The Infiniti Q50 – A Short Review

The Infiniti Q50 is one of the highest-rated luxury cars (in its conventional form), but the hybrid version received low marks for its performance and road handling. Both the regular and hybrid Q50s have many high-tech options that set them apart from their competitors, but the real differences lie in how the two cars drive.

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The Q50 hybrid’s braking and acceleration are uneven, and the adaptive steering system gives a delayed response.

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Options, Trim Levels and Styles

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The 2015 Q50 is a luxury sedan that seats five and is offered in Hybrid, Q50s, Premium and base configuration – we’ll only be discussing the Hybrid model here. Standard features include 17″ alloys, automatic headlights, heated mirrors, cruise control, keyless ignition and entry, power front seats and Bluetooth connectivity, among others. Some features from the higher trim levels are available as options on lower models.

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Performance

The 2015 Q50 Hybrid gets power from a 3.5L V6 that’s mated to a lithium-ion battery-fed electric motor. Together, the two power plants make 360hp, which gives the car a 0-60 time of 5.3 seconds. The EPA gives an estimated fuel economy of 31mpg (29 city, 36 hwy).

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Safety features such as ABS, traction and stability controls, side/front airbags, back-up camera and the Infiniti Connection assistance service come standard on the 2015 Infiniti Q50 hybrid. Options include multi-view cameras, parking sensors, blind spot assist, and a collision warning system. In testing, the car went from 60-0 in 123 feet, which is average for cars in this class. The Q50 Hybrid got 5-star rating in government crash testing, and the IIHS gave it a rating of “good” in impact tests, and a rating of “Superior” for its crash mitigation features.

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Interior

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There are many features in the Q50’s interior, but there are some things to be wary of. The interior is crafted of materials that are comparable to those used in other luxury cars, and the styling is fairly new – but the standard seating can be firm and uncomfortable for taller passengers. Two dash-mounted touch screens control most of the car’s systems, but the finish on these is awkward, and the screens tend to ‘wash out’ in bright conditions.

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There’s enough room to store your belongings, but other competitors have more cargo room. The Q50 hybrid’s cargo area is just 9.4 feet, down from the standard model’s generous 13.5 feet (the battery pack takes up 5.1 cu. ft).

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Behind the Wheel

There are many differences between the conventional and hybrid Q50s. The 3.7L V6 on the standard model gives quick, smooth acceleration, and while the hybrid model is slightly faster its drivetrain is unpredictable. Braking is also inconsistent, and ride quality is harsher than that of the standard edition Q50.

The BMW i8 – Far More than Just a Hybrid

The BMW i8 is the ultimate performance hybrid. It goes from 0-60 in 4.5 seconds, has a top speed of 155 mph, and it can be completely recharged in an hour and a half. If this is what the car of the future looks like, we want in!

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Under the Hood

For the 2015 i8, BMW uses a 1.5L, inline three cylinder engine that’s coupled with a lithium ion battery and an electric motor. These two power sources offer 357hp, 420 lb. ft. of torque, and more-than-adequate four wheel drive performance. In full electric mode, the i8 can reach 75 mph, and can travel up to fifteen miles. In hybrid mode, it gets a respectable 28 mpg, with a range of 330 miles.

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Construction

The i8 is made of aluminum and hardened glass, fitted to a carbon fiber chassis. The 2+2 seating configuration can seat four adults comfortably, and the i8 is only 1.5″ longer than the comparably equipped 3 Series. Nearly equal front/rear weight distribution, a centrally mounted battery pack and dual powertrains make the i8 an all-around performance vehicle.

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Options, Trims and Styling

The i8 is a plug-in hybrid that comes with two doors and just one trim level. Standard features are 20″ wheels, LED lighting on the exterior, auto wipers and headlights, parking assist, keyless ignition and entry, leather power seating, heated seats in the front, tilt steering, auto climate controls and a heads up display.

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Other standard equipment includes a nav system, Bluetooth connectivity, Internet access and an upgraded sound system that includes HD radio. Those with Apple or Android devices can remotely lock the car and turn on climate controls, along with various other features.

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Safety

The i8 comes with standard ABS, stability and traction controls, and side/front airbags. Also available as standard equipment are emergency assistance, parking sensors and a 360-degree camera system. During testing, the i8 went from 60-0 in 108′.

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Interior

Getting into the i8 requires a little finesse after the scissor-style door is opened. Once you’re in, you’re firmly ensconced in a cockpit that uses leather and recycled materials on all surfaces. Power seating offers adequate comfort and support, and controls are close to the driver. Despite being billed as a four-seater, the i8’s rear passenger area is very small, as is the cargo area at just 5.4 cu. ft.

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Final Impressions

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It can’t be easy to combine electric and gas power in the same way that BMW has done – meaning that the ‘normal’ feel you get from the car is all the more impressive. Acceleration is smooth, and the regenerative braking system feels natural. Put the i8 into sport mode, and you’ll get even more agility. With great fuel economy, superior handling and even weight distribution, the i8 offers the best of eco-friendly performance.

The 2015 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid Reviewed

Toyota has long been at the forefront of hybrid car technology, but other makers are looking to take the top spot. Several other car manufacturers are offering plug-in hybrid vehicles that offer even greater eco-friendly benefits than the popular Prius hybrid model. Toyota is fighting back with the Prius plug-in hybrid, which is largely unchanged from last year.

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Pros, Cons and Pricing

For the ultimate in eco-friendly transportation, the 2015 Prius plug-in offers a fully electric mode – and its fuel economy in hybrid mode is superior. It recharges quickly, and its hatchback design gives quick access to the cargo area. However, its range under electric power isn’t long (just fifteen miles), and its top speed is just 62 miles per hour. The Prius’ economy-car styling and driving experience isn’t worth the $31,000+ price tag, to some.

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Fuel Mileage

The 2015 Prius plug-in uses a four-cylinder, 1.8L engine putting out 134hp, just like the conventional Prius. That’s where the similarities end, though; unlike the conventional model, the plug-in hybrid offers a full-electric drive mode. Those features give the car a fuel economy of 95 mpg – in hybrid mode, it gets 50 mpg during city/highway driving. It takes 1.5 hours to charge the car with a 240V outlet, and just over three hours with a regular, 120V supply.

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Features and Optional Equipment

The 2015 Prius plug-in comes in two trim levels. The base model is simply known as the Prius Plug-in, and the slightly more upscale version is the Advanced. The standard model is priced right at $31,000, and it has alloy wheels, automatic headlights, Bluetooth connectivity, heated front seating, auto climate controls, a voice-activated nav system, back-up camera and many other features. The Advanced model is priced at $35,800, and it has a larger touch screen audio system, better upholstery, power seating for the driver, adaptive cruise controls, and a heads up display.

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Safety Features

The Prius plug-in comes with stability controls, ABS all the way around, seven airbags and front head restraints. In government testing, the car got 4/5 stars; while it hasn’t been tested by the IIHS, the regular Prius got a “Good” rating in every category.

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Driving Experience

While behind the wheel, we noticed a significant amount of road noise, which is probably attributable to the fact that the car operates silently while under electric power. Its ride is adequately smooth, but bumps can cause the car’s entire body to quiver. Its handling makes it OK for daily driving, but like the regular Prius, it’s nothing to brag about.

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Upon evaluating the interior, we saw that the front seats weren’t very supportive or comfortable. However, we did like the ergonomic feel of the dashboard. Its instruments look like something out of a space ship, and various readouts tell you just what the powertrain is doing. While not luxurious, the interior doesn’t feel cheap either. Rear leg room is somewhat low, but it can seat full-size adults. Despite the larger battery pack, the cargo area is the same size as the conventional Prius, and the rear seat folds down in a 60/40 split.

Hybrids – The Cars of the Future

Thirty years ago, a “hybrid car” was something you’d only find in a science fiction novel – but today, they’re quite common, and they’re more efficient and powerful than many people ever thought possible. Those wanting to live a healthier lifestyle or save money on fuel costs are making the switch – if this describes you, consider the advantages of driving a hybrid car before making a decision.

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Decreased Emissions

Although they do have gasoline engines, hybrid cars put out far less harmful emissions than conventional vehicles do. The difference is especially pronounced in city driving, where stop-and-go traffic and idling create the most pollution. Full hybrids run on electric power that cuts off when the car stops, eliminating idling completely.

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Greater Fuel Efficiency

Hybrid vehicles can get up to 70 miles to the gallon, and great fuel efficiency means that you’ll fill up less often and spend less at the pump. By limiting gasoline consumption, we’re creating less pollution and using our natural resources more wisely.

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Ride Quietness

Your daily commute can be a stressful, noisy experience. However, when you drive a hybrid car, you won’t even be able to hear the noise of your engine. Pushing the car’s “Start” button doesn’t make the engine roar to life like you might expect; in fact, you’re not likely to hear anything at all.

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High Performance

Hybrid vehicles do offer great economic and environmental benefits, but they no longer come at the expense of decreased performance. Hybrid carmakers offer models that combine fuel economy and high horsepower and torque. You really can have the best of both worlds when you buy a hybrid car!

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If you’re looking to buy a hybrid vehicle, you should first learn about the underlying technology before buying. Full hybrids run only on electric power, until the onboard computer signals that gas power is also required (usually at speeds 25 mph and above). Mild hybrids use the electric and gas engines concurrently, which means that these models often have fuel efficiency ratings comparable to conventional cars.

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It may seem impossible to have environmental benefits, performance, style and luxury in one vehicle, but it is possible with today’s hybrid car technology. They’re no longer the cars of the future – go to your nearest dealer and you’ll see that they are here for the long haul.

 

Hybrid Cars – Myth vs. Reality

Hybrid vehicles are becoming more popular, but many people still buy into the myths and misconceptions that surround them. In this article, we will examine some of those misconceptions, and we’ll learn how hybrids really work.

Hybrid = Electric Car

Hybrids get their name from the pairing of an electric motor and a gas engine under the hood. Most of the pollution created by a combustion engine is emitted in city traffic; braking, idling and acceleration all consume fuel. A hybrid car solves this issue by using electric power at speeds 25 mph and below, and by not idling at all. When traveling at highway speeds, the gas engine is used, with electricity being reserved for acceleration and passing.

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Hybrids are Slow and Tiny

Because a hybrid car has a gas engine and an electric motor, they often come with more horsepower than traditional vehicles. Like a regular car, the least-expensive hybrids are small in every way. Along with economy models, hybrids and pickup trucks are now being sold, and some automakers are building high-performance vehicles for road and track use.

They’re Expensive

People who drive hybrids spend less on fuel, but at a higher initial cost. Like most pieces of technology, hybrid cars cost more when they first became available – but now that the market is growing and hybrids are becoming mainstream, they’re getting more affordable. More repair shops have the tools and skills to repair them, and replacement parts are more available.

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The Batteries Run Out Quickly

This is one of the most prevalent myths around hybrid cars, and it’s easy to believe if you’ve ever had a device with a battery that won’t hold a charge. Unlike your mobile phone or your laptop, hybrid batteries are never fully charged. By keeping the charge at about 50%, long battery life is ensured. Most hybrid car batteries have a warranty that lasts up to 100,00 miles, but batteries can perform well for much longer.

“You Have to Plug it In!”

While some hybrids must be plugged in for charging, others use regenerative braking to keep the system charged. When the brake is applied, energy (that’s normally dissipated) is transferred through an electric motor to the vehicle’s batteries. The longest-range hybrid cars have plug-in charging and regenerative braking capabilities.

While there are still misconceptions about hybrid vehicles, more people are learning the truth. Hybrid vehicles are becoming popular as costs decrease. If you buy a hybrid, prepare to pay more upfront – but you’ll recoup your investment in the form of lower fuel costs and a diminished carbon footprint.

Electric Cars – What They Are and How They Work

Electric cars use batteries to store energy, and those batteries are recharged through your home’s electrical supply. When the car is in motion, the batteries supply power to an electric motor. Here, you will learn more about electric cars and how they work.

Motor and Battery Tech

The batteries in electric cars are made of stacked electrochemical cells, and each cell typically produces about two volts. Up until the late 90s, most electric vehicles used lead-acid batteries, but today’s cars are usually fitted with lithium polymer or lithium ion cells. These new batteries offer better performance and a longer range, and are the choice of most vehicle makers.

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The first electric vehicles used DC motors, but most new cars use an inverter to convert direct current to alternating current, with the AC powering the induction motor. Cars such as these have higher power, increased efficiency and lower maintenance requirements. However, they cost a bit more, and the apparatus that controls the motor’s speed and inverts the power is more complex. Some electric cars recharge the batteries en route with regenerative braking, which can increase range by up to 20%.

Behind the Wheel

The driving experience in an electric car is different than that of a conventional car. The shifting mechanism works the same way as in an automatic vehicle, and upon accelerator usage, you won’t hear much noise from the engine. As the car gets going, any minor engine noise is covered up by wind and other factors.

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Most electric cars have high torque at low speeds, with great acceleration capabilities – meaning that they can stand up to city driving. Some models are specifically designed for these conditions, with a top speed of about fifty miles per hour, but many newer models can easily reach highway speeds of about 70 mph. “Electric car” doesn’t have to mean “low performance”; the Tesla Roadster can go from 0-60 in four seconds, and has a top speed of 130 mph!

Today’s electric cars have performance and range that suit them to a variety of applications such as delivery use, commuting, city driving and trips where low-emission vehicles are required. Because of their versatility, electric cars are often used in commercial fleets and as company commuter vehicles.

2015s Best Hybrid and Electric Cars

No longer thought of as underpowered econo-boxes, hybrid cars have really come into their own over the last few years. Their electric/gas motor combos give us power when we need it and fuel economy when we don’t, and regenerative braking can make their ranges even longer. Here, we’ll list 2015’s best bets in the hybrid car market.

The 2015 Honda Accord Hybrid    

Many testers believe that the 2015 Accord hybrid is quick for a midsize, and that its electric and gas motors give sufficient power for fast acceleration. The Accord gets 50mpg in the city and 45 on the highway, which is great for a hybrid vehicle. Its ride is amply comfortable, and handling is better than expected, but steering is a bit stiff at times.

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The Ford Fusion

The 2015 Fusion Hybrid is equipped with a four-cylinder gas engine and an electric motor, and testers feel that it has enough power for most driving situations. Especially notable is the Fusion’s seamless transitioning between electric and gas power. These cars come with auto transmissions as standard equipment, and the Fusion gets 44mpg in the city and 41 on the highway.

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The Toyota Camry

The 2015 hybrid Camry’s electric and gas motors give quick acceleration and enough power from a dead stop. At cruising speeds, the transition between electric and gas power is smooth, but from a stop, the gas engine can abruptly restart. Fuel economy is good, but competitors have the edge when it comes to fuel economy.

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The Prius V

Testers say that the Prius V’s acceleration is anemic, but adequate for a vehicle in its class. The Prius V is standard-equipped with a CVT auto transmission, and it gets 44mpg in the city and 40 on the highway. While far from agile, the Prius V is relaxed in the corners and it has good brakes and a comfortable ride.

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The Chevy Volt

The Volt gets its power from two electric motors, with a four-cylinder gas engine that generates power for the batteries. Testers say that the Volt’s motors deliver snappy acceleration and plenty of power, and the vehicle is whisper-quiet in electric mode. Transition between electric and gas power is smooth, and the Volt has a 38-mile electric-only range – which is stellar for a plug-in hybrid.

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There are many choices on the hybrid car market, and each has its pros and cons. When you’re looking for fuel economy, hybrids are hard to beat. While some have a slight edge over others, we wholeheartedly recommend any of the vehicles on this list.

The 2015 Tesla Model S Reviewed

To add dramatic flair, many automotive writers exaggerate their descriptions of a car’s acceleration and its effects on their bodies. However, the 691hp, twin engine Tesla Model S is one of few cars to actually have a strong physiological effect on the human body. Read on to learn more about the car that’s claimed to be the word’s quickest-accelerating four door automobile.

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The Model S: Lighting-Fast Acceleration and Its Aftereffects

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Drivers feel the effects of acceleration, but not quite as much as passengers. From any of its seven possible seats, the Tesla Model S feels faster than even the Bugatti Veyron. It can go from 0-30mph in the blink of an eye, and such quick acceleration can have some weird effects on the body. Passengers report feeling a fluttering feeling in the throat as lung compression occurred, and visual disturbances as eyeballs were slightly flattened for a split second. It only has one speed, and the electric motors react so quickly that acceleration is seamless.

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D is for Dual Motor

Elon Musk, the owner of Tesla, wants to prove the superiority of electric vehicles. The Model S is all-wheel drive, and the rear-mounted engines leave a gap between the front wheels. The Tesla S boasts one of the world’s most sophisticated four-wheel drive systems, which can respond perfectly to traction loss. The S is powered by two 188hp electric motors, and its 0-60 time is equal to that of the McLaren F1.

 

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What’s New for 2015 on the Model S?

Not much has changed from last year’s model; the Model S has only received the mildest of refreshes. The P85D, the top-of-the-line model, has better and sportier seating, but the biggest news item is that all cars made in the San Francisco plant come with autopilot hardware. The P85D can change lanes with the flick of a switch, and it can read and follow posted speed limits.

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The autopilot capability is activated by an OTA (over the air) software update, which is coming through at the time of this writing. Anyone who’s concerned about a car with such freakishly fast acceleration won’t be reassured by Elon Musk’s requirement that the car’s touchscreen infotainment system should offer Sport, Normal and Insane driving modes.

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It’s not very often that a car has physical effects on those who drive it and ride in it – and it’s even more uncommon for that car to be powered by electric energy. The Tesla Model S offers some of the world’s quickest acceleration, along with the eco-friendly benefits of an electric car – it’s simply an unbeatable combination.

The 2015 Ford Fusion Hybrid – Luxury Features Without the High Price Tag

For most hybrid sedans, it’s important to balance fuel economy and comfort – and Ford has succeeded with the 2015 Fusion hybrid. The vehicle’s exterior is stylish, and it is well appointed and quiet inside, while delivering the fuel economy for which hybrids are known. The Fusion hybrid gets 42mpg, which isn’t the top of the class, but it’s still very respectable. Acceleration and handling are good, and the ride is quiet. Below, we’ll go into detail about the 2015 Ford Fusion Hybrid.

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Trim Levels, Options and Body Styling

The 2015 Fusion Hybrid is available in these trim levels: Titanium, SE and S. Standard “S” equipment includes 17″ alloys, automatic headlights, a rear camera system, dual climate controls, tilt steering, 60/40 folding rear seat, voice activated audio, and a USB/iPod interface. Choose the SE, and you’ll get all that plus keyless entry, heated mirrors, power driver’s and passenger’s seats and satellite radio. Other options include fog lights, a rear spoiler and leather steering wheel.

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The top-of-the-line Titanium gets you all of the SE’s features, keyless ignition, remote starting, eight-way adjustable passenger seating and a 12-speaker HD audio system from Sony. Either the SE or the Titanium can be fitted with a nav system, automated parallel parking, heated steering and automatic gracing. Sunroofs are optioned on the Titanium and the SE.

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Performance

The Fusion Hybrid has a 2L, four-cylinder engine that is paired with a lithium-ion battery powered electric motor. The pair generates up to 188hp, put to the front wheels by a CVT. In track testing, the vehicle went from 0-60 in 8.4 seconds, which is comparable with others in its class.

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Safety Features

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The Fusion Hybrid is equipped with ABS, stability and traction control, rear cameras, and front , knee and side airbags. The Sync audio system includes a feature that auto-dials 911 when it is linked with a cell phone, and there’s even a parental control feature for those with teen drivers. Optional safety features include inflatable seat belts, parking sensors and blind spot monitoring. The Fusion received 4/5 stars in government crash safety tests.

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One feature that may take some getting used to is the feel you get when you slow down; the regenerative braking system takes that time to recharge the vehicle’s batteries. The 2015 Fusion Hybrid isn’t a performance sedan, and most people purchasing a hybrid wouldn’t expect it to be as such. However, its braking and acceleration are perfectly adequate for everyday driving.

A Review of the 2015 Cadillac ELR

For an eco-friendly driver who doesn’t want to give up luxury, the 2015 Cadillac ELR may be the perfect ride. First introduced last model year, this four-seater coupe shares many mechanical components with the Chevy Volt. The ELR offers the efficiency of a plug-in hybrid, combined with the level of style and luxury we’ve come to expect from Cadillac.

Minor Changes for 2015

This year, the ELR will only undergo minor changes; however, a more powerful drivetrain is expected to be added next model year. Those who like the ELR and its sibling the Volt can expect a battery boost of up to .6kWH, which will give the inline four-cylinder gas engine and the generator a little more kick. These slightly more powerful versions may be available as early as the middle of 2015.

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The ELR coupe is only available in one trim level, and it’s only sold with front-wheel drive. It has a 157hp, 1.4L engine, managed by a single speed direct drive gearbox. Power mainly comes from the generator, with the gas engine feeding the battery pack.

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Power Stats

The gas engine and the generator combine to put out 241hp and 295 lb. ft. of torque, offering surprisingly quick acceleration. The vehicle’s all-electric range is about 37 miles, but the gas engine and regenerative braking can keep it going a while longer. When you get home, just plug it into a standard receptacle for a full chage in about 18 hours, or upgrade to a 240-volt system for a recharge time of five hours.

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Fuel Efficiency

The engineers at Cadillac made the hybrid fuel efficiency math as simple as possible, offering figures of 31mpg city/35 hwy – surprisingly low for a hybrid model. However, the ELR offers four drive modes: Mountain, Sport, Hold and Tour, which allow you to configure fuel and power usage to your driving habits and road conditions. By driving conservatively, you can increase the vehicle’s range to up to 340 miles.

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Luxury Options

The ELR may share a platform with the Volt, but it offers luxury options you won’t find on that model. 20″ alloys come standard, as do heated, adjustable mirrors and a rear spoiler. Open the door and you will find leather seating, wood and alloy accents and heated, adjustable seats. Cargo space is slightly low at 10.5 cu. ft., but the tilt steering, cruise control, parking sensors, rear camera and garage door opener make up for that minor shortcoming.

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Tech goodies abound in the 2015 ELR; a hard drive-based nav system, OnStar with Bluetooth, and ten-speaker audio comes standard. Other standard additions are USB ports, an SD card slot and satellite radio. All of these are controlled by a ten-inch touchscreen display. Upgrades include better 20″ wheels, blind spot montoring, and a glove box-mounted CD player.

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With all of the ELR’s eco-friendliness and luxury, the folks at Cadillac didn’t forget about safety. Standard features include ABS, side-mounted, front and rear airbags, fog lights, daytime running headlights and side mirrors with turn signals. OnStar comes standard, as does a remote alarm system and a post-crash safety system. With an MSRP of $76,295, it’s an investment – but a worthwhile one, in our opinion.