Cadillac ELR Review (Exclusive)

As I just noted, I was lucky enough to test drive several high-end, high-performance cars while in Florida last week. I expected the ELR to be the luxury queen of the bunch. It turned out that the power and acceleration of this stealth beast shocked me so much that I forgot to even take note of the interior luxury. In fact, I even forgot to take a close look at the back seats after the drive.

Cadillac ELR 5

→ Related: i8 vs Model S vs ELR vs Panamera S E-Hybrid (vs i3)

This is really hard to explain in words, but the Cadillac ELR is superbly powerful and smooth. Surprisingly, I think it may have even beat the Tesla Model S 70D in off-the-line acceleration quality… or maybe I just had low expectations and the surprise was so shocking that my comparison is warped. Of course, it doesn’t beat a P85D (or P90D), but that’s the only car I’ve driven that I think has nicer acceleration (powerful + smooth).

The handling is also excellent, as I observed while pulling a fairly sharp and quick left turn across the highway in Britta Gross’s ELR. I couldn’t tell if she was nervous or eager to see me enjoy the wonderful car, but I was taking the opportunity to test it and just got more impressed with the quick curve.

Cadillac ELR 1 copy


When it comes to visual aesthetics, I’ve never been really keen on the ELR, but could see the appeal for certain people. In person, however, I thought it looked really good. It had a sportier and less conspicuous look, to my eyes, and I liked that. As with all cars, I think you really have to see it in person to judge it.

Naturally, it’s hard to justify an ELR when you could get a Tesla Model S that offers much more electric range, remarkable safety, access to free Supercharging, a cool touchscreen, a tremendous amount of space, and constantly improving software, but the ELR genuinely shocked me, and that’s hard to do after driving the P85D. There are benefits to the BMW i8 and Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid that I could theoretically see pulling me to drop my cash on them rather than the ELR, but at the end of the day, I’m quite sure I’d be more inclined to acquire the wonderful pure electric acceleration of the ELR — nothing with gas infused in the process compares (and that’s speaking purely from a performance aspect… not even considering the environmental, climate, and health benefits).

Cadillac ELR 4 copy

The places where the ELR excels compared to the BMW i8, Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid, and Tesla Model S 70D (for me, at least) are:

  • quick and powerful acceleration
  • price

The place where it loses points to most others in this comparison:

  • space


  • Official 0–60 mph acceleration = 7.8 seconds
  • Base MSRP = $65,000
  • Electric miles = 37 (and these are real electric miles)

3 thoughts on “Cadillac ELR Review (Exclusive)

  1. I appreciate that the ELR is a well integrated Range Extended electric vs a plug in hybrid. This is the future…can’t wait for more of them. Actually, I think these (ELR and Volt) are the only two that fit that category…maybe the i3 ReX as well. Interesting that more manufacturers aren’t taking this approach.

    1. Yes, it makes a world of difference from the driver’s perspective. A real shame no one else is making these cars. the PHEVs I’ve driven didn’t give nearly the same drive quality (A3 e-tron and Outlander PHEV).

  2. I would like to see Cadillac join with some of the Social Economy CED network research groups – that could make power storage more of a public interest-based field. VW created a partnership with Stanford University to develop the next generation of power storage – but this is now in a secretive proprietary company, Quantumscape – that has no mechanism for sustainable energy group collaboration.

    Early in the 20th Century, Cadillac was the North American company that put advancing engineering as its main goal. It pioneered a lot of advances – like electric ignition. As a Cadillac owner – I feel the company could move ahead of the corporate straight-jacket and nudge GM to become a force that can help to move the sciences in the EV realm ahead far better than relying on the confidentiality and patent hoarding obsessions that we see in some other industries. Cadillac could join forces with the Mondragon/United Steel Workers project on building the social economy in North America. This is the kind of corporate high-ground that would impress the Cadillac aficionados who would like to see Cadillac get its priorities back to being the engineering leader – not a symptom of what went wrong with GM – when it took the atavistic attitude toward EVs.

    VW is a perfect example of what happens when the public sector roots of a company become snared by the maximization of profit trolls in the right wing business faculties at various universities. VW started as a multi-stakeholder co-op with one third held be the German Nazi Party, one third held by Porsche Design, and one third held by the German Labour Front. Its goal was to replace planned obsolescence with affordability and putting advancement of automotive engineering as its raison d’etre. These goals were completely reversed in the emissions scandal.

    Possibly Cadillac can take a lead in showing what dedication to advancing the engineering as the prime goal can mean.

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