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Cadillac’s entry into the EV market is already popping up in dealerships all over the country and its sophisticated design and unique features are sure to turn some heads. The Cadillac ELR is a plug-in hybrid that offers 250 horsepower, Extended Range Electric Vehicle (EREV) technology, regenerative breaking, and a stitched leather and carbon fibre interior. Much like the Chevy Volt, the Cadillac ELR uses electricity virtually all the time, but with an internal combustion engine to keep the lithium-ion battery charged up.

Some would say that the Cadillac ELR epitomizes the company’s design philosophy of “Art and Science”. In this Cadillac ELR review, I’ll take a closer look at Cadillac’s new plug-in hybrid and how it manages to bridge the Art and Science divide with both sophistication and ease.

First Impressions

Cadillac’s are easy to identify from afar. Their distinctive design typically features bold angles, an imposing front grill, and a certain audacious yet refined character. And true to form, the new Cadillac ELR boasts an appearance that is distinctly “Cadillac”, though with a slightly futuristic twist.

The hood slopes down dramatically from the windshield to give the low-sitting car a provocative and chiseled look. As is typical of a present-day Cadillac, the front includes a large grill and the back features hockey-stick shaped taillights to reaffirm the “take no guff” attitude the vehicle often projects.

But while older iterations of the Cadillac would often demand authority seemingly through sheer force of will, the new ELR instead attempts to seduce users with its smart technology, vibrant TFT display, a luxurious interior, and of course, its 16.5 kWh lithium-ion battery. It is truly a car made for the 21st century.

A Look Under the Hood: Cadillac ELR Specs

When it comes to powering the car, the Cadillac ELR takes much inspiration from the Chevy Volt. Like the Volt, the Cadillac features an ELR powertrain that combines both EV and internal-combustion technology. Relying solely on electricity, the user can go 35 miles. Past that and the gas generator kicks to help power the battery, thus giving the car an additional 300 miles of range.

The combined fuel economy of the car’s gas-electric drivetrain offers 33 miles per gallon. When operating it on electric power alone, it boasts an 82 MPG fuel-efficiency rating.

Charging times are similar to that of the Chevy Volt: 4.5 hours on a 240-volt outlet and 7+ hours on a 120 volt home connection. But while some electric cars feature very real range anxiety, the Cadillac ELR’s 345 miles range has the average American covered for most automobile trips.

Smart Technology and the User Experience

Like many EVs, the Cadillac ELR features regenerative breaking capabilities. This basically diverts additional power to the battery when slowing the car down, thus increasing the vehicle total range by a small amount.

In the ELR, the regenerative breaking features are presented in two paddles on either side of the steering wheel. Individuals that are used to shifting paddles in this same location may have to get used to their new function. But all one has to do to engage regenerative breaking is to depress one of the paddles and the car will both slow down and charge the battery at the same time.

Cadillac’s CUE infotainment system features prominently in the ELR, and features new information on charging status and fuel efficiency. The display is both vibrant and easy to use. Plus in order to quell fears over information overload (as is so typical in the digital age) the user has the option to minimize information presented on the display to streamline the user experience.

As is becoming increasingly common, the user can also access the CUE system through a smartphone app, thus giving one access to charging time settings and battery alerts.

Conclusion: Will the Cadillac ELR Compete on the Luxury EV Stage?

While the Cadillac ELR looks stunning and boasts some remarkable specs, the question remains whether or not it will be an effective Luxury EV. With a price tag of $75,000, this car is out of the price range for many Americans. But green minded consumers of luxury vehicles may be inclined to shift easily into Cadillac’s new plug-in hybrid.
Some initial reviews have highlighted the cramped backseats and lacklustre performance of the built-in sound-cancelling technology when the gas engine kicks in. Others suggest these are minor details that won’t sway consumers too much when deciding on the right luxury EV.

What are your thoughts? Would you consider the Cadillac ELR a worthy contender amongst other luxury EVs?


Joseph Tohill is a freelance writer and online communications specialist for organizations in the sustainability sector. He has a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of British Columbia and spent most of his academic career studying sustainable urban development; namely the interdisciplinary relationship between built form and natural environment.