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 Post subject: Blastphemy has driven a 2016 ELR!
PostPosted: Thu Sep 24, 2015 11:47 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jan 17, 2014 10:55 am
Posts: 54
As some of you may remember, I leased a 2014 Cadillac ELR for about 15 months and had a lot of complaints. Now I'm driving a 2015 Ford Fusion Energi Titanium... and I was really loving it until I drove the refreshed 2016 ELR this afternoon!

You aren't going to be reading any reviews for the 2016 ELR criticizing the acceleration or handling, that's for sure. Nor are you going to hear many reviewers grumbling about the engine noise (assuming they even notice it) in Sport Mode or Extended Range mode. Cadillac has made some significant improvements to the ELR for 2016, and I bet that if this was the version of the car released at the end of 2013 at its new price of $65,000 base, Cadillac would have enjoyed a completely different sales outcome. Now with competition from the redesigned Gen II Volt, the updated 2016 ELR may not have quite the shine it would have had two years ago, but the ELR is still in a class all its own when it comes to appearance and styling.

The 2016 ELR I drove had the white Crystal White Tricoat exterior color, Jet Black interior, and 20" Satin Graphite painted aluminum wheels. What an amazing combination! The exterior of the car looked like it was covered with diamonds, while the interior looked plush and expensive. It still has the useless motorized cup holder cover and unnecessary power glove compartment release, but I guess some would argue the point of opulence is to include features that help wealthy people avoid all possible manual labor!

Surprisingly, the first thing I noticed when sitting in the car was how extraordinarily clear and unexpectedly vivd the side mirrors appeared. I don't know why, but it seemed like I was looking at a hyper-real reflection with unusual depth and clarity. Can't explain why the mirrors looked like that to me, but the salesperson agreed with my assessment when I pointed it out. The reverse mirror in the car looks the same as it did in the 2014 model.

The original 2014 ELR accelerated from 0-60 in about 9 seconds in EV mode, or as fast as 7.8 seconds in Extended Range mode (i.e., after the battery was depleted and the gas engine engaged, which for most owners was a rare occurrence). I'm not sure what the actual acceleration statistics are for the 2016 in EV-only mode (i.e., "Touring Mode"), but it feels a LOT faster. Perhaps not Tesla fast, but still very robust. When switching to Sport Mode (which now engages the engine to provide additional power), the acceleration is even greater and the car stiffens up for more aggressive handling. It's very easy to believe that the 2016 ELR will accelerate from 0-60 in a little over 6 seconds in Sport Mode, and - more surprisingly - probably in just over 7 seconds in Touring Mode. I didn't have any diagnostic equipment with me of course, but the ELR felt at least as fast as my wife's Toyota Rav4 EV which can go 0-60 in 7 seconds.

The only grumble I have is that the driver has no control over whether Sport Mode engages the engine, but frankly EV-only Touring Mode is so much more improved you may not really care. You won't need Sport Mode to merge on to the highway, pass, or launch off the line to beat someone trying to cut in front of you at a light. I didn't have the opportunity to drive the ELR up any steep hills, so I can't comment on how the car feels doing that. I remember my 2012 Volt and 2014 ELR always felt zippy until I had to go from a full stop at the bottom of a hill, and then it felt like both vehicles struggled. Something tells me the 2016 ELR (or 2016 Gen II Volt) won't have that problem.

One other surprise was that the fully-charged ELR I drove showed an estimated range of 48 miles! That's about 8 more miles than Cadillac promises, so I'm very confident that the increase in range is very real and will meet expectations.

The 2016 model is similar (or identical) to the 2014 model in many respects - size, layout, passenger space, regen paddles, seat comfort, trunk space, etc. Still no cooled seats, but that's the only omission that disappointed me. Air conditioning, adaptive cruise control, and other such features found in the 2014 model all seemed to work the same.

The ELR I drove didn't have the optional $1,295 Performance Package, so I don't know what benefits that may add to the car. I suspect it's just a different driving experience (i.e., stiffer suspension, stronger brakes, and more road feel).

The C.U.E. system felt much more responsive, but the general functionality hasn't changed much. It still has many of the flaws found in the 2014 model, but the interface does appear cleaner and more efficient on some screens. A/C still can't be configured to turn on in Eco Mode instead of Max; still can't cycle the A/C modes without going to the main C.U.E. Climate screen; still can't see your Media Favorites (station pre-sets, etc.) on the A/C screen; and the HMI still has to completely index your media device (iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, etc.) for some reason. Thankfully, though, you can now control your device via Bluetooth (instead of just skipping forward or back one track at a time), including selecting albums, tracks, artists, etc. to play - all without connecting the USB cable.

On top of that, if you have an Apple device, you can transfer to Car Play to use apps like Music, Maps, and Messages directly on the C.U.E. screen with no C.U.E. interference. I'm not sure the integration was as seamless and intuitive as I would have liked, but it's sure leaps and bounds better than what was available in 2014. Since the HMI indexing was taking forever, I didn't have a chance to see if the track/artist/album listings were in the correct order when only using C.U.E.'s proprietary Audio interface. But listings were perfect when using Bluetooth or Car Play.

Regarding two of my biggest complaints about the 2014 ELR, I'm happy to say they've been mitigated somewhat, but disappointed that they haven't been completely resolved. (1) The Rear Vision Camera still doesn't look as high definition as it should during the daytime - at least as compared to my Fusion and Rav4 EV - but it's definitely a little better than the 2014 image. Unfortunately, I didn't have any chance to try it at night or in a dark garage to see if the crappy blurred undefined camera image from the 2014 model was fixed. (2) The "Vehicle Left On" triple-honk alert still can't be turned off, and it's still loud enough to be annoying, but it seems to have been toned down a little bit.

I also wasn't able to test the brightness of the screens at night or on a cloudy day, nor test whether the Rear Vision Camera displays its image at full brightness even when the Illumination Control Wheel is dialed all the way down, and I forgot to see whether I could toggle the car into full Night Mode during the daytime (in the 2014 model, all that changes is the clouds on the map screen turn into stars).

So will I buy the 2016 ELR? Well, it's definitely tempting! But no, probably not. While Cadillac's repurchase of my 2014 pretty much paid for the Ford Fusion I drive, meaning I could trade it in and not care what Cadillac gave me for it since I'd likely come out ahead, I know myself well enough to anticipate still hating the triple honk and C.U.E. interface deficiencies. But perhaps now that I'm aware of all those problems, I could talk myself into accepting them in order to get back into my Batmobile. I guess we'll see...

For anyone who has no problem with C.U.E. and never leaves their car running for A/C while stepping out to get the mail or run into a store (or doesn't care if the car honks at you when you do), then the improved acceleration and lower price make the 2016 ELR a no-brainer. It's gorgeous, it's fast, it's a plug-in hybrid with class-leading electric-only range, and there's no range anxiety at all. With all the improvements made, I believe the $65-73k price is well justified. Still, it may be worth learning from my own past mistakes by waiting several months before walking into a dealership... if this model year fails too, you may have access to some great deals. And if it succeeds, I suspect Cadillac will continue to make more of them.


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 Post subject: Re: Blastphemy has driven a 2016 ELR!
PostPosted: Mon Sep 28, 2015 8:43 am 
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Joined: Wed Oct 17, 2012 4:23 pm
Posts: 28
Wow, great info thanks for taking the time to type it all out for us!

I find it very interesting that Cadillac even bothered with redoing this vehicle at all, although I guess that had to in order to maintain the 'premium' separation between the Cadillac and Chevrolet brands.


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 Post subject: Re: Blastphemy has driven a 2016 ELR!
PostPosted: Mon May 16, 2016 2:29 pm 
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Joined: Wed Oct 17, 2012 4:24 pm
Posts: 34
I find it interesting that no magazine etc really tested the 2016 ELR. They just base their review off the new spec sheet and then the comment they have from testing the 2014.

The 2014 was good, but the 2016 I think is way better! It also has the updated CUE system which is responsive and maybe one of the best systems out there now.


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 Post subject: Re: Blastphemy has driven a 2016 ELR!
PostPosted: Mon May 16, 2016 4:59 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jan 17, 2014 10:55 am
Posts: 54
Too bad production of the 2016 ELR ended permanently in February. No more ELRs, unfortunately. Hopefully the 2017 CT6 PHEV will be a worthy replacement.


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