Cadillac Lyriq Highlights Affordability, Good Looks, 312-Mile Range
The sales team isn’t saying much about projected volume, but they claim 21,000 “hot leads” for sales that are in the process of closing.
Lyriq is priced competitively at $62,990 with rear-wheel drive and is well-equipped in this launch edition, which is sold out for 2023.
The nav system needs work. It was often confused, extremely slow to respond to turns, and often failed to orient itself on the road we were traveling.
A new day has dawned for Cadillac, and General Motors’ luxury brand really needs a hit to demonstrate that its hopes and dreams are not all pinned to the enduring popularity of the Escalade full-size SUV that consumes copious amounts of fossil fuel. Based on the General’s wide-eyed vision (eventually) of an all-electric future, the Escalade is destined to be a fossil, itself.
To get there, Cadillac and GM’s other brands must establish themselves at the vanguard of electrification while every other automaker on the planet is trying to do the exact same thing. We’ve heard about the absurdly powerful (and heavy) GMC Hummer, the fully functional Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra EV pickups, electric versions of the Chevy Blazer and Equinox crossovers, and a Buick EV in some form.
It’s quite possible that Cadillac’s Lyriq five-passenger all-electric crossover—which start reaching customer driveways in a few weeks—is the most important of the bunch: It’s priced very competitively (starting at $62,990 with rear-wheel drive) and is well-equipped in this launch edition; it’s exceedingly handsome inside and out—clearly different from current Caddys and yet stylistically familiar; it’s quiet even compared to other EVs, handles extremely well with Cadillac’s first five-link suspension, has more than enough power, and delivers 312 miles of range on a single charge for this RWD launch edition.
Perhaps most important, the Lyriq is the second EV (after Hummer) to launch from GM’s Ultium battery architecture, which will underpin a fleet of EVs, including several mentioned above and one each from the Honda and Acura brands. With all this platform sharing—which used to be a bad thing years ago under different circumstances—the business case becomes a lot more attractive as the “skateboard” strategy can spin off more distinct vehicles much more quickly.
After spending two days driving the Lyriq in and around Park City, Utah—on many roads with shockingly low speed limits—we can safely say the Lyriq has a solid chance at rivaling the Tesla Model Y in leading the luxury EV crossover segment.
That prediction is based on the product team figuring out and expelling in one heckuva hurry certain electronic gremlins that will infuriate paying customers. Mainly, the navigation system was beyond glitchy throughout two days of driving in different cars, and other journalists had similar problems.
Whether we used the embedded nav system or relied on Android Auto, the service required event staff both days to spend an excruciating amount of time connecting and reconnecting phones and programing destinations before sending us on our way, only for the system to stop functioning repeatedly. When the system “worked,” it was often confused, extremely slow to respond to turns, and often failed to orient itself on the road we were traveling. GM engineers said they are aware of the issues, and that fixes are being installed on salable units head to customers.
In 2022, synching a phone with a smartphone should be lightning fast and simple, and popular routing apps such as Waze should easily function through Android Auto or Apple CarPlay. These are the types of customer complaints that drive down J.D. Power scores and which no automaker can afford.
GM seized the opportunity to pull ahead the launch date of the Lyriq by nine months—great news as consumers look for alternatives to $5-a-gallon gasoline, but that’s also a risky proposition if the cake needs more time in the oven.
In the age of electric vehicles, it’s issues like these that ultimately will dictate which vehicles lead the pack and which end up following it. We’ve driven lots of fantastic EVs, from the Porsche Taycan and Ford F-150 Lightning to the Polestar 2 and Hyundai Ioniq 5. Those vehicles represent distinct segments and yet the powertrain experience is incredibly similar between all four. Batteries provide the juice so electric motors can run in near silence.
If the predictions come true that combustion engines are going away, then consumers will no longer shop for a throaty exhaust note or a certain number of cylinders, or decide if the best efficiency play is a hybrid or a plug-in hybrid. It’s hard for many of us to accept, but at that point the drivetrain becomes largely generic, delineated from brand to brand by range, charging time, styling, and overall functionality.
On nearly all those fronts, the Lyriq stands on stable ground, and we’re not here to say the Lyriq drivetrain is lacking in any way. It’s just harder to rank drivetrains when they all tend to perform, feel, and sound very much alike.
“Instant torque” is a common attribute touted for EVs, and it’s certainly true for the Lyriq, with 325 lb-ft and 340 hp from a single electric motor on the rear axle. The all-wheel-drive variant arrives in January with an additional motor on the front axle, taking a big step up to 500 hp. We’ll find out how much additional torque the AWD version gets closer to launch.
Providing the juice is a 12-module lithium-ion battery pack with 102 kWh of energy capacity and placed in the floor, contributing to a near 50/50 weight distribution in the RWD model. With a dedicated 240-volt Level II charger rated at 11.5 kW AC (often installed in owners’ garages), the Lyriq can add up to 37 miles of range in one hour. At launch, the RWD version will be able to charge at 19.2 kW and add 52 miles of range per hour.
These are both Level II charging options, and the US Department of Energy says there are about 50,000 of these in mall parking lots, office complexes, and other public locations across America, in addition to the thousands that EV owners have installed at their homes.
There’s another Level II 240-volt charging option if installing a box in your garage—as well as updating your electrical service—is proving too expensive. Instead, an electrician can install a three-prong appliance outlet to charge the Lyriq at 7.7 kW, which would add 21 miles of range per hour. Charging overnight for 10 hours with this less expensive method would add about 200 miles of range.
Or, if you’re planning a road trip in your Lyriq and you need lots of juice quickly, you can find one of about 8000 DC fast chargers across the US, plug in, and add up to 76 miles of range in as little as 10 minutes. Fast charging in a pinch is fine, but it should not be the primary method of refueling on a daily basis. Batteries don’t like to charge and discharge quickly, so too much fast charging can damage EV batteries over time and potentially shorten their lifespan.
Stylistically, the Lyriq is much sleeker and angular than Cadillac’s existing XT crossovers (and especially the flat-roofed Escalade), with a steeply raked windshield and backlight and a low roof that gives the Lyriq a sporty stance but compromises some headroom.
Vertical LED lighting fore and aft carry over some of the Cadillac design language, but the Lyriq’s front end has been completely reconceived with laser-etched slats taking the visual place of a conventional fixed grille while delivering a gee-whiz light show at each startup. At the media launch in Utah, after sunset, the product team drove home that point with a brilliant, psychedelic light display that illuminated the Lyriq and a stand of tall trees behind it.
The interior is well packaged, emphasizing lots of second-row legroom—particularly for the China market—as well as airy spaciousness (thanks to the panoramic roof) and a soothing, luxurious feel, with matte-finish wood and knurled metallic trim on the cupholders, volume scroller, instrument panel, and the controller in the center console.
There are multiple ways to access information from the massive 33-inch curved LED screen in front of the driver: by voice, steering-wheel controls, the central controller, and by reaching for the center touchscreen. If you prefer hard buttons, there’s a row of them below the center touchscreen, for climate control. The supremely quiet cabin comes courtesy of an active noise cancellation system incorporated within the 19-speaker AKG audio system.
With General Motors eager to launch the Lyriq, the initial configurations for the ‘23 model are quite simple: two wheel options, four exterior paint colors, and two interior color schemes. But in ‘24, Cadillac product planners are promising a new Lyriq pricing strategy that adds option packages at the high end while potentially reducing prices at the low end.
In the EV world, Cadillac’s Lyriq might be cross-shopped with the BMW iX, Ford Mustang Mach-E, and Audi e-tron, but for now they’re all gunning for the Tesla Model Y, which owns the premium crossover EV segment with 83,000 deliveries this year through May. Meanwhile, Cadillac says the 2023 model run is sold out, and anyone on the waitlist for a 2023 model will have dibs at pre-ordering a 2024 edition. The sales team isn’t saying much about projected volume over the two model years, but they claim 21,000 “hot leads” for sales that are in the process of closing. That’s a solid number, but still a far cry from Tesla.
With a starting price of $62,990, the Lyriq undercuts the Model Y (AWD only) by $4450, but the Model Y has more cargo volume and is (a meaningful) 1247 pounds lighter than the Lyriq. The Tesla’s long-range battery is good for an estimated 330 miles of range while the Model Y Performance trim has an estimated range of 303 miles. With 312 miles of range, the Lyriq is right in the middle.
With the Lyriq, Cadillac does not want to be in the middle of anything but instead leading the market for premium EVs.
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