2023 Cadillac Lyriq proves ambitious but sloppy on first drive

What is the Lyriq?

The 2023 Cadillac Lyriq is the brand’s first all-electric vehicle and the forefront of a line of new electric cars from parent company General Motors. It is significantly larger than the Chevrolet Bolt and has a long wagon-like profile. Think of it as slightly longer but slightly shorter than a Subaru Outback. In addition to being all-new, the Lyriq introduces next-generation battery technology and Cadillac’s latest technological features.

The limited edition Lyriq Debut Edition starts at $59,990, while the more mainstream versions start at $62,990 (both prices include destination). Within Cadillac’s SUV lineup, that places it between the XT6 midsize SUV and the Escalade.

What are the power and range of the Lyriq?

The first Lyriqs to go on sale will come with a 100kW battery pack and an electric motor driving the rear wheels. This combination produces 340 horsepower and an EPA-estimated range of 312 miles. That range estimate is similar to what you get from the Tesla Model Y Long Range (330 miles) and BMW iX (324 miles) and more than the Audi e-tron (222 miles) or Jaguar I-Pace (234 miles) . We need to run the Lyriq through our standardized Edmunds range test, but once we’ve done that, we’ll know more about how the Lyriq fares in real-world driving.

There will also be a Lyriq with two engines. This model gets four-wheel drive and an estimated power of about 500 hp.

How does the Lyriq drive?

First of all, note that what follows are our first impressions after driving the 340 hp Lyriq Debut Edition. Acceleration is quick but controlled. You get the instant torque feel that has become synonymous with electric vehicles, but it’s delivered smoothly rather than in aggressive bursts.

The brakes are easy and comfortable to operate and a single pedal drive is available, which automatically brings the Lyriq to a stop when you release the accelerator pedal. It’s a major plus for EV owners, who often find single-pedal driving an attractive feature and an important part of the electric experience. As an added bonus, you can also squeeze the left handlebar paddle to apply extra braking power – like a bicycle’s handbrake – if you prefer to avoid the brake pedal altogether.

The rest of the driving experience is comfortable, albeit rough, around the edges. The Lyriq is easy to operate, starts up quickly and feels agile, especially at low speeds. Like many electric cars, it has a tight turning circle that makes parking and U-turns easy. But there are frustrations along the way. The steering feels uncommunicative and lacks immediacy. Maybe Cadillac tuned it to exude comfort or luxury, but to us the Lyriq seems lazy in response to your commands.

The SUV also shifts its weight noticeably too often. Despite what Cadillac says is a low center of gravity due to the battery pack under the floor, the Lyriq never really feels confident in its stance and sways from side to side, especially when rushing corners. Finally, you’ll hear road noise through the cabin, and some speeds will also produce wind noise – not unusual for EVs without the white noise of an engine, although some do a better job of isolating the driver from such unpleasantness. Otherwise, the ride is smooth and enjoyable on a variety of road surfaces.

How is the interior of the Lyriq?

The interior of the Cadillac Lyriq makes a great first impression. The front seats are spacious and the interior features an attractive mix of leather, wood and metal that will set the tone for future electric Cadillacs. The view from the driver’s seat is dominated by a continuous 33-inch screen that curves over the dash, and climate control switches account for the only hard buttons inside.

Cadillac paid impressive attention to detail throughout the interior. This focus includes everything from laser etching into the wood door panels to interesting metal textures and controls with grippy serrations. It offers the sleek, state-of-the-art cabin space with a tactile character that’s missing from some rival EVs.

Spending hours at a time inside the Lyriq reveals some unappealing materials, such as hard plastic accents of imitation metal, a solid rubber dashboard that tends to collect accumulated dust on the entire screen, and an annoying glare of reflective aluminum under the screen that can temporarily blind passengers. All in all, though, the combination of space and refinement of the Lyriq is good considering the price.

How is the technology of the Lyriq?

The Lyriq has a long list of advanced technical features, but there are caveats. Two highlights include an impressive head-up display and the hands-free driver assistance feature known as Super Cruise, although neither was available for testing during our time in the Lyriq. These features will not be included in 2023 vehicles delivered to customers because the Lyriq release has been delayed nine months from its original due date. The head-up display will instead debut on 2024 models, and Super Cruise will ship via an over-the-air update in late 2022, Cadillac says.

The huge touchscreen serves as a gateway for performing almost all vehicle functions – from selecting driving settings to opening the glove compartment. The screen directly in front of the driver can be controlled with buttons on the steering wheel, but some commands must be given by touch with the driver’s left hand, which takes some getting used to. Another pain point is that due to the continuous screen, some displays are obscured from view depending on your handlebar placement.

The center screen itself is crisp and clear, providing an engaging display of numerous maps, functions and menus. Google Assistant is included, allowing for a number of voice commands that understand natural speech quite well. You can operate the screen by touch or via the center-mounted dial. Unfortunately, this can be inconvenient. The dial feels a touch too small and set too far back compared to similar systems, although this may be desirable depending on the driver. Some menus and features are also buried deep in the interface and can be hard to find, let alone navigate to. Cadillac tries to solve this problem by making many icons configurable so that you can place them wherever you want. You want to try it out before you buy it.

How much storage space is in the Lyriq?

In terms of cargo space, the Lyriq falls at the top of the range of electric mid-size SUVs. It comes with 28 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats, which is more than the Genesis GV60 EV at 24.0 cubic feet, but less than the gas-powered Cadillac XT5 midsize SUV at 30.0 cubic feet. It resembles the Tesla Model Y, although Tesla does not release comparable figures. The storage space in the Lyriq runs long and deep, partly due to the sloping roof that contributes to the limited height inside. The width of the opening is also narrow. There is a shallow storage area under the floor where you can store charging cords and a cargo cover, as well as other small items.

There’s also no trunk or frunk available with the Lyriq. Not every EV comes with a frunk, but EV owners consider it a benefit of the ownership experience, especially with the Model Y and Ford Mustang Mach-E. All in all, the Lyriq offers a convenient cargo space for luggage, groceries and light camping equipment, especially when you fold the rear seats. But more overall space was sacrificed in the name of that elongated styling, and the lack of a frunk may be disappointing to some potential buyers.

What about charging times and battery life?

The Lyriq comes with a 19.2 kW built-in charger that adds up to 52 miles of range per hour on a compatible Level 2 home charger, which is significantly more powerful than the built-in chargers on most other EVs. For example, Model Y has a built-in 11.5 kW charger. But you’ll need to have a fairly robust home power source installed (including a 100-amp circuit breaker) to take advantage of the Lyriq’s maximum capacity. For fast charging from public station DC, Cadillac says the Lyriq can handle up to 190kW from a suitable charging station and achieve a range of 75 miles in 10 minutes. This is quite fast and comparable to the DC charging speeds of the BMW iX.

Notably, Cadillac also says its Ultium batteries — built in partnership with LG Energy Solution and similar to those used in the GMC Hummer EV — can withstand an impressive amount of stress. Engineers said Lyriq owners can confidently charge to 100% capacity without significantly degrading the battery, which is designed to last longer than the life of the vehicle itself. And while the charging rate should gradually slow down past 80%, they say it won’t slow down like some EVs.

says Edmunds

Our first turn behind the wheel of the 2023 Cadillac Lyriq was enough to get our attention. The Lyriq offers a premium look and feel for the price, with an aspirational range and battery capabilities in the fledgling luxury EV space. Its driving experience leaves something to be desired, but we look forward to conducting a full performance and range test soon.

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