Oh what a difference $20,000 dollars makes. Most of the early reviews and general opinion about the ELR from the start were focused on the outstanding $75k price tag. At that price the ELR knocks on the door of cars like the Tesla Model S and simply doesn’t deliver the same level of luxury EV vehicle. After a year or so on the market dealers and GM are lowering the price of the ELR closer to $55k in most markets in an effort to move some metal. We took the car for a week to see if the new price tag makes this the best deal on the market or if buyers should continue to pass.
The Cadillac ELR that we tested was equipped with the optional adaptive cruise control, collision preparation system, rear cross traffic alert, and side blind spot alert for a staggering MSRP of $80,000 dollars. For that price you could also buy a Chevrolet Volt (the car in which the ELR is based), a small luxurious trailer, and a driver to tow you around as you sip a martini to all your destinations. However, the ELR does offer quite a bit of exclusivity when compared to other EVs. With just around 1,300 sales globally in 2014 the ELR is rarer than even the newest Lamborghini Huracán – which sold over 3,000 units worldwide in 2014. The sales of the car should increase with the recent price drop and we found many ways to love this electric Cadillac.
The exterior of the Cadillac ELR is simply stunning and is the best example of Cadillac’s modern design language of any car they have ever made. Every angle of the car has sharp and modern edges that show that the ELR exists as somewhat of a love song from the designers on GMs team. Even details like the green glow of the mirror lights when charging helps the ELR stand out. On the inside the design team used a mix or materials including carbon fiber,leather, wood, and microfiber suede for a cabin that is very modern, sporty, and unique. The Cadillac Cue system still has its difficult moments like any touch system but gets the job done overall and is easy to navigate. The driver’s gauge cluster is very pleasing to look at and features a green battery capacity gauge on the left to mirror the blue gas gauge on the right. The inside of the ELR is overall balanced and purposeful including the sporty rear buckets for the 2 + 2 seating.
Overall the driving experience of the ELR is similar to what we have experienced in the Chevrolet Volt that we have tested. The Cadillac ELR is a bit more firm and planted and the larger wheels/tires give the car a more rigid feeling over bumps but it is in no way uncomfortable to drive for long periods. The ELR’s EV only range is lower than the Volt at 37 miles due to added weight but during my normal commute in LA traffic I was able to get around 39-42 miles which was right in line with the Chevrolet. In stop-and-go traffic they should be equal in range but at highway speeds the weight of the ELR does seem to trim the EV miles much faster. The ELR adds paddles behind the steering wheel to give the driver access to “on-demand” regenerative braking. The system works well and you will find yourself getting back into a normal car and wondering why the brakes aren’t attached to the steering wheel. However, the actual brakes in the ELR can leave much to be desired and without the regenerative braking they can be quite poor without firm application.
The Cadillac ELR at $80k left much to be desired as a car and would simply be far beyond what anyone would pay for the extended range vehicle. With the recent deals showing the car closer to $56k and even some lease deals for around $499/month on the ELR it becomes one heck of a deal. The fit and finish of the car and the overall driving experience are a fantastic value for someone looking for a luxury EV at the sub-$60k price. Cadillac will say that the ELR is not a competitor to the Tesla Model S but strangely enough the ELR comparison tool on their site displays the Model S and BMW 4 series. The Model S is a fantastic EV and will be a great car for most people 95% of the time if they commute or drive locally. The beauty of the ELR is that it can also be an EV 95% of the time for those same people but the key selling point for me is that it is still a usable car 100% of the time with no compromises. The same cannot be said for many EVs on the market.