2023 Cadillac Lyriq is the right car at the right time

It’s been frustratingly obvious for years that Cadillac was able to build a vehicle that catches on on all fronts. It dynamically made outstanding and great-looking sedans with disappointing interior finishes and technology, which arrived as Americans flocked to crossovers and SUVs. Cadillac’s SUVs, meanwhile, were by no means particularly competitive, the Escalade the exception that proves the rule. If only the people who made Cadillacs were given the license to not only build something great, but what American luxury car buyers really want.

The Lyriq is that car. GM’s new Ultium electric car architecture and CEO Mary Barra’s guidelines have finally shown Cadillac what it is capable of. The result is a thoroughly excellent luxury EV crossover, and one that’s so competitively priced it’s hard to miss.

After the Hummer EV pickup, this is the second car to use GM’s Ultium architecture to enter production. While it’s not a £100,000, £10,000 monster truck, the Lyriq is the first Ultium car that feels really relevant. The Ultium platform is essentially a bottom plate made up of battery cell modules that determine the length of the car. What happens above the floor can vary greatly from vehicle to vehicle. So the Lyriq gets a 12-module, 102 kWh battery pack that provides an EPA-estimated range of 512 kilometers and a unique five-link front and rear suspension. Currently, Cadillac offers the Lyriq in one well-equipped trim level with either a single rear engine or an engine for each axle. The four-wheel drive car is a few months away from production, so we drove a model year 2023 rear-wheel drive car. (Currently, production for 2023 is sold out, but you can order a model year 2024 Lyriq with deliveries scheduled for next spring. expected.

Park City, Utah is almost comically beautiful, dividing the difference between an Alpine ski town and a desert oasis. Head into the mountains and you’ll find fast, gently winding roads, with wonderfully smooth surfaces. Here the Lyriq is delicious.

While this is, you know, the future of Cadillac, the Lyriq takes a traditional approach to achieving excellent handling and handling. The Lyriq is a heavy vehicle — 5610 pounds for this rear-wheel-drive version, 5915 pounds for the four-wheel-drive version — but the battery pack contributes to a low center of gravity and Cadillac was able to achieve a nearly 50:50 weight distribution. The integration of batteries into the body provides a very rigid structure, which is essential for a suspension to perform at its best. There’s no fancy chassis electronics here—just high-quality two-tube passive dampers and a relatively plush setup with generous wheel travel. This kind of setup is beneficial in saving weight and cost – plus, active suspension hardware drains the battery, further reducing range – but it doesn’t feel like a compromise at all.

Like Cadillac’s sports sedans, the Lyriq breathes well with the road surface, but never wallows. You have to wait a while for the car to take a set in wide, fast corners, but once it does, there’s plenty of grip from the Michelin Primacy all-season tires. Steering seems slow at first, but it’s good to let the driver know what’s happening on the road surface. Cadillac mounts the front suspension on a cradle which is then mounted securely to the body to ensure steering precision. The rear suspension is insulated with rubber bushings to maintain ride quality.

The Lyriq also serves as a good reminder that you don’t need adaptive dampers when the chassis foundations are so strong. Sure, GM’s magical MagneRide dampers could provide an even wider range between soft and firm in a future “V” version of the Lyriq – which, though unconfirmed, seems almost certain – but for this stock version, they’re not needed. . All of Cadillac’s testers were equipped with 22-inch wheels and 40-profile tires, which are usually a disaster for ride quality. But here, if you didn’t know better, you’d think this was the 1920s.

The weight of the car is most acutely felt under heavy braking, although it should be noted that the braking performance is strong and the pedal feel is excellent. To better manage the transition between regenerative braking and friction braking, Cadillac performed the brake calibration in-house rather than relying on a third-party supplier. As with current Cadillac and C8 Corvette sedans, the electronic brake booster provides a user-selectable pedal feel, but in both normal and sport settings there’s instant bite right at the top of the pedal, and it’s incredibly easy to modulate. You really can’t tell where the rain stops and the friction starts, and vice versa, which isn’t true for all electric cars.

Three hundred and forty horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque provide plenty of acceleration from a standstill, though the Lyriq isn’t a neck-snapper like some luxury EVs. Not that it matters in the end. How fast should your luxury family crossover be? If the answer is faster, wait for the 500 horsepower all-wheel drive version. In addition, the Lyriq carries speed very well. It’s all too easy to cover the ground at a speed of 20-30 mph above the limit.

That’s also because the Lyriq is so quiet, almost creepy. A mix of traditional sound dampening material and an active noise canceling system means that even at 85 mph you only really hear very well suppressed wind noise. Particularly clever is the use of accelerometers on the wheels that predict the pitch and volume of tire noise and use the speakers to cancel out that noise a la noise canceling headphones.

In normal driving it is a pleasure to use the Lyriq. It’s agile despite its 196.7-inch overall length, and as a good luxury car should, it isolates you from the outside world. GM’s excellent SAE Level 3 Supercruise driver assistance system comes standard, although it won’t be activated until later this year through an over-the-air update. The interior is arguably Cadillac’s best ever, with a fairly minimalist design centered around a 33-inch curved OLED screen that houses both the gauge cluster and infotainment system. It looks great and it’s easy to use, although some other journalists at this Cadillac event reported some bugs and even screens that were shutting down. My only issue was the screen flickering on and off a few times. Cadillac says its test cars were early builds, and it has two software updates planned before deliveries to customers begin next month, which should resolve any issue.

Probably the best thing about the infotainment system is that the built-in navigation system is just Google Maps, so finally there’s a better alternative to using Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (although both are available wirelessly). The rest of the system isn’t as slick as, say, BMW’s latest iDrive, but it’s very easy to use, with a mix of touchscreen controls and a spinning wheel in the center console.

Cadillac made a big deal on how to develop its own brand-unique switchgear for the Lyriq, rather than relying on the GM parts bin. Most of it is pretty nice and does the cabin well over the recent Cadillac interior, even if some components – particularly the rotary infotainment controller – look great but feel cheap. The Genesis GV60 Performance I tested a few weeks ago still has the Lyriq beat for overall interior quality, especially with the feel of the leather, but that car costs a few thousand dollars more and is much smaller. I also wish there was a dedicated drive mode button. Settings are buried on the second page of the infotainment system and while users can place a hotkey at the bottom of the screen, a button on the steering wheel would be ideal.

Overall, though, the Lyriq’s interior is on par with anything Mercedes does for the same money, and it’s hard not to overestimate just how big of a deal that is. Generations of Cadillacs since the brand’s ‘Art and Science’ era began with the original CTS in 2002 have ended up being felled by interiors that just weren’t good enough. This interior, on the other hand, is a knockout.

The 2023 rear-wheel-drive Lyriq comes in very well-stocked kit for $62,990, although Cadillac offered a handful last year to early reservation holders for just $59,990. For 2024, Cadillac says the rear-wheel drive model will start around $60,000 and the all-wheel drive will start at $64,000. For the money there is no better luxury EV, and the Lyriq in particular undercuts the Tesla Model Y Long Range, while offering comparable range and performance and a much better interior.

I have asked Cadillac directly if they are losing money on these cars. Lyriq’s chief engineer, Jamie Brewer, simply said Cadillac is a for-profit company, while brand president Rory Harvey has just admitted it was “aggressively” priced. Given what’s here, I suspect the Lyriq isn’t meant to be a big profit generator, but instead something to win much-needed new customers for the brand. If a great driving, beautifully designed, luxurious crossover doesn’t, nothing will.

Perhaps the best thing about the Lyriq is what it predicts for the future. Cadillac’s stated goal is to be fully electric by 2030, although Rory Harvey says it could happen sooner, depending on customer response. The Lyriq is essentially the replacement for the XT5 – although that gas crossover will remain in production for some time – and a smaller electric car will replace the XT4 next year. In addition, Cadillac is working on more high-performance cars. Since they will all share DNA with the Lyriq, a lot of good is coming.

Cadillac hasn’t had such a good car at such a good time since the original Escalade. When you face the success of Cadillac, the Lyriq brings a sigh of relief. Finally – finally! – Cadillac has an almost certain hit. On so many levels, the Lyriq is worth the wait.

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