The Cadillac LYRIQ is the first-ever fully-electrified Cadillac, the second GM product to make use of the company’s modular Ultium EV platform after the GMC Hummer but most importantly, it’s here to usher in a new era at Cadillac, from its powertrain to its styling. With an MSRP of less than 70 grand, it’s also very competitively priced.
The face it sports is a harbinger of what Cadillacs are going to look like going forward with the vertical LED headlights, a new, wider take on the famed Cadillac crest and a blacked-out grille – of sorts – as defining highlights.
We say “of sorts” when it comes to the grille because being an EV, there is no engine under the hood to speak of and thus, nothing that needs the cooling provided by a grille.
Which presents a slight problem.
A car’s grille was always such a huge part of its identity -- think Rolls-Royce, 1950s Americana, BMW and so on. So what do you do when there isn’t one and your new car is ushering a new stylistic era for your brand? If you’re Cadillac, you add some laser etched “crossbars” painted white to at least provide the effect of a grille – and it works.
In addition to the front fascia, the LYRIQ gets a great stance, vertical taillamps, a choice of either 20” or 22”-inch wheels (which, along with the colour, are the only options to choose from) and flush-mounted door handles. The war on the rear wiper continues, however; as is the case with the Hyundai Ioniq 5, there isn’t one. Cadillac says that their design means water will roll itself off and that’s fine, but tell that to the Quebecois family that can’t do anything about the sludge buildup clouding their rear window as they make their way to the cottage in the dead of winter. The standard digital rear-view mirror helps because it doesn’t have to look through the rear window, but still.
The rims on my tester look the business, what with their predominantly chrome finish with blacked-out pockets that are given a neat ribbed texture of their own; they rock.
There are no interior bits shared with other GM products and all the materials you see are real; real leather, real open-pore wood inserts, and aluminum trim pieces that are either fully metallicized (the infotainment surround, for example) or given real metal chrome plating; the infotainment wheel, cupholder bezels and my favourite – the metal panel at the base of the centre stack with oh-so-classic “Cadillac” scripting embroidered thereon – are all constructed with the stuff and feel top quality as a result. There is some piano black – seems no car can escape this dust magnet of a finish these days – but it’s pleasingly low. Other neat features include perforated door inserts that allow the ambient lighting to shine through, providing a “sunlight through trees” effect and nicely metallicized AKG speakers, of which there are 19 including two in each front headrest.
The digital dash measures 33” in swept area and consists of one large screen divided into three: your gauge cluster with four styles, infotainment display to the right of that and to the left, a panel housing your trip computer, headlight controls and controls for your gauges.
The centerpiece of it all, however, is the main display. It’s a 9K affair, and it is the nerve centre of the whole car, similar to a Tesla Model Y – the LYRIQ’s main competition – or Mustang Mach-E
. In addition to more common stuff like the back-up cam or navigation, its also from here that you activate your one-pedal drive, open your glovebox, and even activate your dome lights. You won’t find any native GM interfaces here when it comes to navigation; it’s all handled by Google so the map you see looks almost exactly like that what you’d see on your phone via CarPlay.
It’s nice to have all that there, but even today, I still wonder if so much reliance on the touchscreen is just too distracting. You can drag icons to help keep all your most important stuff in one place and there is a shortcut tray at the base of the display but still; that’s a lot of scrolling to find your one-pedal drive menu, for example.
Otherwise, the cabin is ultra-comfortable and well put-together; head- and legroom both front and back are impressive (the LYRIQ is roughly the same size as the XT5, but gets more interior space), and since there’s no driveline, there are far fewer corners and panels to whack knees and elbows on. The fact that there are no rear climate controls is a shame but apparently, there’s a chance that feature is coming and was left out as Cadillac raced to get the LYRIQ to market in order to satisfy the 3,300 preorders they already have.
The single-motor RWD model seen here is good for about 500 km of range, 340 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque. The AWD version arrives later and will make less range but more power -- to the tune of over 500 hp – and the charge cable in every LYRIQ comes with adapters so you can plug into a 120V or 240V outlet, effectively turning the charge cable itself into a level II charger. There’s also DC fast charge capability. It maxes out at 190 kW and can return over 120 km in about 10 minutes.
Power delivery comes almost as soon as you tip-in, as the rear-mounted EV motor gets the power right down. At over 5,610 pounds, though, the LYRIQ is no lightweight so you will feel that weight as you accelerate; it will be interesting to see how much better the dual-motor model can disguise the heft.
The more you drive, however, the more you realize the LYRIQ is more about the on-board experience than it is about setting your hair on fire. It’s about getting you to your destination in a quiet, buttoned-down matter and it’s a bullseye in that department.
Thanks to increased torsional stiffness, active noise cancellation on the suspension, as well as acoustic laminated glass and triple-sealed doors, it allows you to better enjoy your tunes on the fantastic AKG sound system – it’s called the LYRIQ, after all – and converse with your fellow occupants.
There’s no air-ride suspension at the moment but the mechanically actuated adaptive dampers do a good job of keeping the LYRIQ neutral through turns and swallow up road imperfections with ease, even with the big wheels. It all comes together to provide an in-car experience that is absolutely befitting of a luxury EV such as this. Even the battery pack is in on the quality of life deal; Cadillac says it can recycle the heat generated by the 102 kWh battery to help heat the cockpit.
It's all an effort, Cadillac says, to provide the most bespoke experience possible and in a great many ways, they’ve turned that trick. It will take a little more power and the addition of certain features through over-the-air updates (with Super Cruise autonomous driving being the big one) to really drive the point home, however, so it will be thrilling to see what they can achieve once all the kinks are ironed out.
The writer attended this media drive as a guest of the automaker. Content and vehicle evaluations were not subject to approval.
2023 Cadillac LYRIQ
Five-door luxury crossover
rear-engine, rear-wheel drive
bar-wound permanent magnet EV motor, 340 hp, 324 lb-ft of torque
over 502 km
WEBSITE: Cadillac LYRIQ