The Cadillac ELR is General Motors’ answer to the luxury car hybrid question. Built on the same platform and powertrain as the Chevrolet Volt, the ELR carries a much more attractive two-door bodystyle and a cost-of-entry of $75,999. The most expensive Chevy Volt that can be configured from the factory is $40,655. The price difference is $35,344 from the most expensive configured Volt to the standard ELR. To put it another way, the price difference is a BMW 320i xDrive sedan or three Nissan Versa sedans! What makes the Cadillac ELR so much more expensive? Let’s take a look at what you can get to figure it out!
Both the Volt and ELR operate and GM’s Voltec platform. This means there is a 16.5kWh battery that is used for propulsion of the vehicle. There is also a 1.4L EcoTec engine on board that serves as a recharging station for the battery when it runs low. Typically referred to as a range-extended electric vehicle, this combination eliminates range anxiety that people might face when purchasing an all-electric vehicle. In terms of performance we would expect both vehicles to perform similarly, though we would not be surprised if Cadillac engineers try to gain a little bit better acceleration out of their version. This, however, is where the similarities end.
The ELR is only available as a two-door coupe, and the Volt is only a four-door sedan. The coupe configuration should allow for easier ingress and egress of the front passengers. While this is subjective, we do believe that the looks of the Cadillac are far superior to the looks of the Volt. There is no denying that the ELR is a Cadillac, and it would take a keen eye from the outside to see any similarities at all with the Volt. The largest wheels available on the Volt are 17″, and the ELR comes with standard 20″ wheels.
The ELR comes standard with LED high and low beam lights, as well as an optional sensor to automatically switch between the two. Common on Cadillacs, this lighting technology adds to the unique look of the brand, as well as improving visibility at night. The Volt uses halogen projector light technology, which uses a regular bulb. We have seen LED lights standard on vehicles as inexpensive as the Toyota Corolla, and still surprised to not see it more widely adopted.
Navigation and premium audio is standard on the ELR, and is similar to the Bose unit in the Volt. The center display screen is 8″ on the ELR, and only 7″ on the Volt. Navigation is an optional extra in the Volt. Cadillac’s CUE infotainment system is on-board with the ELR, and Chevy’s MyLink sits with the Volt. Both systems perform very similar functions, but the layout is different.
Leather is available on the Volt as an optional extra, but standard on the ELR. The ELR has a Luxury Package that adds blind spot monitoring and cross-traffic avoidance features. The only additional option for the ELR is an adaptive cruise control system. This system looks for vehicles ahead and then slows down if a vehicle is going slower in front. We sampled the system on a Lincoln and was genuinely impressed with the operation. We expect it to perform similarly on the ELR.
In the Volt, on the other hand, pre-collision detection is available, but the radar cruise that is normally paired with that technology is not. The ELR has standard lane-keep, and the Volt’s is optional, but interestingly the rear cross-traffic detection and blind spot monitoring is not an option on the Volt.
The ELR subjectively looks better, has a better interior, has more safety features, available with bigger wheels, and only has two doors, compared to the Volt. For those that only compare options and price-points, it would seem that the benefits of the ELR still do not justify the price difference. Nearly $36,000 is a lot of money. But there are other factors in play here. Cadillac is targeted as a luxury brand, and the ELR is designed to be a premium alternative to a vehicle like the Tesla Model S and not the Chevrolet Volt. Tesla has been doing well, but we wonder if amongst normal car buying people if Cadillac has a better perceived brand quality than Tesla? Also, there are zero range-anxiety issues with the ELR that may still exist with the Model S.
For someone who wants a good looking two-door Cadillac that is also fuel efficient, the ELR is a good option for them. We still would probably cross-shop the Model S and some big German diesels as well, but the ELR would be a vehicle we would have to drive before making a final decision. Ultimately, the Cadillac ELR and Chevrolet Volt are targeting two entirely different types of customers, and looking at just price is not a fair way to compare the two. On paper, is it worth the price difference? No. But compared other vehicles in the segment GM is playing in with the ELR, it might be the right choice.