Cadillac Becomes Electric

The Cadillac ELR. The coupe the Cadillac CTS coupe should have been. The packaging the Chevrolet Volt should have had.

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It was my favorite debut at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show, and I paid special attention to the production version displayed at the show this year. The ELR is beautiful, and I have been excited to see it actually out on the road.

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So when my auto journalist friend, Derek, got his hands on one and kindly offered me a ride, I was there in five!

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What’s the big deal about the ELR?

How about this – a plug-in hybrid in a package that would actually attract an enthusiast like ME.

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Yup. Revolutionary.

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I have been pretty open about my complete and utter disdain for – nay, hatred of – the Toyota Prius. That toaster is a vile piece of machinery that should be recycled into bits that can be used to build something worthwhile. To put it mildly.

However, I am not categorically anti-hybrid or anti-alternative-fuel. I AM anti-dumb-crap. And most alternative-fuel vehicles have been dumb crap.

Tesla bucked the trend. And now – gasp – Cadillac has built a visually alluring vehicle that can travel 37 miles on electricity alone. With a powertrain that includes an onboard generator. And regenerative brakes that capture and convert energy usually lost during braking into electricity that is stored in the battery. Edmunds explains all of this better here, but you get the idea.

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Feel free to plug it in in your garage. With a 240V outlet, you can fully charge your ELR in 5 hours.

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Admittedly, the ELR shares much of its underpinnings with the Chevy Volt. But the Volt is a dolt, and the ELR is a beaut.

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It’s a sexy, aerodynamic wedge. And that’s probably the first time those three words have appeared together in a sentence.

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Like the Cadillac CTS Vsport Derek recently introduced me to, the ELR has all the crisp lines and sharp edges I love in the Cadillac design language. Unlike the CTS Vsport, the ELR finally – FINALLY – incorporates a successful rear end into this design language. In my opinion, all recent Caddys have had bulbous, ill-porportioned, downright confused butts. The ELR finally gets it right. Hallelujah!

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The interior is similarly refined and well-appointed. The materials feel luxurious, and all of the touch-points are soft. The design is not revolutionary, but it is well-executed and, most importantly, it works!

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Yes, it seats four, but the backseat passengers better be nimble!

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And what’s up with this door release button? Sometimes you just need a handle. Let’s not complicate things.

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A digital display replaces the traditional gauges, and will tell you all sorts of techy trivia. Me, I just need to know my speed.

Speaking of speed, the ELR is fairly feisty, particularly compared to the despicable toasters that traditionally occupy the hybrid vehicle category. It accelerates briskly and smoothly, even when in all-electric mode. It doesn’t have the delightfully throaty growl of the CTS Vsport, but it’s not dumb crap. And that’s saying something. I really wanted to drive it (and that’s REALLY saying something).

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The seats are NOT comfortable, though. Maybe I just needed to play around with the settings; I’ll give Cadillac the benefit of the doubt on that one.

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That’s not even the bad news. The BAD news is that the ELR is $75,000. Seventy.Five.Thousand.Dollars.

I bemoan the fact that the only palatable alt-fuel vehicles on the market (Tesla and the ELR) are vehicles I cannot afford in the near- or even medium-term future. Memo to car manufacturers: you are not going to save the world (like you care – wink wink) by making good vehicles in limited numbers that only rich people can afford. PUH-LEASE do not tell me that my only option is the Toyota toaster. I would rather do donuts in the forest in a muscle car, ripping daisies out of the soil by their roots with my Pirelli PZeros. I am willing to “drive green,” but I’m not going to drive crap. So make a more affordable Tesla or ELR, and give me some friggin’ options.

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Although, I admit – my dream Caddy would have a CTS Vsport front end, an ELR body from the A pillars to the boot, and a monster V engine. So, yeah, I can’t really be that righteously indignant, can I?

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Hey, in the end, a girl’s gotta be true to herself.

Still, bravo, Cadillac. You’re not going to sell many ELRs at that price point, but I’m just proud of you for building the thing in the first place. And doing a damn good job of it.

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There may be hope for us yet!

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