Just a couple of years ago, the notion of a 500-hp Cadillac would inevitably have conjured up visions of something with a “V” badge on its decklid and a Blackwing engine rumbling menacingly behind its grille. No more. The 2023 Cadillac Lyriq AWD exemplifies how the EV revolution has turned ideas about performance upside down. Like many of today’s EVs, this twin-motor, 500-hp version of the Lyriq is powerful and quick but otherwise extraordinarily normal. It doesn’t look like a car that promises to smoke its tires into the next state and doesn’t drive like one either. Instead, it evokes and updates the best aspects of Cadillacs past: their smooth ride; hushed, well-dressed cabins; and effortless power. Thank you, electrons.
Other than the model number on the hatch—Lyriq AWDs get a 600E4 designation while RWD models wear 450E badging (the 600 and 450 represent rounded torque figures in newton-meters)—there’s nothing to indicate that the dual-motor, all-wheel-drive Lyriq is any different from the rear-drive, single-motor model that first hit the market. We liked that car for its absorbent ride and quiet ways but felt it needed more than its 340 horsepower to be a fully realized Caddy. The Lyriq AWD solves that with a second permanent-magnet motor driving the front wheels. Combined output rises to 500 horses and 450 pound-feet of torque—an increase of 160 ponies and 125 pound-feet over the rear-driver.
That you can’t tell the twin-motor model from the single-motor version at first glance—or second or third—amounts to truth in advertising. Aside from the AWD’s extra power, its cushy driving demeanor remains fundamentally unchanged. Stand on the Lyriq AWD’s accelerator and it sprints to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds and hauls itself through the quarter-mile in 12.9 seconds at 113 mph—improvements of 1.1 seconds to 60 mph and 1.4 seconds and 14 mph in the quarter. That should be energetic enough for most people, but it’s only midpack in the EV universe. A Hyundai Ioniq 5, for instance, scoots to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds. At the other end of the size-and-price spectrum, a nearly 7000-pound Rivian R1S does it in 3.1, and there are a lot of ballistic EVs sandwiched between those two bookends.
The Lyriq’s power delivery harks back to the big-engine Cadillacs of yore and seems purposely tuned to underscore its luxury mission. Like the Lyriq RWD, the AWD’s powertrain parses out the torque smoothly and gradually rather than bringing it on all at once with a bang like some competitors. Maximum thrust doesn’t arrive until 40 or 50 mph. The progressive pull is an integral part of the Lyriq’s soft-spoken personality, as is the barely audible synthesized hum that accompanies acceleration. The cabin is as quiet as an isolation tank, registering just 63 decibels of interior sound as the Lyriq whooshes through the atmosphere at 70 mph.
A plush, composed ride nails the other signature Cadillac personality trait. The multilink suspension glides over big pavement swells, is glassy on smooth highways, and almost never bobs. The pancake-style 102.0-kWh Ultium battery bolted to the Lyriq’s belly—the same capacity as in the rear-drive model—makes for a low center of gravity. That’s likely part of the reason the Lyriq feels more agile than you’d expect for a vehicle weighing 5838 pounds, but the Caddy is far more in its element cruising than chomping up serpentine roads. Cornering grip peaks at a relatively low 0.82 g, and our test car’s Michelin Primacy all-seasons (265/50R-20s all around) howled in protest when leaned on even lightly. The steering is confident but light on feel, and the brake system blends regeneration and hydraulic action smoothly. Given the AWD’s mass and all-season rubber, stops from 70 mph are reasonable at 182 feet. Two levels of regen enable one-pedal driving, and a steering-wheel paddle delivers maximum regen on demand.
Our real-world testing exposed the one area where the dual-motor Lyriq suffers compared to its single-motor sibling: range. The EPA-estimated range is close between the two, with the single-motor at 312 miles and the dual-motor coming in at 307. But on our 75-mph highway range test, the rear-drive Lyriq covered 270 miles while the AWD version managed only 220. That’s a big enough difference to influence how far you dare to roam.
At least recharging won’t take inordinately long. Our AWD tester came with the standard 11.5-kW AC charging module. A 19.2-kW onboard charger will be optional for 2024 AWD models and will add up to 51 miles of range per hour from a Level 2 (240V) AC charger backed by a 100-amp circuit, according to Cadillac. The battery can handle up to 190 kilowatts of DC fast-charging, which the company says will replenish the range at a rate of about 77 miles every 10 minutes.
For 2023, all Lyriqs came only in the Luxury trim. The past tense is intentional as the production run of about 2000 units is sold out for 2023, and Cadillac is now taking orders for 2024 models. So, the only choice buyers had to make was between the two propulsion systems. Since they’re on even footing, the dual-motor has the same roomy, handsomely designed interior as the single-motor. It’s a welcoming, luxurious cabin featuring nice lines, handsome leather seating, tasteful brightwork, and good-looking wood. Convenient storage spots abound, but there are also several human-machine interface issues.
The 33-inch diagonal curved display that’s home to the gauge cluster and many of the car’s functions looks slick but forces you to click through several screens to access menus and submenus controlling everything from the 19-speaker AKG audio system to the standard Google Assistant. Most climate controls are conveniently located in a row of hard buttons in the center stack area, but you must still call up the HVAC menu to sync driver and passenger temperature settings. The door-mounted switches that control front-seat massage and lumbar adjustments are fussy. GM’s usually excellent Super Cruise hands-free driving system cut out multiple times on a short stretch of interstate for no apparent reason. And we still smile at what look like exterior door handles; they’re actually large push buttons for the doors’ electric latches and are awkward to use.
The Lyriq offsets those trespasses—and the fact that it doesn’t offer such features as heated rear seats or second-row HVAC controls—with a grand slam on value. Our test car stickered for $65,615, which included the lone option of $625 for its Stellar Black Metallic paint. It felt more expensive than that. Better still, the Lyriq is eligible for the government’s $7500 EV tax credit, and the price jump from RWD to the more powerful AWD powertrain is a mere $2000. Those 500 well-mannered horses are worth every penny, as is the EV that comes with them.
2023 Cadillac Lyriq Luxury AWD
Vehicle Type: front- and rear-motor, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door wagon
Base/As Tested: $64,990/$65,615
Options: Stellar Black Metallic paint, $625
Front Motor: permanent-magnet synchronous AC
Rear Motor: permanent-magnet synchronous AC
Combined Power: 500 hp
Combined Torque: 450 lb-ft
Battery Pack: liquid-cooled lithium-ion, 102.0 kWh
Onboard Charger: 11.5 kW
Transmissions, F/R: direct-drive
Suspension, F/R: multilink/multilink
Brakes, F/R: 12.6-in vented disc/13.6-in vented disc
Tires: Michelin Primacy All-Season
265/50R-20 107H M+S TPC Spec 3184MS self-seal
Wheelbase: 121.8 in
Length: 196.7 in
Width: 77.8 in
Height: 63.9 in
Passenger Volume, F/R: 58/51 ft3
Cargo Volume, Behind F/R: 61/28 ft3
Curb Weight: 5838 lb
C/D TEST RESULTS
60 mph: 4.6 sec
100 mph: 10.2 sec
1/4-Mile: 12.9 sec @ 113 mph
130 mph: 17.9 sec
Results above omit 1-ft rollout of 0.3 sec.
Rolling Start, 5–60 mph: 4.7 sec
Top Gear, 30–50 mph: 1.9 sec
Top Gear, 50–70 mph: 2.2 sec
Top Speed (gov ltd): 132 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 182 ft
Braking, 100–0 mph: 396 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft Skidpad: 0.82 g
C/D FUEL ECONOMY AND CHARGING
Observed: 77 MPGe
75-mph Highway Driving: 74 MPGe
75-mph Highway Range: 220 mi
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/City/Highway: 89/96/81 MPGe
Range: 307 mi
C/D TESTING EXPLAINED
Director, Buyer’s Guide
Rich Ceppos has evaluated automobiles and automotive technology during a career that has encompassed 10 years at General Motors, two stints at Car and Driver totaling 19 years, and thousands of miles logged in racing cars. He was in music school when he realized what he really wanted to do in life and, somehow, it’s worked out. In between his two C/D postings he served as executive editor of Automobile Magazine; was an executive vice president at Campbell Marketing & Communications; worked in GM’s product-development area; and became publisher of Autoweek. He has raced continuously since college, held SCCA and IMSA pro racing licenses, and has competed in the 24 Hours of Daytona. He currently ministers to a 1999 Miata and a 1965 Corvette convertible and appreciates that none of his younger colleagues have yet uttered “Okay, Boomer” when he tells one of his stories about the crazy old days at C/D.
Source: Reviews - aranddriver.com