahead to make an appointment with a Cadillac factory-trained hybrid expert. This is important as sometimes the general sales person can get the hybrid technology story wrong. Take the time to learn about and experience this fine car, and it just may end-up in your garage.
Whatever you end up buying, enjoy your new car and as always, Happy Driving!
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Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition, we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.
Our focus is on vehicles that offer the best fuel economy in their class, which leads us to emphasize electric cars, plug-in hybrids, hybrids and diesels. We also feature those efficient gas-powered vehicles that are among the top mpg vehicles in their class. In addition, we aim to offer reviews and news on advanced technology and the alternative fuel vehicle market. We welcome any feedback from vehicle owners and are dedicated to providing a forum for alternative viewpoints. Please let us know your views at email@example.com.
To Offer 30-Mile Electric Range
Cadillac takes another run at plugging in
Cadillac announced at the Los Angeles Auto Show that its 2017 CT6 Plug-in Hybrid will arrive next spring with an estimated 30 miles of electric-only driving range and a total range of more than 400 miles. The automaker said it is also expecting the luxury plug-in to have fuel economy estimated at 65 MPGe—miles per gallon equivalence.
“The CT6 is a technological showcase throughout, and by far the lightest car in its class, making it an ideal platform for electrification,” said Cadillac President Johan de Nysschen. “In the CT6, Cadillac presents a new formula for prestige luxury. The advanced plug-in hybrid system is a key addition, providing a combination of exceptional fuel economy, crisp acceleration and strong electric-driving range.”
The hybrid, with a starting price of $76,090 before incentives, will only be built in China, unlike the flagship gasoline powered CT6, which is produced at the Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant.
The Cadillac CT6 Plug-In Hybrid includes a new rear-wheel drive electric variable transmission (EVT), allowing the car to provide smooth, powerful acceleration,
Under the hood, something borrowed, something new
Cadillac said. The new car borrows parts from the Chevrolet Volt and adapts them to the CT6’s rear-wheel drive chassis.
Like the Volt, the CT6 features two electric motors, each producing 100 horsepower.
The two-motor EVT combines with a 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine to produce an estimated combined 335 horsepower and 432 pounds-feet of torque. The output is good for an estimated 0 to 60 mph in 5.2 seconds, or the same time as V-6 competitors, the company said.
Electric top speed is 78 mph; with the additional engine power, it has a top speed of 150 mph.
Lifted from the Volt
Cadillac thinks it has an edge with a plug-in
The lithium-ion battery pack will have 18.4 kilowatt-hours, just like that of the Chevy Volt, but won’t use the same T-shaped layout as the Volt. Instead, the battery will be integrated into the floor, which according to Cadillac, helps increase vehicle stiffness.
Cadillac says the CT6 Plug-In will be available as a package within the CT6 product line, with pricing and equipment similar to its premium luxury model. Many optional features come standard on the plug-in model, such as rear seat infotainment, enhanced night vision technology and a rear camera mirror.
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First Drive: 2017 Cadillac XT5
Cadillac’s All-new Luxury Crossover
Cadillac takes on the world
The all-new 2017 Cadillac XT5 replaces the successful SRX with what Cadillac’s President Johan de Nysschen says will be “pivotal to our ongoing global growth plan.” That growth plan includes a goal of making China Cadillac’s second largest market. To make the XT5 a true world car Cadillac obviously has a lot riding on this new design and has adopted a slogan of Dare Greatly to hopefully get them there.
Driving Experience: On the Road
The 2017 Cadillac XT5 comes standard with front-wheel drive (FWD), but the model Clean Fleet Report drove was configured in all-wheel drive (AWD). Powered by a 3.6-liter V6 with variable valve timing and direct injection, our XT5 had an eight-speed automatic with an EPA rating of 18 City/26 Highway/21 Combined. The FWD version gets one mile per gallon more all the way around.
Clean Fleet Report had the opportunity to spend a day with the 2017 XT5 at the Cadillac World Drive-a press event in Southern California that launched the vehicle. Our time behind the wheel was spent driving from sea level in Dana Point to the mountain town of Julian, outside of San Diego, with an elevation of 4,226 feet. The route was chosen to showcase the XT5’s everyday capabilities of negotiating streets, highway and mountain twisties – and it did so with ease, confidence and comfort. Running on regular unleaded, the 3.6L is rated at 310 hp and 271 lb-ft of torque. The eight-speed automatic transmission has ECO, Normal and Sport settings that truly did change the driving attributes of the car. The engine ran smooth at all speeds, and the XT5 felt nimble and agile, in big part due to the lightweighting Cadillac engineers accomplished. For comparison, the XT5 tips the scales 292 lbs. less than the outgoing Cadillac SRX (a whopping 650 lbs. less than the Mercedes-Benz GLE 350).
Cornering was flat and planted with no noticeable drifting of the car through tight or high speed turns. Clean Fleet Report drove the XT5 with the standard 18-inch aluminum wheels and
Leaving the dinosaurs of past Cadillac SUVs behind
P234/65R18 all-season tires. If we were in the Premium model, we would have experienced even better handling with the 20-inch aluminum wheels and P235/55R20 all-season, or even better, summer tires. To sharpen the handling, even in dry conditions like we experienced, the dual-clutch AWD system is capable of transferring 100-percent of the torque to either the front or rear axle – and, if so desired, the electronically-controlled rear differential can be set to have 100-percent of the torque sent to either wheel. To top it all off, the AWD transmission has a non-mechanical linkage and shifts through drive-by-wire technology. All-in-all, it’s a very smooth, modern and efficient system that had power ready to any or all wheels seamlessly.
Braking is through four-wheel vented discs with ceramic linings and electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes and traction control.
Driving Experience: Exterior
The exterior design of the 2017 Cadillac XT5 places it competitively in the midsize luxury crossover class in what Cadillac says “perfectly reflects Cadillac’s positioning in the luxury automotive marketplace.” The lines are crisp with an upswept, high-sculpted line that runs from mid-driver’s door to the taillights with the wheels having been pushed even further to the corners than on the departing SRX. The rear liftgate (with an available hands-free operation feature) has an integrated spoiler that neatly hides the window wiper. A tasteful chrome eyebrow strip runs the near full width of the hatch.
Driving Experience: Interior
A stitch of luxury
Cadillac says the XT5’s interior “brings a new level of sophistication to showcase their evolving design language” that “will focus on simplicity that reduces visual noise and clutter.” To take the luxury to the highest level, the XT5 comes in five interior colors that they term “a variety of authentic materials and palette of colors” where “a feeling of space is the ultimate luxury.” The XT5 also comes in a Platinum trim level, not available on the outgoing SRX. In other words, Cadillac has upped their luxury quotient on the XT5.
The long list of standard and optional equipment on the 2017 XT5 is what is to be expected on a car of this quality and price. Our XT5 had the standard power, heated and ventilated driver and passenger seats. With power tilt and telescopic steering wheel adjustments, it made finding a comfortable seating position quite easy. The driver’s seat has a surprise for you if you have not been forewarned: it vibrates as part of the lane departure warning system. If you did not use the turn signal when crossing into an adjoining lane on the highway, the driver’s seat will vibrate to let you know about your lane drift. I found myself changing lanes sans blinker on purpose just for the momentary rush, but after a while it became mildly annoying, but effective, reminding me to stay in my lane. The true safety impact of this feature is, if the driver is dozing off, the vibration, small as it may be, would wake the driver and hopefully prevent an accident.
The XT5 incorporates a wide and modern dash design that has a sleek look and feel, with everything nicely laid-out and within easy reach. The high level of luxury includes cut-and-sewn fine leather seemingly everywhere and decorative trim pieces available in carbon fiber, aluminum and genuine wood. The infotainment system on the XT5 starts with the CUE System that Cadillac says “seamlessly connects you to a world of content.” The eight-inch high-definition color display includes FM/HD AM radio with Bose Premium Audio and either eight or 12 speakers, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, SiriusXM (three-month complimentary service), Bluetooth hands-free phone and audio with four USB ports and two auxiliary power outlets.
The 2017 Cadillac XT5 is well-equipped with true convenience features including remote keyless entry with remote start, heated steering wheel with radio and telephone controls, power door
locks, cruise control, tri-zone climate control, heated outboard rear seats, wireless charging, 4G LTE Wi-Fi Hotspot with a three-month trial subscription, tire pressure monitoring system, rain-sensing windshield wipers, optional heads-up display, keyless push-button start/stop and OnStar. A unique safety feature is the Rear Camera Mirror system that enhances the rear vision by 300-percent using a video display applied over the inside rearview mirror image.
A note regarding OnStar: a simple push of a button connects you with a friendly GM representative to handle emergencies, directions and general assistance to make your driving experience safer and more enjoyable. This is one area where GM is the industry leader, and after the one-year service plan expires, it is well worth renewing.
Safety and Convenience
The 2017 Cadillac XT5 has seven airbags and a choice of Cadillac’s Driver Awareness and Driver Assist packages that include automatic collision braking for low-speed conditions, lane keeping assist, rear cross traffic alert, blind spot alert, front pedestrian detection, following distance indicator, full-range adaptive cruise control and automatic parking assist. The XT5 has a very smooth automatic stop/start where the engine shuts off when coming to a stop, and, on releasing the brake, the engine starts again.
Pricing and Warranties
The 2017 XT5 comes in four trim levels and two drive configurations, FWD and AWD. MSRP for these models without destination and handling fees or optional equipment are:
XT5 FWD $38,995
Cadillac ups its game
XT5 FWD Luxury $44,895
XT5 FWD Premium Luxury $51,895
XT5 AWD Luxury $47,390
XT5 AWD Premium Luxury $54,390
XT5 AWD Platinum $62,500
Observations: 2017 Cadillac XT5 AWD
Cadillac fields a challenger
Auto manufacturers will tell you that the luxury vehicle segment is far more difficult to compete in than the general automotive marketplace, which is true. The marketing rule that the more expensive an item, the more difficult it is to reach the person who can buy that item. As well, the more expensive the item, the fewer potential buyers there will be for that item. Since the most competitive segment of the luxury auto market is SUVs and Crossovers, with the 2017 XT5 Cadillac has placed itself right in the middle of stiff competition who have no plans on selling fewer cars.
The winner in all this is the consumer, who will benefit from these manufacturers never standing pat on design, technology, comfort and performance. Of course, the only one you really have to please is yourself, so when visiting dealers make sure to add the 2017 Cadillac XT5 to your consideration list as Cadillac has a very serious player in the midsize luxury crossover class.
Whatever you buy, Happy Driving!
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Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle, which does not address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology, during which we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements. Our focus is on vehicles that offer the best fuel economy in their class or are among the top mpg vehicles on the market. In addition, we aim to offer reviews and news on advanced technology and the alternative fuel vehicle market. We welcome any feedback from vehicle owners and are dedicated to providing a forum for alternative viewpoints. Please let us know your views at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Abundant Luxury and Style For a Plug-In Electric, But What Is It?
As part of the evaluation process when Clean Fleet Report test drives a car we consider, among other things, its size, passenger and storage capacity, fuel economy and powertrain. We’re also interested in what the manufacturer has intended with the car’s design and what competitive cars our test vehicle is positioned against, as well as, of course, its price.
With the Cadillac ELR, we are looking at a luxury two-door coupe that is rated as a subcompact which means it should compete with the Volvo C30 or BMW 4-Series or the Mercedes CLK, to name a few in a very sparse field.
Cadillac ELR – a category of one
But the ELR has a base price of $75,000, well above those models. Ah, but here’s the rub: none of those coupes come as a hybrid, so how to compare apples-to-apples.
Or should the ELR be compared with other coupe hybrids, which by our count right now is a class of one–the Honda CR-X. But that sporty model is not a plug-in hybrid and cost less than one-third of the ELR’s tariff. Of course the Chevy Volt is a four-door model with less luxury that uses an almost identical drivetrain.
It seems Cadillac has created a car unto itself that stands alone in its own sub-class. So does this make it Best-In-Class? Well, by default, yes. But are any of the individual ELR elements better than what you can find elsewhere in the automotive market? And, at a base price of $75,000, what should car buyers expect? The ELR is selling against some very impressive cars.
The front-wheel drive 2014 Cadillac ELR is powered by an 117kW electric motor and a 1.4L DOHC 4-cylinder gasoline engine. Together they deliver 82 MPGe. The “e” is for “equivalent,” which is an EPA rating that takes into account driving solely on electric power (hence the “equivalent”). The gasoline engine alone is rated at 31 City/35 Highway/33 Combined mpg. In my 380 miles of 85-percent/15-percent highway/city driving I averaged 31.7 mpg on the gasoline engine and added an estimated 100 miles on pure electric, which is supplied by the Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) battery that is charged by plugging into a 120V or 240V outlet, through regenerative braking and by the gas engine.
More info than you might need
My dash gauge read the total average for one week of driving was 52 mpg. Confusing? Yes, a bit. What it means is that if you had a fully charged battery, you could drive approximately 37 miles on pure electricity and if you add all the pure electric miles with the gasoline miles, you get an impressive average. Something else to note is that most commutes are less than 37 miles which can mean no gasoline and no emissions.
The ELR uses a similar, but more refined version of its General Motors sibling Chevrolet Volt, series hybrid technology, or in GM terms: a range extender. This is where the electric motor and the gasoline engine deliver all the power through the electric motor, whether that is solely from the battery or the 55kW generator that is driven by the gasoline engine.
The ELR has four drive modes: Tour, Sport, Mountain and Hold. Tour is for open road cruising; Sport advances the throttle and tightens-up the steering; Mountain recharges the battery at a faster rate when coasting downhill; and Hold forces the car to not use any of the battery charge, saving it for around-town driving, where it is most valuable for saving gasoline. The transition between battery-only power and when the gasoline engine turns on is seamless and only minimally noticeable.
As with the electric-only Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Spark, the ELR’s 16.5 kWh Li-ion battery is charged by plugging in or through the regenerative charging system, which converts the kinetic energy of braking into electricity when applying the brakes or coasting. If you are plugging in, these are the expected charge times:
120V 12 – 18 hours: discharged to a full charge
240V 5 hours: discharged to a full charge
The ELR does not come with a 480V DC Quick Charge option.
The plug that separates it from other luxury coupes
Driving Experience: On The Road
The styling on the 2014 ELR is a head-turner. Whether I was in a parking lot or at a stop light being honked at, people wanted to know what I was driving. I even got a question: Was this a prototype vehicle and when it would be available for sale. I agree completely that the lines and stance of the ELR make it unique in the world of luxury coupes. But, what’s the weird attempting-to-be futuristic sound effects the ELR makes when starting up? Completely unnecessary and very gimmicky.
The two door ELR weighs in at 4,000 lbs. with the electric motors providing instant and maximum torque delivering a 0 – 60 mph of 7.8 seconds. You do feel the weight, but the electrically assisted power steering, four-wheel ABS and disc brakes, GM’s StabiliTrak electronic control system and front MacPherson Struts deliver a smooth, controlled highway ride.
Slick and sleek
The ELR takes corners without body roll and with confidence. Its ride is solid but it should not be considered a sports sedan.
One very unique feature are the paddle shifters that do not change gears but, when pulled, apply the regenerative brakes. Doing so hard will stop the ELR without touching the brake pedal. It’s an interesting sensation with a technological advantage as that hard braking is putting energy back into the battery.
There is very little wind noise and no transmission shifts with the Voltec electric drive system, so the ride is smooth and quiet.
Driving Experience: Interior
The ELR’s four-passenger interior, with 40/40 fold down rear seats, is easily the nicest you will find on any car built in the USA and rivals what Europe can offer. The top-quality materials complement each other with soft and supple leather seats, microfiber suede headliner and chrome, wood and carbon-fiber trim pieces. About that carbon-fiber trim: I felt it could go away as it does not match well in the side-by-side placement with the wood trim. The ELR interior is impressive in many ways and adding an element such as carbon-fiber trim does not add to the experience.
Leather and technology cover the interior
The long list of standard equipment on the 2014 ELR is what is to be expected on a car of this quality and price. Our ELR had the standard heated driver and passenger seats, both with optional 10-way power seats and 4-way power lumbar adjustments. The leather-wrapped heated steering wheel with power tilt and telescopic adjustments made finding a comfortable seating position quite easy. The driver’s seat has a surprise for you if you have not been forewarned: it vibrates as part of the lane departure warning system. If you did not use the turn signal when crossing into an adjoining lane on the highway, the driver’s seat will vibrate to let you know about your lane drift. I found myself changing lanes sans blinker on purpose just for the momentary rush, but after a while it became annoying, but effective, in reminding me to stay in my lane. The true safety impact of this feature is if the driver is dozing off as the vibration, small as it may be, would wake the driver and hopefully prevent an accident.
The ELR incorporates a twin cockpit design with the center stack separating the bucket seats. Everything is nicely laid-out and within easy reach. The rear split seats, separated by an armrest with cup holders, are comfortable for two adults, but four adults on a long driving trip would be a stretch for the ELR as there is limited luggage storage in the hatch. With the rear 40/40 seats folded flat, there is ample luggage space for two adults to take long trips, and that would include golf bags. One “convenience” the ELR has, that is unnecessary, is the center armrest lid is power operated by pressing on it for open, and gently pulling on it for closing. It just seemed like an extra that offered nothing to the otherwise excellent ELR interior experience.
The ELR is well-equipped with true convenience features including remote keyless entry with remote start, power door locks, cruise control, dual-zone climate control, rain-sensing windshield wipers, keyless push button on and off and a three year subscription to OnStar.
A note regarding OnStar: a simple push of a button connects you with a friendly GM representative to handle emergencies, directions and general assistance to make your driving experience safer and more enjoyable. This is one area where GM is the industry leader and after the three-year service plan expires, it is well worth renewing.
The infotainment system on the ELR starts with the CUE System and an 8-inch full-color touch display screen that uses haptic controls. Haptic technology uses tactile feedback from the user such as touch, vibrations or motion to change stations, modes and other functions. I found it slow to react and when touching the screen, I had to be spot-on or nothing would happen, or it would not give me the desired result for my selection. As mentioned earlier with the carbon-fiber interior trim pieces and the power armrest lid, the haptic technology distracts from what is an otherwise excellent sound and navigation system.
That system includes AM/FM radio with Bose Premium Audio and active noise cancellation, SiriusXM, HD AM radio, Bluetooth hands-free phone and audio with three USB ports and 12V charge stations.
The ELR has a full complement of safety systems: TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System), eight airbags, rear vision camera, forward collision alert and lane departure warning (with the previously-mentioned vibrating driver’s seat), pedestrian safety signal (useful when at a crosswalk and someone walks in front of the car), front and rear park assist, LED headlights and tail lamps, stability and traction control and power, electro-hydraulic four-wheel disc with ABS that are fully regenerative to maximize energy capture.
Leaving a small mark on the market
The 2014 ELR base price is $75,000, plus the $995 Destination Charge. The ELR Clean Fleet Report was driving had options that brought the price to $82,135, not including the $995 Destination Charge. The ELR qualifies for Federal and State tax credits that could reduce the final purchase price. Clean Fleet Report recommends contacting your CPA before considering an ELR purchase so you are completely clear on the tax credits. Not relying on the dealer to provide this information will serve them and you best.
Also worth noting is that in California the ELR qualifies for the coveted car pool lane stickers allowing the driver, with no passenger, to use the HOV lane. This is no small thing when trying to get anywhere on major freeways in the Golden State.
The 2014 ELR comes with these warranties:
Bumper-to-Bumper 4 years/50,000 miles
Scheduled Maintenance: 4 years/50,000 miles
Battery: 8 years/100,000 miles
Powertrain: 4 years/50,000 miles
Roadside Assistance: 3 years/Unlimited miles
Courtesy Transportation: 6 years/70,000 miles
The ELR went on sale in December 2013 and has sold 396 units through June 2014 when this review was written. This would put projected sales annually of under 1,000 cars.
Observations: 2014 Cadillac ELR
Cadillac has done us no favors with the ELR. Sure, they have designed a great looking car with a beautiful interior, filled it with all the technology and safety you would ever want or need, and for a vehicle this size and weight it has commendable fuel economy. But, if you had $75,000+ to spend on a luxury coupe would you buy the ELR over a BMW, Audi, Jaguar or even Cadillac’s ATS or CTS coupes? With its anemic sales, it appears car
Striking a new path for Cadillac
enthusiasts with good incomes have asked – and answered – the same question.
The ELR is the real deal when it comes to luxury and will set you apart from the crowd, even though Cadillac is trying too hard with some features to make it cutting edge. The ELR does not need any tricks: you will enjoy driving short and long distances in supreme comfort, ensconced by the finest materials with an audio system that rivals home units – with fuel economy unrivaled by any of the other choices.
Clean Fleet Report suggests taking a lengthy test drive with your local dealer’s most knowledgeable hybrid sales person. Maybe even go to a couple of dealers as the dealer hybrid “experts” can sometimes get it wrong. Take your time to learn about and experience this fine car, and it just may end-up in your garage. Which, by the way, would be a good decision and a very good thing.
Whatever you end up buying, enjoy your new car and as always, Happy Driving!
Other related stories you might enjoy:
Road Test: Chevrolet Volt
Road Test: Nissan Leaf
Road Test: Chevrolet Spark
EPA Rates Them All; Finds Plug-ins Best;
100 MPGe May Be The New 40 MPG.
The federal Environmental Protection Agency spends a good portion of its time and manpower compiling a guide that compares like vehicles’ fuel economy, spaciousness (interior space) and engine technology. The result for 2014 vehicles (cars and trucks) is now available on www.fueleconomy.gov and has a new benchmark – the Top 10 fuel economy cars all feature a plug. Some are pure electrics and others are plug-in hybrids. The fuel economy numbers are astronomical by historical standards, but are setting the new benchmark for what a modern automobile needs to achieve to be considering a state-of-the-art environmental leader.
The side story to this list is that being a high-mileage hybrid or diesel (or gas-powered car) is fine, but it doesn’t set you apart as a true leader in the fuel economy department anymore. Not that long ago we were talking about
Spark EV-King of the HIll
40 MPG being the floor for an efficient vehicle; already, it looks like 100 MPGe (equivalent to gasoline miles per gallon on an energy basis) is now the ticket to be among the leaders.
Here are the Top 10 for 2014, with some commentary about each. Of course the biggest caveat is that these fuel economy numbers by design are miles per gallon equivalent, since some of these cars use no gas at all and others are capable to running for a significant amount of time without any petroleum.
1. Chevy Spark EV – 119 MPGe – Chevy’s spunky little electric car takes top honors in the fuel economy race with its efficient electric powertrain. When we tested it, the Spark EV lived up to its billing.
2. Honda Fit EV – 118 MPGe – Honda comes close to Chevy with its slightly larger Fit EV, though neither car has scored significant sales this year. Price cuts brought buyers into the showroom, but sales are still averaging less than 50 per month.
3. Fiat 500e – 116 MPGe – Right in the mix (after all, what a few MPGe’s when you’re into triple digits) is the fun little Fiat electric car. We gave it a spin and came away very impressed with the Italian approach to the EV.
4. Nissan Leaf – 115 MPGe (2013) – Even though it’s the best selling pure electric car, the Leaf was not included in the EPA listing for 2014 models since its 2014 model doesn’t launch until next month, but it is unlikely its
Best-seller and Top 4 MPGe
MPGe will change so we’ve included the 2013 numbers. We have spent plenty of time in the Leaf and find it to be well-suited to the task of almost replacing your internal combustion car.
5. Honda Accord PHEV – 115 MPGe – Honda’s engineers have scored a very impressive feat by producing a plug-in hybrid that turns in fuel efficiency numbers on par with pure electrics. Well received in the marketplace – and just named Green Car of the Year – we were impressed when we first had a chance to drive the Accord.
6. Mitsubishi i-MiEV – 112 MPGe (2013) – Another model missing from the 2014 EPA listing is Mitsubishi’s quirky electric car. As is the case with most plug-ins, it has struggled to find customers (although selling twice as many as the Fiat 500e or Honda Fit EV), which led to a price drop in the new model.
7. Smart fortwo ED coupe/conv – 107 MPGe – The diminutive Smart has a couple things going for it – it’s the only convertible electric car on the U.S. market right now, and it’s on its third generation and shows the lessons learned from earlier iterations. The zippy two-seater is primarily found in car-sharing programs.
8. Ford Focus Electric – 105 MPGe –
9. Ford Fusion Energi PREV – 100 MPGe –
10. Ford C-Max Energi PHEV – 100 MPGe (2013) – We can close out the Top 10 with a triumvirate of Ford models – its pure electric Focus and two plug-in hybrids (dubbed Energi), the Fusion sedan and C-Max wagon. having three models gives Ford the most variety of any automaker in the high-MPG stakes, although even with three models its cumulative sales still trail the single model sales of the segment leaders – the Leaf, Chevy Volt and Tesla Model S. That said, they are competent vehicles and have been building sales. They also represent a piece of Ford’s strategy that has the plug-in models offered along with non plug-in hybrids.
Ford Offers 3 Ways to Plug-in
Bubbling under the Top 10: While the task of being in the Top 10 in MPG (or MPGe) is getting more difficult every year, three models that are right below the No. 10 cutoff can claim other marks that may be even more impressive. They represent three of the top four best-selling plug-in cars (the other is No. 4 Nissan Leaf) of the most recent month (October 2013), a mark that in some ways is more impressive than their still-hefty fuel economy numbers. The three are:
- Chevy Volt – 98 MPGe
- Toyota Prius PHEV – 95 MPGe
- Tesla Model S 60/85 – 95 MPGe/89 MPGe (2013 numbers)
BMW’s i3 will probably land in the Top 10
Two more to keep an eye on: Two vehicles (with three models) appeared to have not made the testing deadline for inclusion in the EPA guide, but can be expected to be in the mix as soon as their numbers are finalized. BMW’s new i3 (which will have a pure electric as well as a range-extended version with a small gas engine) will probably make it into the top 10 and bump out one of the Fords. Cadillac’s ELR coupe, since it is based on the Chevy Volt architecture, will probably turn in similar numbers to its four-door cousin so not crack the Top 10.
Missing in action: Gone from last year top fuel economy list are the Scion iQ electric, Coda sedan and BYD e6. None of the three made much of an impact although the latter two did represent the first Chinese cars on sale in the country and BYD is still likely to return with more models later in the decade.
Two new cars for 2014 that didn’t have reported numbers in the EPA guide and probably won’t make the Top 10 are exotic hybrids – the McLaren P1 and Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid. Both are wonderful examples of technologies but are unlikely to have the efficiency of the more mundane models on the list. The price for the Porsche starts at $100,000 while the McLaren will run a staggering $1.15 million.
Story & Photos by Michael Coates
Related stories you might like:
Luxury Electric Car Market Heats Up
Cars & Technology of the Future
How To Find the Best Price For an Electric Car