And it will wait, even if you put down your deposit now. Sharper electric SUVs from rival brands will be available sooner.
Park City, Utah is pretty this time of year. Mountain sunlight soaks the green hills dotted with million-dollar ski cabins primed for summer. Chestnut mares doze in bucolic rest. Merchants put on instant smiles for travelers who spend $40 on a bandana or dog squeaker toy.
But the 2023 Cadillac Lyriq that transported me through these bucolic surroundings had me down. I recently learned that the $62,990 SUV I was driving was a pre-production model, 99% finished, but technically not a customer-ready example of Cadillac’s first all-electric vehicle. Which meant that any criticisms I might develop regarding it could be squashed with a graceful “It’ll be fixed by the time we get to production” comment from the people selling it. This felt like an escape. Potential customers of this vehicle deserve to know exactly what they’re getting into, not an approximation of something to come.
The thing is, Cadillac is doing everything it can to get people in the Lyriq, fast. And it’s not working.
In 2020, Cadillac announced that it would bring Lyriq production forward by nine months. At the time, it seemed obvious that to keep up appearances, parent company General Motors needed to produce an EV easier for the general population to swallow than the planned $200,000-plus Hummer and some (yet) upcoming electric pickups. Rival Ford began selling the Mach-e EV SUV in late 2020 and began production of the Lightning EV pickup this spring.
Meanwhile, every other luxury brand, from Audi and BMW to Mercedes-Benz and Porsche, is already knee-deep in electric vehicles. Audi, for example, lists eight of them for sale on its website, with more on the way. (Hyundai, by the way, is currently decimating Tesla and the rest of the EV pack with its affordable Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6.) So, Cadillac offered a small “first round” of Lyriqs for sale in September 2021, opening orders on May 19 for the 2023 model year version. A 2024 model year Lyriq is currently open for “pre-order” sales. “, with production beginning in the spring of 2023 and deliveries, at a higher MSRP, anticipated primarily in 2024.
While I was in Utah, it was unclear how many of those first-round vehicles the company had delivered, or how the company selected people to buy one in the first place. Spokespeople told me deliveries of the 2023 models would begin in a few weeks, declining to specify how many, if any, have actually been sold.
Confused? I also. What I do know is that 2024 is almost two years from now. So when I found myself on those mountain roads in Utah, I wondered: Would I, or anyone I know, care enough to put down the $100 refundable deposit now to wait for some suburban vehicle they’d get sometime? in the future?
I am no more immune than anyone to this age of instant gratification; While the handsome Lyriq passes the sniff test when it comes to power, range, and interior quality, it lacks the X-factor of intuitive control that I’d want to hope for.
Missing some luxuries
Perhaps the Lyriq vehicles Cadillac sells next will have some extra oomph. The one I drove lacked the critical elements we expect even from non-luxury vehicles: all-wheel drive, a head-up display, and hands-free driving. At GM, the hands-free is called “Super Cruise”, but in this car, as in the first customer vehicles, it was not functional. Customer cars will get Super Cruise as an over-the-air upgrade later this year, a spokesman said. The AWD system simply wasn’t ready enough to be installed in cars, engineers told me. They already had the RWD system developed for the Hummer, so they used it for the Lyriq.
Currently, Cadillac does not offer an official company home charging system; says it will offer an Ultium-brand charger later this year. (Ultium is GM’s new battery system and platform. The company will spend $35 billion through 2025 to design it as a dedicated EV platform that can be calibrated for models across its entire lineup, from Equinox to Hummer, which should help the automaker cars save money, according to Bloomberg Intelligence). In the meantime, customers can purchase a Clipper Creek home charging system through Cadillac to power the Lyriq. Prices on the Clipper Creek website start around $350 and go up to more than $1,600.
Navigation and GPS systems aren’t quite ready for primetime, either. To navigate the Park City area, I had to scan a QR code on my phone and then pair the phone with Bluetooth to use my own phone’s map that way. While looping around near Wasatch Mountain State Park and circling scenic views near Jordanelle State Park, I flipped through the map feature on the dash just to see what would happen. While it did show accurate renderings of the road a few times, most of the time I was in the car it showed a pixelated gray screen.
This will all be resolved by the time the next batch of customers takes delivery, spokespeople told me. What a surprise.
You can see it well
Now that the ugly stuff is out of the way, here’s the good stuff: The Cadillac Lyriq looks great. Instead of following the generic cast-metal rounded hump that Alfa Romeo Stelvio and Maserati Levante followed, it stands apart from those, or, shall we say, from a badgeless Audi. It folds sharp lines from the front grille with hairline black crystal stripes to the bright red taillights that wrap like large L’s around the rear of the vehicle. Standard 20-inch 6-spoke alloy wheels, or optional 22-inch split-spoke alloy wheels, complete the bold stance into something much prettier than what Ford has offered on the Mach-E. I hope this can become a signature look for Cadillac.
Inside, the Lyriq offers a whopping 105 total cubic feet of passenger volume, which bodes well for anyone in a cowboy hat who wants to drive it. The quality of the components and leather upholstery, which Caddy says are unique to the Lyriq, without sharing the parts bin among GM’s less-exclusive brands, is equal to what you’d find in other premium vehicles from Lexus or Lincoln. I appreciated the combination of tangible knobs and buttons combined with touch-sensitive screens; it felt modern without being over the top.
An exceptionally quiet cabin, thanks to Cadillac’s clever noise cancellation system, made it all feel even more special that day I drove in Utah. The clean lines of the dash match the relative simplicity of the infotainment system, though you’ll often have to sift through layers of options to find the tabs for tasks like adjusting regenerative braking force. (There is a shortcut available, although I never found it.) Intricate laser etchings across the wood and metal were nice accents for the curved 33-inch LED screen positioned near the middle to form the centerpiece of the cabin.
a smooth ride
On the road, the Lyriq performs comparable to what you’d expect from the roughly $68,000 Tesla Y. That’s what I meant when I said it passes the smell test. With an engine equivalent to 340 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of instant torque, it glides smoothly and powerfully while reaching a top speed of 118 mph. Zero to 60 mph takes six seconds, slower than the BMW iX and Audi Audi e-Tron. But the steering gear and chassis are tight enough to keep the deck from wobbling or stalling when you throttle or drift.
The one-pedal drive system that slows the car down the moment you lift off the accelerator pedal will take some tweaking, but it does serve to help the vehicle achieve 312 miles at its furthest range. You can charge up to 76 miles of range in 10 minutes with a DC fast charger. These stats are roughly the same as similarly priced EV sedans and SUVs on the market today.
It all adds up to the Cadillac Lyriq being a capable, if not yet desirable, SUV. Last I heard, GM said it wants to sell 400,000 electric vehicles in North America by the end of 2023. At this rate, it’s going to have to move mountains to do it. Ski stays included.