2014 Cadillac ELR

05/02/2014 12:11 PM

05/02/2014 12:11 PM

The hunkered-down, Stealth-bomber wedge shape of the Cadillac ELR sets it apart from the crowd of lookalike coupes and sedans. Ditto for electric drive system and range-extending gasoline engine that recharges the batteries. Think of the ELR as a luxury version of the Chevrolet Volt and you get a pretty clear picture.

The ELR’s hybrid powertrain makes it attractive to folks who want great gas mileage, but the test car’s sticker price of $82,135 left me wondering how many folks will actually plunk down that kind of money. Buyers may be eligible for a $7,500 tax rebate. Not all Cadillac dealers will sell the ELR because of the cost of tools, training and other items, according to Edmunds.com.

A limited number of early buyers will be given a 240-volt home charger, including installation. Chargers usually retail for $750 or more. Cadillac is also offering the ELR on an ultra-low-mileage, 39-month lease for qualified lessees at $699 per month with $5,999 due at signing.

This sporty coupe shares its drivetrain and battery pack with the Volt. It’s easy to get lost in electric vehicle terminology, but the ELR has two electric motors: one produces 111-117 kilowatts and the other is a 55-kilowatt generator. The total system produces 162 kilowatts and 295 pound-feet of torque. Its torque is more than many V-6 engines and it is always on tap immediately. The ELR accelerates to 60 miles per hour in 8.8 seconds under battery power or 7.8 seconds with help from the range-extending four-cylinder engine.

The battery takes about five hours to charge using a 240-volt charger. The standard household 120-volt outlet takes between 12 and 18 hours for a full charge.

It is possible to drive about 37 miles on battery power alone, more if you’re especially careful and less if you have a heavy foot. Considering the average daily round-trip commute is less than 40 miles, one could drive to work solely on electric power.

The 1.4-liter, four-cylinder gasoline engine extends the range up to 340 miles by charging the batteries and delivering additional drive assistance in some circumstances.

There are four drive modes: Sport, Tour, Mountain and Hold. Hold is interesting because it lets the driver rely on the gasoline engine to generate electricity and save the battery for later. Coasting and braking recharge the batteries.

The ELR is very quiet in battery mode. The gasoline engine is noticeable once it kicks on but I didn’t find it to be intrusive. The ride is taut, and the optional 20-inch wheels add some harshness on bumps.

The interior is nicely finished, and the dual LCD screens displays detailed information about the car, its mileage and power usage. The instrument panel is handsomely designed and covered in three different materials. The front seats had a wide range of adjustment. The back seat is small.

The wide doors can be challenge in parking lots and the low roofline means getting in and out isn’t easy. Rear visibility can be challenging and that makes the standard rearview camera welcome.

Price

The base price is $75,000. Options included full leather seats, adaptive cruise control with brakes assist and collision warning, 20-inch wheels, rear cross-traffic alert, blind zone monitor and Intellibeam headlights. The sticker price was $82,135.

Warranty

Four years or 50,000 miles, with an eight-year, 100,000-mile warranty on the battery and electric vehicle components.

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