All-New Luxury EV Leads the Way for Cadillac
The all-new, all-electric 2023 Cadillac Lyriq, scheduled to hit showrooms in a few weeks (early July 2022), is expected to be a game changer for the brand. The Lyriq is already seeing (through pre-orders–closed for the 2023 model but open for 2024) that the primary buyer is estimated to be 35-45 years of age, highly educated with young children and a household income more than twice the median U.S average of $67,500 (U.S. Census, 2020). These customers are tech-savvy and open to new brands. This last point, if it comes true, will mean 78% of these early Lyriq buyers will be new to Cadillac.
This Flash Drive review will take a quick look at this luxury midsize SUV, with a full Road Test review coming later in the year where we will dive in deeper to the performance, features and real-world driving range.
The Electric Cadillac
The 2023 Lyric Debut Edition is only available as rear wheel drive (RWD), with all-wheel drive (AWD) coming at the end of the year for the 2024 model. The RWD configuration gets one motor producing 340 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque for a 312-mile all-electric driving range and 0-60 mph in about 4.9 seconds. The AWD will have two motors that kicks it up to 550 horsepower (driving range not yet released).
The 2023 Lyriq performs smoothly on the highway and around town. Not designed to eat-up corners at high speeds, the Lyriq has near 50/50 weight distribution and Cadillac’s first-ever 5-link front and rear suspension and offers direct steering with a bit of a heavy feel from the continuously variable electric power steering. The Michelin Primacy 265/50 all-season tires gripped well, but were best for their quiet ride. The small turning radius was impressive.
The ride is comfortable without being cushy, ultra-quiet and with good handling. Cadillac did not design nor will they be selling the Lyriq as a performance or sport midsize SUV, but one that is meant to be used for road trips and in-town driving. There are four driver-selectable drive modes—Tour (default), Sport, Snow/Ice and My Mode. Tour will get the best range, and Sport is when a bit more oomph is wanted; Snow/Ice is self-explanatory, but My Mode is one that allows the driver to be creative to program ride customizations, including handling, steering, braking and motor sound. Yes, Cadillac has programmed-in motor sounds as some people just can’t get used to driving a car with no engine sounds. It baffles me, but heck…go for it!
From front-to-rear the Lyriq’s lighting accentuates the beautiful design. When approaching and departing the Lyriq, the digital key launches a choreographed LED lighting sequence, from front to rear, inside and out, that plays off the brushed aluminum and gloss black trim.
Starting up front, you are welcomed by the unmistakable black crystal face and its hundreds of LED lights that produce a waterfall effect, the Cadillac Crest emblem glows, as do the turn signals and vertical daytime running lights. The door handles and puddle lights illuminate, as do the taillights that dramatically wrap back-and-up onto the rear pillars. The high brake light is vertically mounted in the roof spoiler.
The side view features gloss-black mirror caps with turn signals and cameras, gloss black and aluminum trim running the full length of the door bottoms, a gently sloping roof edged in a gloss black and slim aluminum strip that ends with a butter knife shape. The gloss black shark fin antenna finishes off the roof at the small spoiler that shades the hands-free power lift gate.
Cadillac has designed the aerodynamics so a rear wiper is not needed, allowing water to naturally flow off the tinted rear glass. The smooth doors with flush handles, and the purpose-designed aerodynamic 20-inch split six-spoke alloy wheels complete the elegant design.
The lighted Cadillac emblem, when pressed gently, opens the lift gate, is joined by a simple L-Y-R-I-Q badge, along with something Cadillac has been doing for a few years, a badge showing the newton-meter torque rating, which in this case is 430E. Exterior color options for 2023 are Satin Steel Metallic and Stellar Black Metallic with Opulent Blue Metallic and Crystal White Tricoat for the coming year.
Clean and Simple Interior
The first thing that hits you when sliding behind the driver’s seat is the one-piece curved glass 33-inch diagonal LED touchscreen that integrates the driver information center, navigation and infotainment systems. Extending more than half of the dash, Cadillac says it emits over one billion colors. The sleek dash is devoid of buttons, knobs and switches, meaning a combination of voice commands, touches and swipes are used to interact with the systems, features and functions. Some controls can be found on the steering wheel and the “command wheel” on the center console.
The Lyriq interior is unlike anything Cadillac has ever offered. No parts, bits or pieces are shared with any other General Motors vehicle, and the attention to detail is obvious. The seams between panels are tight; the look is sleek and very modern. The use of soft materials, wood, metal and gloss black trim has a unified and complementary look, with the door speaker grilles one example of exceptional design. The shiny chrome on the dash doesn’t fit with the overall look, and when the sun hits it and the gloss black surfaces just right, the glare was noticeable. We also weren’t fans of the curious vent control knobs.
The seats, covered in soft and supple synthetic leather, are offered initially in Sky Cool Gray with Noir to be added later. The fronts were supportive and power-everything including massage. The rear seating area offered plenty of leg, head and shoulder room for two adults, three for shorter trips. The beauty of an electric vehicle is the flat floor, making for exceptional leg and head room for the rear passengers.
The large fixed glass roof panel has a power shade for diffused light, and the rear 60/40 seat power-folds down to expand the cargo area. Interior storage is found in the doors, under the cargo area floor and in the cantilevered center console that has been designed so a purse or large bag can be conveniently stored in the lower tray. Make sure to check out the slick way to open the glove box.
The AKG Studio audio system is controlled on the futuristic 33-inch display screen by touch, the controller wheel on the center console, voice or steering wheel-mounted switches. With 19 speakers, including in the front seat headrests, this system, which includes active noise cancellation, delivers full and lush sounds. The 26 ambient LED lighting options can be set for dual levels. The cabin has real wood trim and brushed aluminum accents. Other appreciated features included the digital rear view mirror, wireless phone charging, USB C and B ports and OnStar.
Super Cruise, the hands-free driver assist system, is not available on the Debut Edition, but is slated to be on all models delivered in early 2023. Other technology features that are missing are the head-up display and voice control for vehicle systems. This last one, which would be expected on a luxury car, would perform such hands-free tasks as opening the sunroof, raising or lowering the inside temperature, turning the seat heat or cooling on or off, and many more.
Charging and Stopping
The 12-module, 100 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery, when charged on a DC Fast Charger, can get up to 76 miles of range in 10 minutes and 195 miles in 30 minutes.
At home, when using a 240-volt Level 2 charger and a 100-amp circuit, the onboard 19.2 kW charger on the Debut Edition will deliver 52 miles of range per hour of charge—and a full charge in less than five hours. The onboard charger in subsequent Lyriq models will have an 11.5 kW charger that will deliver 37 miles of range per hour.
Cadillac has made charging more convenient with the options of either two years of free unlimited charging at EVgo charge stations or a credit of up to $1,500 towards professional installation of a home charger through Qmerit. They also have introduced the Plug and Charge feature that is good for all General Motors electric vehicles. After setting-up an account on the myChevrolet, myCadillac, or myGMC app, charging at stations from all major companies will be a seamless operation. Simply charge and go, no payment onsite is necessary.
Additional charging is through Cadillac’s variable Regen on Demand regenerative braking system that converts kinetic energy into electricity when braking or coasting. This system allows the driver to set one pedal driving, and then control the level of regeneration, slowing or even bringing the Lyriq to a complete stop, using only their fingertips on a pressure-sensitive paddle located on the backside of the steering wheel. Pulling on the paddle slows the motor and allows for one pedal driving. Once you get the hang of it, this will be your go-to method of driving.
The 2023 Lyriq Debut Edition and the first run, which are sold out, had starting prices of $59,990 and $62,990, respectively, including the destination charge. Options were limited to wheel size and exterior color. The 2024 Lyriq is available to pre-order at $64,990.
The Lyriq will qualify for state and local tax credits or incentives that could reduce the final purchase price. In many states it qualifies for the coveted car pool stickers, allowing the driver, with no passenger, to use the HOV lane.
The Lyriq pricing strategy will cause a ripple effect for other premium or luxury SUVs. Being under $65,000 will cause other manufacturers to pay close attention. The Audi E-Tron starts at $67,000, the Jaguar i-Pace at $70,000, the Porsche Taycan at $83,000, and the Tesla Model X at $90,000.
Observations: 2023 Cadillac Lyriq EV
The importance of Lyriq to Cadillac can’t be overstated as its grip on the luxury market has been challenged by brands from throughout the world.
The Lyriq will draw attention from those wanting a luxury SUV powered by electricity built in America, in this case Spring Hill, Tennessee. The Cadillac team knows after the first flush of buyers they will need to strategically market the Lyriq. The three target areas are Escalade owners, people coming off the lease on a competitive premium SUV, and those stepping up to a luxury SUV.
The Lyriq is only the first of many all-electric Cadillacs that will be released in the coming years. Playing the long game with this transition from gasoline to electric and knowing who the customer is, Cadillac is prepared to gain customers as the marketplace continues to grow for electric luxury vehicles.
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Story by John Faulkner. Photos by John Faulkner and Cadillac.
Lyriq Light Show