In a world of look-alike Teslas, Cadillac has delivered a strikingly different alternative with the 2023 Lyriq. We got behind the wheel to find out what this new luxury EV is all about.
General Motors’ luxury brand intends to go all-electric by the end of the decade, and the 2023 Cadillac Lyriq is its chance to prove it’s ready to make the switch. GearJunkie spent a couple days in Park City, Utah, checking out Caddy’s first BEV.
While California might be Ground Zero in the battery-electric vehicle revolution, there were plenty of BEVs roaming the mountainous terrain as I headed up to Park City last week. Almost to a one, they sported the familiar “T” logo of Tesla — no surprise considering the automotive upstart has dominated the market for the better part of a decade.
But I came to this exclusive resort community to check out an EV alternative. By 2030, Cadillac plans to go 100% electric, and the Lyriq is its first long-range offering, a battery-powered alternative to the current XT5 crossover.
With a striking design, solid performance, over 300 miles of range, and an array of impressive technologies, including the hands-free Super Cruise system, the Lyriq is the sort of product that should give the Tesla management team cold sweats at night.
Set to reach showrooms by mid-to-late July, Cadillac officials claim they sold out the entire 2023 model year within less than a day after opening up the online order bank in May.
As I pulled up to my hotel in Park City and got my first look at the production version of the Lyriq, the immediate question was whether it’d be worth grabbing a place in line when Caddy opens up the order bank for 2024.
2023 Cadillac Lyriq Review
I have to admit to reaching a level of Tesla fatigue. The automaker’s four current models not only look alike but have begun to grow stale, Tesla making only a modicum of exterior updates over the last several years. Maybe it was just the natural surroundings, but my first glance at the 2023 Cadillac Lyriq came as a breath of fresh air.
Like virtually all of the latest battery-electric vehicles (BEVs), the new Caddy rides on a skateboard-like platform that places batteries and motors below the load floor. It features the most modest of front and rear overhangs and, with no engine up front, a downsized hood. But the real attention-grabber is the crossover’s distinctive face.
Instead of a conventional grille, it features a blackened piece of glass with diagonal, laser-etched stripes that glow at night. The look is completed by vertical LED headlamps and running lights, a traditional Cadillac design cue.
The Lyriq rides a bit lower than the gas-powered side of Caddy’s crossover lineup. But it has a formidable gravitas from whatever angle you approach, its subtly coupe-like roofline flowing into an integrated spoiler that gives it a sense of constant motion.
It retains that energy inside an unexpectedly spacious cabin that takes advantage of that skateboard-like platform. With no transmission tunnel, the flat load floor provides massive legroom for up to five passengers. It also has a floating center console with enough space to store a large purse or, if you prefer, a laptop computer bag.
But your eyes are likely to be drawn to the 33-inch digital display that dominates the instrument panel. The custom-designed, super-high-resolution screen serves a variety of functions, starting with Lyriq’s gauge cluster, as well as its infotainment system.
I was warned that the prototype I’d drive still had some glitches — there wasn’t time to install the latest software update — and, indeed, the system occasionally proved balky. But Caddy engineers promise this will be resolved by the time the electric crossover reaches showrooms.
When working, it’s a generally impressive bit of technology powered by the Google mobile operating system. That said, Cadillac joins the legion of automakers who think motorists want everything controlled by a single touchscreen. Honestly, how does it make sense to require three steps to open the glovebox? I’d be happy with a single, mechanical button.
Plenty to Like
Gratefully, I found few other reasons to complain about the cabin, but for the surprisingly short seat bottom cushion. If anything, there were plenty of things to cheer about, starting with the overall attention to detail. Little things set the cabin several steps above what Tesla offers, starting with the knurled knobs.
Everywhere you look, Caddy designers went the extra mile, from the elegant use of open-pore woods to the distinctive speaker grilles that feature a near-transparent metal screen. At night, they allow soft light to shine through, and the driver can choose from a range of colors using that touchscreen infotainment system.
From a design and feature perspective, the Lyriq comes closer to delivering on the classic Cadillac DNA than any model the brand has offered in decades. Of course, the question is whether it can deliver an equivalent driving dimension.
The Lyriq is the second General Motors product to use the new Ultium platform and batteries — following about 7 months after the debut of the big GMC Hummer EV. The system allows for a variety of different powertrain configurations.
At launch, the Lyriq utilizes a single, rear-mounted electric motor making 340 horsepower and 324 pound-feet of torque.
An all-wheel-drive model will be added early next year, bumping the pony count up to 550 while raising torque to at least 440 pound-feet. The AWD package will be able to tow up 3,700 pounds, as well.
The numbers can be misleading. Electric motors deliver 100% of their peak torque the instant they start spinning. Officially, Cadillac says the rear-drive Lyriq can hit 60 mph in 6.5 seconds. It certainly felt faster, though I didn’t have the opportunity to stage an accurately timed run.
That punch comes on whenever you hit the throttle, meaning it’s easy to execute a merge getting onto a freeway, as well as a high-speed pass. And, of course, the 10,000-foot altitude around Park City had little impact on performance, unlike with internal combustion engines.
Meanwhile, with its battery pack mounted underneath the floor, the Lyriq has an extremely low center of gravity, as well as a 50/50 weight distribution. No, you won’t confuse it for a sports car, but it was easy to flog around tight mountain roads without upsetting the suspension.
The downside: tires optimized for maximum range. That means a trade-off when it comes to grip, and I occasionally felt them start to come loose on sharp corners.
One-Pedal Drive Mode
Cadillac offers several advanced driver assistance systems with the Lyriq, such as forward collision warning with auto-braking as well as blind-spot detection. It adds hill descent control — essentially a low-speed cruise control system. My favorite, however, is one-pedal driving. It’s like downshifting several gears with a manual transmission — but without the added noise and fuel consumption.
Battery-electric vehicles try to recapture energy during braking and coasting, and one-pedal braking maximizes this “brake regeneration.” It not only extends range but lets you modulate the throttle, rather than constantly jumping back and forth from throttle to brake. In moderate traffic or when out on the open road, you can go for miles without ever touching the brake pedal, even coming to a complete stop at an intersection.
The Lyriq adds a “pressure-on-demand,” or POD, paddle on the steering wheel. It makes the one-pedal system operate even more aggressively — up to 0.35 Gs. It’s particularly useful for more aggressive drivers like myself.
Range and Charging
Optimally, the EPA estimates the rear-wheel-drive Lyriq will get you 312 miles per charge. Eventually, you’ll need to stop and plug in, of course.
Today, more than 80% of BEV recharging takes place at home or office — and that’s expected to hold going forward. Realistically, you don’t want to plug into a 120V outlet. You’ll wait days to recharge a drained pack.
Using a 240V line with the built-in 7kW charger will get you 21 miles of additional range per hour. But a 19kW 100A charger bumps that to 52 miles of range per hour, or about 6 hours to recharge a fully drained battery.
As part of the purchase price, Cadillac provides up to $1,500 that can be applied toward a home charging system. But for those who either can’t or don’t want to install a home charger, the alternative is 2 years of free charging from the rapidly expanding EVgo network.
And with one of the newest super-fast public chargers, you’ll add about 76 miles of range in 10 minutes, according to Caddy. That’s among the faster-charging models now available.
Plenty of Competition
The Lyriq comes to market at a time when BEV buyers will be getting a lot more options. At the end of the 2021 model year, there were barely 15 long-range offerings on the U.S. market. There’ll be as many as 50 by the end of this year.
The Lyriq will go up against a growing list of vehicles in the luxury market, including offerings from established luxury brands like Audi, BMW, Genesis, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo, as well as startups such as Rivian, Polestar, and, of course, Tesla.
Those who jumped online early could sign up for a Lyriq First Edition model starting at $59,990. Those who waited until May will shell out $62,990. The all-wheel-drive package coming early next year will go for $64,990. And it’s anyone’s guess what Caddy will command come the 2024 model year. A number of manufacturers have raised prices for their BEV models in recent weeks already.
That’s a significant premium compared to Cadillac’s existing SUV line. The 2023 XT5 starts at $44,195, the XT6 at $48,595.
But considering all the features found on even the base Cadillac Lyriq, the price seems fairly reasonable. And it compares well with the Tesla Model Y, that SUV starts at $65,990 with notably fewer standard features.
The 2023 Cadillac Lyriq is, without question, one of the most visually appealing BEVs now coming to market. But there are plenty of other reasons to consider it if you’re in the market for a luxury BEV. It’s quick, boasts plenty of range, is reasonably quick to charge, and is simply a lot of fun to drive. And I’d be surprised if it doesn’t get plenty of Tesla owners to trade in.