Column: 2014 Tesla Model S vs. Cadillac ELR — Electrolux

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Winner: 2014 Cadillac ELR

Electric cars have never been more relevant, more livable, and more appealing, and in the case of the Cadillac ELR and the Tesla Model S, more luxurious. The ELR and the Model S are quite differently packaged — the Caddy is a two-door four-seater, while the Tesla is a plus-sized hatchback with up to seven seats. That itself may determine which is best for you, but unless you have kids or a carpool — and let’s face it, queens, few of us do — I would recommend the Cadillac if you want to cushify your emissions-free commute.

First, inside, only the glitzy, feature-laden, beautifully crafted interior of the Cadillac feels worth its lofty price, while the vacuous Tesla feels almost un-designed. At the very most, the Model S feels half-baked until you check a bunch of option boxes, at which point you could be looking at a six-figure price tag (the one I tested rang in at $122K!). Both cars have ergonomic challenges — the Cadillac features annoying capacitive touch controls that feel unnatural, while the Tesla buries all of its secondary controls — including the sunroof controls — into a huge, inelegant vertical monitor plunked into the middle of its flat dashboard. A lack of a center console does not help the Tesla’s sense of intimacy.

But the biggest reason I recommend the Caddy is because of its Chevy Volt-based range-extending powertrain that alleviates the need to constantly be hunting for places to plug in the car, allowing you to drive 30-35 miles on electrons before the engine kicks on, then letting you go another 300 or so miles at 35-plus mpg before you have to pull over for gas. This also allows apartment-dwellers who don’t have access to a plug at home to own an ELR if they are allowed to charge up at work. The Tesla is electric-only, meaning that when you run out of juice, you better be near a plug. And bring a book, because charge times can be several hours long to get you a few miles of range. To be fair, many Tesla owners have found ways to live with that — usually by virtue of having another car in the household for longer trips. But call me crazy, but I don’t think cars this pricey should require you to have a second car just to live with the first one. Therefore, the Caddy takes this one.

The Scorecard (««««« = best)

 

2014 Tesla Model S

2014 Cadillac ELR

Base Price

$70,890

$75,995

Styling

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Acceleration

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Handling

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Interior décor

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Interior space

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Cargo Space

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Value

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Renowned automotive journalist and gay car geek Steve Siler has turned his life-long love of cars into a fruitful and enthusiastic career traveling the world to test thousands of new vehicles as they are introduced. Siler is s regular contributor to Car and Driver Magazine, Edmunds.com, AutoTrader.com, AOL Autos and Yahoo! Autos, and also pioneered automotive writing for the LGBT community more than a decade ago.


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