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2023 Cadillac Lyriq first drive review: Standard of the EV world

If you follow the automotive industry, you’ll know that Cadillac’s direction has be varied over the past few years. The company moved its headquarters to New York, then back to Michigan. But those days are over. Cadillac’s lineup is possibly the strongest it’s ever been, and it’s being spearheaded by its first electric car.

The Lyriq is that car, and after our first drive experience with the car, we believe it is exactly the car Cadillac needs at exactly the right time.

Based on GM’s Ultium platform, the Cadillac Lyriq is powered by a 102 kWh battery delivering power to either the rear wheels are all wheels. Initial launch versions of the car, which are already sold out, will be rear-drive only units, and the car we experienced.

Range is slated to be 312 miles on this variant, and the single electric motor makes 340 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque. When the all-wheel drive version becomes available, that horsepower figure will crest 500.

But Lyriq is no sports car trying to emulate BMW. It’s a luxury car that happens to be quick. On the outside, the SUV has a sloped rear section that gives it almost a fastback design. A unique front grille is flanked by actual portrait orientated stacked LED headlights. In fact, unique lighting elements adorn the outside of the Lyriq, performing a light show when the driver approaches at night.

It’s a handsome design, and is a design we believe looks even better in person. It’s hard to articulate the rear slope on camera, but in the natural light around Park City, Utah, the Lyriq looks great and draws a good amount of attention to itself.

Inside, the GM parts bin is gone. Cadillac is proud to declare that the interior is bespoke to Cadillac. No more borrowing from other GM products. There’s a new column-mounted shifter that feels expensive. There’s a rotary controller for the touch screen infotainment system, if you want to use it, that feels expensive. All of the interior materials feel like they belong in a car more expensive than the Lyriq’s starting price.

Taking center stage is the 33-inch instrument cluster and infotainment combination screen. It’s not a full OLED display like in the Escalade, but it’s one solid display. It’s capable of reproducing some 1 billion colors, and is powered by an Android Automotive based software stack.

The animations are quick and responsive. The built-in Google Maps can be shown on the instrument cluster or the infotainment screen. In fact, you can run maps on both at the same time, which is silly. A better use is taking advantage of the wireless support for Android Auto and Apple Car Play.

These’s first cars also have a 19-speaker AKG audio system that sounds reasonably solid, especially with headrest speakers, but not as good as some of our favorite setups (like the McIntosh system available in the new Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe).

Charing the Lyriq is simple. It comes with a portable charging cord that supports a standard level 1, regular wall outlet plug. It also comes with the adapter to support a level 2 plug if your garage already has one. It might, if you have a dryer plug or something like a welder already there.

If you want, when you buy a Lyriq, you can install a home charger that supports up to 19.2 kW home charging and receive $1,500 from Cadillac to have it done. Alternatively, you can get two years of free charging from EVgo.

If you don’t have the faster home charger installed, it’s worth it. It’ll be hard to use the equivalent of $1,500 of free electricity in 2 years, even if you do a ton of road trips.

When you DC fast charge, Cadillac claims you can add 76 miles of range in 10 minutes. The system will peak at 190 kW, and when we get a chance to spend some more time with the Lyriq, we will do our independent charge curve testing to see if that’s accurate.

One additional thing that Cadillac is doing is supporting plug and charge. Starting with EVgo, the Lyriq will be able to be plugged into a EVgo station and the car and the station will handle the connection and billing. You’ll be able to just plug in and walk away. You won’t need to fumble with the app or wait for stuff to happen.

If something DOES go wrong while charging, Lyriq drivers can hit the OnStar button and talk to an EV-specific representative who can help diagnose issues and liaise between the charging company. This way, Cadillac can inject itself into the customer service experience and hopefully improve the ownership experience for buyers.

What is it like to drive, though? This is one of the smoothest EVs we’ve driven. It uses a suspension system that Cadillac calls Passive-Plus Premium Dampers, and it does a good job at making the Lyriq comfortable without overcomplicated suspension setups. It’s not Mercedes-Benz S-Class ride quality, but considering EVs typically ride a bit more stiff than gasoline counterparts, Cadillac engineers do an excellent job at making this car ride well.

There are different drive modes, but none of them change the suspension because it’s not active. The biggest difference in switching from the normal mode to Sport is improved throttle response. But it never actually feels sporty.

That’s good, though. Not every car needs to be a sports car. The Lyriq is a comfortable cruiser that is competent enough on a twisty road to not embarrass itself. But it leaves the door open for more high-performance variants in the future if the Cadillac chooses to make them.

One final thing to discuss is the regen paddle on the steering wheel. The Lyriq has a one pedal driving mode, but there’s also a paddle on the left side of the steering wheel that is pressure sensitive. The harder you squeeze the paddle, the more regen you get. It’s weird getting used to, but once you build a rapport with it fun way to drive.

All 2023 Cadillac Lyriqs are already spoken for, unfortunately, but the order banks for the 2024 models should be open now (or very soon). The version we drove has a starting price of $62,990, which comes with a lot of kit. There’s opportunity, we think, for Cadillac to sell a lesser content version for a little less, and add some more cool features for a little more.

We dig it. It feels like a luxury car. It feels expensive. It feels good. If this is the future of Cadillac, and it is, the company will be a force to be reckoned with.

Written by Chad Kirchner

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