Making a Statement for the Brand
Cadillac has tried electrifying cars before. First was the short-lived, 2014-2016, very cool looking ELR plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV). Based on the Chevrolet Volt platform and technology, the ELR coupe was ahead of its time for the traditional Cadillac buyer, which was too bad. Then in 2017 along came the CT6 PHEV, an electrified version of Cadillac’s full-size, flagship sedan, but 2019 saw the end of this car. So what has changed in the past few years to send Cadillac on the road to an electric future? A lot!
General Motors, the parent company of Cadillac, announced by the year 2035 they will only be selling zero-emission vehicles. Not to be outdone, Cadillac has announced all new models coming from the company will be a battery electric vehicle (EVs). To stress its commitment, Cadillac will not be selling any internal combustion vehicles, gasoline for diesel, by 2030.
This means the massively popular Escalade will be gone or reengineered, as well as the CT4 and CT5 sedans, and all the XT SUV models. Take a minute to think how fast Cadillac is moving to changeover its offerings in less than a decade. A true revolution is taking place at the 120-year-old company. And according to Cadillac, this is exactly what they want the public to see.
Welcome To Lyriq
The first all-electric model to be released by Cadillac will be the 2023 Lyriq, which is scheduled to hit showrooms in the summer of 2022. Cadillac is banking on this massively stylish midsize SUV to be a game-changer for the brand–maybe even its savior.
The Lyriq has been designed to continue the bold and sophisticated style of Cadillac with the Escalade owner specifically in mind. Cadillac says “the sense of occasion that is of an Escalade is repeated in Lyriq.” They want buyers to notice the attention to the detailed design elements, making you feel like you are sitting somewhere special. Cadillac says “we feel this is missing in the luxury EV market, and is what our customers are looking for.”
During a fast-paced 45-minute Q&A session with three Cadillac brand members, I was able to sit in the Lyriq for a brief time. There was no playing with the switches or driving it, but an opportunity to absorb the emotional and technological design direction Cadillac has made standard on the 2023 Lyriq Limited Launch Edition.
From front-to-rear the Lyriq’s lighting accentuates the beautiful design. When approaching and departing the Lyriq, the digital key launches a choreographed LED lighting sequence, from front to rear, inside and out.
Starting up front, you are welcomed by the unmistakeable black crystal grille and its hundreds of LED lights that produce a waterfall effect, the Cadillac Crest emblem glows, as do the turn signals and vertical daytime running lights. The door handles and puddle lights illuminate, as do the taillights that dramatically wrap back-and-up onto the rear pillars. The high brake light is vertically mounted in the roof spoiler.
The sleek side view features a gently sloping roof, with a shark fin antenna, that ends in a small spoiler shading the hands-free power lift gate. Cadillac has designed the aerodynamics so a rear wiper is not needed, allowing water to naturally flow off the tinted rear glass. The smooth doors with flush handles and the 20-inch split six-spoke alloy wheels complete the elegant design. Exterior color options are Satin Steel Metallic and Stellar Black Metallic.
Clean and Simple Interior
The first thing that hits you when sliding behind the driver’s seat is the one-piece, curved glass, 33-inch diagonal LED display. Extending more than half of the dash, Cadillac says it can display more than one billion colors. The sleek dash is devoid of buttons, knobs and switches, meaning a combination of voice commands, touches and swipes are used to interact with the systems, features and functions. Some controls can be found on the steering wheel.
The seats are covered in Inteluxe, a synthetic leather offered initially in Sky Cool Gray, and later in Noir. The fronts were supportive and power-everything, with the rear seating area offering plenty of leg, head and shoulder room for two adults, three for shorter trips.
The large fixed glass roof panel has a power shade for diffused light, and the rear 60/40 seat power-folds to expand the cargo area. Interior storage is found in the doors, under the cargo area floor, and beneath the cantilevered center console, with cupholders front and rear.
The driver gets the latest version of Super Cruise, the hands-free driver assist system. I have used Super Cruise on other General Motors vehicles, and can attest that with favorable driving conditions, it is a valuable driving aid and can reduce fatigue on long road trips.
The AKG Studio audio system is controlled on the futuristic 33-inch display screen. With 19 speakers, including ones in the front seat headrests, this system (augmented by active noise cancellation) should deliver full and lush sounds. The 26 ambient LED lighting options can be set for dual levels, and the cabin has real wood trim and brushed aluminum accents.
Power, Stopping and Charging
At launch the 2023 Lyriq will have rear-wheel drive and one electric motor producing 340 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque. The 12-module, 100 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery has an estimated range of more than 300 miles.
DC fast charging capability of up to 190 kilowatts (kW) can deliver 76 miles of range in 10 minutes and 195 miles in 30 minutes. At home, using a 240-volt Level 2 charger and a 100-amp circuit, the 19.2 kW charging will deliver 52 miles of range per hour of charge, and a full charge in less than five hours.
Additional charging comes from Cadillac’s variable Regen on Demand regenerative braking system that converts kinetic energy into electricity when braking or coasting. This system allows the driver to control the level of regeneration, slowing or even bringing the Lyriq to a complete stop using only a fingertip on a pressure-sensitive paddle located on the backside of the steering wheel. Pulling on the paddle slows the motor and allows for one pedal driving. Once you get the hang of it, this will be your go-to method of driving.
The 2023 Lyriq Limited Launch Edition has a starting price of $59,990, including the destination charge. Options on the first edition will be limited, but include 22-inch dynamic split-spoke reverse rim alloy wheels.
The Lyriq will qualify for federal and state tax credits that could reduce the final purchase price, and in many states it qualifies for the coveted car pool stickers allowing the driver, with no passengers, to use the HOV lane.
The Lyriq pricing strategy will cause a ripple effect for other premium or luxury SUVs. The Lyriq base price, near $60,000, should make other manufacturers to pay close attention. The Audi E-Tron starts at $67,000, the Jaguar I-Pace at $70,000, the Porsche Taycan at $83,00, and the Tesla Model X at $90,000.
Reservations begin September 18, 2021, at the Lyriq home page.
Reaching the Lyriq Buyer
The Lyriq will draw attention from those wanting a luxury SUV powered by electricity and built in America. The first Lyriq production run should sell fast if the 176,000 inquiries for more information are an indication of purchase interest. The Cadillac team knows that, after the first flush of buyers, they will need to strategically market the Lyriq with three target areas of:
- Escalade owners,
- people coming off the lease on a competitive premium SUV, and
- those stepping-up to a luxury SUV.
A larger, more encompassing challenge exists of communicating the basics of owning an electric vehicle. Cadillac said “there are people who ask if they will be electrocuted going through a car wash, or is it safe when it rains. There is still that level of lack of information.” Cadillac will be educating its current owners about the basics of an electric car, growing their comfort with this technology.
The Lyriq is only the first of many all-electric Cadillacs that will be released in the coming years. Playing the long game with this transition from gasoline to electric, since they know who their customer is, they are prepared to gain customers as the marketplace continues to grow for electric luxury vehicles.
The “New” Cadillac
Beginning in 2023 it may be appropriate to restart the clock for Cadillac, or at least place an asterisk by its 122-year history. Cadillac is considered the only luxury brand at General Motors. Coming with that status it is where the top technology and innovation will be showcased. General Motors has allowed Cadillac to be nimble and agile when it comes to design and technology, with its advancements eventually filtering down to the other GM brands.
Customers paying a premium for their vehicle expect, nay demand, they are getting the latest and greatest Cadillac has to offer. Cadillac hopes to not disappoint them.
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More Cadillac News & Reviews
Road Test: 2021 Cadillac CT5
Road Test: 2021 Cadillac CT4
Road Test: 2021 Cadillac Escalade
News: Cadillac Sings a New Tune with Lyriq
Road Test: 2018 Cadillac CT6 PHEV
Road Test: 2015 Cadillac ELR