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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

2014 Cadillac ELR - Review

PRICE : For 2014 Cadillac ELR $75,000

As hybrid and electric cars become more common sights in U.S. cities, they're also moving farther up the food chain and beginning to turn up in luxury-car showrooms. The 2014 Cadillac ELR plug-in hybrid coupe is an example of this trend. Not only does it offer a convenient combination of electric-only power for short trips and gas-electric operation for extended travel, it brings cutting-edge style and posh interior trimmings into the mix. At a glance, the ELR coupe is an intriguing proposition if you're looking to make a fashion statement while reducing your environmental footprint. However, a few significant drawbacks make Cadillac's plug-in hybrid tough for us to recommend.

Under the hood, the Cadillac ELR shares its major mechanical components with the Chevrolet Volt, including its 16.5-kilowatt lithium-ion battery pack and 1.4-liter gasoline four-cylinder engine. Cadillac estimates it can go up to 37 miles on battery power alone, and while that's one less mile than the Volt, the ELR is a fair bit quicker, as Cadillac was able to get more power out of the car's electric-drive motor. Inside, Cadillac's coupe has a much richer interior than its Chevy cousin and comes with considerably more standard equipment.

The problems begin when you look at the 2014 Cadillac ELR's price tag, which is more than double that of the Volt. This makes the raucous drone from the ELR's four-cylinder engine that much more difficult to take once you deplete its all-electric range. Cadillac has tried to mask the engine's coarseness with hydraulic engine mounts, sound-absorbing materials and a noise-cancelling audio system, but it simply isn't enough when you're accelerating hard. And while the Caddy's ride is serene on smooth roads, a surprising amount of harshness invades the cabin over rougher pavement -- you'd never complain about this in a Volt, but in a luxury coupe, it stands out as a glaring lapse in refinement. Beyond that, the ELR's dramatic roof line creates some major packaging issues: The backseat is small to the point of being almost unusable, and the trunk opening is extraordinarily narrow.

For the moment, the 2014 Cadillac ELR has few direct rivals. If you simply want a plug-in hybrid with lots of electric range, a fully loaded 2014 Chevrolet Volt will provide much the same driving experience. On the higher end, you could consider the 2014 Porsche Panamera S E-hybrid, which delivers far more in the way of performance but only 20 miles of pure electric range. If you're a bit more adventurous, the all-electric Tesla Model S is wildly fashionable. On the other hand, if a luxury coupe is what you're really after, the 2014 Audi A5 and S5 and 2015 Jaguar F-Type have plenty of style to go around and can be fairly fuel-efficient, depending on the engine you choose.

Although the time has arguably come for luxury-brand plug-in hybrids like the Cadillac ELR, this coupe simply doesn't have the performance credentials, refinement or day-to-day functionality to justify the asking price.


The Cadillac ELR has an aggressive, forward-leaning profile that introduces a new, progressive theme and proportion in Cadillac's design evolution. It carries over almost unchanged from the 2009 Converj concept that inspired it. The overall shape is reinforced by a prominent, sweeping body line accented by 20-inch wheels pushed to the edges of the body.

"The ELR represents a new dimension of Art & Science, the guiding philosophy of Cadillac," said Mark Adams, Cadillac design director. "Cadillac's DNA is innovation, with dramatic and provocative design. ELR delivers this in a luxury coupe that stands alone among major luxury brands globally."

Vertical headlamp and taillamp elements create Cadillac's signature for the ELR, day or night and from the front or rear - a brand tradition since 1948.

Aerodynamics play a crucial role in the design as airflow is managed to help the vehicle slip through the air with minimal drag. A flush front fascia and grille - with active shutters behind the grille opening - as well as tapered fascia corners, enable air to move easily around the car to reduce drag. In the rear, sharp edges and a carefully designed spoiler also manage airflow. A n aggressive rake on the windshield and back glass help reduce turbulence and drag and contribute to ELR's 0.305 coefficient of drag.

► Additional exterior details include:

► Door handles hidden in recesses behind the doors
► The charge port is located on the driver's side front fender
► Lights on the side mirrors pulse green while the battery charges and go dark when charging is complete.
► Exterior colors include Black Raven, Radiant Silver Metallic, Graphite Metallic and Crystal Red.


The ELR offers a classic 2+2 layout and has been designed to offer the driver the best driving experience. The interior is trimmed in a combination of leather and authentic chrome and wood accents, while a carbon fiber trim is available as an option. The steering wheel is covered in leather and sueded microfiber, with the same material being used for the headliner.

As with all the other models launched in the past year, the new ELR is being offered with Cadillac CUE with Navigation featuring a large eight-inch, full-color capacitive-touch screen in the center of the instrument panel. It also includes a touch screen with gesture recognition and offers details on driving efficiency, energy usage, charging options and more.


► Year:2014
► Make:Cadillac
► Model:ELR
► Price:$75000
► Engine:inline-4
► Horsepower @ RPM:162
► Torque @ RPM:295
► Energy:Sequential multi-port fuel injectors
► Displacement:1.4 L
► EPA fuel economy: 85 MPGe city/80 MPGe highway
► 0-60 time:7.8 sec.
► Top Speed:106 mph


The 2014 ELR isn't the most expensive Cadillac--that's the Escalade SUV's job. But its pricetag of $75,999 before any federal or state tax credits and rebates has evoked some low whistles, for its $35,000 boost over the Chevy Volt and for its lack of a few luxury options, nixed due to weight and power-draw concerns. There's no sunroof, no head-up display at all, and with its few available options, the price soars to nearly $80,000.

Still, Cadillac says it's in the same arena as the Tesla Model S, BMW 6-Series, and Mercedes-Benz CLS for a reason--while adding that those tax incentives can drop the net price even lower, if you live in the right state.

For that price range, the ELR is trimmed out sumptuously in attractive leathers and suedes, all the usual power features, ten-speaker Bose audio, and safety features like forward-collision alerts and a lane-departure warning system that buzzes the seat cushion to cue you back in between the stripes.

The ELR has a TFT display instead of gauges, and those screens can be cleaned up of ancillary information nicely by toggling through the steering-wheel controls. It's a welcome step down the road of information de-cluttering.

Navigation is factored into CUE, the Cadillac User Experience, which also governs the car's audio, phone, climate, and efficiency-monitoring systems. Most can also be controlled or accessed via steering-wheel buttons or by voice command. As we've found in other Cadillacs, CUE looks fantastic, but gets tripped up not infrequently by its haptic inputs and by long strings of inputs. Wave a hand in front of the screen and the displays brings up favorites or access to other areas of control--and sometimes, it actuates those systems when you hadn't planned.

Navigation in particular is a repeated sore point: we've seen CUE drop its routing, losing its place on the map at critical junctions. We love its clean look and the way it dominates the cabin--but like almost every other infotainment system we've sampled in this mini-era of the past five years, CUE feels like it needs more processing power and a little more redundancy to make it wholly useful.


As Cadillac coupes go, the 2014 ELR is a compact one, rakish and forward in the ways that we've liked in the CTS Coupe. The comfort and space play out in about the same way as in that car, rendering the ELR effectively a 2+2.

Though the ELR shares the Chevy Volt's powertrain and even has more wheelbase (not quite half an inch), it doesn't have anywhere near the practicality of the Chevy, sacrificing lots of headroom and trunk space in its Wallenda-like leap into Cadillac's portfolio.

In front the ELR has exceptionally comfortable, 16-way adjustable leather seats--but 20-way adjustment comes with a "luxury" package. The dash warps gently inward toward the driver, surrounding that seat with screens--two eight-inch screens, one displaying gauges and all sorts of driver-selected information, the central one serving as the display screen for CUE. The console runs wide and long, splitting the ELR down the center and dividing its passengers into neat little quadrants, leaving just enough knee and shoulder room for front-seat occupants.

The ELR’s roofline takes its penalty in rear-seat space. Cozy would be a generous description. The individual buckets are a chore to access and aren't really sized for anyone more than medium of frame. Fold-down rear seat backs accommodate longer items, including multiple sets of golf clubs; it's a feature that probably will be used more often, since the trunk is small, even by coupe standards.

The ELR's finishes compensate for the meager rear-seat space. The cockpit's composed of swatches of wood, contrast-stitched leather, and suede in a complex, layered look--there's a lot going on, but we like it, as we have in Cadillac's ATS and CTS. As for storage, though, there's not much--a bin hides behind the motorized CUE screen, with a USB port included for connectivity. Elsewhere there's only a little storage, in the small console, shallow door pockets and a petite glove box.


In full-electric mode, the 2014 Cadillac ELR has a smooth power delivery and this, along with the coupe's well-insulated interior, makes for a quiet ride. But everything changes once you've depleted the batteries' charge and the 1.4-liter gasoline engine awakens. This engine simply isn't very quiet or refined, and when you're accelerating to pass or climbing a significant grade, its raucous soundtrack upsets the calm in the cabin. Equally disappointing is the ELR's tepid performance. Even with both power sources working on the coupe's behalf, Cadillac estimates it will take 7.8 seconds for it to reach 60 mph -- not bad but not exactly sporty, either.

By the same token, the 2014 ELR's handling is respectable, but it's not on par with other luxury-brand coupes you might consider in this price range. Drivers can choose between two levels of effort for the steering, and in either mode, the Caddy's steering is precise and responsive. Meanwhile, ride quality is a mixed bag. It's comfortable and composed when you're driving on pristine pavement, but the suspension is unable to absorb ripples and imperfections and you'll feel that harshness in the cockpit. It's something you could overlook on a less expensive car, but in this price range, most shoppers will expect more in the way of refinement.


With a big vroom startup sound generated digitally and delivered with a splash screen, the ELR telegraphs instantly how different its Cadillac driving experience will be. It's distinct from any other Caddy before it--and it's a 180-degree turn away from the fluid, brilliant acceleration and handling of an ATS or CTS, or even the Tesla Model S.

At its core, the ELR shares the extended-range electric drivetrain of the Chevy Volt. A 16.5-kilowatt-hour battery pack stores energy from plugging in, enabling 37 miles of pure electric driving. It's backed up by a 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine that works mostly to restore energy to the battery pack. Sometimes, the engine contributes a little of its torque to the front wheels--for example, in long uphill runs. Some slight modifications and remapping of power have cut weight and deliver a little bit more net power than in the Volt; here, it's a total of 207 horsepower, and 295 pound-feet of torque.

As a result, the ELR is one of, if not the slowest Cadillac to accelerate from zero to 60 mph, taking 7.8 seconds in extended-range mode, 8.8 seconds in electric-only mode. Top speed is 106 mph--it gives up long before even a base ATS sedan, or any of the cars named as competitors.

The extended-range electric drivetrain delivers a disconcerting amount of noise for the badge it wears. Active noise cancellation is fitted, but GM engineers have dialed it back in this application, and the result is lots of powertrain noise that doesn't suit the ELR's price or its positioning. Beyond that, the disconnect between engine noise and drivetrain performance--it can be running and charging when the driver's off the throttle--can be jarring if you've never driven a Volt, or don't understand the complex interplay of electric and gasoline power going on underhood.

Cadillac says the ELR's distinct chassis and suspension provide a better driving experience than the Volt. Beefier front struts, a wider front track, and a Watt's link that adds some composure to the rear beam axle are all different from the Volt, as are the ELR's adaptive Sachs dampers. With hydraulic bushings and another link connecting the struts, the ELR has a more refined setup than the Volt.

It's still on the low end of expectations for today's Cadillac. Its newest sedans have truly brilliant steering and a natural, nimble feel. The ELR's 4000-pound heft and its less sophisticated suspension fall short, even when the driver selects Sport mode, which weights up the steering, sharpens throttle feel and tightens up the dampers (which aren't the prime magnetically-controlled pieces found on the Corvette or CTS; those would consume too much energy, we're told). The steering isn't as neat or as clean, and the ELR's regenerative and friction brakes don't combine for the bite of braking confidence. The ELR has 20-inch wheels and tires, and tire scuffing comes early and often as mass has its way with them. The slim tire sidewalls can't absorb much abuse, so the ELR hits its jounce bumpers early and often, too.

The ELR has paddles on the steering column, but they're not for shifting: they're hand controls for a measure of regenerative braking, a clever Space Age touch that also runs counter to how we're used to using paddles. Pull one and the ELR slows, but doesn't come to a complete stop. It's not confusing, but if you've driven a paddle-shifted car, it takes some time to adapt. The ELR's regen paddles can't completely brake the car, and using them effectively means applying them far earlier than you would use paddles to shift in, say, a dual-clutch car--after you've already finished your braking.

The ELR's powertrain also has a Hold mode that reserves battery power, and Mountain mode, which blends in some engine torque for better performance. It defaults to Tour mode, where throttle response and steering feel and ride quality are tuned for maximum efficiency.


We do know that the ELR will feature an electric drive unit, powered by a 16.5kWh T-shaped lithium-ion battery pack. This electric drive unit is good for 207 horsepower and will feature 295 pound-feet of instantly available torque.

Additionally, the ELR will feature an 84-horsepower, 1.4-liter four-cylinder electric generator. Not an engine, folks, a generator to provide power to the drive unit, much like the Volt .

Once the batteries become depleted, the generator kicks in to provide power to the electric drive unit, much like how an engine in gas cars spins the alternator to create current.

Using only the energy stored in the battery, the ELR will deliver a GM-estimated range of about 37 miles of pure electric driving, depending on terrain, driving techniques and temperature and over 345 miles of total driving with a fully charged battery and a full tank of premium gasoline (9.3 gallons). You can recharge you ELR on a 120-volt system or 240-volt charging station with the latter taking only 4.5 hours to recharge the batteries.

As expected, the ELR does include regenerative braking that helps use the heat energy used in braking to recharge the batteries, but this one is different from most. This system includes a set of steering-wheel-mounted paddles that are not used for shifting the gears, like on the traditional car. Nope, these paddles operate the Regen on Demand feature that lightly activates the system to recharge the batteries when you need it most. So, when you’re coming to a corner that will require braking, you simply pull back on the paddle and activate the Regen On Demand system, which slows the car slightly as you approach – like downshifting a traditional car – and stores this typically lost energy.

► AC synchronous electric motor/generator
► 16kWh lithium-ion battery pack
► 1.4-liter inline-4 gasoline generator
► 207 horsepower @ 4,800 rpm
► 295 lb-ft of torque @ 0-4,800 rpm
► EPA projected full-charge range: 37 miles (all-electric), 303 miles (on gasoline generator only)
► EPA city/highway fuel economy: 31 city/35 highway mpg (on gasoline generator), ► 82 MPGe (all-electric, mpg equivalent)


Standard safety features on the 2014 Cadillac ELR include antilock brakes, stability and traction control, front-seat side-impact airbags, front knee airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, front and rear parking sensors, a rearview camera and frontal collision warning and lane-departure warning systems. Cadillac's Safety Alert Seat vibrates to get the driver's attention when either of those warning systems is triggered. Also standard is OnStar, which includes automatic crash notification, on-demand roadside assistance, remote door unlocking, stolen vehicle assistance and turn-by-turn navigation.

Optional safety equipment includes a blind-spot monitoring system and a collision preparation system (included with adaptive cruise control), which can automatically apply the brakes to reduce the severity of an imminent collision.


The EPA has now certified fuel-economy ratings for the 2014 Cadillac ELR, and it is now the luxury brand's most efficient car, by a wide margin.

The ELR offers fuel economy of its gas-electric drivetrain of 33 miles per gallon combined. More important to green-car shoppers will be its electric-only driving range of 37 miles, and its 82-MPGe fuel-efficiency rating when operated on electric power alone.

Those figures are roughly equal to the ones affirmed for the Chevy Volt, which pioneered the ELR's primarily series-hybrid drivetrain, though the ELR carries around about 200 pounds of additional weight despite two fewer doors. Charging times remain the same, at about 4.5 hours on a 240-volt connection or more than 7 hours on a 120-volt household outlet.

On a full tank of gas, the ELR has an operating range of 340 miles.

Cadillac’s CUE infotainment system has new layers of information to display the ELR's charging status and operational efficiency--and like the Volt, it can be monitored by remote via a smartphone app that also provides drivers with the ability to set charging times based on lower electricity rates, and to set up alerts for battery charge state.

Our initial drives in the ELR didn't provide the chance to measure our own fuel economy--and took place in the canyons around Malibu, where fuel efficiency takes a nose-dive. We'll report back as we have more real-world exposure to the ELR.


Video by : Car and Drive

By : Automotive News & Super Modified Sports Cars

Posted by : Shahen Tharammal

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