Most people think of the Cadillac ELR as nothing more than a fancy Chevy Volt, but it's actually a pretty decent car. The problem was it was too expensive and most buyers opted for the Model S. Prices have come down drastically and Opponaut The World of Vee picked one up.
I wasn't the target audience for an ELR nor was I even remotely considering an ELR. I thought it was what all of you thought it was, an overpriced Volt. I mean come on! It shares the same drive train! The DRIVE TRAIN! That must mean it's the same exact car right? Surely there's no way it's any different or better or worth the price? Well, I wouldn't pay 75 thousand dollars for one, but that's because I'm the type of person who'd rather buy a couple projects, but believe me, this car is worth every freaking penny.
First things first, yes, it shares the drive train with the Volt. I get it, it's a front wheel drive, 75 thousand dollar Cadillac that isn't even all that fast. Ok, so what is it? Well it's the revival of the PLC (Personal Luxury Coupe) it's big, it commands a presence and did I mention that it looks absolutely, freaking gorgeous? Because, yeah, it does. The exterior is as if an XTS and a concept car made love, the black paint is exceptional and the turbine wheels fill the arches wonderfully. I'll be honest and say I wasn't a huge fan of the grille at first. These filled in ones aren't as nice to me. It's actually my biggest gripe with the Tesla Model S, an otherwise gorgeous car let down completely by it's ugly snout. I wish it was black instead of smokey grey, and the dealer told me they can order me a black one (for 900 bucks!!) but I think I'll be able to deal.
I have my toy, so I do not care in the slightest about going very fast in this, I wanted this to do exactly what my daily driver was doing before it, eat up highway miles in my daily commute to work and back. That's it. I'm not looking for a corner carver or a back road special, I'm looking for the single most comfortable way to do my 30 miles to and from work a day.
Some of you might say that for the price they ask for one of these that it should be able to do a lot more, and I'm not inclined to agree. This car was designed for people much wealthier than me, for their personal day to day driving. For an executive plus one to go places in style and absolute luxury. Honestly, the electric part is pretty secondary to that ideal. Sure it's whisper quiet, which is very disorienting when you're used to driving a V8 or Turbo6, but when you put your foot down the torque is the real saving grace. The ELR subscribes to the Rolls Royce notion of "adequate" power and excessive torque, and I can see why, enough grunt to get to you to cruising speed in a reasonable time but not enough horsepower to go "hooligan" speeds. Honestly, I couldn't care less about the power because the real star of the show is the interior.
I've driven many a luxury car ranging from reasonably priced to ludicrously priced. And I've been super impressed with what the two American luxury brands are doing with interiors. Different levels of course, but in each segment I was frankly, blown away. The ELR is just flat out a wonderful place to be. The seats are as comfortable as I've sat in a while and the materials are all premium, no simulated plastic here. It's not a Bentley Brooklands in here, but it's about as close as you're gonna get to one of those without spending 6 figures. Historically, I've been pretty anti-American marquees because of their "good-enough" approach to interiors. It's where you spend your time when you drive, it should be the best it can be. Thankfully they've done a sharp 180 in the last three years. The ELR is as good an interior as any German marquee on the road, I'd be willing to bet that it's better than any of them under 100k.
So back to the engine for a minute, it isn't powerful, but it is smooth. The power is seamless through the CVT from standstill to top speed. Some cars at WOT feel like they will explode into a million pieces and you don't get that feeling in this. It has that "made from a single block" feel to it and that's its biggest draw. I gave my friend a ride in it and he put it succinctly: "Well, it's probably the comfiest 'sports' coupe I've ever ridden in, you feel pretty darn refreshed when you get out" and he's right, I feel like I could drive this cross country (and, not for nothing, you can because of the petrol engine) and when I got out I would feel alert and ready for the day. If I'm not driving a car to the brink, then I definitely would rather feel refreshed instead of taxed when I got to my destination.
And that brings me to my final point, to steal a line from Kia, "What is luxury"? Is luxury many things to many people? I'd have to say luxury is the ability to sit in complete and utter comfort, with the radio on, going 75/80 miles per hour for an extended period of time. The fact that it gets a combined 80mpg certainly helps it's case too (and in 2 weeks ownership I've used about a gallon of fuel). I know this won't appeal to every person, electric cars simply didn't make sense to me either, I like big V8s that make big power and waste a lot of fuel; and I still do and when I want to go for a more spirited drive, I have just the tool for it. But when I just need to get to work or the grocery store, I don't need it; I need a comfortable seat and a nice radio, that's it.
So what did this run me? Well like I said in the title, the car was cheaper than you'd think. It's no secret that it isn't flying off the shelves, and dealers are trying to off load them. The car stickers for $75,000, I got the base $12,500 instant discount on the price, along with a dealer incentive of $5000 to buy instead of lease (I went in fully expecting to lease it). I did my homework and picked a state with an instant cash rebate for buying a PHEV, so I bought it in MA for an additional $2500 off the price. Finally, I just finished filing my $7500 Government tax incentive for a final cost to me of, wait for it, $47,500 +tax.
Still think it's too expensive?