The 2023 Cadillac Lyriq is a sure sign General Motors is finally doing what we always knew it could do.
Think back to high school. Remember the kid who was really smart, but never did any homework or studied for a test? They averaged high Cs, low Bs. Everyone – especially the teachers – knew they could do better, if only they tried. They finally buckled down, earned a great SAT score, and got into a good college.
Cadillac is that student, and the all-new, all-electric Lyriq is its 1560 SAT score.
Full Disclosure: Cadillac flew me out to Park City, Utah, put me up in a very fancy hotel, and gave me a Lyriq to drive and access to engineers and designers to pepper with questions as part of the new SUV’s media launch event.
Cadillac is entering the highly competitive EV crossover market, and simply put, the Lyriq comes out swinging. It’s all new from the ground up, riding on GM’s new Ultium EV platform, which is also used in the GMC Hummer EV and will be seen in many future models. It’s Cadillac’s first full EV, and it’s leading the way towards Cadillac’s plan for an all-electric future.
The Lyriq starts at $62,990, and pretty soon, adding another $2,000 will get you all-wheel drive and more power. When you compare the Lyriq to other luxury EV offerings, the Caddy starts to look like an absolute bargain.
I like the overall look of the Lyriq. The front is handsome and distinctly Cadillac. The real show-stopper is the illuminated “grille” (most of which is not a grille at all, since this is an EV) and badge. At night the front accent lighting can do quite a little show.
The side profile is inoffensive – pretty much your run-of-the-mill crossover shape, but with some more robust, upright angles. The door “handles” are touch-sensitive, popping the doors ajar (a molded-in handle at the base of the B-pillar gives you something to pull the front door open the rest of the way).
The Lyriq I drove was riding on handsome (and very Cadillac) 22-inch wheels, much more stylish than your standard EV rolling stock.
The wheels are pushed nearly to the corners of the car — the Lyriq’s wheelbase is roughly an inch longer than a standard Escalade’s — giving the EV crisp, clean proportions.
Out back, however, is a different story. I don’t know if I’d call the styling here “ugly” — the myriad of angles, creases, lights and reflectors is certainly interesting. The rear window has an extremely laid-forward rake. A Cadillac representative told me this allows the Lyriq to forego a rear wiper, reducing aerodynamic drag.
The taillights are pretty cool, putting a new spin on Cadillac’s long-standing trend of prominent vertical slashes and echoing the tall, skinny accent lights up front.
The design mostly works, though I might describe the aesthetic as “Blade Runner Pontiac Aztek.”
Oh my god. The Lyriq’s interior is second to none when it comes to Cadillacs, and it might be the best interior on any car under $100,000. Forget any GM product you’re familiar with. The Lyriq’s interior is world-class.
This is where GM really got to work. This is one of the best interiors on the market today. The centerpiece is undoubtedly that 33-inch screen, serving as the driver’s instrument panel and the central infotainment display. You’ve seen arrangements like this before, in recent Mercedes products and the current Cadillac Escalade. But the Lyriq takes it to another level.
Unlike the Escalade, which has three screen panels stitched together, the Lyriq’s ultra-wide setup is one continuous display from end to end. It’s mighty impressive, controlled either by touch or via the rotary dial in the center console. It’s quick to respond and has very little lag switching between menus. Apple CarPlay works well and fills the whole screen. The Cadillac also offers Google Assistant, which can do a number of things, including being able to adjust the climate control on the fly. It’s similar to systems found in BMW and Mercedes, but this time big-Google is behind it.
This is the first Cadillac I’ve ever sat in that has real bespoke switchgear. A Caddy rep confirmed: You won’t find any parts-bin items here, including the basics like the turn signal stalk and window switches. Everything was designed exclusively for Cadillac.
I really liked how all of the HVAC and seat controls (other than the seat massagers) are operated by physical buttons, not touchscreen menus.
Thanks to that long wheelbase, there is plenty of room for every passenger. At 6’1”, I was able to sit behind myself with room to spare. Cadillac’s designers used the word “airy” a lot when describing the Lyriq’s cabin, and the term fits. The transmission hump is gone — a storage nook, finished in blue and perfectly sized for a purse or backpack, takes its place. The pulls off the trick of feeling bigger on the inside than it is on the outside.
The Lyriq offers 28 cubic feet of cargo room in the trunk, ballooning to a tick under 61 cubic feet with the rear seats folded. Unfortunately, there is no frunk. That space is taken up by all sorts of electrical stuff.
The 19-speaker AKG audio system sounds very good to my untrained ears,. Being an EV, the noise floor is incredibly low. You barely hear any road noise as you drive along — thanks in part to active noise cancellation, and in part to the inherent near-silence of an EV drivetrain.
Rear visibility out of the Lyriq isn’t stellar, but that’s partly remedied by the very crisp video rear-view mirror. You can turn it off, if you’re a bit odd.
Fit and finish was very good, even though we were driving early production vehicles. I had one single gripe with the interior: the regenerative braking paddle, which sticks out from the steering column like a sore, cheap, plastic thumb. But really, that was it.
First and foremost, this is not a sports car. It doesn’t handle like a sports car. That being said, it isn’t meant to be one.
That doesn’t mean the Lyriq can’t corner. Because the battery pack is so low in the vehicle, the center of gravity is also low. The steering is dull and lifeless, but if you hock it into a corner and stomp on the accelerator, the rear end will rotate a tad before the safety nannies come in to make sure you don’t bin your new EV. Currently, there’s only one Lyriq model available, a single-motor, rear-drive layout with 340 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque, powered by a 102-kWh battery. A dual-motor all-wheel-drive model is coming soon, with 500 hp total.
Freeway cruising is where the Lyriq shines. It’s quiet and composed over bumps. The car doesn’t have GM’s Magneride adaptive dampers, simply because, as Cadillac engineers told me, the Lyriq doesn’t need it. It’s that comfortable.
The acceleration isn’t blistering, but you still get that nice, instant EV torque. From 55 mph, it will pull hard up to the triple digits, which isn’t bad for a high-riding crossover with a curb weight of more than 5,600 pounds.
The Lyriq offers a one-pedal driving mode, selectable through the center display. I’ll be honest, as someone who gets carsick a lot, I didn’t use that mode too much. The aforementioned regen paddle, which temporarily dials up the amount of regenerative braking, can bring the car to a dead stop in gentle driving.
The Lyriq will also be available with GM’s excellent Super Cruise hands-free driving assistant, but my tester was not thusly equipped. If the Lyriq’s system is anything like the Super Cruise I’ve used in the past, it will be excellent.
Cadillac’s first EV has an EPA-estimated driving range of 312 miles, about on par with the rest of the class. If you drive like a goon (like me) that range will be a good deal lower. But, using the regen braking and one pedal driving does actually add meaningful miles back to the battery.
Charging times, as always, depend heavily on what equipment you use. Cadillac estimates you’ll gain anywhere between 21 and 52 miles of range per hour, depending on the speed of the charger you’re plugged into. If you find a DC fast charger, you could get as much as 76 miles of range in just 10 minutes of charge time. Not too shabby.
The company is also offering customers a service to help guide them through the switch to EV life, including installing a charger at your home.
No. It feels better. A few weeks ago, I drove Cadillac’s current flagship, the Escalade, and it was very good — as cutting-edge and modern as a body-on-frame truck can be. The Lyriq, though, blows every other luxury crossover out of the water — EVs included.
To me, this is now the vehicle against which all other GM products should be compared. It sets a new benchmark for the company in terms of engineering, comfort, and interior quality.
The high school slacker has finally grown up.