After sitting out the 2015 model year entirely, Cadillac's resident EV bounces back with performance and technology upgrades as well as a lower price. The changes are designed to position the ELR as mainstream luxury-sport coupe that doesn't need to rely solely on its electric power to woo buyers.
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2016 Cadillac ELR Overview
What's New for 2016
The ELR receives a significant boost in power, along with upgraded suspension and braking systems. Standard equipment now includes wireless charging capability and a suite of driver assistance technology. Despite all these improvements, the MSRP has dropped by $10,000 to $65,995.
Choosing Your Cadillac ELR
The ELR is primarily powered by a 157-horsepower electric motor that gets its juice from a lithium-ion battery pack. After about 39 miles of driving, a gas-powered generator kicks in to keep the motor humming (and mildly assist with propulsion at times). With the generator in use, expect around 33 mpg in combined driving.
With a fully charged battery and full tank of gas, you're good to go for 330 miles. Bringing a fully depleted battery back to life takes about four hours on a 240-volt outlet. The ERL is now compatible with the wireless home charging system offered by Plugless Power ($1,940).
The front-drive ELR comes with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) and selectable driving modes to help you get the right mix of power and efficiency in different conditions. The Sport mode has been recalibrated this year to draw 233 horsepower from the motor, enough to reduce the sprint from to 0 to 60 mph to a healthy 6.4 seconds. An adaptive suspension system and 20-inch wheels complete the mechanical setup.
The ELR comes in a single trim level with all the expected Cadillac features such as leather upholstery, heated front seats, a power adjustable steering wheel, keyless access and ignition, and a 10-speaker Bose sound system with Bluetooth and satellite radio. Standard technology includes navigation, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, forward collision alert, lane departure warning, and LED headlamps with automatic high-beam control. Upgraded leather seats (Kona Brown only) with additional adjustments are available for $2,450.
The newly available Performance package ($1,295) provides a sportier suspension setup, summer performance tires, Brembo brakes, and a sport steering wheel. With so much equipment now standard, individual options are limited to adaptive cruise control with automatic braking ($1,995) and a sueded microfiber steering wheel ($395).
The ELR is obviously a better buy than ever before, and easier to configure, too. The new Performance package is a tempting bargain, but its grippier tires reduce the electric range by four miles, which makes it a nonstarter for many EV buyers.
2016 Cadillac ELR Review
Cadillac's radical wedge of a luxury commuter car remains an interesting proposition in search of buyers who will appreciate its leading-edge design attitude and greatly improved performance -- and are willing to pay for it.
Pricing and Equipment
Forget the incomplete and misguided "dressed-up Volt" stereotype. The ELR does share a general layout and some mechanical components with its Chevrolet cousin, but everything else here is model-specific and modern Cadillac -- which we find to be a very good thing indeed. The 2016 ELR combines ambitious design inside and out with a greatly improved driving experience.
The ELR's base price is the big story for 2016, though. Cadillac all but admits that it grossly overpriced the ELR on introduction and has lopped a full $10,000 off MSRP, dropping it to $65,995. Factor in subsidies provided by the federal government and a handful of states, consider what the ELR provides to a discerning buyer, and the price becomes more realistic.
In contrast to the car's still-high sticker price, the only option of note is a bargain. The Performance Package adds 20-inch wheels wearing high-performance summer tires, Brembo brakes, and specially-tuned suspension components for $1,295.
The driveline engineers seriously fussed with the hybrid software, resulting in a big jump in power (now a rousing 312 total system horsepower and 373 pound-feet of torque). The 0-to-60 time has dropped by a full second and a half to a manufacturer-claimed 6.4 seconds when running in extended-range mode.
- The chassis has been thoroughly reworked to provide a much more responsive, upscale feel. Add the Performance Package with its 20-inch wheels and upgraded chassis tuning and your eco-minded luxury hybrid becomes a legitimate corner-carving backroad threat.
- Even with the aggressive suspension setup, ride quality is excellent. Credit goes to the computer-managed Continuous Damping Control.
- Electric-only range is rated at a middling 39 miles. Owners will want to make a habit of plugging in when possible.
- Fuel economy with the gas motor spinning is good but not great, and the 1.4-liter inline-four makes an uncharismatic drone while running.
The ELR's strongest point is its gorgeous high-tech interior, which mixes the very advanced (reconfigurable gauges, Bose active noise cancellation, Cadillac's touchscreen-and-voice-controlled CUE infotainment system) with the very traditional (sumptuous leather seats, beautiful wood accents).
Apple Play is standard, as is a 4G LTE connection and a wi-fi hotspot if you need your laptop to do something beyond what the car's impressive digital capabilities can provide.
The ELR is really a two-seater; the rear seats look attractive but are not reasonable for carrying adults for any significant length of time.
The Most Pleasant Surprise
Cadillac is serious about addressing the ELR's weaknesses, completely redrawing the car's dynamic profile and cutting MSRP closer to reasonable territory.
The Least Pleasant Surprise
They probably didn't go far enough, especially on the difficult sticker issue.
The Bottom Line
Still very underrated, still somewhat overpriced, still worth serious consideration on its merits.