- - Monday, June 30, 2014

For folks who thought that Cadillac couldn’t create an eco-friendly offer, it’s time to think again. The 2014 Cadillac ELR offers a green element: a plug-in hybrid. It’s not for the faint-hearted though — the asking price still skews higher than those of some other eco models — but you get what you pay for.

Competition for the Cadillac ELR includes the 2014 Chevrolet Volt, the 2014 Porsche Panamera S E-hybrid, the Tesla Model S, the 2014 Audi A5 and the 2015 Jaguar F-Type — a mind-boggling range.

Cadillac’s newest offering leaves a smaller carbon footprint, proving you don’t have to look crunchy granola to be crunchy granola in high-end auto shopping.

A two-door coupe, the Cadillac ELR boasts that it can accommodate four passengers. Maybe so, but the back seat is pretty small, so don’t plan any four-person road trips in this one.

With only one trim, you don’t have to make a lot of choices. But standard Cadillac offers a lot anyway, with 20-inch alloy wheels, front and rear parking sensors, rearview camera, LED headlights, heated mirrors, keyless ignition and entry, remote ignition, dual-zone climate control, power and heated front seats, folding rear seats, leather upholstery, a power tilt-and-telescoping and heated steering wheel and technology inclusions like the Bluetooth goodies and audio connect. There is an 8-inch touchscreen display and a navigation system.

Among optional upgrade packages, the aptly named Luxury Package will give you high-beam control, blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic alert systems and a 20-inch wheel design.

The Kona Brown Leather Package adds upgraded interior leather and more power seat adjustments. In single additions to the packages or the standard trim, you can include adaptive cruise control or a mounted CD player inside the glove box.

Under the hood the 2014 Cadillac ELT is front-wheel drive with an electric motor offering the driver 157 horsepower and that’s 117 kilowatts with 295 pound-feet of torque. As for how the electric motor does its thing, there is a 16.5-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack. When the battery is close to being used up, an 84 horsepower, 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine steps in to get the electric motor going again.

There are also four driving modes to choose from: Normal, Hold, Sport and Mountain.

As with all hybrids, recharging the battery as needed is paramount. The Cadillac ELR does this during the process of driving. However, in order to fully charge the battery, you need to plug into the 240-volt power source, and then after about five hours on an empty battery, you are ready to go again fully charged. Overall, you get roughly 35 miles on a fully charged battery.

For safety, the 2014 Cadillac ELR offers antilock brakes, stability and traction control, front-seat side-impact, front-knee and full-length side curtain airbags. There is also front and rear parking sensors, a rearview camera and a frontal collision and lane-departure warning. The Safety Alert mechanism vibrates the driver’s seat to alert the driver, and OnStar has automatic crash notification, roadside assistance and remote door unlocking.

Additional safety features: a blind-spot monitoring system and a collision preparation system that depresses the brakes for you when a collision is about to happen.

As a finely tuned Cadillac, its interior has all the bells and whistles, including a lovely dash and lots of leather and suede. The only problem I have is with the vibrating buttons that I often must hit a few times in order to get a response for controlling the audio and climate inside the cabin.

The cabin provides ample headroom and legroom for the driver and front seat passenger, but there is little legroom in the back seat, and the sloping roof takes away most of the headroom.

There’s 10.5 cubic feet of cargo space, and the two rear seats fold down if you need additional room for getting stuff from Point A to Point B.

The Cadillac ELR is a finely-tuned machine with a quiet ride; however, with the engine versus the battery, you will notice more noise and a little less oomph for acceleration. It’s easily a refined ride that handles the road and keeps Mother Earth smiling too.

Should You Need to Know: Note that the Cadillac ELR has most of the same mechanics as the always popular Chevrolet Volt, including a 16.5-kilowatt lithium-ion battery and 1.4-liter gasoline four-cylinder engine.

Miles Per Gallon: The 2014 Cadillac ELR will give you 82 mpg in EV mode and 33 mpg in gasoline mode.

Cost: The price tag on the 2014 Cadillac ELR I drove was $80,680, which included the Luxury Package.

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