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Luxury Hybrid

Cadillac’s first electric vehicle has comfort and good looks.

The 2014 Cadillac ELR is the company’s first full-line luxury electric vehicle with extended driving range thanks to the four-cylinder gasoline engine and lithium-ion rechargeable batteries. But you’re going to fork over a lot of greenbacks to go green.

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Cadillac introduced its first luxury hybrid vehicle for 2014. The ELR’s battery (left) gets up to 37 miles per charge before engaging the gasoline engine. ©General Motors photos

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The plug-in electric battery gets up to 37 miles per charge before engaging with the gasoline engine, which means a total travel distance of 340 miles after the gas tank is filled with premium fuel. But the fuel costs won’t despair owners; they’ve already paid more than $75,000 for the ELR coupe (minus government tax credits).

The single-model ELR’s sleek profile boasts a sharply rising beltline, tastefully placed chrome strips, an enlarged front grille, integrated rear spoiler, and 20-inch high-performance all-season tires. This coupe invites a wolf whistle or two.

It gets better inside with a luxurious and comfortable interior that eliminated fatigue on a 1,000 mile drive that also exceeded the EPA’s gas rating with two extra mpg on the highway (35 mpg).

The ELR uses similar technology and components as the less expensive Chevrolet Volt but luxury and looks diminish further comparisons.

Four driving modes–tour, sport, mountain, and hold–vary performance and efficiency. The gasoline motor generates power for the electric motor but plug-in battery recharging is necessary. A full recharge takes five hours using a 240-volt charging station and 12.5 to 18 hours using a 120-volt outlet.

Handling is responsive with front-wheel drive and paddles mounted on the steering wheel that simulate manual transmission downshifts and puts energy back into the battery. Called “Regen on DemandTM” by Cadillac, it won’t stop the car but will slow it down.

The ride is smooth and quiet except during sharp highway acceleration, and the suspension systems use continuously variable real-time damping to conquer minor road imperfections.

Rear seating is coupe-like tight but access is eased with power slide forward. The sloping rear truncates head space, making rear seating better for those less than 6 feet tall. The shallow trunk holds the electric plug-in cord, tire sealant (there is no spare), and battery pack.

Inside, the center gauge includes feedback information points, and the Cadillac User Experience (CUE) manages the voice-active eight-inch dashboard screen for navigation, entertainment/Internet connections, and real-time traffic. Tightly stitched leather, chrome, wood trim, and velvety suede help create a luxurious interior ambiance.

Our test drive added $1,995 to include adaptive cruise control and collision preparation. A $1,695 luxury package included ultra-bright aluminum wheels, blind spot alerts, and cross traffic alerts with the rear camera. Cadillac’s unique vibrating seat–triggered when the vehicle veers out of its lane–is standard.

Tom Crosby is a contributor from Charlotte, N.C.

Likes: Looks, luxury, mileage, handling, ride, quiet
Dislikes: Price, cargo space
Bottom Line: It makes a nice environmental statement but at a truly premium price.

July/August 2014 Issue


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