2023 Cadillac Lyriq: Charting a new (green) path

The styling fared far better in private clinics with consumers than most General Motors vehicles that came before it, according to Cadillac officials.

It is one of the most aerodynamic utility vehicles ever designed and engineered by GM.

And among all the knobs, switchgear, sun visors, cupholders, seating and other parts that can be seen and touched by driver and passenger alike, not a single one is shared with another GM vehicle, say the engineers and designers who have turned a 2020 concept into Cadillac’s newest production vehicle.

That the 2023 Lyriq, Cadillac’s first all-electric vehicle, is unique and exclusive is all by design. It was created specifically to draw new and younger customers with a penchant for the cutting edge to Cadillac, a 120-year old brand facing a key battle of its lifetime as Tesla, Lucid, Polestar and other EV startups carve up the luxury market.

The Lyriq is also the lead vehicle for the lead brand as GM introduces a new generation of EV batteries — called Ultium — to be adopted across the Chevrolet, Buick and GMC lineups as well.

The Lyriq is similar in size and footprint to Cadillac’s midsize XT6 crossover, though the Lyriq features a lower profile, lower seating and is nearly wagonlike. The 340-hp rear-drive model features a 100-kilowatt-hour battery with an EPA estimated 312 miles of range. An all-wheel-drive model will be released early next year.

Rear-wheel-drive models are now hitting the market, followed by all-wheel-drive versions in early 2023.

GM has accelerated the Lyriq launch by about 12 months, meaning some luxury features such as rear climate control for second-row passengers, head-up display and exterior door handles that present themselves when the keyfob is activated will be available on later model years.

Cadillac recently invited journalists to Park City, Utah, to drive the Lyriq. We’ve rounded up and sampled some early reviews from the automotive press.

“The new Lyriq is arguably the prettiest Cadillac in a long time. From a unique front face that will soon become instantly recognizable to its long, sleek lines and beautiful detailing, it could be seen as the modern counterpoint to the Cadillacs of the ’50s. They were distinctive and widely admired, though with a completely different design language than this Lyriq. It seemed for a time that Cadillac wanted to be like BMW, but not anymore. (One might say that of BMW as well.) The Lyriq sets Cadillac on a different direction.

… The finish inside is elaborate with a combination of open-pore wood, laser-cut metallic overlays, and backlighting. The knobs that control the HVAC vents have Genesis-style knurling. And the designers have also provided plenty of storage, with a blue-leather-lined drawer in the center stack and a large tray under the cantilevered center console, which also contains a storage bin.

… After pressing the start button and moving the short column-mounted shift lever into ‘D,’ the Lyriq moves off smoothly. In the way of most BEVs, the powertrain is immediately responsive and feels effortless in normal driving. The Lyriq is also impressively quiet, with no powertrain noise and precious little wind or road noise.

Our examples were equipped with the optional 275/40 Michelin Primacy A/S tires on 22-inch wheels and delivered a comfortable ride on the smooth roads around Park City, Utah, where we had our drive. On one stretch, where the pavement was slightly wrinkled, we definitely felt that through the seat of our pants. It will be interesting to see how the Lyriq rides on pockmarked pavement. The standard fitment will be 20-inch wheels and tires, though Cadillac’s engineers claimed there was little difference in ride comfort between the two options.

While we didn’t get a chance to run the Lyriq hard on winding roads, it corners with minimal roll and responds nicely to the helm. The Lyriq has an all-new suspension with five-link geometry in front as well as the rear, along with ‘frequency-dependent’ shocks, which add an additional valving circuit to provide more refined damping control. Those Primacy tires are hardly sporting sneakers, and with a curb weight around 5,700 pounds, the Lyriq is not going to be a back-road hero. But within its limits, it performs well. Passing on two-lane roads is not a problem, but as speeds increase, you can feel that there are only 340 horses pushing nearly three tons.”

— Csaba Csere, Car and Driver

“Lyriq has three drive modes, plus a customizable option: Tour, Sport, Snow/Ice, and My Mode. In Tour mode, the suspension is softly sprung with a fair amount of body roll. Sport mode tightens that up significantly, along with sharpening the steering and adding more aggressive accelerator pedal mapping. I kept the car mostly in Sport, enjoying the heavier feel and snappier go pedal.
On the left side of the steering wheel is a regenerative braking paddle that works regardless of whether one-pedal mode is engaged. It is input-sensitive, so the harder you pull, the harder it will brake. If the stopping power requested exceeds what the regenerative system can generate, the physical brakes are imperceptibly blended in.
Lyriq has a fifty-fifty weight distribution, so if you throw it into a turn at speeds that challenge the gripping abilities of the specially-developed Michelin Primacy P75/40R22 all-season rubber (a $1,550 option that includes a 22-inch wheel) our car was equipped with, it stays quite neutral. Stomp the juice pedal mid-turn and electronic stability controls keep things tame, without adding more rotation to the vehicle.
Weighing in at 5,610 pounds, it is not, obviously, a sports car. Still, with all the acceleration one really needs — from a standing start to highway speeds — and a stiff, responsive chassis, it’s as enjoyable to challenge a curvy mountain road with as it is to quietly waft along an arrow-straight interstate listening to composer Caleb Burhans’ “Evensong.” Your musical mileage may vary.”

— Domenick Yoney, INSIDEEVs

“An enormous screen in front of the driver combines dash cluster and infotainment into one ultra-wide display. The right half is touch-sensitive, as is a small control panel on the far left that allows you to shift between modes on the instrument cluster. The screen is sharp, and the colors are vibrant, which is helpful because it runs Android Automotive, Google’s in-car platform. That means it supports full-screen Google Maps natively, and it looks terrific. You can get directions by talking to Google Assistant (“Hey Google, where’s the nearest Starbucks?”), and the Google Play store will eventually have all kinds of apps for you to download. In short order, you’ll be able to watch YouTube on your car’s screen while you relax at an EV charger.
The presence of Google Maps means I’m not so worried about plugging in my phone to use Apple CarPlay or Android Auto (which is different from Android Automotive, perplexingly), though both are supported wirelessly. In fact, using CarPlay means giving up a chunk of the slightly curved screen because CarPlay only works in a rectangle. There’s no head-up display, but Google Maps can take over your entire dash cluster, aside from a small portion showing your current charge status and speed.
The center console is floating, with a vast storage cubby on the floor that’s big enough for even the most oversized purse. There’s even a pop-out drawer with built-in illumination to store items you would prefer not fly around, and it’s easily big enough for a wallet or cell phone. Rest upon the armrest, and your hand lands on top of the media controls, with a scroll wheel to control the volume and a lovely crystal knob to control the screen if you don’t want to reach out and touch it.
Nearly everything in the car looks and feels premium, with a nice mixture of leather and metal touch points. The tiny knobs to adjust the vents are a particular high point, giving a very satisfying click when you make the quarter-turn to turn the airflow on and off. The only disappointment I could find was facing the back seat passengers at the rear of the console. There’s an odd cubby at the top that seems helpful for holding nothing at all, and I learned from an engineer that it was a casualty of the Lyriq’s accelerated development timetable. It’s meant to have a set of rear-seat HVAC controls.”

— Jordan Golson, North State Journal

“Inside, the Lyriq offers a gaping total of 105 cubic feet of passenger volume, which bodes well for any cowboy hat-wearing individuals who will want to drive it. The quality of the components and leather trim — which Caddy says are all unique to the Lyriq, with no parts-bin sharing across GM’s less exclusive brands — equals what you’d find in other premium rides from Lexus or Lincoln. I appreciated the mix of tangible knobs and buttons paired with touch-sensitive screens; it felt modern without going overboard.

An exceptionally quiet cabin, thanks to Cadillac’s clever noise-canceling system, made it all feel even more special that day I drove in Utah. The clean lines of the dashboard match the relative simplicity of the infotainment system, though you’d often have to dig through layers of options to find the tabs for tasks such as adjusting the strength of the regenerative braking. (A shortcut is available, though I never found it.) Intricate laser etching through the wood and metal were pleasing accents to the 33-inch curved LED screen set near the middle to form the centerpiece of the cabin.

On the road, Lyriq behaves comparably to what you might expect from the $68,000-or-so Tesla Model Y. That’s what I meant when I said it passes the sniff test. With a 340-horsepower equivalent motor and 325 pound-feet of instant torque, it glides smoothly and powerfully as it heads to a top speed of 118 mph. Zero to 60 mph takes six seconds, slower than the BMW iX and Audi e-Tron. But the steering apparatus and chassis are tight enough to keep the rig from wobbling or dawdling when you punch the gas or swerve.”

— Hannah Elliott, Bloomberg

“The Lyriq’s chassis/skateboard/architecture has sophisticated shock absorbers and five-link front and rear suspension for precise steering and a smooth, controlled ride.

The 2023 Cadillac Lyriq EV has a wide, high-resolution configurable instrument panel, roomy interior and conventional controls for a few key features.

The way brakes work changes radically in EVs, which combine traditional wheel-mounted friction brakes with a regenerative system that sends energy from the slowing wheels back to the battery. GM developed its own brake software to make the Lyriq’s brakes feel natural while also recovering as much energy as possible.

The engineers also gave the Lyriq an exceptionally effective version of one-pedal driving, in which energy regeneration is cranked up so much that the vehicle will usually slow to a stop without the driver touching the brake pedal, but also without the painfully slow coast-down that fuels ‘Prius rage’ when normal drivers get stuck behind a would-be hyper miler.

The driver can select one-pedal driving, or choose less regeneration and use the brake normally. When I did the latter, the brakes felt like a conventional car — exactly what the engineers wanted.

I’m a big fan of one-pedal driving, though. I focused on that. The Lyriq lets you choose two levels of regenerative deceleration: 0.2 or 0.3 G. Two-tenths of a G doesn’t sound like much, but it’s more deceleration than a lot of people use in everyday driving. It worked well, and 0.3 was even better for late-braking drivers like me.

A paddle on the steering wheel allows you to increase regenerative braking, even in the highest one-pedal setting. The pressure-sensitive paddle increases making regen deceleration to 0.35 G. That’s not quite a pedal-to-the-floor panic stop, but it’s more deceleration than some drivers ever use.”

— Mark Phelan, Detroit Free Press

“With its flat floors and big storage bins, the Lyriq also makes excellent use of the extra space that electric vehicles allow thanks to their small motors and lack of transmission. There’s no front trunk, since GM designers said they wanted to package electrical and mechanical equipment under the hood to make for more room elsewhere.

The interior of the Cadillac Lyriq is nicely designed and finished, although some parts don’t feel up to the competition.

The shift to electric vehicles could provide the opportunity Cadillac needs to set itself apart. The Lyriq genuinely looks and drives like a luxury crossover. On the road, it’s smooth, controlled and quiet. Press on the accelerator pedal and there’s more than ample power. It hustles without feeling rushed.

The Lyriqs GM provided for test drives were among the first built. GM executives hurried the model’s introduction, beating its original deadline by almost a year, but some features won’t go into production until later. All-wheel-drive, for instance, won’t be available for some months because the additional front motor that will provide that feature is still being tested and refined. So the Lyriq I tested was rear-wheel-drive. Similarly, GM’s Super Cruise hands-free highway driving system is still being tested for this model. It will be available later either on new Lyriqs as they’re built on the assembly line or as a software download for vehicles already in customers’ driveways.

Even without all the features and all the power that extra motor will bring — the rear-wheel-drive Lyriq gets 340 horsepower from its one motor vs. 500 from the two-motor version — the Lyriq is very nice to drive. As with most luxury vehicles these days, the driver can select different “modes” that alter the accelerator pedal response and steering quickness, plus, of course, the artificial motor sound. The suspension firmness, however, cannot be changed. GM engineers say it responds automatically, using sophisticated fluid relays, to the needs of the moment, firming up when more body control is needed for turns but softening at other times to absorb bumps.”

— Peter Valdes-Dapena, CNN Business

“For years now, it’s been frustratingly obvious that Cadillac was capable of building a vehicle that hit on all fronts. It made dynamically excellent and great-looking sedans with disappointing interior trimmings and tech, which arrived as Americans were moving toward crossovers and SUVs in huge numbers. Cadillac’s SUVs, meanwhile, weren’t particularly competitive in any regard, the Escalade the exception that proves the rule. If only the people who created Cadillacs were given the license to build something not only great, but that American luxury-car buyers actually want.

The Lyriq is that car. GM’s new Ultium electric-car architecture and directives from CEO Mary Barra on down have finally let Cadillac show what it’s capable of. The result is a thoroughly excellent luxury EV crossover, and one that is priced so competitively that it’s impossible to ignore.

… Like Cadillac’s sport sedans, the Lyriq breathes well with the road surface but never wallows. You have to wait a moment for the car to take a set in wide, fast corners, but once it does, there’s plenty of grip from the Michelin Primacy all season tires. Steering seems initially slow at first, but it does a good job of letting the driver know what’s happening at the road surface. Cadillac mounts the front suspension on a cradle which is then rigidly mounted to the body to ensure steering precision. The rear suspension cradle is isolated with rubber bushings to maintain ride quality.

The Lyriq also serves as a good reminder that you don’t need adaptive dampers when the fundamentals of the chassis are so strong. Sure, GM’s magic MagneRide dampers could provide even greater bandwidth between soft and firm in a future “V” version of the Lyriq — which while unconfirmed, seems almost certain — yet for this standard-issue version, they’re unnecessary. All of Cadillac’s testers were fitted with 22-inch wheels and 40-profile tires, which are usually a disaster for ride quality. Here, though, if you didn’t know any better, you’d think these were 20s.”

— Chris Perkins, Road and Track

“However modest its specifications, the Cadillac comes together beautifully on the road. GM’s world-class chassis engineers landed on an ideal ride/handling mix, delivering supple comfort, keen noise isolation, and taut body control. This is a big, heavy vehicle, measuring nearly 200 inches long and 86.9 inches wide including its side mirrors, yet its vice-free setup and near 50/50 front/rear weight distribution help it feel light on its feet. The Lyriq corners flat and is unperturbed by bumps in the middle of bends, though the long wheelbase and somewhat sedate steering ratio can lead to busy hands on ultratight, switchback-intensive roads.

The Lyriq’s acceleration is sufficient, not thrilling. Figure on 60 mph taking about 6.0 seconds. We also noticed a programmed softening of pedal inputs, which means no matter how eagerly you jump on the accelerator, the motor hesitates before ramping up its power delivery. The delay is similar to asking for a downshift in an internal combustion vehicle, and it keeps occupants’ heads from whipping into the headrests. Together with the secure handling, smooth ride, and utterly silent interior — it is crypt-quiet thanks to traditional sound-deadening and active noise cancellation — the dynamics are genteel and refined. Perfect for, yes, a mainstream luxury SUV.

Want more? The dual-motor Lyriq will bring 500-ish hp later this year, and a Cadillac engineer hinted with a wink that the brand’s V performance badge will stick around through the transition to electrics.”

— Alexander Stoklosa, Motor Trend

“The Lyriq is preternaturally soft and quiet. There are no three-chamber air suspensions or magnetorheological shocks under the body, but that’s fine, because the passive dampers do just as good of a job eliminating all but the harshest road inconsistencies, even with my tester’s honkin’ 22-inch wheels and low-profile 275/40R22 Michelin all-season tires. Active noise cancellation dominates unwanted road and wind noise until you’re pushing 80 mph, and even then, it’s still Lexus quiet in here. All that plushness may lead you to believe the Lyriq leans like a wayward ship in turns, but you’d be wrong. GM’s Ultium EV platform keeps the weight nice and low, so there’s surprisingly little body roll through switchbacks.

102 kilowatt-hours’ worth of battery cells are integrated into the Cadillac’s floor, offering an EPA-estimated range of 312 miles in rear-wheel-drive configuration. The pack will recharge at speeds up to 190 kilowatts at a DC fast charger. Home charging will be a little slower, with an onboard 7.7-kilowatt trickle charger that will add a few miles of range per hour from your average 120-volt outlet. Plug the Lyriq into 240-volt AC and things are a little zippier, offering 11.5 kW for AWD variants and a peppy 19.2 kW for RWD models. The latter is enough to add 52 miles of range per hour, which means charging overnight will top you off by the time you have to head to work in the morning.

340 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque may not sound like all that much, but it’s more than enough to get the Lyriq moving in a hurry. The accelerator pedal is tuned for smoothness, but swapping to Sport mode on the infotainment display will perk up the response a bit. The Lyriq’s powertrain is not here to roast rubber and whip shitties in the 7-Eleven parking lot, it’s here to coddle the hell out of you, and it does.”

— Andrew Krok, CNET

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