I’ve come to Park City, Utah to see the future. The future of Cadillac, that is.
General Motors’ flagship brand has long billed itself “the standard of the world,” yet, despite a handful of hot products, it’s been difficult to take that claim seriously in recent decades. But in some ways, Cadillac is getting ready to start over.
As I pull up to my hotel, I get a first glimpse of what that future will be. The 2023 Cadillac Lyriq boasts one of the most distinctive designs of any new vehicle set to come out this year. And that reflects its role as the luxury brand’s first all-electric model, positioning Cadillac for the dramatic transition to battery power already starting to reshape the auto industry overall.
But does it offer more than striking good looks? That’s what I’ve come to Park City to find out, with Cadillac handing me the keys to one of the first Lyriq crossovers. I expect to learn plenty during the next two days behind the wheel.
The 2023 Cadillac Lyriq is the luxury brand’s most important product in decades. It’s not only Caddy’s first battery-electric vehicle but sets in motion a planned shift that will see it abandon internal combustion engines entirely by 2030.
Lyriq is by no means the only new BEV targeting upscale buyers. The market is quickly getting crowded with offerings from both established luxury brands and new entrants. And, of course, there’s Tesla which still holds a 75% share of the overall electric vehicle market. But the new Cadillac does have a lot going for.
Its designers have pushed the envelope with a striking exterior that is far more distinctive than the similarly priced Tesla Model Y. Lyriq’s cabin is both roomy and lavishly appointed. It boasts the sort of attention to detail that we haven’t seen from Cadillac in decades.
While it’s neither the fastest nor most powerful product in its segment, Lyriq delivers good performance and significantly better range – an EPA-estimated 312 miles per charge — than many competing entries, such as the Audi e-tron, Jaguar I-Pace and Polestar 2. While initially offered with a single, rear-mounted electric motor, a twin-motor all-wheel-drive version will launch early in 2023 and deliver more power and improved performance.
And the Cadillac Lyriq is loaded up with an array of high-tech features, including the latest version of parent General Motors’ semi-autonomous Super Cruise system, which lets a motorist operate hands-free on more than 200,000 miles of U.S. roadways.
In some ways, the 2023 Cadillac Lyriq reminds me of the old Caddy SRX, the brand’s original crossover. That’s not meant as faint praise. I actually liked the more wagon-like proportions of the SRX and impressed that Cadillac designers followed their own muse when it came to the proportions of their new battery-electric crossover. It’s a bit more fastback than many of the other midsize SUVs, electric or gas. And that only enhances Lyriq’s visual energy and dynamics.
As with most of today’s BEVs, Lyriq uses a new skateboard-style “architecture,” moving batteries and drivetrain below the load floor in a dedicated all-electric platform. That translates into a shorter nose and minimal overhangs. The coupe-like roofline, meanwhile, curves into a flow-through rear spoiler. Aerodynamics clearly played a central role in the crossover’s design, helping to maximize range and performance by minimizing drag.
Driving around Park City, the Lyriq clearly drew a lot of attention, and the face of the new SUV is a key reason. Like other new BEVs, designers put a premium on lighting – here picking up on classic Caddy DNA with narrow vertical LED low and high beams. But the standout detail is Lyriq’s grille.
That’s actually a bit of an oxymoron in the world of electric vehicles. With the powertrain migrating to the lower part of Lyriq’s platform, there’s no need to send cooling air into an engine compartment. So, the crossover gets a sealed nose featuring a blackened piece of glass with diagonal, laser-etched stripes. They look like silver accents by day, but are strikingly backlit at night.
One of the benefits of using a skateboard-style platform is the way it frees up space normally devoted to an engine compartment. While Lyriq doesn’t offer the frunk, or front trunk, found on some competing products, it boasts class-above passenger space. That helps explain why Cadillac decided to switch from the four-passenger layout of the original Lyriq concept to the five-seat production version.
There’s no transmission tunnel, so Lyriq gets a flat load floor enhancing rear seat roominess — with as much as 40 inches of legroom in back. And despite the coupe-like roofline, I had no trouble planting my 6’2” frame on the bench without banging my head. Up front, a huge center console drops in between driver and passenger, with more than enough space for a large purse or computer bag.
The cabin gets a decidedly high-tech feel, with the instrument panel dominated by a custom-designed 33-inch LED display that serves double-duty as gauge cluster and infotainment touchscreen. The latter system handles virtually all vehicle functions, even the glovebox release, minimizing conventional controls. I did run into some problems with this technology, however, as I’ll explain shortly.
Lyriq boasts a two-level ambient lighting system that also can be controlled from the touchscreen. You can dial in some pretty wild color combinations — or let the vehicle set its own, with specific choices depending upon your driving mode.
Yet, in sharp contrast with Tesla products, there’s a classic warmth and refinement that harkens back to the best Cadillac has done — indeed, to a level of style and craftsmanship the luxury brand has struggled to achieve in recent decades. The few remaining knobs feature refined knurling. There are open-pore wood accents. And, one of my favorite details requires a closer look at the speaker grilles. By day, you’ll spot a metallic foil underlayer. At night, the thin metal actually glows thanks to creative backlighting.
During the next several years, expect to see Cadillac roll out a series of Lyriq variants. Initially, however, it is offered in a rear-wheel-drive configuration. It draws power from a 100 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion pack using General Motors’ next-generation Ultium batteries – which the automaker claims are smaller, lighter and less expensive to produce than those it has been using in its first long-range BEV, the Chevrolet Bolt.
The single-motor system produces 340 horsepower and 324 pound-feet of torque, GM claiming that will launch the electric SUV from 0 to 60 in about 6.5 seconds. As is the case with electric vehicles, Lyriq’s motor delivers 100% of its peak torque the moment it starts spinning, yielding an acceleration feel that seems significantly faster than what the launch times would suggest.
Around November, Cadillac plans to add a two-motor, all-wheel-drive version of the Lyriq — which will go on sale in early 2023. That version will take the pony count up to 550, while raising torque to at least 440 lb-ft. The AWD package will be able to tow up 3,700 pounds, as well.
As with all BEVs, Lyriq uses a compound brake system — which blends both conventional friction brakes and the ability to capture, or “regenerate,” energy normally lost during braking and coasting. This is returned to the battery and helps extend range. Lyriq offers several levels of regenerative braking, including a One-Pedal Mode. It feels much like downshifting a manual transmission several gears. But it allows a driver to modulate the throttle and avoid jumping back-and-forth from accelerator to brake in many situations.
Cadillac added a unique twist in the form of the ROD, or regeneration-on-demand, paddle on the steering wheel. A driver can squeeze it during braking to further increase the level of regen braking. Normally, One-Pedal Mode reaches a maximum 0.30 Gs when a driver lifts off the throttle. Fully activated, ROD can bring that up to 0.35 Gs. During my time behind the wheel I found I almost never actually had to use my Lyriq’s brakes.
Lyriq’s single-motor RWD model is EPA-rated to deliver an estimated 312 miles per charge. When the battery runs down, a motorist can use a portable charger that comes with the vehicle. At 240 volts and 7 kilowatts, it will return 21 miles per hour to the battery per hour. That jumps to 37 at 11 kW. And a permanently installed, 100-amp charger can bump that to 52 miles per hour.
With one of the newest super-fast public chargers capable of delivering 190 kW at 400 volts, Lyriq can add 76 miles of range in 10 minutes, according to Caddy.
Safety and Technology
The 2023 Cadillac Lyriq offers an array of high-tech features, starting with its distinctive exterior and interior lighting system. Motorists can individually customize upper and lower cabin lighting using the SUV’s infotainment system.
That package adopts the new Google operating system and adds features like cloud-based navigation and the ability to download smartphone-style over-the-air updates. Motorists can use wireless versions of both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and there’s an onboard WiFi hotspot, as well as Qi wireless charging.
An active noise cancelation system helps deliver all but complete silence in the cabin. But you can activate the artificial sound generator, if you prefer, the car creating aural feedback matched to acceleration. And Lyriq is offered with a spectacular AKG audiophile sound system.
A 33-inch, completely customized digital display dominates Lyriq’s instrument panel, replacing all but a handful of conventional knobs and switches. Caddy may have gone a step too far, however. Opening the glovebox is a three-step process using the infotainment screen. A simple button or mechanical release would be a much more effective, if traditional, solution.
It was hard to judge the infotainment system, as the pre-production prototype Cadillac provided had not had the latest control software update. It suffered from a variety of glitches, including a complete, albeit brief, screen blackout. The automaker warned me of the problem before I headed out and claims new software updates will be activated before the first vehicles are delivered to customers.
The electric crossover also gets a variety of advanced driver assistance systems, such as General Motors’ hands-free Super Cruise technology. It likely won’t be available by the time the first Lyriqs land in showrooms but will be activated using an over-the-air software update later this year.
Lyriq is no match for the high-performance version of the Tesla Model Y, at least if you’re going to play boy racer whenever the stoplight turns green. That said, most drivers should find the initial, rear-drive version of the Caddy crossover more than quick enough.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have the opportunity to run a stopwatch but it certainly seemed to beat Caddy’s 0-60 estimate of 6.5 seconds. And whether you’re trying to merge onto a highway or make a high-speed pass, there’s plenty of power to pull it off.
I clocked about 150 miles with the 2023 Cadillac Lyriq on a mix of freeways and local roads — including some really challenging routes through twisty, mountainous terrain. Lyriq delivered pretty much everything I asked of it. The only — slight — weakness: the custom-designed tires are aimed at balancing grip and energy efficiency, so they could slide a wee bit in the more aggressive corners. But the crossover’s low center of gravity and perfect 50:50 weight distribution certainly enhanced the overall driving experience.
While Super Cruise hasn’t been activated in the Lyriq yet, I’ve experienced the Level 2+ semi-autonomous system in several GM vehicles in recent weeks, including the new Cadillac Escalade-V. It’s impressive technology, capable of operating hands-free on more than 200,000 miles of limited-access roadways in the U.S. Better yet, Lyriq will get the newest version, capable of automatically executing a pass when it comes up behind a slower moving vehicle, where conditions allow.
2023 Cadillac Lyriq Specifications
|Dimension||L: 196.7 inches/W: 77.8 inches/H: 63.9 inches/Wheelbase: 121.8 inches|
|Powertrain||Permanent magnet, bar-wound electric motor|
|Performance Specs||340 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque|
|Price||Base price: $62,990; As tested: n/a|
|On-Sale Date||Available now|
Lyriq is one of the faster BEVs on the market when it comes to charging, though can’t keep up with charging speed kings like the Porsche Cayenne and Kia EV6. But it does add something potential buyers might appreciate. For those who want to install a home charger, the Caddy EV will offer $1,500 to help offset the cost. Alternatively, buyers can opt for two years of free, unlimited charging using the growing EVgo network.
There’s no question that the 2023 Cadillac Lyriq carries a steep price. After taking a limited number of orders for the $59,990 First Edition package late last year, Caddy bumped the starting price to $62,990 — including delivery fees. And the all-wheel-drive package coming early next year will start at $64,990. By comparison, the gas-powered Cadillac XT5 starts at $44,195, the XT6 at $48,595 — though neither is nearly as well-equipped.
Another important comparison: the Tesla Model Y starts at $65,990 — and it’s not nearly as well-equipped. Nor is it anywhere near as attractive a product, both inside and out. That was underscored by a pair of conversations I had during my brief time in Park City, one with a current Model Y owner, the other with someone just looking for a luxury BEV. Both reacted warmly to the new Lyriq, while downplaying the Tesla design.
Anecdotally, I’m sensing a growing level of “Tesla Fatigue.” That’s something that will open opportunities not only for Cadillac but other luxury entrants, such as Genesis, Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz as they expand their own BEV line-ups.
Of all the new models, however, Cadillac has come up with the most strikingly stylish. It’s got plenty of desirable technology, offers good — if not benchmark — performance and range, and is just plain fun to drive.
The automaker claims it has already sold out the 2023 model year and will soon open the order bank for 2024. Based on my time with the new Cadillac Lyriq, I expect that run will sell out pretty quickly, as well.
2023 Cadillac Lyriq — Frequently Asked Questions
What is the range of the Cadillac Lyriq?
With the initial, rear-wheel-drive version of the 2023 Cadillac Lyriq, the EPA has given a range estimate of 312 miles. The more powerful all-wheel-drive version is expected to get a lower rating.
How much does the 2023 Cadillac Lyriq cost?
Early customers could order the Lyriq First Edition for $59,990. Before the 2023 model sold out, that jumped to $62,990 in May. The all-wheel-drive package coming early next year will go for $64,990. When the order bank reopens for the 2023 model prices could go up, as they have lately for other EVs.
Where is the Cadillac Lyriq built?
For North America, the 2023 Cadillac Lyriq is assembled at the General Motors plant in Spring Hill, Tennessee. The Asian model is being built at Yantai, China.