2023 Cadillac Lyriq Review:Driving Impressions

Ron Sessions, Independent Expert | Jun 28, 2022

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The 2023 Cadillac Lyriq is the brand's first all-electric vehicle (EV). It's the leading edge of a wave of entries from the once-dominant luxury marque that, in the next few years, will replace all its fossil-fueled models with ones powered by the grid. Recently, I had the opportunity to drive the first production examples of the Lyriq among the Alpine environs of Park City, Utah.

For more background and details on this all-new electric crossover SUV, read our full preview of the 2023 Cadillac Lyriq.

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The Lyriq model lineup is simple and straightforward, with a single rear-wheel-drive (RWD) trim level and one for the all-wheel-drive (AWD) version. As with the brand's new trim-naming strategy, Cadillac bases the Lyriq's on the powertrain's torque, expressed in newton meters. So, Cadillac rounds up the 340-horsepower single-motor RWD base model with 325 pound-feet of torque that converts to 440 newton-meters and dubs it the 450E—the "E" designating an electric powertrain.

Cadillac hasn't yet announced the torque values for the 500-hp, dual-motor AWD model, but using the same trim-naming logic, it will likely sport a 600E or 650E liftgate badge.

I drove a rear-drive, single-motor 2023 Lyriq 450E with a manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) of $62,990, including the $1,195 destination charge. Cadillac also equipped the Lyriq test vehicle with optional 22-inch wheels and larger 275/40R22 run-flat tires. The dual-motor AWD 2023 Lyriq has an MSRP including destination of $64,990—a $2,000 upcharge from the base RWD model.

Cadillac says it has sold out its production run of 2023-model Lyriqs. The automaker will deliver RWD versions beginning July 2022, while AWD Lyriqs are due to arrive in November 2022. Cadillac is currently taking orders for 2024 Lyriq EVs to be delivered in Spring 2023 but hasn't yet announced pricing.

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2023 Cadillac Lyriq 450E Front Quarter View

Photo: Ron Sessions

Casting aside its groundbreaking (for Cadillac) Ultium electric powertrain for a minute, the all-new Lyriq looks more akin to a concept car than any production vehicle Cadillac has produced in decades. With bold proportions and sweeping shapes, the new Lyriq dares you to look at it.

The dimensions channel the recently departed CT6 flagship sedan. If Cadillac offered a shooting brake (wagon) version of the CT6, this might have been it. The Lyriq's long wheelbase with big, beautiful 20- or 22-inch wheels pushed out to the corners stretches out farther than the full-size Escalade. Bumper to bumper, it measures just 1.8 inches shorter than the 3-row Cadillac XT6, yet the Lyriq lavishes all of its length on just five passengers.

A wide stance, strong shoulders, large wheel openings, and classic long dash-to-front-axle ratio give the new Lyriq a road-ready presence reinforced by a low (for a crossover SUV) overall height—a half-foot shorter road to roof than the XT6 SUV—and more than a foot lower than the Escalade.

The Lyriq's stately nose is a light show on wheels. Some electric cars dispense with a front grille as a relic of the internal-combustion-powered past. On the Lyriq, the large crest shape of the grille that once formed an identifiable element of the Cadillac brand is celebrated and transformed into an LED-studded black crystal shield that comes alive with micro-beaded electric excitement when the driver powers up the vehicle.

Out back, there's a lot going on. Vertical LED tail lamps bracketing the lower rear corners gloriously channel the 1957 Eldorado Brougham. A second LED light bar up top surrounds the liftgate's sharply raked glass upper section on three sides and includes attention-grabbing sequential turn indicators. Also thrown in are a rear lip spoiler and a rooftop airfoil that Cadillac says eliminates the need for a rear window wiper. Taken as a whole, the Lyriq's parting view may be a bit much for some eyes, but certainly not something you can ignore.

The view from inside is almost as dramatic. Bold, sweeping shapes and generous proportions predominate. The driver gauge cluster and infotainment screen are now merged into a single, free-standing LED display measuring 33 inches. It's gently arched and angled slightly toward the driver. The horizontally themed dash wraps seamlessly into the doors. Overhead, a full-length glass roof cheers the cabin and includes an opaque, power-operated shade to block the sun when needed. There's a 26-color ambient lighting system for dramatic night-time effect as well.

With no transmission tunnel to deal with, there's a big, open floor-level bin under the cantilevered console bathed in blue light. In addition to providing a handy place to stash a small computer bag or purse, it also offers spread-out space for knees. A covered bin under the center armrest has a magnetic latch that's easy to open and closes with a satisfyingly tactile click. The console also includes a standard mail-slot-style wireless phone charger. A pair of console-top cupholders has spring-loaded fingers to keep smaller containers steady and a retractable center section to accommodate hard cups with handles.

There's more storage for small items in the dash with a lined, slide-out jewelry drawer and, below that, a tilt-out center bin. At the right side of the dashboard is a nicely lined glovebox, but access to it is via a virtual latch a few menu clicks away on the 33-inch touchscreen, which might confound new drivers.

Corporate bean-counters be damned, the Lyriq carries over no switchgear from other Cadillac or GM models—it's all new and specific to the Lyriq. This includes a nicely arrayed bank of 13 easy-to-read hard buttons for the automatic climate control system.

Flush-fit exterior door handles clean up the Lyriq's flanks but are a bit fiddly in operation. To open the door from the outside, you must first touch the handle, wait for it to release, and then pull it open. It's just an extra step not required with a conventional door handle.

Large doors and near-perfect step-in height afford easy ingress and egress. Once inside, comfortable, well-padded, oversized front seats welcome the driver and front passenger. By moving to Mercedes-Benz-like front-seat controls on the doors instead of on the outboard edges of the lower cushions, Cadillac was able to widen the front seats. The front- and second-row legroom of the Lyriq tops that of the Cadillac XT5 and XT6 SUVs, although the former's lower sloping roof crimps headroom by an inch or so. However, this 6-footer had no problem getting comfortable in any of the five seating positions.

Initially, Cadillac will cover all seats in perforated synthetic Inteluxe material, with genuine leather becoming available later in production.

At the rear is a power-folding, 60/40 split rear bench with a fold-down center armrest and cupholders. The rear seat does not fold completely flat, angling up like a ski ramp at the front.

Despite the Lyriq's large hood, there's no "frunk" (front trunk) for storage as in some other EVs. Rather, Cadillac reserves that space for electric propulsion componentry. But there's a large concealed storage bin under the cargo floor that can easily accommodate a laptop case, purse, tablet, and such, in addition to the included portable charger and cords. It also has brackets to store the window-shade-style rear cargo security cover. There is no spare tire as the Lyriq rolls on Michelin run-flats.

While no beast of burden, the Lyriq's 28 cubic feet of space behind the rear seat and 60.8 with the back seat folded gives it plenty of cargo-toting room, if not quite as much as the shorter and boxier-shaped Cadillac XT5.

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2023 Cadillac Lyriq 450E Interior Dashboard

Photo: Ron Sessions

As the opening act in Cadillac's transition to becoming an electrified brand and a product geared to attract younger, tech-savvy Gen X and Gen Y buyers, the Lyriq comes equipped with the latest and greatest infotainment user interface available in a General Motors vehicle. Front and center is the infotainment portion of the giant 33-inch wraparound LED touchscreen, which is almost as large as the Escalade's 38-inch one. The touchscreen is within easy reach of the driver and simple to navigate, although the tiles and icons could be larger to successfully select in a moving vehicle on anything less than a glass-smooth road.

An attractively knurled console-mounted remote-control knob and nearby shortcut buttons for frequently used functions provide another control path, as do steering wheel buttons for volume, tuning, and voice requests. A knurled roller control on the center console, similar to that in some Mercedes-Benz and Volvo products, gives an easy way for the front-seat passenger to adjust audio volume as well.

Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are on board, so occupants can place a paired phone anywhere, preferably in a location where it won't provide a driving distraction, sans the tangle of USB cables. There are, however, two Type-C USB ports up front and two in the rear.

The big Lyriq enabler is the embedded Google Assistant, Google Maps, and Google Play compatibility. You can push the voice request button or just say "Google," wait for the chime, and make your command for directions, music, and such.

For tunes, the Lyriq comes with an AKG Studio 19-speaker premium audio system similar to the standard unit in the base Escalade. Who is AKG, you ask? It's an Austrian maker of high-quality headphones and microphones. The system includes speakers in the front-seat headrests—just one example of how it delivers rich, sharp, immersive high-fidelity sound right where you want it.

The Lyriq launches with all its safety and Cadillac Smart System advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS) included as standard fare. The hands-free Super Cruise system is also standard, although it was not operational in the early-build Lyriqs available to drive. Elements of the Smart System include:

With careful driving over approximately 70 miles, I had little interaction with the various ADAS. That said, over one narrow, twisting mountain road, the forward-collision warning and Safety Alert Seat were busy flashing dash alerts and buzzing the driver's seat with tight turns, oncoming traffic wandering over the centerline, and numerous bicyclists competing for their piece of the road. During one stop for photos, backing the Lyriq into some roadside weeds dramatically activated reverse automatic braking. But who knows, the weeds could have been hiding a big rock or other hazards. The rear-seat reminder system also proved its worth as I may have walked off to lunch with my camera bag left in the vehicle if not reminded to check back there.

Independent Expert Opinion: Driving the 2023 Cadillac Lyriq - Find the best Cadillac deals!

2023 Cadillac Lyriq 450E Rear Quarter View

Photo: Ron Sessions

In short, the Lyriq drives like a cross between a high-end sport sedan and a luxury crossover SUV. I drove the single-motor, rear-drive model with 340 hp and 325 pound-feet of torque. As with any battery-electric vehicle (BEV), the Lyriq offers the turbine-like drive-off feel from rest and the instant torque for quick responses to right-foot commands.

As a Cadillac, the Lyriq exudes the expected smooth and quiet refinement but successfully blends that with the precision and control we've seen lately in the brand's various iterations of its CT4 and CT5 sedans. Many of the same talented engineering staff that developed the CT4 and CT5 sedans have been beavering away on the Lyriq.

Instead of the MacPherson strut front suspension that underpins the XT4, XT5, and XT6 crossover SUVs, the Lyriq is the first Cadillac SUV with a 5-link front suspension similar to that in the brand's sedans, hard-mounted for good steering precision and feel.

With no heavy internal-combustion engine up front, the Lyriq's weight distribution is close to 50 percent front/50 percent rear, considered ideal for balance and control. You do, however, feel the 1,000-pound-plus weight of the Ultium propulsion battery. Still, that weight is carried under the floor, lowering the center of gravity and imparting a weeble-wobble self-righting feeling of stability. A side benefit is that the rigid battery case adds considerable torsional stiffness to the body, aiding turn-in response from inputs to the rack-mounted electric power steering.

Vertical body motions are well-controlled, even though Cadillac doesn't equip the Lyriq with electronically controlled adaptive damping. Instead, it uses frequency-tuned shocks with mechanical valving that controls suspension jounce and rebound based on the rate of vertical suspension inputs. It's a less-expensive system but works quite well.

Brakes offer a good blending of mechanical and regenerative responses. There are three driver-selectable regen settings, adjustable with a steering-wheel lever. The low setting gives up to 0.23g of retardation when the driver backs off the accelerator pedal, and high delivers 0.35g. The third setting is Off, at which point regen is mostly undetectable but does its job of sending some electrons back to the battery when the driver applies the brakes. In the low and high settings, the regenerative braking will bring the Lyriq to a complete stop and even hold it on a hill for genuine one-pedal driving. What I like about one-pedal driving is the confidence it instills due to the ability of the driver to transition from accelerating to braking in a split second without having to lift, switch left, and quickly depress the other pedal.

Driver-selectable driving modes include the default Tour, plus Sport, Snow/Ice, and customizable MyMode. The settings tune torque application, steering effort, and brake response, but in my time behind the wheel, it was hard to discern much difference between the Tour and Sport settings. Ditto for the mellow propulsion sound piped into the cabin via the audio system speakers.

According to Cadillac, the Lyriq's 102-kilowatt lithium-ion Ultium battery pack can deliver 312 miles of driving range in RWD versions. Cadillac hasn't yet released a range figure for dual-motor AWD Lyriqs. Based on published results from other carmakers with similar componentry, it's likely to be slightly less than 312 miles.

Cadillac says the Lyriq's battery can charge at a 190-kilowatt DC fast charger and add up to 76 miles of range in 10 minutes. Rear-drive versions can add up to 52 miles of range if you're charging at home with a 240-volt, 19.2-kilowatt AC charger.

Independent Expert Opinion of the 2023 Cadillac Lyriq - Find the best Cadillac deals!

It's said that you only get one chance to make a good first impression, and with the all-new Lyriq battery-electric crossover SUV, Cadillac has pulled out all the stops. It successfully melds leading-edge design with solid engineering and innovative packaging in a luxurious mix of fashion and technology that should expand the brand's circle of buyers. The Lyriq is still quiet, smooth-riding, and powerful as all Cadillacs have aspired to be in modern times. Still, it has an edginess that will likely resonate with tech-savvy Gen X and Gen Y buyers coming into their peak earning years and suggests a fresh start to the brand's all-electric future.

Ron Sessions is a seasoned vehicle evaluator with more than three decades of experience. He has penned hundreds of road tests for automotive and consumer websites, enthusiast magazines, newsletters, technical journals, and newspapers.

The opinions expressed in this review are the author’s own, not J.D. Power’s.

No portion of these reviews may be reproduced, distributed, publicly displayed, or used for a derivative work without J.D. Power’s written permission. © 2022 J.D. Power

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