The Cadillac Lyriq signals the true start of a new era for GM, and for Cadillac.
GM spent the first quarter of this decade talking big—restructuring itself around EVs, investing billions in batteries and the supply chain, and revamping manufacturing. And then in July 2022, thanks to an accelerated development push, Cadillac started delivering the Lyriq.
It’s more than the first electric vehicle for a brand that will shift all-electric by the end of the decade. It’s the first mass-production model built around GM’s Ultium propulsion strategy, including a new large-format NCMA lithium-ion cell, an industry-first wireless battery management system, new motor designs, and much more.
As such, it’s a harbinger for millions of future EVs from GM, and it’s one of our five finalists for Green Car Reports Best Car To Buy 2023. And we’re happy to report from a few, relatively short initial driving experiences that it’s actually very good, and without any glaring faults. Its $62,990 price tag also feels like a rare bargain in today’s EV market, for such a substantial vehicle.
On a range of backroads around Athens, Georgia, and then later on some fast-moving freeways around Atlanta, our editorial team recently got the chance to get to know the 2023 Cadillac Lyriq a bit better and found that it feels tuned more like a tall wagon than an SUV. GM has followed solid engineering instincts with the Lyriq and hasn’t resorted to any clever steering, air-suspension, or active-damping solutions here. The ride is superb without any of it, and while the handling won’t hide that the Lyriq starts at 5,610 pounds, it feels balanced and planted, tracks well on highways and backroads alike, and has all the precision you might hope for in a larger, luxurious vehicle.
In many respects, it reminds me of the first-generation (2003-2006) Cadillac SRX—the one that took Cadillac’s rear-wheel-drive car underpinnings of the time and flipped them into a crossover.
It’s all different—and electric—of course. The single-level, 102-kwh battery pack fits at the floor of a vehicle that shows off GM’s expertise in making tight unibody vehicles. There are no giant cast parts here as, to paraphrase executives, there was no need to reinvent how the company builds body structures.
The Lyriq delivers 340 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque from its rear permanent-magnet motor, with a low 11.63:1 reduction gear, and it can get from 0-60 mph in just under six seconds, according to Cadillac. Dual-motor all-wheel-drive versions will make 500 hp and 450 lb-ft. And you can tow up to 3,500 pounds.
The best proof point so far for GM’s Ultium tech is that the single-motor Lyriq achieves an EPA range rating of 312 miles. The Lyriq is heat-pump equipped, which may mean it will get close to its full range in cold weather. However, even in the comfortable 70-degree sweet spot of our test day, we struggled to hit a 2.5-kwh/mile average for a route that mixed about every type of commuter condition. That pegs its real-world range at considerably less than 250 miles—although we’ll have to drive one longer, on familiar roads, for anything conclusive.
Cadillac says that the Lyriq can DC fast-charge at up to 190 kw, providing up to 76 miles of range in 10 minutes, but if our less-than-ideal charging session was any hint, most owners will see far slower. Home charging is impressive, though. For reasons we don’t completely understand (and reasons GM hasn’t been able to explain), single-motor versions of the Lyriq come with quicker 19.2-kw onboard charging, allowing them to pack in up to 52 miles per charging hour (if you’re lucky enough to have a 100-amp circuit and 80-amp charger). AWD versions come with an 11.5-kw onboard charger and can add about 37 miles per hour.
The 33-inch curved display that spans from the left edge of the gauge cluster over to the passenger’s space is impressive. But like many such screen setups, the menu system behind it feels imperfect, with some functionality for entertainment and connectivity either missing or not fully debugged.
Exterior design and style is a Lyriq strength—from the front end that makes a different kind of over-the-top statement to the rear glass that almost looks like it should be bearing a Saab badge. The interior’s a mixed bag, with a center console placement that this tall driver couldn’t quite warm up to, and a true luxury feel to many of the upper trims offset by some hard plastic—yes, especially, we’re talking about that thin, hard lower center console tray that looks like it’s ready for diaper duty. Overall, though, the interior feels vast, and if you fold down the rear seatbacks there’s a total space of 60.8 cubic feet. Sure there’s no frunk, but go tailgate with the Lightning owner for that.
It’s also worth pointing out that the Lyriq is being made in Spring Hill, Tennessee, at the home base of what, like the Lyriq now, was once a very big deal for GM: Saturn.
Will the Lyriq be the start of a completely new set of vehicles that transforms GM and the industry? Check back Jan. 4 when we reveal our Best Car To Buy.
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