Cadillac elr review 2016

Cadillac elr review 2016 DEFAULT

2016 Cadillac ELR

With the ELR, Cadillac attempted to redefine the idea of the personal luxury coupe—around plug-in capability, and an all-electric range that’s longer than most Americans’ daily commutes, plus chiseled good looks and one very plush cabin. The only thing missing, arguably, was a price tag set within the realm of sanity. At more than $75k, it was hard to make an argument for the ELR, even if you did your best to ignore the cachet of the Tesla Model S, or could see past the CLA45 AMG that would perform above and beyond and get better mileage on longer highway trips.

The brand may have sent a foul ball spinning into the bleachers, but it’s not yet willing to say that it struck out with the ELR. After sitting out the 2015 model year completely, Cadillac’s extended-range electric coupe (or plug-in hybrid) enters the 2016 model year with $10k price discount, a stronger new drive system, some technology upgrades, and improvements to handling, steering, and braking.

Factoring in the $7,500 federal tax credit that will apply for most buyers, the 2016 ELR now starts at an effective $58,495.

Review continues below

The profile of the ELR continues to elicit mixed reactions from our editors. While it’s hardly a show-stopper, and the stance can be a little stubby from some angles, the ELR manages to look exciting through its beautiful details, including huge 20-inch wheels, LED lighting, scooped-out door handles, and a nicely done, more rakish version of the crisp, upright, and fully chromed Cadillac grille. Inside, the ELR includes a real priority on materials and trims; with a rather low-slung layout to the front seats, it feels lavish and glamorous, with an appealing layered look and true ‘cut-and-sewn’ surfacing ad upholstery. It’s all gentle curves and warm tones, contrasting with the cool glow of the CUE interface and its two large TFT displays.

Although the new 2016 Chevrolet Volt, with which the ELR is closely related uses a significantly reengineered powertrain compared to last year, the 2016 Cadillac ELR carries over with its existing arrangement, with a 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine smoothly pitching in as both an onboard generator for all speeds and a traction motor at higher speeds. The electric motor system delivers up to 373 pound-feet of torque. Total driving range for the ELR is 330 miles. It can be fully recharged in about five hours on a 240V charger, or on 110V in as little as 12 hours. Total driving range with both power sources is about 330 miles.

The 2016 Cadillac ELR feels like it almost has two distinct performance identities; and that—more than the performance itself—is its Achilles’ Heel. The ELR feels at its best when it’s been charged up and is powered by its twin electric motors; then it’s quiet and confident and does feel the part of an electric car. But after an EPA-rated 39 miles of all-electric driving, the 84-horsepower, 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine starts and brings a psychological downer: a distant buzzy, raspy drone whenever the car is hustled along. Once the gasoline engine starts, the ELR achieves an estimated 31 mpg combined on gasoline—not much better than a V-6—so only consider this model if you plan to plug in faithfully.

New to the 2016 ELR is a modified Sport mode that brings a 1.5-second improvement in zero-to-60 mph acceleration versus the 2014 model—bringing the official number to a more sports-coupe-like 6.4 seconds. A special Hold mode allows you to save the charge and all-electric mode for when you can best use it in city driving, while a Mountain mode actually blends in more engine torque to tackle long grades.

The ELR continues with a front strut, rear Watts link suspension arrangement. Tuning is rather sporty, yet harshness is kept out through a Continuous Damping Control suspension that can soak up smaller bumps and make changes to damping stiffness in milliseconds. In order to improve the ELR’s ride and handling, Cadillac has this year given it a revised calibration for its HiPer strut front suspension system, with a new damper rebound spring, and there’s a stiffer calibration front and rear that Cadillac boasts does not bring any loss to ride quality. Brake hardware has also been revised for pedal feel.

This year, there’s also a new Performance Package that brings 20-inch summer-only performance tires that GM says improved lateral grip by ten percent. It also includes Brembo front brake calipers plus larger vented front and rear rotors that improve stopping distances by 12 percent. The package also ushers in different calibrations for the suspension and steering, and there’s a new, thicker steering wheel. As before, you can summon up ‘Regen on Demand’ through the steering-wheel paddle—to simulate engine braking.

Inside, the ELR is plush and comfortable, provided you’re in one of the supportive, generously sized, and lavishly trimmed front seats. As before, Active Noise Cancellation is standard on the ELR, which also helps keep road noise at bay. The semi-aniline full leather seating is super-comfortable, and while the rear seat isn’t all that useful, the seatbacks can be folded down for larger cargo. The cupholder or center storage bin is power-assisted, although there’s not all that much storage space around the cabin.

There haven’t been any crash-test ratings made available for the ELR; yet the closely related Chevy Volt has done exceptionally well. On the 2016 ELR Cadillac has made all of the Driver Assistance active-safety features standard. That includes rear cross traffic alert, side blind zone alert, lane-change alert, Intellibeam headlamps, and a new vehicle security system.

Call it hubris, or call it an innocent miscalculation; whatever the case, GM made a wild miscalculation in pricing the previous ELR upon its debut. And while we’re still not sure that a $10,000 price drop is even enough (something more along the lines of $20k would have been closer as we see it), Cadillac is making a serious effort to pack more value into this model. For 2016, Cadillac has upgraded the ELR’s feature set to include OnStar telematics and concierge services, now with 4G LTE connectivity built into the vehicle and a standard built-in wi-fi hotspot supporting up to seven simultaneous devices. There’s also a new inductive charging pad, and the ELR has three USB ports. Adaptive cruise control is also available.

Check back for more informatio, including driving impressions, as we hope to revisit this ‘reformulated’ Cadillac ELR in the near future.

Clean Retail Price

The MT clean retail price reflects a reasonable asking price by a dealership for a fully reconditioned vehicle (clean title history, no defects, minimal wear) with average mileage.

5-Year Cost to Own / Rating
$65,000N.A.N.A. / N.A.
$65,000N.A.N.A. / N.A.


  • Instant torque from the electric motor
  • Surprisingly entertaining to drive
  • Low sales means it's highly exclusive


  • Ride isn't that soft
  • Tight rear seats
  • Console area between the two rear seats don't fold

Cadillac ELR Expert Review

Zach Gale

The 2016 Cadillac ELR gains a retuned suspension, a revised electric drive system that produces more power, and a new Performance Package that adds 20-inch summer-only performance tires, Brembo brakes, retuned Continuous Damping Control and electric power steering systems, and a sport steering wheel. Base models now have longer EV only range increases to 39 miles from 37. A Sport mode has also been added and gives the driver access to the maximum power of the electric powertrain, which is 233 hp and 373 lb-ft of torque versus 214 hp in Normal mode. The old ELR had a total system output of 162 hp and 296 lb-ft.

The 2016 Cadillac ELR is a front-drive extended-range plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHEV) powered by an electric motor with a total system output of 233 hp and 372 lb-ft. an 84-hp 1.4-liter I-4 serves as a range extender and enables the car to travel up to 330 miles. Cadillac expects that the increase in power should help performance and allow the 2016 ELR to accelerate to 60 mph in 6.4 seconds. The ELR is also one of the lowest-volume cars on sale today, giving it more exclusivity.

Due to a more powerful electric motor, the 2016 ELR can accelerate quicker than the car it was based on, the previous generation Chevrolet Volt. Even though it isn't as quick as it looks, the instant torque from the electric motor means acceleration is immediate and smooth. However, the 1.4-liter I-4 generator does get noisy when it kicks in, detracting from the car's overall refinement. Handling is good, making the ELR fun on a twisty road since it's able to change directions quickly; however, it's no sports car because it doesn't have a lot of grip due to the efficiency-minded tires.

There's technically seating for four passengers in the 2016 ELR, but the car's roof line cuts into the rear seats, which means its best suited for children or short adults. Trunk space is also on the small side, with 10.5 cubic feet of volume and can be expanded via 40/40 split-folding rear seats. Even with the rear seats down, there's a divider that limits the usability of trunk, making the ELR less practical. Cadillac's CUE infotainment system is also available in the ELR and comes with touch-sensitive controls.

A host of safety features are available in the 2016 ELR including adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert, and blind spot warning.

While it's not as cutting edge as the Tesla Model S, the 2016 ELR remains a respectable extended-range PHEV, offering plenty of range for long trips. In a 2014 First Drive review, we noted that the car is plenty of fun to drive thanks to its engaging handling and the instant torque from the electric motor. The smoothness of the electric motor means that it stays relatively quiet; however, the noisy generator detracts from the car's refinement. Cabin fit and finish is good but certain touch points, such as the center armrest, aren't that soft. Additionally, in a 2014 First Test review, we said that the ride is "far from cushy" due to the standard 20-inch wheels.

  • Tesla Model S
  • BMW 330e
  • Mercedes-Benz C350e
  • Toyota Prius Plug-In
  • Chevrolet Volt

--Stefan Ogbac

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Cadillac’s ELR is a luxurious, hyperattractive car that just so happens to be a plug-in hybrid that can silently hum around on electric power alone for up to 39 miles at a time. At least, that’s the conclusion we’ve reached, having covered it extensively and tested one. That’s not exactly what John Q. Public seems to think, however, as evidenced by Cadillac’s ELR sales woes. Eager to try to shake the “it’s a $75,000 Chevrolet Volt” perception (the ELR shares its basic powertrain and portions of its platform, but little else, with Chevy’s first-generation Volt), Cadillac has fired up the ELR with newfound sportiness, in the hopes it’ll ignite buyer interest.

Surprisingly, Cadillac has unearthed a magical software update that’s inflated the ELR’s output substantially. Total system horsepower from the ELR’s pair of electric motors and gasoline four-cylinder engine rises from 217 to 233, while peak torque swells from 295 lb-ft to 373. Cadillac claims this—in conjunction with a reprogrammed sport mode—drops the ELR’s zero-to-60 time a full 1.5 seconds, to just 6.4 ticks. In our testing, the quickest run to 60 mph took 8.1 seconds (when using the gas engine in the Extended Range driving mode) in a 2014 model, so Cadillac’s estimates could be right on the money.

Other improvements focus on the ELR’s suspension, with a revised front strut setup (the ELR utilizes GM’s torque-steer-mitigating HiPer strut technology) with stiffer springs, stiffer control-arm bushings, and the addition of a damper rebound spring. The rear axle (a twist-beam design), receives stiffer bushings for its Watts linkage. Cadillac retuned the Continuous Damping Control adaptive suspension to match the increased stiffness and the recalibrated steering. The brakes, too, were upgraded for better response.

If that’s not sporty enough, the 2016 ELR also will offer a Performance package. While it reduces the ELR’s electric-only driving range by about four miles, the performance kit includes goodies such as summer-only performance tires (wrapped around new 20-inch wheels), Brembo four-piston front brake calipers squeezing 13.6-inch vented rotors, a sport steering wheel with a thicker rim, and unique steering and Continuous Damping Control revisions. According to Cadillac, the tires alone up the ELR’s lateral grip by “nearly 10 percent;” the 2014 ELR we sent flying around our skidpad mustered a relatively average 0.84 g—if Cadillac’s claimed improvement holds up when we test a 2016 model, that would mean Performance package cars could be capable of more than 0.9 g.

Moving past the sporty stuff, every 2016 ELR gets previously optional driver-assistance tech including blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, automatic high beams, and lane-change alert. GM’s rapidly proliferating 4G LTE onboard data connection with Wi-Fi hotspot capability is also standard, as is Cadillac’s new wreathless crest badge. Perhaps the best news is the price: 2016 ELRs will start at $65,995 before any EV-related tax breaks come into play (most buyers can still look forward to a $7500 federal tax credit). That’s a full $10,000 less than the ELR’s previous base price, but with more horsepower and sportier chassis tuning. Will this be enough to start moving ELRs through Cadillac dealers at something quicker than a glacial pace, or will the ELR just go from being a $75,000 Chevrolet Volt to being a $65,000 Chevrolet Volt? We’ll see when we get our hands on one for a test.

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Aesthetically, not much has changed on the 2016 ELR. It’s still remarkably good looking, with a tight, cohesive-looking exterior that leans forward with a good deal of presence.

You’d be hard-pressed to hate the way the ELR looks.

The rear end rises with short overhangs front to back, and chrome details are added along the flanks and window-surround. The front end is pointed and sharp, while the headlight and taillight shapes tie it together. All things considered, you’d be hard-pressed to hate the way the ELR looks.

The only real difference for 2016 is in the front grille, where Cadillac got rid of the vertical slats found on the older model and fixed a simpler, squared-off crest, free of the circular surround.

Exterior Dimensions


Upon its debut, the ELR came with a rather luxurious interior appointment, but Cadillac went ahead and sweetened the deal a bit more, claiming it’s become “… one of the industry’s most-connected vehicles, with new and enhanced features designed to extend technologies woven into nearly every facet of customers’ lives.”

To begin with, the 2016 ELR comes with OnStar and a 4G LTE built-in Wi-Fi hotspot, both as standard. With support for up to seven devices at once, the wireless web connection is active whenever the ELR is turned on, and comes with a free three-month/three-gigabyte (whichever comes first) data trial. There’s also wireless inductive cell phone charging on the instrument panel, which frees up the three USB ports for other uses.

The wireless web connection is active whenever the ELR is turned on.

An 8-inch configurable instrument and driver information display keeps the pilot abreast of vitals, with four levels of information detail.

Cadillac’s various Driver Assistance active safety systems, which were an option on the old ELR, are now standard. These include side blind-zone alert, rear cross-traffic alert, and Intellibeam (automatic high-low) headlights. Lane-change alert and a new security system also come standard. Adaptive cruise control is an available option.

Further interior features include “cut-and-sew” handcrafted upholstery, available Semi-Aniline full leather seating, and a “sueded” microfiber headliner and supporting trim. There’s also a power-assist covered storage/cup holder situated in the center console, and fold-down rear seatbacks for extra room when carrying long items like golf clubs.

Interior Dimensions


When it came to the drivetrain department, the old ELR was universally panned for its underpowered and uninspiring performance. Suffice it to say, Cadillac noticed, and consequently blessed the new model with 25 percent more muscle and significantly better handling.

The speed boost starts with a software upgrade, which increases power, acceleration, and even the all-electric range. Sport mode has been modified to combine the ICE and electric motor for maximum output. When activated, the electric drive unit is capable of delivering an instant 373 pound-feet of torque, rendering a 6.4-second 0-to-60 time that’s a second and a half quicker than the old model. The top speed has been raised as well (details for this are sparse, but considering the old model topped out at 106 mph, it’s probably not all that impressive).

The “Regen on Demand” technology returns slightly improved, assisting in deceleration while recharging the ELR’s battery packs. Cadillac says it’s a similar feeling to “downshifting with a manual transmission.” The driver activates this feature using paddles on the steering wheel like those found on “traditional performance cars.”

With full utilization of the 1.4-liter gas-engine generator, the ELR can get up to 330 miles of range, while the daily commute will benefit from 39 miles of electric-only, emission-free driving.

Located low along the spine of the vehicle, the T-shaped, 435-pound battery pack was placed optimally between the front and rear axles for better weight distribution. Either a 120- or 240-volt charger can top off the juice, with roughly five hours required for a full charge from a 240-volt outlet. The battery is also covered by an eight-year/100,000-mile warranty, or 10-year/150,000-mile warranty in states following Air Resource Board guidelines.

To make it more interesting in the bends, Cadillac made several revisions to the ELR’s steering and suspension components. These include a recalibrated HiPer Strut front suspension, increased front spring rates and a stiffer rear axle, stiffer bushings for the front lower control arms, cradle mounts and Watts link in the back, revised calibrations for the Continuous Damping Control system, a new front damper rebound spring, new steering calibration, and revised brake components and calibration for improved feel.

For folks who need even more speed, there’s an available Performance Package that throws in new 20-inch summer performance tires mounted on sport wheels that “increase lateral grip by nearly 10 percent” Upgraded Brembo brakes with four-pot calipers and 13.6-inch rotors up front and 12.4-inch rotors in the rear “improve 60-to-0 mph stopping distance by nearly 12 percent.” There are also upgraded calibrations for the Continuous Damping Control and electric steering systems, and a thicker sport steering wheel for the cabin. Unfortunately, this package also decreases the electric-only range by about four miles, mostly due to the higher rolling resistance of the stickier performance rubber.

Drivetrain Specifications


Here’s the big news: while the old ELR was priced at $76,000, or roughly $68,500 after all the tax incentives, the new model will be $58,495 after the credits. That’s a net reduction of about 10 grand, which is pretty impressive, all things considered.


Tesla Model S

As the new standard in high-end, all-electric transportation, the Tesla Model S is undoubtedly one of the most talked-about vehicles in recent memory. Visually, it’s nice to look at, although it’s a bit more subdued than the ELR, with gentle curves and handsome proportions. The interior boasts high-end materials and a cornucopia of cutting-edge technology, including a large color screen, lane-departure warning, adaptive cruise control, and a semi-autonomous drive system. The entry-level 60D model comes with dual electric motors good for a combined output of 376 horsepower, which is enough for a 0-to-60 run just under six seconds. Pricing starts at $70,000, and ranges up the $120,170 for the high-performance P85D.

Read our full review here.

BMW 3 Series Plug-in Hybrid

In the push to electrify much of its lineup,BMW has chosen the 3 Series to lead the way. Both the i3 and i8 were created specifically for EV duties, but a hybrid 3 Series will help ease the transition for Bimmer’s other models traditionally powered by gasoline alone.

Visually, the hybrid 3 Series will probably be identical to its ICE-only counterparts. The interior too will be conventional BMW fair. The drivetrain, however, will employ a 2.0-liter four-cylinder mated to an electric motor for 245 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. Fuel economy is estimated at 140 mpg, while emission-free driving range will be in the 20-mile ballpark. A sprint to 60 mph will take around 10 seconds. Pricing is expected to start around $45,000.

Read our full review here.


GM can’t afford to let the ELR slip into obscurity with lackluster sales, and it looks like this slew of updates for 2016 should go the distance when it comes to attracting new buyers (just so long as the old model is purged from memory). The more potent drivetrain and upgraded standard interior equipment are both great revisions, and while I doubt there will be throngs of customers scrambling to get their hands on the Performance Package, it’s definitely a nice option to have. After all, with an exterior that good looking, the mechanical bits should be at least somewhat complementary. Basically, Cadillac is giving us exactly what the ELR should have been, and I see the market responding positively.

Most attractive, however, is the price. By reducing the MSRP by 10 grand, Cadillac now presents the ELR as an economic alternative to the dominating products put forth by Tesla. And all things considered, now is the time to do that, as this segment is sure to get more crowded in the near future.

Will these moves translate into more sales? We’ll have to wait and see, but so far, things are looking good.

  • Love it

    • Exterior still looks great
    • More standard equipment in the interior
    • Faster, more powerful, better handling
    • Slashed price
  • Leave it

    • Difficult segment
    • Still kind of slow in a straight line

Click here to read our full review of the 2014 Cadillac ELR.

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2016 review cadillac elr

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2016 Cadillac ELR - Exterior Walk Around mini review

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