2014 Cadillac ELR
By Laura Burstein
On Sale: Early 2014
Expected Pricing: $55,000-$60,000
Cadillac's all-new futuristic plug-in hybrid debuted at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit and is expected to go on sale early in 2014.
The sultry, sleek design of the 2014 Cadillac ELR not only earns praise from journalists and consumers, but from discriminating automotive industry designers, who named it Best Production Vehicle at the 2013 Eyes On Design award, held concurrently with the Detroit auto show press days.
The Cadillac ELR design is based on the Converj concept car shown at the Detroit show a few years ago. Unlike the Volt, whose production version was far less radical and more Prius-like than its concept, the ELR retains many of the bold elements found in its show-car predecessor. Fresh lines and proportions combine with signature Cadillac design elements, such as the vertical LED headlamps and taillights, all rolling on giant 20-inch wheels with low-rolling resistance tires.
Built on the same platform and using nearly the same powertrain as the Chevrolet Volt, the front-wheel-drive Cadillac ELR pairs an electric motor with a 1.4-liter four-cylinder gas engine.
The result is a total system equivalent of 207 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. Like the Volt (but different from some hybrids and plug-ins), the gas engine doesn't power the car directly. The Cadillac ELR will run on the electric motor until the 16.5-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack is depleted, then the gas engine will kick in to power a generator that in turn produces electricity to feed the motor. Drivers can also manually switch on a Hold mode that can use the generator during highway cruising to save the battery for city driving.
Range is estimated at about 35 miles in pure electric mode, with an overall system range of more than 300 miles (i.e. using the gas engine). Charging time is estimated at 4.5 hours with a 240-volt fast charger. The ELR can also be charged with a standard 120-volt household outlet, but GM declines to say how long it takes. We're guessing it's excruciatingly slow. You'll need the 240-volt setup.
The interior is finished in luxe leather, and the driver's instrument cluster features a reconfigurable display. A 10-channel Bose audio system comes standard, as does Cadillac's CUE infotainment system with navigation, a touch-screen interface that's cool in theory, but which has gotten mixed reviews from industry analysts. Folding rear seats add a mite of practicality.
Like the Volt and other electrified vehicles on the market, the ELR can be monitored and managed via a smartphone app, that, among other things, allows owners to schedule charges ahead of time and to take advantage of better electricity rates.
Production on the Cadillac ELR will begin in late 2013, with deliveries expected in the U.S. beginning in early 2014. All Cadillac ELR models will be manufactured at the General Motors Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant in Michigan.
Pricing has not yet been announced, but rumors surfaced several months ahead of the ELR's debut that GM was planning to undercut Tesla's near-$58,000 price tag on the all-electric Model S. Until we hear differently, we'll figure the plug-in coupe will start at around $56,000.