With the debut of the 2023 Lyriq battery-electric vehicle, Cadillac just might once again be ready to lay claim to being the once-and-future "standard of the world."
The flagship arm of General Motors once set the benchmark all other high-line brands had to reach for. In recent decades, despite a much ballyhooed "renaissance," Cadillac struggled to be little more than an afterthought for luxury buyers. But its first all-electric model finally shows what the brand is capable of.
The midsize SUV is one of the first EVs to use GM's new Ultium "architecture" and battery technology. While that platform is shared with the new GMC Hummer EV -- and an assortment of all-electric models to follow -- Lyriq is an otherwise ground-up effort. And its product development team was clearly liberated to do what they thought best.
Lyriq features a striking design that falls somewhere between fastback and SUV. It is a welcome contrast to the bland and increasingly dated look of the comparably priced Model Y that Tesla has been loathe to update.
The Lyriq's distinctive face is all the more exciting when viewed at night, with its classic-Caddy vertical headlamps and unique, backlit grille.
The cabin makes good use of the space freed up by moving the drivetrain, including battery pack, below the load floor. It's not just roomy but strikes a balance between classic luxury and a more modern, digital interpretation, anchored by its 33-inch LCD display.
At launch, only the rear-drive version of the 2023 Cadillac Lyriq will be available. It's reasonably muscular, at 340 horsepower, and can hit 60 in 6.5 seconds. The twin-motor, all-wheel-drive package coming early next year should take it to a new level, at 550 hp.
Of course, the real delight of modern battery-electric vehicles is that instant torque their motors deliver. And Lyriq really delivers in that department. Meanwhile, at a U.S. EPA-estimated 312 miles per charge, it offers solid range that few others currently can match. Charging time isn't quite benchmark, but reasonably quick.
I had the chance to spend two days behind the wheel of the Lyriq in and around Park City, Utah - mountainous terrain that gave the new EV a chance to show off. I ran into some minor problems with the infotainment system -- though I expected that going in. Caddy officials warned me they hadn't installed the latest software update on my pre-production prototype. I expect everything to be fine by the U.S. sales launch later this month.
Beyond that glitch, the Lyriq did everything promised. It not only was fun to drive but made you feel great simply to sit in. And that is what a luxury standard should do.
I expect the 2023 Lyriq to have a lot of current Tesla owners -- and those who've considered buying one -- heading for Cadillac showrooms.