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The 2014 Cadillac ELR Review: 125mpg, EV Freedom and Premium Luxury from a Proven Automaker

The Chevrolet Volt is a fantastic extended range electric vehicle so it should come as no surprise that the 2014 Cadillac ELR arrives as the best option for anyone looking to buy a true luxury EV from a company that will still be around in a few years – while also doing away with range anxiety in the true premium style.

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The 2014 Cadillac ELR is criticized by some as being little more than a gussied up Chevrolet Volt in coupe form, but that is a very unfair criticism for this beautiful 2-door extended range EV. While there are plenty of people around the US who use the Chevrolet Volt as a piece of ammunition in their political arguments, it is hard to argue that the Volt is one of the best options for those buyers who want an electric vehicle that won’t leave you stranded or waiting hours for the battery to charge when the juice runs out. After all, the Volt offers better than 40 miles of electric-only range on a charge while the gasoline charging engine will add another 300 or so miles of range.

The Chevrolet Volt offers freedom like few cars sold in America with an electric only range that will comfortably handle the average American commute while also allowing the owner to drive across the country without any concerns of a dead battery – so it is hard to use a comparison to the Volt as a negative blow against the new Cadillac ELR. Really, calling the ELR a luxury coupe version of the bestselling extended range EV in America is more of a complement in my opinion as General Motors has done a remarkable job in creating a luxury EV coupe that is a vehicle of its own – with no aspects outside of the chassis and the drivetrain that are similar to the electric Chevy. The Volt is an awesome extended range EV and the ELR is every bit as great for those who prefer two doors and premium luxury inside and out.

My 2014 Cadillac ELR test vehicle was fitted with the gorgeous Kona Brown full leather seating package that adds $2,495 to the final price, along with the adaptive cruise control package that adds $1,995 and the Luxury Package that adds $1,695. When you take into account the $75,000 base price and the $995 destination charge, the price as tested of my ELR came to $82,135. That is a lot of money, but considering that the ELR offers an electric vehicle experience like no other luxury car on the market, the ELR is literally the best luxury EV option in the US.

The Exterior
The Cadillac ELR is technically based on the Chevy Volt, but you would never be able to tell that by looking at the sexy lines of this sleek coupe. Aside from the fact that the ELR only has two doors, General Motors did an impressive job of making sure that the ELR resembled the Volt in no way – not because the Volt is bad looking, but because GM knew that they didn’t want the ELR to be looked at as an expensive Volt coupe. The platform and chassis might be shared, but no part of the ELR looks like any part of the Volt.

elr front

Up front, the Cadillac ELR has a gorgeous face with the elongated headlights and the big, bold grille that have both become a main feature of the modern Caddy lineup. On the ELR, the need for improved aerodynamics allowed the engineers to make a grille that is far more filled in than the similarly shaped grille on models like the ATS or CTS and this bright silver grille is truly eye catching while the black area holding the Cadillac crest in the middle leaves no question as to who brand of vehicle you are gazing upon. This bright grille is flanked by a pair of headlights that both are and are not like the units at work on other models, thanks to the individual LED lighting units that are stacked on top of each other. These give the ELR a very high tech, luxurious look with the help of the LED trim but more importantly, these headlights provide great visibility at night.

elr side

Along the side, the 2014 Cadillac ELR has a profile that is, in my opinion, one of the sexiest forms in the luxury segment. The ELR needs to be aerodynamically correct to help get the best electric range possible so the combination of the sloped hood, the steeply angled windshield and the long back glass that extends to the rear taillights is both slippery and stunning. From the side you can see the elongated headlights and LED taillights, the 20” blade style wheels a spread of chrome and the cool inset door handles but more importantly, the side profile reveals the aggressive front to back “rake” that has the rear end sitting much higher than the front to give the ELR a ready to pounce stance. I love it.

elr rear

Out back, the 2014 Cadillac ELR has a very upright, chiseled look that is punctuated by the large LED taillights that give this car a very sport look from the rear. Along the top runs another long LED light under a low profile spoiler with just a scant bit of silver running along the top of the license plate opening. Simple, but very good looking – a fitting end to a stunning car.

Forget about your fugly, egg shaped EVs – the 2014 Cadillac ELR is a stunning luxury coupe that just happens to have a high tech drivetrain. The fact that it is super aerodynamic is just a bonus, considering how great looking the ELR is in every way. This is one of those cars that you are constantly looking back at when walking away in a parking lot as it is just so sharp. GM truly did a great job in designing the exterior lines of the ELR.

The Interior
As much as I like the exterior of the 2014 Cadillac ELR, the interior is the real star of this luxury show as this is a cabin that will truly wow any prospective buyer. As soon as you open the door – before you even look at the plush leather seats or the high tech dash – the level of luxury and quality is very clear just by seeing the inner door panel. Seriously…the door panel. Across the top is a section of stitched leather that is wrapped by an area of Alcantara. Also near the top of the inner panel there is an area of high gloss wood trim that is joined by a stretch of high gloss carbon fiber. The entire center section is black leather, extending down over the nicely padded armrest.

elr door panel

That portion of wood and carbon fiber in the upper area of the door panel extends out across the dash, disappearing under the large infotainment console that serves as the centerpiece of the whole interior. All around the wood and carbon fiber is a spread of black Alcantara and black leather that flows down through the center console and all of the way back to the center armrest console. Where there isnt high gloss wood, carbon fiber, leather or Alcantara, the ELR interior has scant collection of satin silver trim pieces and a few rare plastic surfaces that are high gloss black.

elr seats

And then we come to the seats of the 2014 Cadillac ELR. Oh those beautiful, plush leather seats. At $2,495, they are one of the most expensive non-racing style optional seats I have seen but these seats are worth every cent. Not only are they gorgeous in the predominantly black cabin, but they are also incredibly comfortable with soft padded surfaces and nice, deep bolsters…just like something that you would expect from a luxury sports car. They have as much adjustability as any seat on the market so no matter how you like your seating position, these seats will do it for you. The seats are not cooled (probably because seat coolers can draw a great deal of power), but they are heated, as is the steering wheel. With these front seats moved back as far as they will go, the ELR has enough seats up front to comfortably seat a very, very tall driver and passenger; although moving them all of the way back pretty much eliminates the rear leg space. Fortunately, when you move the front seats up to a point where it is still comfortable for a 5’10” driver, there is enough space in the back seats for a shorter adult or child. Realistically, this is not a great 4 person car, but it is a fantastic 2 person car with a really impressive amount of space when you are only focusing on the front seats. Also, even though it has the electrical items under the floor, there is still a ton of trunk space for a car of this size.

elr dash

Finally, the 2014 Cadillac ELR has a stunning level of infotainment technology – a level that you would expect from a modern premium luxury car. First up there is the CUE infotainment system, which is controlled through the big, bright touch screen that is mounted high on the dash in a gloss black panel that has a very upscale look. The touch screen offers access to pretty much every aspect of the system, from the easy to use navigation system to the sound system to the climate control and the interior settings. This large screen also has the different EV information screens, including one that shows the power flow while driving (as shown in the image below) along with various mileage figures and the charging settings. I have heard some people complain about the functionality of the CUE system, but I cant come up with a single complaint as it is beautifully simple to use while having a very high tech feel…even for a luxury car. Not surprisingly, this Caddy also comes with a Bose premium sound system that absolutely booms like an aftermarket sound system.

elr power flow

In addition to the touch screen, the Cadillac ELR has a panel of touch sensitive controls for things like the stereo system power, volume, the home screen button and the HVAC controls along with the heated seat controls. Those drivers who like to control things without taking their hands off of the wheel will also be pleased to see that the ELR has a broad collection of buttons on the steering wheel spokes that allow you to control the infotainment system, the voice control system and the driver information in the wicked cool and supremely high tech gauge cluster. This cluster allows for a heavy amount of customization at the push of a button, allowing drivers to pick the layout that they like best in terms of the vehicle vitals while being driven. The video below offers a look at the function of the gauge cluster via the steering wheel controls.

The 2014 Cadillac ELR has one of the most impressive cabins that I have seen from an EV or a luxury coupe. It has tons of space (for two people), uber comfortable seats, a high end sound system, a gorgeous infotainment system and one of the highest tech gauge clusters I’ve seen – all of which makes for a super comfortable and super luxurious cabin that is truly the class of the world.

The Drive
The 2014 Cadillac ELR is powered by the same Voltec drivetrain as the Chevy Volt, and that begins with a battery powered electric drive motor that powers the front wheels with an all-electric range of 37 miles according to the EPA. In my driving time, I was able to hit 41 miles without using the range extending engine. In my daily driving routine, I rarely needed to use the gasoline engine, as plugging the car in whenever I was at the home or office kept the battery charged most of the time. I did make two longer car trips to intentionally deplete the battery just so that I could use some gas while I had the ELR and even with those longer trips included, I averaged 124.8 miles per gallon over the course of 8 days. The simple math – I drove 613 miles and used 4.91 gallons of gas so while most of my trips required no gas, the average numbers over one tank of gas (or part of one) were incredible.

elr engine

Aside from offering incredible range both with and without using gasoline, the 2014 Cadillac ELR is a very nice car to drive. The electric drivetrain provides enough instant torque to afford the Caddy coupe impressive acceleration forces (although lots of hard launches will quickly kill your battery) while also being able to comfortably eclipse the 100mph mark when you are in a big hurry – although those high speeds will run the battery down very, very quickly. Driving like it is a sports car will kill your battery range, but the bottom line is that this luxury EV will allow you to blast down the highway when the need arises. Whether you are around town or on the highway, the ELR has a quick, responsive throttle (especially when Sport Mode is activated) that will allow you to keep up and pass most other cars in traffic, while cruising along at 70mph on the highway presents a ride that is whisper quiet and as smooth as glass. When the gasoline engine kicks in while sitting in traffic, you may hear it with the windows open but when cruising on the highway, the engine is quick and quiet enough that you wont know that it is running unless you are watching the various battery charging icons in the gauge cluster or on the infotainment screen.

Some EVs sacrifice ride quality for improved range but even with the low rolling resistance tires, the ELR rides like a proper luxury car. The ride is a bit sportier and stiffer than the Chevy Volt, but it is a good stiff, as the ELR offers a more engaging driving experience than the Volt. Also, the chassis and suspension tuning of the electric Cadillac allows you to zip through tight turns with confidence, although you can definitely feel the weight of the battery when you really get to pushing the ELR hard through tight turns. It won’t hammer the turns like the CTS-V Coupe, but it will allow you to slip through the canyons more comfortably than any other small EV on sale today.

elr low front

While the 2014 Cadillac ELR doesn’t pack the same punch as some of the other models in the current Caddy lineup, it offers solid acceleration and a great top speed for an electric vehicle. In addition to the impressive all electric range, the gasoline engine can keep you going from coast to coast without any concern of finding a charging station while the Voltec drivetrain and the specially tuned suspension setup make the ELR one of the best driver’s cars in the EV segment. I would like a ton more power, but that is not with this car is all about and in doing what it does – it shines brighter than any other luxury EV sold in America.

The Final Word
I love the Cadillac ELR. I am not your typical EV guy – I own 5 vehicles with built V8 engines – but I still totally fell in love with the ELR. It is an absolutely beautiful luxury coupe inside and out with a cabin that is as plush and as luxurious as any 2-door car sold in America while having an exterior design that is strikingly cutting edge. Oh, and it is almost one of the most efficient vehicles sold in America with an electric range that can reach 40 miles without any real effort on the driver’s part while the gasoline range extending engine guarantees that you will never be stranded without a place to plug in.

elr gauges

Even if the Cadillac ELR didn’t have the impressive Voltec drivetrain, this would still be an absolutely remarkable luxury coupe as it has a stunning body that incorporates every bit of General Motors’ exterior technology experience into one super sleek package while the interior is packed with an incredible level of technology that can out-tech almost any car sold in America. While I might like the ELR better if it was powered by the new twin turbocharged V6 from the new VSport models – I enjoyed this little Caddy more than I have any other modern luxury car.

In the long run, there is no other luxury EV in America that offers the combination of electric and gasoline range with a true premium look on the outside and the cutting edge of luxury on the inside. This is all from a company that has been around for more than a century and will continue to thrive well beyond the time that the little startup automakers backed by pompous billionaires have sold off their intellectual property to a proper automaker. If you want a stunning luxury car that will comfortably serve all of your daily driving needs without burning a drop of fuel while also being able to drive it across the country, simply stopping for gas along the way – this is your next new car. The ELR is an incredible luxury car first and an EV second; a combination that makes this one of the most impressive cars that Ive tested and one of my favorite cars in today’s market.

elr low rear

This is a car that makes me proud to be an American – as the first true luxury electric vehicle came from the same American automaker that brought us the Chevrolet Corvette – showing that America is every bit as capable of beating foreign automakers at the MPG game while still injecting a whole lot of luxury awesomeness. Seriously – go drive the Cadillac ELR and if you are in the market for a new luxury coupe, you might be sold before the car ever moves…it is that nice and the Voltec drivetrain is just icing on the cake.

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John Goreham    August 2, 2014 - 10:37PM

Only recently did I get a first hand look at this car. It was in the vehicle fleet lot of the Automotion garage. They are the (awesome) company that delivers cars to writers in NE. It was THE best looking car in the lot (which included Bentley coupes) . I think it is the best looking 2015 Cadillac and one of the best looking coupes in the world at any price. It is the best looking EV coupe for sale in North America. - That said, I feel this vehicle should cost $49,000 - $53,000 even with all the goodies. I don't want to get into government tax kickbacks and Tesla comparisons, but this car is too much money given the alternatives.