Cadillac takes on Tesla with plug-in ELR

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 26, 2014 at 2:30 pm •  Published: March 26, 2014
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Finally, there's an electric car that rivals Tesla's eye-catching Model S.

The sleek, new-for-2014 Cadillac ELR coupe is arguably as sexy looking as the sporty Model S, and like the Tesla, it's a plug-in vehicle that's capable of traveling for hours without stopping.

For drivers who don't want to worry about finding a place to recharge batteries and waiting around until the charging is complete, the Cadillac ELR is eminently more accommodating.

It carries with it a four-cylinder gasoline engine. So when the electric power is depleted, the ELR switches seamlessly to the onboard engine and can, therefore, travel well over 300 miles.

A few points, though: According to U.S. government estimates, the Cadillac's range in all-electric mode is just 37 miles, while the Tesla's all-electric mode is good for up to 265 miles.

Secondly, the Tesla only has an electric powerplant and so is viewed as more of an earth-friendly car by environmental purists.

Plus, while the ELR is a new model at Cadillac, it's frequently called the Cadillac version of the Chevrolet Volt because it uses the Volt's underlying front-wheel drive platform and electric-gasoline power system.

But the luxury car price tag on the ELR means buyers can purchase two Volts for the price of one ELR.

Starting manufacturer's suggested retail price, including destination charge, is $80,990 for a 2014 ELR. The 2014 Volt has a starting MSRP, including destination charge, of $35,805.

Meantime, the rear-wheel drive, 2014 Tesla S has a starting retail price, including destination charge, of $63,570 with an electric storage battery pack that provides a federal government estimated travel range of 208 miles. A 2014 Tesla S with a higher capacity battery pack that provides a federal government estimated travel range of 265 miles has a starting retail price of $73,570.

All ELRs come with a continuously variable automatic transmission that a driver operates like an automatic.

Standard equipment includes dual-zone, automatic climate control, remote keyless entry and keyless start, suede microfiber ceiling material, rearview camera, outside heated mirrors, 20-inch wheels, rain-sensing wipers and premium Bose 10-speaker audio system.

The ELR also includes Cadillac's CUE touch screen for ventilation and audio controls, among other things, and Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity and audio streaming as standard equipment.

The ELR even allows drivers to program the times when they want the car to begin charging, say, late at night when the electricity rates can be lower priced.

But the ELR, which has the highest starting retail price of any Cadillac car, does not offer a sunroof.

Production of the ELR is limited to fewer than 5,000 annually.

People in the know, especially Volt owners, immediately recognized the ELR and had to get a close-up look.

The striking ELR exterior, which is similar to that of other Cadillacs, has flat fascia panels in the grille, and the back of each outside mirror has a "stripe" that glows green as the car charges. But there is little, otherwise, to make passersby think this is an especially fuel-conscious Cadillac.