Road tripping in a cool electric car.
After learning that a BFF from college, who lives in Singapore, was traveling to Sonoma County, California to see her family – and bringing her new six month old son, I made plans for a Mommy/daughter California road trip, driving the fun, sassy, and quick 2014 Cadillac ELR.
At first glance, I thought Cadillac – sweet! Love Cadillac. My parents have owned the Escalade, SRX Crossover and the now discontinued, XLR. All of them impressive American-built luxury vehicles with well-thought out designs and details.
Personally, I feel like Cadillacs are designed by women, or maybe men who can think like women. Every Cadillac I’ve driven has certain details that I love: easy to use navigation, driving modes, and cargo space, yet still sophisticated enough for a woman to want to drive.
So, let’s back up a bit and address the Cadillac ELR.
An electric vehicle: luxury eco-friendly!
When first introduced to this concept, I admit, I was a bit nervous. In Las Vegas, the concept of “eco-friendly” vehicles is very slow going. The idea has definitely gained more speed in Southern and Northern California, where there are true designated spots to charge your electric vehicle.
Even with that knowledge, I was still a bit hesitant to drive an electric vehicle, even a Cadillac.
Top of mind questions: Will it go fast enough? Will I find places to charge it? Will it suddenly run out of electricity and I’ll be stuck in the middle of nowhere??
The answers to my questions: yes, sometimes and no.
Why the sporty Cadillac ELR is so cool
Getting to know the Cadillac ELR made me feel more at ease. A walk about told me that this is the basic Cadillac sports coupe. A two-door with great trunk space and lots of ergonomically placed spots for drinks and phones. When my daughter and I first sat in the car, it felt like we were in a rocket ship with the surround sound and the graphics on the video monitors.
We also learned quickly that the ELR is an electric/gas hybrid: It uses an electric battery, which charges by being plugged in to a wall outlet or a charge station, and also has a gas engine. The battery takes the car for 35-40 miles and when the battery charge is depleted, the gas engine kicks in. The transition is so smooth you’d never know it even happened.
The electric/gas hybrid engine has another benefit: near zero emissions. These cars aren’t just gentle on our fossil fuels, they are also gentle on the atmosphere. And, they qualify for all sorts of bonuses, like tax rebates, special parking areas and in some states they have HOV lane status.
For the three days we drove the Cadillac ELR, we had an awesome time. We started our adventure in San Francisco and stayed one night to explore the city with my daughter for her first time. From there, we drove over the Golden Gate Bridge, and took the 60 minute or so road trip from the city to Sebastopol, California.
Is an ev fast enough?
Yes. The biggest surprise to me was the quickness and speed the Cadillac ELR was able to maintain; it didn’t feel “electric” or any different than a sports car. I have a lead foot. I like to go fast. I felt completely satisfied in the Cadillac ELR. In fact, there were a few times I forced myself to slow down.
The ride is so smooth that I was in disbelief of the speedometer at times — and that it was an electric car. And, driving on the highways between San Francisco and Sonoma County gave me plenty of opportunity to test the limits. Absolutely no issue with pick up on this car.
How do GM electric cars work?
What I learned from the GM representative is that the Voltec electric systems are actually battery re-generated through the gas tank. So, what is actually happening when your electric charge is out, but your gas tank is full, is not so much that the car is being powered by gas, but that the gas is actually powering the electric battery to run. This makes the vehicle more fuel efficient. A full electric battery charge on the Cadillac ELR allows for 33 miles.
Conveniently at the San Francisco International Airport, there are Super-Charge electric car charging stations. At these stations, when an electric vehicle is plugged in, it should generally take 2-3 hours to fully charge the car. Random electric car charging stations throughout the city may provide enough charge for up to 10-12 miles, depending on how long the battery is able to charge.
At home, the battery can be plugged into a grounded 12-volt outlet, but it will take 12-16 hours to fully charge the battery this way. No worries though, because as long as the gas tank is full, the car still operates at full speed.
One of the things I loved about the ELR, besides the fact I felt like I was doing a little bit to save the planet, was that I could extend the longevity of the 33 miles of electric battery charge.
A quick switch to “Hold” on the Driving Mode allowed me to hold on to the electric charge while driving on the freeway, for example, from the airport to the Four Seasons San Francisco, or from the Walt Disney Family Museum in the Presidio, across the Golden Gate Bridge and into Sonoma County. I was able to save the electric charge for city driving to extend the mileage on the gas. I really loved being able to use the electric charge just putzing around the city.
What else in this luxury car was cool?
The entire body of the car for starters. Everywhere we went, people asked about the car or wanted to take pictures of the stunning Crystal Red Tintcoat exterior. The car is beautiful. The interior is gorgeous as well, Kona Brown leather with Jet Black accents and futuristic components make the car feel sexy.
Everything is either touch screen or voice-activated, and in pure Cadillac style, you can have the same controls for the nav and radio directly in front of you in the dashboard as you are driving, allowing for a safe access to the features while driving.
As much as we loved cruising in a sporty, fast car, the Cadillac ELR is obviously not for families. And, that is A-OK with me. However, it became a bit daunting to keep lifting up the front seat for my daughter to climb into the backseat. And, I’m kind of a nut about these things, but I wanted her to enter and exit on the same side as me, so I knew she was in the car.
And I kind of wish there was a rear window wiper for those foggy days in Northern California.
What We Loved
- Bluetooth capable with 3 USB ports
- Safety Alert Driver Seat- vibrates every time the car gets too close, or something gets too close to the car.
- Hand Brakes- on the under side of the steering wheel allowing the driver to slow down without wearing down the brakes.
- Courtesy Horn- electric cars lack one thing gas powered cars do…a noisy engine. The courtesy horn alerts pedestrians that you are behind them.
- Surprisingly impressive trunk space held 1 large and 1 medium suitcase, along with our three carry-on bags. And, the rear seat folds flat.
- Speed Control Monitor and Follow Indicator to keep drivers more present on the road
What You Need To Know
- Base price: $75,000 (some states offer rebates on electric vehicles prices)
- Estimated annual fuel costs: $1000
- Save an average of $6500 in fuel costs over 5 years
- Premium gas recommended
- Fuel Economy and Greenhouse Rating: 10/10
- Government 5-Star Safety Rating
- OnStar is a standard feature on the Cadillac ELR. For three years, owners receive Directions and Connections, with automatic crash response and turn by turn nav, online owner center and 5 years remotelink app key.
- 8 year/ 100,000 mile Battery and EREV Component Limited Warranty
- 4 Year/ 50,000 Mile Bumper to Bumper Warranty
Note: Cadillac provided the Cadillac ELR for my review; all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.