The 2014 Cadillac ELR takes plug-in hybrid technology upscale.
Bold, contemporary style; refined interior; low monthly fuel cost; slick energy-recovery braking system.
Tight backseat; ride quality may suffer with 20-inch wheels; questionable value.
The 2014 Cadillac ELR is an all-new model.
Nearly three years after launching the Chevrolet Volt, General Motors has added a corporate cousin: the 2014 Cadillac ELR. Cadillac's marketing corps will take pains to distinguish the ELR from the Volt, but the two cars will share the same factory and powertrain: a T-shaped 16-kilowatt lithium-ion battery, a 111-kWh electric motor (149 horsepower) and a 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine that's used primarily as a generator.
The ELR, however, offers two fewer doors than the Volt. It's almost 10 inches longer and a couple inches wider than the Volt (but rides on essentially the same wheelbase), and the swoopy coupe profile cuts down on interior headroom. The ELR uses different suspension components, slightly larger brakes and a full suite of electronics and safety features. Notably, the ELR also weighs about 300 pounds more than the Volt and is expected to achieve slightly less efficiency; GM estimates 35 miles of electric range for the ELR, three miles short of the Volt's rating.
The ELR's raked profile and stubby rear deck is a subtle evolution of Cadillac's sharp new ATS sedan, maybe even a hint at what the eventual ATS-V coupe might look like. Vertical LED headlights and taillamps and 20-inch wheels complete the ELR's dynamic presence. If you want to plug in and get noticed, skip the Honda Accord and go straight to the ELR.
The ELR will offer four dynamic driving modes. Tour is the default setting, while Sport sharpens throttle, steering and suspension response. Mountain delivers additional power as needed when ascending grades and Hold allows drivers to switch to the gasoline engine during highway commutes and preserve electrical energy for slower city driving.
The ELR will also feature a regenerative braking system with a twist: steering-wheel-mounted "shift" paddles that enable more aggressive deceleration and convert the ELR's momentum into electrical energy that is then sent to and stored in the battery. Think of it as downshifting that replenishes the battery and quite possibly a handy feature for use on downhill roads.
Inside, expect a cabin trimmed in leather, suede, chrome and wood, anchored by the 8-inch touchscreen that runs the CUE infotainment system. Passengers control audio, navigation and climate functions through touch-sensitive buttons on the center stack or through smartphone/tablet-style hand gestures on the touchscreen display. A Bose 10-speaker audio system with active noise cancellation comes standard. Equally snazzy is the Safety Alert Seat, which vibrates the driver seat when an obstacle is detected. Forward collision alert and lane departure warning also come standard, while blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert are available.
Cadillac claims the ELR can cover more than 300 total miles with a full 9.3-gallon fuel tank and full battery charge. Range and fuel economy could improve if GM equips the ELR with a smaller three-cylinder engine under consideration, although that's unlikely to happen before 2015.
Charging the ELR should take about 4.5 hours from a 240-volt outlet. The ELR will also earn a coveted AT-PZEV emissions rating, making it eligible for single-passenger travel in California's carpool lanes.
Pricing has not been announced, but we expect the ELR to start north of $50,000 when it goes on sale in early 2014. Check back for a full review of the 2014 Cadillac ELR, including specs, driving impressions and buying advice as it becomes available.
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