2014 Cadillac ELR

Base FWD 2-Dr Coupe I4

Base FWD 2-Dr Coupe I4

2014 cadillac elr Reviews and News

2014 Cadillac ELR Front Three Quarters
This is the latest in our new series of short-take reviews on cars and trucks, in which we concentrate on a powertrain or trim level not previously covered. –Ed.
The 2014 Cadillac ELR can be understood as an attempt to answer the Chevrolet Volt’s critics. Looks frumpy, you say? Here’s something that looks like a CTS coupe. Interior’s cheap? Here’s a cow’s worth of leather. It panders to left-leaning pansies? Watch this swaggeringly conservative advertisement. The arrival of a 2014 Cadillac ELR to our Ann Arbor office presented an opportunity to assess this luxurious electric vehicle.
Like the Volt that we named our 2011 Automobile of the Year, range is not an issue with the Cadillac ELR. When the typical electric car arrives at our office, editors have to carefully plan after-work activities to make sure they don’t end up with a dead battery. With the ELR, this is never a factor. I was able to drive it a short distance for lunch even though its battery was depleted. Afterwards, I plugged the ELR into our charger and a few hours later had a full stomach and a full charge. Executive editor Todd Lassa commuted from Ann Arbor to his home in one of Detroit’s northern suburbs. He managed about 31 miles on electric power and used about a half gallon of gas to get the rest of the way home. “Not bad for nearly 50 miles of driving.” Videographer Sandon Voelker took the ELR on a meandering trip around the state of Michigan. The electric range, officially estimated at 37 miles, is a bit shorter than that of the Volt—the result of the ELR’s extra torque, heavier interior materials, and twenty-inch wheels—but it is still far enough that many drivers will rarely use a drop of gas in everyday driving.
Park the ELR next to a Volt, and you’ll be hard pressed to point out the commonalities. Sleek lines, as good looking now as when they debuted on the 2009 Converj concept, replace the stodgy hatchback shape of the Chevy. Layers of leather, wood, and suede-like materials enrich nearly every surface, although they are let down by substandard panel fit—the driver’s-side door panel in our test car was misaligned. Interior packaging, which is already an issue in the Volt, is actually worse in the ELR, as passengers now have to contend with a low roofline, particularly in back. A wide center tunnel, which houses the lithium-ion battery pack, carries over here.
The 2014 Cadillac ELR also drives better than its fraternal twin. Steering is sharper and more communicative, thanks to larger wheels and additional bracing. The electric motor produces a bit more torque (up to 295 lb-ft), enough to zip energetically through traffic. Cadillac has also found a novel way to harness the performance potential of regenerative braking: the driver can call up more or less of it using steering-wheel-mounted paddles. These tweaks are all nice, but they do not transform this heavy, front-wheel-drive electric vehicle into anything resembling a sports car. “It feels smoother than what I remember of the Volt, but there should be a more obvious performance advantage,” notes executive editor Todd Lassa. A Tesla Model S it is not.
The 2014 Cadillac ELR improves upon the Volt, which is already an impressively engineered, versatile automobile. Yet GM may have gone a bit too far in trying to amend its own criticism for the Volt—that it doesn’t make enough money. For an as-tested price of $82,135—about twice that of the Chevy—we want more than an improvement. We want something beyond comparison.

2014 Cadillac ELR

Base Price: $75,995
Price As Tested: $82,135
Engine: Twin electric motors, 1.4-liter turbocharged gasoline generator
Power: Electric motors: 157-181 hp, Total system power: 217 hp
Torque: 295 lb-ft
Transmission: 1-speed fixed
Drive: Front-wheel
Cargo Capacity: 10.5 cubic feet
Electric Range: 37 miles
Fuel Economy: 82 mpge combined (electric drive), 33 mpg combined (gasoline engine)
2014 Cadillac ELR Front Three Quarter View 06
Santa Monica, California -- If General Motors cannot find an audience for the 2014 Cadillac ELR in Southern California, it cannot find one anywhere. As Cadillac’s first plug-in hybrid vehicle, it has to succeed in the place where the Toyota Prius is as common as the palm tree and where the Tesla Model S has quickly become part of the streetscape.
Although the ELR must seek favor in sun-kissed SoCal, it starts life back in Hamtramck, the gritty enclave on the east side of Detroit where it is built alongside the Chevrolet Volt sedan. The 2014 ELR’s powertrain is pretty much identical to the Volt — 435-pound, lithium-ion battery pack, two electric motors, and a 1.4-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine. The ELR’s wheelbase also is virtually the same, although the Caddy is 9.0 inches longer overall.
Yet as we’re driving the 2014 Cadillac ELR toward Malibu, we’re feeling sun-kissed and glamorous, which is something that is pretty surprising for a sibling of the practical Chevy Volt, let alone any plug-in hybrid.

A Concept Car Comes to Life

Happily, the 2014 Cadillac ELR retains the crisp lines and chiseled profile of the 2009 Converj concept from which it is derived. It’s a particularly tidy and evocative take on Cadillac’s ongoing Art & Science design philosophy, and as such the ELR looks great out in the real world of West Los Angeles.
Cadillac will offer the 2014 ELR in only four exterior colors: red, black, gray, and silver. ELR marketing product manager Darin Gesse is riding along with us, and he predicts that black-on-black will be the most popular, but our red-on-cashmere (tan) tester looks pretty sweet, too.
Cadillac’s designers have also done a nice job with the ELR’s interior. Asymmetrical slabs of leather-upholstered dash come together artfully under the windshield, the seats are comfortable and supportive without being overstuffed, and soft-touch microfiber accents the leather. The laurel-wood trim has barely been touched with the varnish brush, so it looks and feels like wood and is expected to gain a patina over time. Carbon-fiber trim is also available.
In addition to black and tan, customers can choose special-grade leather seats in a black-and-brown scheme for an extra $2450. They include special side bolsters, thigh extenders, and 20-way electric operation rather than the standard 16-way operation.

Room for Two, Plus Two More if You Must

The 2014 Cadillac ELR coupe has plenty of front legroom and a decent amount of front headroom, and the individually folding rear seats are reasonably wide, even if they don’t provide much headroom. Cadillac officials point out that the Tesla Model S has only an additional inch of rear headroom, despite being a four-door.
Regardless, the ELR’s rear seats are for occasional use only, although they’ll hold plenty of groceries. The 10.5-cubic-foot trunk is shallow but wide enough to hold two sets of golf clubs.
Cadillac’s much-maligned CUE infotainment system is standard, and after spending a couple of days driving around L.A. in various Cadillacs, we have to say that the navigation function is superb, even if the haptic touch-screen interface can make you want to tear your hair out.

And on Your Left, the Pacific Ocean

We head north from Santa Monica on the Pacific Coast Highway. For a 4050-pound, front-wheel-drive car, the ELR drives pretty well. It’s riding on an inherently rigid platform, and its active suspension features continuous damping control.
Even though there’s a total of 295 lb-ft of torque rushing to the front wheels, torque steer is mitigated by GM’s HiPer-strut front suspension, as pioneered by the Buick LaCrosse. Acceleration out of corners is impressive, just as it is on city streets and freeways. Even so, you most notice the seamless gush of electric propulsion in the cut-and-thrust of urban driving when cars surround you, since you can effortlessly accelerate into open slots in the traffic pattern.
Sport mode dials in higher throttle, damping, and steering responses, which are immediately discernible. The electric power steering is precise but, like so many systems, isn’t particularly communicative. (Other modes include Touring, which is the default setting; Mountain, which reserves energy for steep grades; and Hold, which allows drivers to use only the gasoline engine so that they can save the charge for pure electric driving for later, such as when they are in the city.)

Steering Wheel Paddles, but Not for Shifting

In the hills above Malibu, Gesse encourages us to use the steering-wheel-mounted paddles to engage the Regen On Demand system that recharges the battery pack. In essence, the paddles are auxiliary braking devices, because they use the electric traction motor to capture the kinetic energy of the ELR and slow it down.
You quickly learn to use the paddles to brake just the right amount as you’re diving into tight corners. Cadillac developed Regen On Demand after observing that many Chevrolet Volt owners routinely shifted their cars from D to L, which accomplishes the same thing as the ELR’s paddles but with a lot more footwork on the pedals. Cadillac figures the paddles will be less taxing on drivers and prove more intuitive.

One Trim Level, Few Options

“There is no base trim level for this car,” Gesse tells us. “You can only get the ELR as a premium car or an ultra premium car.” Even so, there are still a few options in addition to the $2450 seats previously mentioned. Adaptive cruise control is $1995; tint-coat paint is $995; and a luxury package including blind spot detection, rear cross-path detection, and automatic high-beam headlamps is $1695.
GM has done an admirable job here with the 2014 Cadillac ELR. It’s taken a practical package identified with a brand better known for mass-market commodity-style cars and taken it to finishing school. The result is a car that looks very special and drives in a way that delivers on the promise.
At the same time, Cadillac has established itself as a premium carmaker that builds premium-style rear-wheel-drive cars. And there’s still something about the 2014 ELR that reminds you that it is a front-wheel-drive car, and this makes it an odd duck in the lineup.
And it’s a very expensive fowl at that. At $75,995, the ELR has been boldly priced to compete not only with the Tesla Model S but also German coupes like the BMW 6-series and the Mercedes-Benz E- and CLS-classes. As stylish as the 2014 Cadillac ELR is both inside and out, it’s keeping very tough company.
2014 Cadillac ELR Side View
2014 Cadillac ELR

New For 2014

The 2014 Cadillac ELR is all-new.

Vehicle Summary

The 2014 Cadillac ELR is a premium plug-in hybrid. Although it looks like a smaller version of the Cadillac CTS coupe and has a lavish interior similar to that in the full-size XTS, it's actually closely related to the Chevrolet Volt. It uses a slightly more powerful version of the Volt's gasoline/electric powertrain and likewise rides on a beefed-up version of the Volt's chassis. Cadillac estimates that it will travel about 35 miles on battery power alone. Its 1.4-liter four-cylinder extends the total range to about 300 miles.


The 2014 Cadillac ELR coupe is a thoroughly reskinned, very premium version of the four-door Chevrolet Volt. It rides on the same front-wheel-drive architecture and uses essentially the same plug-in-hybrid powertrain. General Motors hopes the higher-priced ELR will help it reap more returns from the Volt’s very expensive development program. Cadillac joins a burgeoning class of premium green cars that includes the Tesla Model S, the BMW i3, and the Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid.

The design for the 2014 Cadillac ELR first surfaced at the Detroit auto show four years ago as the Converj, a concept developed within six months at the behest of then-vice-chairman Bob Lutz. Back then GM was taking heat for the fact that the 2007 Chevrolet Volt concept had turned into a decidedly dumpier production car. So, when people went gaga over the Converj, there was a strict mandate to bring it to production with as few changes as possible. A close comparison reveals that the creases have softened a bit, but practically everything else is amazingly faithful. Even the wheels look the same. All that style exacts a penalty on the car’s aerodynamics and, ultimately, its efficiency. Despite its sleek wedge shape, the ELR has a higher (read: poorer) coefficient of drag than the Volt -- 0.31 versus 0.28.

The ELR also goes beyond the call of duty in redressing the Volt's shortcomings in interior quality. We're talking trim comprised of two kinds of real wood and real carbon fiber. The steering-wheel center alone features leather stitched on top of a suedelike material. All of that will be standard. Twenty-way adjustable seats wrapped in brown aniline leather are one of the few options. Cadillac will also offer a cashmere color scheme. The Volt’s back seat is fairly cramped, so the Cadillac makes do with two doors and a two-plus-two layout, yielding a more attractive design.

The most amazing or disappointing aspect of the ELR, depending on your point of view, is that it's "just" a Volt underneath its pretty skin. The electric motor, 1.4-liter gasoline engine, and lithium-ion battery pack are essentially identical to what's in the Chevy. Output rises to 207 hp and an impressive 400 lb-ft of torque (compared with 149 hp and 365 lb-ft in the Volt), but the ELR also carries more weight. Cadillac says it should accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in about eight seconds. It will feel faster than that number suggests thanks to the instant torque delivery. Of course, the raison d'être for an electric vehicle remains efficiency. Cadillac isn't ready to announce numbers (which, in any event, vary wildly in the real world), but electric-only range should be about 35 miles. With a full charge and a topped-off gas tank, Cadillac expects the ELR will travel more than 300 miles, versus 380 miles in the Volt. The Volt's front-wheel-drive chassis, itself an adaptation of GM's global compact architecture, carries over with some changes. The ELR wears twenty-inch wheels versus the Volt's seventeens, which necessitated larger front brakes. So-called HiPer Struts in front, which we've seen before in high-power applications such as the Buick Regal GS, should improve steering feel. There's also an underbody brace. Active dampers (not to be confused with the magnetorheological dampers found on other Cadillacs) will offer multiple ride settings, including a sport mode. That setting will also adjust throttle mapping and steering effort.

All this improvement over the Volt won’t come cheap. Although Cadillac has not yet confirmed pricing on the ELR, we expect it to hover around $70,000. That tag will probably offend folks who already think the Volt is overpriced. We think that if Cadillac can sell a fancy version of a body-on-frame truck (the Escalade) for that money, surely it can find a few customers for a sophisticated, beautiful plug-in hybrid.

You'll like:

  • Stunning styling
  • Spare-no-expenses interior
  • Zero-emissions driving in the city, cross-country driving range

You won't like:

  • Not as fast as it looks
  • Not as efficient as the Chevrolet Volt
  • Not much room in the back seat

Key Competitors

  • BMW i3
  • Chevrolet Volt
  • Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid
  • Tesla Model S
2014 Cadillac Elr Driven Video Rear Three Quarter
While it might cost more than twice as much as the Chevrolet Volt on which it is based, the 2014 Cadillac ELR has a certain luxury appeal to it that could coax well-to-do types into the flashy two-door hybrid. Cadillac claims a 340-mile driving range when ELR’s gas tank and battery are full, so videographer Sandon Voelker set out to see if the 2014 Cadillac ELR could take him through a weekend driving around Michigan.
AUTP 140500 CADDY 02
Joe Montana or Tom Brady? Madonna or Lady Gaga? The first love or the new flame? It’s in our nature to look in the rearview mirror, to measure the brightness of the present against the best of the past. It’s no different with car enthusiasts. For all the areas in which automobiles have improved—safety, performance, efficiency, reliability—they still live in the shadow of the past. The great thing about cars, though, is that we don’t have to rely solely on our memories. We’ll never know how twenty-eight-year-old Michael Jordan would have fared against twenty-eight-year-old LeBron James, but we can find well-kept classic cars—the icons that enthusiasts worship—and pit them against their modern equivalents. That’s just what we did with these matchups. It’s throttle cables versus direct injection. AM radios versus infotainment screens. Old-car patina versus new-car smell. So, was it really better then? Come back next Thursday for the next entry in this series.
2011 Chrysler 200 Super Bowl Commercial
American car companies love to remind us they're American. That's nothing new. Chevrolet, of course, is as American as baseball, hot dogs, and apple pie. More recently, George Washington defeated the British behind the wheel of a Dodge Challenger.
2014 Cadillac ELR Front Drivers Side View
As an incentive to the first 2014 Cadillac ELR customers, Cadillac will provide a free 240-volt charging system and complimentary home installation. For those who prefer a leasing option to the ELR’s lofty $75,995 starting price, Cadillac also announced it is offering an ultra-low-mileage lease (which Cadillac says is about 12,540 miles per year) included with the same extended warranty for the lithium-ion battery.

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2014 Cadillac ELR
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2014 Cadillac ELR Specifications

Quick Glance:
1.4L I4Engine
217 hp
295 ft lb of torque
  • Air Conditioning
  • Power Windows
  • Power Locks
  • Power Seats
  • Steering Wheel Tilt
  • Cruise Control
  • Sunroof (optional)
  • ABS
  • Stabilizer Front
  • Stabilizer Rear (optional)
  • Electronic Traction Control
  • Electronic Stability Control
  • Locking Differential (optional)
  • Limited Slip Differential (optional)
  • Airbag Driver
  • Airbag Passenger
  • Airbag Side Front
  • Airbag Side Rear (optional)
  • Radio
  • CD Player (optional)
  • CD Changer (optional)
  • DVD (optional)
  • Navigation
50,000 miles / 48 months
70,000 miles / 72 months
Unlimited miles / 72 months
70,000 miles / 72 months
Recall Date
General Motors LLC (GM) is recalling certain model year 2014 Cadillac ELR vehicles not equipped with adaptive cruise control and manufactured September 26, 2013, through February 14, 2014, and equipped without adaptive cruise control. In these vehicles, the electronic stability control (ESC) system software may inhibit certain ESC diagnostics, preventing the system from alerting the driver that the ESC system is partially or fully disabled. As such, these vehicles fail to conform with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 126, "Electronic Stability Control Systems."
If the driver is not alerted to an ESC malfunction they may continue driving with a disabled ESC system which may result in loss of directional control, increasing the risk of a crash.
GM will notify owners, and dealers will recalibrate the Electronic Brake Control Module (EBCM), free of charge. The recall began on May 20, 2014. Owners may contact Cadillac at 1-800-458-8006. GM's number for this recall is 14087.
Potential Units Affected
General Motors LLC

Recall Date
General Motors LLC (GM) is recalling certain model year 2013-2014 Buick Encore and Cadillac ATS; 2014 Cadillac CTS, ELR, Chevrolet Caprice and SS vehicles; and 2014-2015 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra Trucks. Due to an incomplete weld on the seat hook bracket assembly, the front seats in the affected vehicles may not stay secured in place during a high load condition such as a crash.
A seat that does not stay secured increases the risk of occupant injury in a vehicle crash.
GM will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the seat hook bracket assembly weld and replace the lower seat track, as necessary, free of charge. The recall began on August 15, 2014. Owners may contact GM customer service at 1-800-521-7300 (Buick), 1-800-458-8006 (Cadillac), 1-800-222-1020 (Chevrolet), and 1-800-462-8782 (GMC). GM's number for this recall is 14340.
Potential Units Affected
General Motors LLC

NHTSA Rating Front Driver
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NHTSA Rating Front Side
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NHTSA Rating Rear Side
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NHTSA Rating Overall
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NHTSA Rating Rollover
Not Rated
IIHS Front Moderate Overlap
IIHS Overall Side Crash
IIHS Rear Crash
IIHS Roof Strength
IIHS Front Small Overlap

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Five Year Cost of Ownership: $80,878 What's This?
Value Rating: Below Average