Cadillac’s Art & Science philosophy has sparked many dynamic looking and performing cars in recent years. So, what happens when there’s a whole lot more science added to the mix? Well, you get the Cadillac ELR extended range electric…vehicle! 

The 2014 Cadillac ELR is intentionally a different kind of Cadillac. Sure it may share the same creased styling as other current Caddies, but underneath there is something different going on. That something is a plug-in gasoline-electric hybrid powertrain taken from the Chevrolet Volt.

But this advanced hybrid is mostly about style. And, depending on what angle you view the new ELR from, it either looks soft or spectacular. Though from any perspective it’s very futuristic and waiting to turn heads for sure. Most of our staff members were definite fans of this automotive art.

The ELR coupe hits the eyes as smaller than the Volt sedan, though wheelbase and overall length are actually up; the latter by almost 9-inches. We attribute that deception to the ELR’s severe nose down stance and standard 20-inch wheels which sure look great, but don’t help much with ride quality. 

Like the Converj concept on which the ELR is based, headlights are vertically stacked LEDs, and of course they are echoed at the rear with the brands traditional vertical tail lights. We think the back end looks rather chunky, but it contributes to very good aerodynamics. 

Like the Volt, the charging port is located on the driver’s side front fender. And just behind it, green lighting in the side view mirror keeps you informed of charging status. A full charge can take as little as 4.5-hours on 240-volts or as much as 12 on typical household 120 current. 

The view from the driver’s seat is great and the ELR’s seat-of-the-pants feel is more powerful than the Volt. Enabling pure-electric driving is a 16.5kWh battery, again same as in the recently upgraded Volt. 

But, when battery power is tapped out, and the 1.4-liter gasoline engine cranks up to turn the motor/generator that keeps the juice flowing, you notice it immediately. It sounds very un-Cadillac-like while producing a meager 84-horsepower output. 

Still, the electric drive motor’s upgraded 295 lb-ft. of torque was enough to launch us to 60 in 8.3-seconds and get us to 87 miles-per-hour in 16.5-seconds at the end of the ¼-mile. 

Unfortunately the ELR’s dynamic styling promises more driving excitement than it delivers. Yet, for normal street driving it’s still pleasant enough with a nice and tidy balance to the chassis and good heft at the steering wheel. 

EV-only range is similar to the Volt, about 35-miles, though on cold days we only saw about 28 before we started burning fossil fuels. That’s plenty enough for many people to spend a significant amount of their commute time on “e” power.

We had fun with Regen on Demand, which is essentially a pair of handbrakes on the steering wheel that feeds power back into the batteries. But when the novelty wears off you can accomplish the same thing with the normal foot brake pedal. 

A Hold Mode is a very nice feature that allows you do determine when gas-powered generation occurs, so you can save your EV driving for in the city, or any time when you want to operate in “stealth” mode. Sport Mode increases throttle response and tightens suspension and steering properties; while Mountain Mode, keeps the battery at a higher charge, so there’s plenty of power on tap when you need it.  

Thanks to Continuous Damping Control, the ride is very isolated, except on very rough roads. But no matter the surface, the interior is wonderfully quiet.

The inside is also off-the-charts nice, with a sporty, high-tech feel and a high quality blend of luxury materials like chrome, wood, carbon fiber, leather, sueded microfiber… you name it. CUE with navigation is standard and all of Cadillac’s latest safety systems are available

Like the Volt, Government Fuel Economy Ratings don’t seem that impressive, as they come in at 31-City, 35-Highway, and 33-Combined; with an MPGe rating of 82. But as with any plug-in vehicle the more time you spend on battery power, the better off you are. And over a typical errand running weekend of close to 200-miles, one of our staff members averaged 76.2 miles-per-gallon of Premium. And the ELR has a very good Energy Impact Score with just 3.6-barrels of oil burned and 1.5-tons of CO2 emitted annually.

Those numbers are indeed very attractive, but less so is the ELR’s base price of $75,995. Sure it’s more appealing and exclusive than the Volt but is it really worth twice the price? Think of it as GM’s two-door answer to the Tesla sedan as a well-heeled-CEO’s Eco-badge of honor. In that vein, the ELR has no competition.

Indeed, the 2014 Cadillac ELR is very well executed plug-in luxury coupe. And, even though we would spend our 80-grand on something more fun to drive, we can easily see how the ELR, and for that matter the Tesla Model S, can get more than a few one-percenters really charged up.


  • Engine: 1.4-liter
  • Horsepower: 84
  • Torque: 295 lb-ft.
  • 0-60 mph: 8.3 seconds
  • 1/4 mile: 16.5 seconds @ 87 mph
  • EPA: 31 mpg city/ 35 mpg highway
  • Energy Impact: 3.6 barrels of oil/yr
  • CO2 Emissions: 1.5 tons/yr