Like many people, when I first read the official price of the ELR, I wondered how Cadillac could justify implying that the ELR was twice as good as a Volt (since it cost twice as much). Would the ELR accelerate twice as fast as the Volt? Would the ELR have twice the range as the Volt? Would it have twice the interior space? I was very excited at the prospect of owning a "super Volt" that would finally include all the luxury features I was missing on my 2012 Volt.
But then I saw the specifications, and - like many people - I gasped in disbelief and shouted at my computer screen that GM was insane! $76k-84k for the same acceleration, less range than the 2013/14 Volts, two fewer doors, less interior space, no cooled front seats, no head-up display, no 360-degree parking cameras, and no hatchback. I was ready to drive down to my Chevy dealership and grab a 2014 fully-loaded Volt that very day.
However, curiosity gave me the fortitude to wait for a test drive of the ELR, and so I resisted. My first drive or the ELR was good, and the car made a nice initial impression, but nothing really felt twice as good as a Volt. My second drive was better, helped by a knowledgeable salesperson who showed me all the customization options and demonstrated the value of the car.
By the time I took my third test drive at the same dealership, I was sold. The rides home from the dealership in my Volt after the first two test drives was depressing: no regen paddles, no premium sound system, no adaptive cruise control, comparably excessive road noise on the freeway, and a frustrating center console that I still haven't mastered after nearly two years due to its unintuitive and unergonomic design.
After my third drive, I realized that the ELR had spoiled me for the Volt, and I had to get it. But only because I could afford the ELR, not because I felt it was truly twice as good as my 2012 Volt. However, because I had seen Cadillac's lack of promotion and support for the ELR, I was wary about buying one due to the prospect of finding myself in the same situation as I was currently in with my 2012 Volt where Chevrolet decreased the price of 2013/14 models by $5,000 and destroyed any equity I had left in my model. So I investigated the lease, and determined it was barely adequate.
Luckily, GM Financial released a new program shortly before February, and the dealership was willing to offer the ELR at employee pricing, so - having hit my target number - I pulled the trigger. Now I see that Cadillac has taken the bold (or insane) step of increasing lease rates on the ELR in March, so I feel pretty good about my deal!
But back to the core question: after a month of driving my Volt, do I consider the ELR worth twice the price? Well, from a purely bean-counter perspective, NO. While the ELR's acceleration feels faster over 50 mph as compared to the Volt, it's no different from 0-60. And even though I'm supposed to get 37 miles per charge vs. the 35 for which my 2012 Volt is rated, I'm not able to drive any farther in my ELR. And because the ELR is missing features found in older Cadillacs models (XTS, ATS, etc.) and in Chevrolets (2014 Volt, Corvette, etc.), the ELR's value on paper does not equal double that of a Volt.
That having been said, since I took delivery of the ELR in January, I've only driven my Volt 3 or 4 times! I know I need to get some more value out of my Volt lease since I'm still paying for it, but I just can't bring myself to get into the Volt in the morning when I see the ELR sitting there! I use the adaptive cruise control, premium sound system, regen paddles, blind spot warning, and cross traffic alert every time I drive the ELR, and I really miss having those features in the Volt. I love that the ELR remembers my seat position and slides back conveniently when I turn off the car. And in the recent rain we just had in California, my ELR didn't even flinch whereas my Volt spun its wheels on hills & turns and slid all over the place.
So if I add in the intangible enjoyment of the car and my lack of interest in ever driving the Volt again, I'd have to say that the ELR is worth what I paid for it. The list of features that set apart the ELR from the Volt is very long, and I'm still discovering some that I didn't know about.
Recently, I took three friends to dinner in my ELR. The 6'1" friend sat in the front passenger seat, and the 5'8" guy and 5'4" girl sat in the back. I asked several times if my rear seat passengers were uncomfortable, and they said they were quite happy. They said there was surprisingly ample leg room, and my 5'8" friend told me he didn't need to slouch (which I still don't believe since I'm 5'7" and I do!) So I guess the back seat isn't as horrible as I once thought, either.
Would I recommend an ELR to anyone who has to stretch his/her finances to afford it? No, I wouldn't. The Volt is an amazing car, and it makes more sense to enjoy everything the Volt has to offer. Nobody needs memory seats or adaptive cruise control, so why spend money on it if your budget is tight?
But if you can afford a $75-85k car, are happy being faster off the line than 65% of vehicles on the road instead of 90% (like you would be in a more expensive Tesla or less expensive CTS-V and Corvette Stringray), and don't anticipate ever needing more than four seats, I would strongly recommend the ELR.
There is one thing that's definitely twice as good as the Volt, and that's the silence in the cabin. While the Volt and the ELR are equally silent on side streets at lower speeds, the ELR remains nearly as quiet on rough highway surfaces at high speeds. That plus the amazing sound system makes this former professional musician a very happy camper!
Oh, I almost forgot: the reverse camera is also twice as good as the Volt's. But since the Volt has one of the worst reverse cameras I've ever seen, that is NOT a compliment! How a $79k ELR got saddled with such a sub-par parking camera is beyond me. The ELR's camera is what should have been in the Volt! The Rav4 EV's premium reverse camera (or better) is what should have been in the ELR. Now I'm not such a happy camper thinking about that. Grrr....
But to end on a positive note, IMHO, the ELR looks ten times better than the Volt. So there's definitely that!