First Drive Review – 2023 Cadillac Lyriq RWD – The Harbringer Of Cadillac’s EV Future

Remember back when Cadillac was once one of the pillars in the U.S. luxury car market? Back in the 1920s and 1930s owning a Cadillac was a sign that you made it in life and that you had the wallet needed to put one in your garage. Since then, Cadillac’s star has gone through its fair share of ups and downs as it strived to stand out from established German contenders, as well as upstart Japanese brands like Lexus and Acura. The brand is looking to change that with the 2023 Cadillac Lyriq which elevates Cadillac into a new realm of luxury while also debuting its all-electric future. But is it worth the wait and the hype? We were eager to find out. 


Lyriq’s Design Turns Up The Volume


To find out, we traveled out to Park City, Utah to spend some time with the Lyriq and see firsthand how it intends to transform Cadillac into a global contender. This ambitious goal requires many moving parts and the exterior styling of the Lyriq serves as a nice cornerstone. Cadillac reps we spoke to revealed that while the look can technically be considered an evolution of the brand’s Art & Science design language in some circles, it’s also a new step forward with the “Art” part of that mantra being on full display. The front fascia embraces sleek lighting with the front grille panel hiding an elaborate web of lights. These lights peek out through laser-cut lines which are then coated with a special paint that allows the light to shine outward. White is the lone color for now but it will be interesting to see what happens when customizers get their hands on one and add different colors to the mix.

The headlights themselves also play a role in creating a broader user experience, with the LED running lights actually working together with the grille panel and illuminated Cadillac emblem to produce an elaborate welcome sequence complete with stacking LED lights in the inner parts of the running lights. The side profile snakes the eye towards the rear of the Lyriq where the taillights gently slide down towards the rear liftgate. Speaking of the rear liftgate, observers might notice that it’s missing the traditional rear-mounted wiper. Cadillac designers wanted to cut weight and improve aerodynamics so that particular feature was pitched and in its place is an ingenious setup that uses the air that runs over the Lyriq and channels it to the rear window which helps remove rain from it. Buyers in snowier climates will still have to formally clean the view back there with a brush since it’s not meant to be used in heavy snow.

For now, the Lyriq will come with a sleek set of 22-inch wheels, but a smaller set of 20-inch wheels will come standard in the future, with the bigger hoops serving as an optional upgrade when they appear. The wheels themselves were engineered to maximize quietness with half of the spokes being closed off with special inserts, but despite that, they still manage to channel as much cooling air to the brakes as traditional open-spoke wheels.

The wheels also highlight the broader attention to detail that Lyriq designers focused on to make sure it resonated the right notes to buyers. The cowl line is even from one side to the other, and while the Lyriq does not have a formal frunk (a hidden bin in the rear fills in for it) buyers that open the hood will find access to basic maintenance points, as well as a central plastic piece that mirrors the look of a traditional gasoline engine cover. That latter part is a nice nod to familiarity and the Lyriqs that we drove during our stay generated plenty of stares from Park City residents. 


Elegant Interior Befuddled By Rush To Production

Slip inside the interior of the Lyirq, and you’ll discover that it’s a noticeable step up from other Cadillac models (Escalade included.) A hallmark is the 33-inch display that runs from one end of the dashboard to the other. Unlike the Escalade’s OLED screen, the Lyriq’s is one unified piece and incorporated LCD components in its construction to produce a unique display layout and look. The screen also comes bundled with Google capability and that allows the Lyriq to be paired with phones harboring Google Maps technology albeit a different skin will appear on the display when using it through the Lyriq. That said, the Lyriqs we experienced were early build models, and as result, we did see occasional software glitches with the navigation system though Cadillac reps assured us that they would be corrected in an upcoming software update.

The seats also deserve plenty of attention with Cadillac interior designers using the opportunity to make them wider than average car seats. The end result is a space that’s extremely comfortable, with the white synthetic leather doing a good job delivering plenty of long-haul comfort while the revised bolstering will allow bigger occupants to slip in and not feel as constrained as they would be in traditional cars. The headrests also feature incorporated speakers and while their effectiveness is a question best left for another day, we will say that it does show just how serious AKG was when they were trying to create the ultimate audio experience for owners. Lastly, we like the blue accent piping down the center line of the seat which is a subtle reminder that the color blue will be a prominent theme for all electrified Cadillacs moving forward. 

The interior is also a largely unique creation and Lyriq designers intentionally chose to use as few off-the-shelf GM parts as possible with the bulk of the fitments being exclusive to the Lyriq. The few carryover pieces that are present are largely hidden away and they lurk behind the scenes. The sheer amount of quality here is also a step up from models like the Escalade and every piece, switch, and accent is manufactured with purpose and care. That said, the rush to make the Lyriq available early for customers did force Cadillac to make temporary but noticeable omissions with our examples not featuring activated Super Cruise (that will come via OTA) and a formal heads-up display system which is a noticeable omission when compared to some of its electrified rivals. That said, the Lyriq’s cabin will be an unforgettable experience for owners, and after all the lingering pieces get fitted into place, it will give Tesla a run for its money.


Lyriq’s Ultium Foundation Will Spark Broader Innovation

The Lyriq will be the very first Cadillac to utilize and embrace GM’s Ultium electric battery technology and the flexible skateboard-like platform that holds it all in place. A modular battery pack will come along for the ride on all models and owners get to choose from either a single motor or a beefier rear-motor layout. Our Lyriq testers were all rear-wheel-drive models with a rear-mounted electric motor producing 340 hp. Cadillac claims that this model can get up to 312 miles of range with the Lyriq capable of charging up to 190 kilowatts at DC fast-charging stations. That translates to the Lyriq having the ability to replenish up to 76 miles of its range in less than 10 minutes.  

If you do need to charge at home after a long day of commuting, the Lyriq has owners covered here too thanks to a dual-level charging cable that’s not only capable of using the default 120-volt outlet for trickle charging but can then be switched out for another attachment that can hook it up to a 240-volt outlet for quicker charging speeds and 17 miles of range being restored per hour. 

The Lyriq’s 5,688 lb curb weight may seem like the electric motor has alot to lug around at first glance, but the Lyriq surprised us on our drive with its impressive performance behavior. The 340 hp rear-mounted electric motor delivered an impressive amount of low-end torque and our tester had no trouble keeping up with local Utah traffic. The Lyriq’s demeanor won’t throw you in the back of your seat like a more performance-focused offering when you put your throttle into it, but the performance on hand is confident enough to provide an enjoyable experience in daily commuting. Our lone gripe centered around the steering especially when the Lyriq is placed into Tour Mode. There were times when we wished for more communication between the wheel and the road and there were some notable dead zones when pushing the handling to its limits on curvy mountain roads. Thankfully putting the Lyriq into Sport mode fixes the issue and it also makes acceleration slightly spicier too.

The Lyriq features a front and rear-mounted five-link independent mounted suspension that’s enhanced with “Passive Plus” independent dampers. These dampers analyze and adjust their behavior depending on what kind of road imperfections the Lyriq goes over which is supposed to create impressive levels of stability and comfort. While the dampers certainly delivered the goods on that front, there’s no masking the noticeable amounts of body roll we encountered in turns which is partially due to the high curb weight. Cadillac engineers also managed to mask most of the noises that define a typical daily commute thanks to wheel-mounted accelerometers that measure road vibrations and then send that data to the sound system which produces a frequency that cancels them out. The end result (when combined with the sound-deadening material on board) is near-perfect levels of quiet with the faint whispers of wind and tire noise being the only things that penetrate this otherwise impressive acoustical suit of armor. 


When Can I Get One?

If you’re looking to get a Lyriq for your garage, you’ll have to wait a while since Cadillac was forced to close the order books for 2023 due to stronger-than-expected demand. For those that were quick enough to secure a slot, they will be greeted with a base price of $62,990 with all-wheel-drive models starting at a slightly higher $64,990. Cadillac is also offering potent incentives for Lyriq buyers with the brand allowing them to either have two years of free fast DC Charging or a $1,500 credit towards the installation of a Level 2 240 volt outlet for charging. That can help absorb alot of the cost especially if you’re in an older home with a detached garage that would require a more involved installation process. 

The pricing ladder will change slightly for 2024 with Cadillac already opening pre-ordering for those models (which will ship out to dealerships in the spring of 2023.) A base 2024 model will start “around $60,000” while the AWD model will begin at $64,000. While this narrows the value play slightly, it still allows the Lyriq to be on target when compared to rivals from Tesla and other luxury EV upstarts.  


The 2023 Cadillac Lyriq is striving to hit the right notes with EV buyers and it appears that for the most part the Lyriq succeeds in this pursuit. This is largely due to the perfect combination of exterior and interior design that exists in the Lyriq with the high-quality materials meshing with the sleek lines and the impressive level of detail that are scattered throughout. Cadillac claims that this Lyriq will be the opening act in a broader album with other EVs entering the pipeline over the next few years as the brand aims to become all-electric. In the meantime, the Lyriq will be a crystal ball into the future and it will serve as a very tempting preview of what’s to come.