A Long-Term Owner’s Review Of The 2014 Cadillac ELR – Video

1 month ago by Bill Bortzfield 42

When trying to predict future Concour de Elegance-level classics, Cadillac’s rare ELR coupe is a fairly safe bet.

Just 2,971 examples of Cadillac’s first plug-in hybrid were made and sold for model years 2014 and 2016 in North America, according to InsideEVs, which was updated just after the video in this story was produced.

The ELR first debuted as the Converj concept in 2009 before being green lighted for production.

2014 Cadillac ELR (via Bill Bortzfield)

It was the first electric car to feature GM’s Regen on Demand, which allows the driver to use steering wheel paddles to slow down the car by using the motor, which at the same time feeds electricity back into the 16.5 kilowatt lithium-ion battery.

The 2014 ELR featured in this long-term review has just under 19,000 miles on it and has a lifetime average of 204 miles per gallon.

Although the ELR is no speed demon, its quiet, instant torque makes it feel faster than it is.

Car and Driver reported a zero-to-60 time of 7.8 seconds for the 2014. Cadillac, which decided to skip a 2015 model year ELR while 2014s languished on dealer lots, shaved 1.5 seconds off that time for the 2016 model year.

The average electric-only range was increased from 37 to 40 miles per charge for 2016 before the gasoline engine kicks in. Horsepower was also increased from 217 to 233.

In the real world, this 2014 is averaging almost exactly 37 miles per charge. It’s best range to date has been 46 miles on a charge and its worst range has been 32 miles.

2014 Cadillac ELR has averaged ~37 miles of all-electric range over its lifetime (via Bill Bortzfield)

The climate control system plays a big role in how far the ELR will go.

In 95 degree temperatures here in Jacksonville, Fla., it’s taken as much as 68 percent of available EV power to keep the cabin temperature at 70 degrees.

The ELR’s ride ranges from Cadillac smooth to modern-muscle car sharp with Tour and Sport modes.

Sport tightens up the steering and damping while also increasing throttle response.

Cadillac ELR at the 2014 LA Auto Show

There are also two more modes. Hold forces the car to run on gas, saving the electricity for later use, such as in an urban area, while Mountain forces the engine to generate a sustained charge for the electric motor to provide maximum horsepower.

As with all cars with electric motors, one of the first things you notice is the silky smooth acceleration, making it particularly appropriate for a Cadillac.

Using the T-shaped battery that originally debuted on the first generation Chevrolet Volt, the ELR recharges from flat in under five hours from a 240-volt outlet. The ELR is limited to a charging speed of 3.3 kilowatts.

When the battery hits its reserve buffer the gas generator comes on to continue providing electricity to keep the car going. On the highway at steady speeds the switch is imperceptible.

Under heavy acceleration you can hear and feel the four-cylinder engine when the ELR goes in hybrid mode, although it is noticeably more refined than the second generation Prius or Ford C-Max Energi.

Cadillac ELR Interior

Inside, the ELR’s cabin is top-notch with a configurable eight-inch LED dashboard along with BOSE speakers, Alcantara, leather, real wood, brushed metal and carbon fiber.

Both front seats are powered and include a rear-seat easy entry feature that glides the front seats forward to allow a wider rear opening. Speaking of the rear seats, legroom is okay but headroom is lacking for anyone over five foot-eight.

The fastback style and large rear window also exposes rear passengers to more heat coming from the sun, forcing front seat occupants to make sure the A/C vents are perfectly positioned for maximum air flow to the rear.

2014 Cadillac ELR (via Bill Bortzfield)

The ELR’s battery runs down the spine of the car into a T-shape at the rear, which preserves trunk space at 10.5 cubic feet and keeps a nice, low, balanced center of gravity. On the road the ELR is a joy, with the 20-inch wheels allowing for flat-cornering when the Sport setting is used.

In my opinion, the ELR is the best looking Cadillac to come out of GM’s design studios since the 1967 Eldorado.

Cadillac ELR getting a boost (via Bill Bortzfield)

In a nod to Cadillac’s past, you can see just a hint of a tailfin in the taillight’s sharp vertical angles. The ELR was also the first GM to feature LEDs for all major exterior lighting groups.

So what about downsides?

I’ve had one electrical issue that took several trips to the dealer under warranty to correct.

The power seats and power doors would die, forcing me to use the manual door release. In the end it turned out to be a loose bolt that was interrupting current from the accessory battery.

Cadillac Cue is generally good but it can be infuriating at times.

Editor’s Note: Our personal thanks to Bill for filing this written report on the 2014 Cadillac ELR for InsideEVs, you can find more reviews on his YT channel Sunshine Motoring here.

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42 responses to "A Long-Term Owner’s Review Of The 2014 Cadillac ELR – Video"

  1. georgeS says:

    I think the ELR is really a nice looking car. Too bad it sold so poorly……but that’s GM management for you. Apparently no one told them that you introduce the more expensive car first not after the low cost model.

    Thx for the report!!

    1. ffbj says:

      The add campaign was universally panned as being out of touch and pretentious, which to me did not seem all that far off from my view of Cadillac owners, but still It was ok, but not great.

      1. ClarksonCote says:

        I also think it didn’t have the performance required of a Cadillac. In hindsight, they probably should’ve waited for the Gen 2 Volt architecture to make the ELR.

        1. bro1999 says:

          It’s a shame such a beautiful design piece was wasted on the ELR.

    2. fasteddie2020 says:

      Exactly: it all comes down to leadership, and despite a really good effort by GM Engineering and a VERY attractive design, Cadillac leadership did not want to have it in the line.
      GRRRRR!!!!!! Here’s a summary of the leadership failures:

      https://teslamotorsclub.com/tmc/attachments/cadillac-elr-fails-jpg.113057/

  2. Bill Howland says:

    I dispute the ‘rare’ categorization.

    Was the Tesla Roadster Rare? If 2800 Plus is rare here, the roadster was much rarer.

    The only reason the car hasn’t sold much more is EV-Hater DeNyschNen killed it 3 months into 2016. What would have been the harm in simply selling them – thereby giving their dealerships needed experience with electrics. Now that money that dealerships invested in EV’s is stranded, since no one in their right mind would carry the CT6 Phev, and in fact, next to no one has, since the closest one to me is in michigan 380 miles away.

    1. Bill Bortzfield says:

      Bill, Yes, I would consider the Tesla Roadster very rare as well. The ELR (2,971) and Roadster’s (2,500) production numbers are within a few hundred of each other. Also, keep in mind this is GM we’re talking about. It’s almost unheard of to see GM do a standalone model run that small. Keep in mind the ELR wasn’t a “sub-model” like the CT6 plug-in or a V Series edition of say a CTS Coupe. One notable example of one that’s even rarer is the GM EV1 (1,117). Of course most of those were also crushed.

      1. Bill Howland says:

        I don’t care about such characterizations. The fact remains GM would certainly have sold more of them had they simply continued production.

        None of the dealers around me will have an EV product for sale after getting burned this time around by ev-hater, Caddy head DeNyschen.

        The fact the new Joke of a car, ct6 phev is only selling 20 copies per month, is about right.

        I’ve gotten 60 miles AER in my ELR. But most of the time its 48 miles, and 44 when I let my Nephew borrow it.

        1. ClarksonCote says:

          I agree, it would be been great to have them keep the ELR around, and even better if they carried the Gen 2 Volt platform over into it.

          But as you rightly point out, other than being low volume, there was really no reason not to keep it unless they really couldn’t make any profit on it.

          1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

            Low volume = high unit cost. For a one-off car, one that likely has a lot of unique parts not shared with other models, that’s going to make it very difficult for the model to make a profit.

            The consensus is pretty clear that Cadillac initially overpriced the ELR, and overpriced it substantially. They had to drop the price by quite a bit to get it to sell, and then of course it wasn’t profitable to keep making it.

            At least, that’s my understanding based on what I’ve read.

            But hey, if you want a car that looks nice sitting in your driveway… it’s hard to beat an ELR!

    2. BenG says:

      It is a damn shame that they made so many improvements to the 2016 ELR and then promptly killed it.

    3. Koenigsegg says:

      Tell me, how many ELR’s and Roadsters do you see on a day to day basis and then tell me how many Civics, Prius’s and Corolla’s you see….

      I’ll wait

    4. Samuel Salamay says:

      I agree about the EV hater. I drive a 2016 ELR and it’s a fabulous machine. The added power, Brembos and sport mode makes this a very attractive package. It would be nice to have built-on this car.to give it Volt Gen2 capability.

  3. James says:

    Bill, here’s hoping you are alright in Jacksonville, FL. That you and your ELR came out of the storm safely and securely!

    I’ve always maintained the ELR will be a collector’s item. Not the most practical car by any means – and a seeming flight of fancy or maybe a parting gift to exiting Bob Lutz, former GM vice president – who knows?

    In all – many like me thought: “What was GM thinking?!”, with the whole ELR scheme. You know it was a limited-run car, but surely they didn’t see it as SUCH a limited acceptance car, did they?

    Cadillac is known for such white elephants as the Allante and XLR. No way for any of these cars to find success in the marketplace. Each car seemed projected to a thin slice of a democgraphic that was itself a thin slice.

    We know halo cars are a tool some manufacturers believe in to promote the brand. In that case, GM seems to be the halo master, even topping Chrysler/FCA with it’s Demons, Vipers and SRTs.

    As a halo, ELR flopped loudly. Yet it still was a Volt with two seats and lots of slick ( if not silly, i.e.: electric cupholders ) add-ons. All wrapped up in a sexy body with room for 2 and a couple golf bags.

    Even as a halo, ELR just didn’t make much sense at all. Some retired doctors and lawyers may have bought some – but those that bought the ELR and suffered the extreme value losses when they nose-dived the MSRP sure may never buy another GM producte. WOW!

    I think ELR is one finely sculpted piece of motor artwork. It’s a beautiful toy. It just doen’t check off the performance boxes that it’s looks advertise could be inside. In that, it’s a showpiece without much more than a stiffened Volt’s capabilities.

    Sad deal. And a real head-scratcher. It’s like that beautiful older woman you may fantasize as a wife, but you’d never go there – Just doen’t make any sense.

    In that – surely 20 years from now a collector car that will probably appreciate. But it will take lots of time.

    1. Bill Bortzfield says:

      Thanks James. I’m happy to report the ELR came through fine from Hurricane Irma’s wrath. Our property just had some branches down. No biggie. We were extremely fortunate. I agree with your assessment of GM/ELR. Too bad Cadillac overpriced it and underpowered it.

    2. Bill Howland says:

      James, thanks for the concern, but I disagree with you entirely.

      Car and Driver said that the ELR is the best all around performing hybrid ever.

      That is quite a rave. The car is a serious Sport Coupe.

      Almost 3000 were made in only around 15 months in production. The roadster was around for years.

      None of the negative language I read makes sense to me, and it doesn’t matter how many times I read it – saying it doesn’t make it so.

      I use my ELR and BOLT ev every day. They are fully practical, and in the case of the ELR at minimum, beautiful , practical cars.

      GM was stupid to hire DeNyschen. You can see the idiocy since Caddy sales are down, and even walking into a dealership, they spend fully half the brouchures stating nothing about the cars for sale, but a bunch of old Non-Descript, dingy buildings in NYC.

      But Now most caddy dealers around me will ever touch another EV product since they invested monies to support the ELR and then Johann pulled the rug out from under them.

    3. Bacardi says:

      Very rare that a car with low performance (for it’s time) appreciates…Then you have the problem of maintenance, few techs know how to work on them and replacement parts being hard to come by…

      Yet like anything, some may find value in an ultra low mileage version…

  4. Harold T says:

    $75,000 and no sun roof. the list goes on as to why this car failed.
    https://youtu.be/ZZidmj1VaFw review by Doug DeMuro from Jalopnik fame. what a hoot!

    1. Bacardi says:

      Yup and before someone points about the MSRP haircut, they really did release the car at $75K before destination…

      1. BenG says:

        Yeah, initial pricing was a joke … just no value.

        2016, after a significant performance boost and a $10k price cut, the value was significantly better, especially after considering the $7500 tax credit, but it was still a niche vehicle because it’s only 2 doors, almost unusable back seats, and still very expensive at $58, 495 after tax credit (per wikipedia).

    2. offib says:

      I wouldn’t say it’s ever a good idea to give Doug DeMuro of all people any consideration.

    3. Koenigsegg says:

      You seem to be stuck in the past.

      ELR’s are in the $30,000 price range now.

      Highest should have been maybe low 50 when they came out but not $75. Too much for what it is.

      And ELR’s are rare

  5. Tony Marco says:

    Beautiful car with terrible marketing and even worse pricing!

    Too bad GM!

  6. Bacardi says:

    http://business.financialpost.com/transportation/gm-tesla

    Most likely a product heavily influenced by GM’s team to study Tesla hence the similar price tag…

    A little bit of satire…Let’s put the Voltec into the CTS Coupe and charge the same price as a Tesla…To give a sense of luxury, let’s skip a descent infotainment system, skip a sunroof, skip cooled seats which were already appearing on Kia’s and could reduce HVAC use and give it vibrating alert seats, power cup holders and have an ELR drivetrain concierge team…

    If only they could have found a way by reducing the base models options/features to get it to $40K…

    1. ModernMarvelFan says:

      If they had used CTS coupe, the car would have been way faster.

      It was the slowest Cadillac when ELR was launched. That was the problem!

      1. Bacardi says:

        Yeah it definitely was in more ways than one with a biggie being it was about the same quickness as the Volt…

        I did say satire but I do believe the CTS coupe is fairly rare so people may just wrongfully assume an ELR is indeed a CTS coupe…Put them side by side and there are drastic differences in the bodylines with the ELR looking far better…

  7. Rick Kop says:

    For a change, it’s nice to see a fair review of the ELR and not the usual slamming of what has turned out to be a very nice car. I have 30,000 miles on mine and a week still doesn’t go by with out someone commenting on how beautiful it is. For me, the car was a perfect fit. I agree there isn’t a lot of room in the back seat but my grandkids don’t seem to mind. I had what was probably the same problem as you with the loose battery bolt but after it was tightened under warranty I have had no other issues. Personally, I love this car and would buy it again. Thought about a CT6 hybrid as an eventual replacement But it too seems overpriced a bit for what you get, so I guess I’ll hang on to mine for a while longer too.

    1. Bill Howland says:

      Hi Rick – I wonder what current ELR owners think of the New Caddy CT6 PHEV,

      To me, the car is a joke:

      1). Supposedly only 31 miles electric range from the volt’s 53 mile battery, yet no one can seem to get more than 22 miles when actually driving the car.

      — To show some of the ‘efficiency decisions’ the great-brains made this time, they have a 3 horsepower electric motor to run the hydraulic pump to operate the mulitude of clutches the THREE PLANETARY GEARBOX car has.

      2). The basic CT6 is ok, but not as eye appealing as the ELR, either inside or out.

      3). The nearest dealership to me that actually plans on carrying the car (they’ll supposedly get their first demonstrator in december 2017) is in Michigan, 380 miles from me, whereas the ELR sold at most of larger dealerships, and everywhere by me.

      The fact that the car is ‘up to’ 20 sales per month in the States seems to me just about right. Most will avoid the car and get something else.

      Wouldn’t surprise me if Chinese sales are also lousy.

  8. fotomoto says:

    Video specs: “10.5 cubic INCH trunk”. Now THAT’s tiny!!!!!* 🙂

    *That’s what she said.

    1. Bill Bortzfield says:

      Fotomoto, the video has been corrected to say 10.5 cubic feet. The corrected version went up shortly after the post. It would have been up at the same time as the post but Hurricane Irma knocked out my Comcast and power, slowing me down.

    2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      “Video specs: ‘10.5 cubic INCH trunk’. Now THAT’s tiny!!!!!* 🙂 ”

      LOL!

      And I thought the Tesla Roadster’s trunk, barely big enough for a golf bag, was small! (…altho reportedly still bigger than the Lotus Elise it’s based on!)

      1. Bill Howland says:

        Yeah, at a cruise night a Lotus Elise owner asked to look at the Roadster’s trunk:

        “That’s HUGE – you can get a set of golf clubs in there!”.

        “You’re the first person who has ever described the trunk as HUGE. Let me see yours” –

        (since in the ELISE the space has to be shared with the engine and accessories, and the gas tank, the remaining storage space is much smaller than a tiny glove box)

  9. Patrick Brown says:

    I want one. when im tired or wearout my 2008 CTS a 2016 ELR is on my wish list

  10. ModernMarvelFan says:

    ” 68 percent of available EV power”

    No, 68% of the available climate control power.

    No way, you would need 75kW of EV power (~68%) to run AC.

  11. Loboc says:

    Mine is still awesome. I’m keeping this one for a while.

    ELR is not ‘slow’ by any street car measure. Faster than my previous ’13 Volt and much more lux and refinement.

    1. Bill Howland says:

      Yeah, Loboc, most people here are dumb – no offense. In every other category than 0-60 the car is the best.

      Car and Driver magazine gave the car its only honest review – although I will admit Bill here DID mention the damping tightens in ‘sport mode’.

      C & D said to ignore the raw numbers, the car seems much faster, and is fast when you need it.

      A car is much more than its zero – 60,or 62.,.

      That said, I’d be a bit concerned pushing a 2016 model to its limits (mine is a ’14). They are getting so much power out of the existing equipment I’d be afraid of damaging something. I do like the ’16’s larger range, however, not that the ’14 is that shabby since I get 44-60 out of it.

      Sometimes cars need to grow on people a bit. PRIUS is now a profit-center for Toyota yet its initial sales were disappointing. They stuck with it.

  12. Tim says:

    3 year possessor / driver of a 2014 ELR. I really like this car except … the CUE system. It’s so awful, it really gets in the way of day-to-day enjoyment. They improved the 2016, making it faster, but the thing is overall wonky. Display the currently playing song? Probably, but not definitely. Play the next track on Bluetooth? For sure, but maybe without actually outputting the audio. But the progress bar runs just fine!

    Driving-wise, it’s very nice. I liked my 2012 Volt’s driving, but the ELR refined it even more.

    Powered cup holder cover, pretty unnecessary. But it hasn’t broken. Now, the coin tray cover did break when they had to replace the shifter sensor. And the touch screen did decide that the bottom middle wasn’t an important touch space – despite being where the play / pause button is.

    But the best thing is, my 5 and 10 year old girls love it. They call it the “cool car” but I think it will lose the designation on Friday when we take delivery on my wife’s X100D.

  13. DrJJ says:

    I traded my 2014 Volt for a new 2014 ELR – the best car I have ever owned and I have owned many exceptional cars in my 70 years on the planet Earth. In Feb 2015, I paid $40,000 for my ELR after fed tax rebate. (The dealer discounted it $32,000!). My ELR has adaptive cruise control (ACC) which is a fabulous safety feature. I truly love driving the car and look forward to my 66-mile round trip commute. The odometer reads about 25,000 miles and the car reports a lifetime average of 87 mpg. Yes, the ELR was overpriced and yes, the back seat is sub optimal and yes, it does not have a sunroof and yes, it will lose in a drag race with a Tesla. All perfectly valid reasons for not buying the ELR. But the drive characteristics are truly rewarding, the styling is exceptional and the interior is beautiful. Once ACC was available in the 2017 Volt, I purchased a new one for my wife. She loves the car. I have been a car guy for the last 55 years and believe that GM’s Voltec technology is its greatest technological achievement. I suspect a lot of criticism comes from those who have never driven or even ridden in an ELR. None of the plug-in hybrids are perfect and each has a devoted class of owners. I am a devoted owner of an ELR.

  14. DrJJ says:

    BTW Cadillac rated the 2014 ELR power at 160 kWh (213 hp) not 180 hp

    1. Bill Bortzfield says:

      Thank you. Confirmed. A press release from GM in 2014 that’s still online does indeed show 217 total system horsepower: http://media.gm.com/media/us/en/cadillac/vehicles/elr/2014.html

  15. bro1999 says:

    I think the ELR was actually a completely fine vehicle.

    Of course that sorta like saying the Hindenburg was a completely fine vehicle till it exploded into flames.

    But seriously, aside from the COMPLETELY HORRIBLE pricing strategy the geniuses at Caddy HQ decided on, the ELR was a fine car. Just not $75k fine. $45-50k and I think it could have had a successful (but still limited) production run.

  16. Samuel Salamay says:

    Everyone I know who owns an ELR loves it as I do. No range anxiety, amazing looks, decent power, extreme luxury. My 2016 with sports package increases power and Brembos work great. I am hoping that as battery efficiencies improve, ELR owners can exchange to keep it current as Tesla does.

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