Adding electricity makes luxury even better.
EVs are essentially split into two categories currently. There are those that most people can afford and those reserved for the wealthy. This award focuses entirely on the latter, where electricity and luxury combine to create the most refined driving experience possible.
Electric drivetrains and luxury cars go together like peanut butter and jelly. For years manufacturers have produced high-output turbocharged V12s with massive low-down grunt and tons of sound insulation for epic refinement. An EV motor is a perfect solution for this segment because it takes care of all the above.
That said, cars need to be more than just sensory deprivation tanks. Sure, they need to protect their owners from the annoying sounds made by the proletariat, but they also need to be enjoyable to pilot.
This year was particularly kind to the Electrified Luxury segment of the CarBuzz awards, with several heavy hitters launched. Cars that didn't make the final cut included the GMC Hummer EV, the Mercedes-AMG EQS, and the Genesis GV60. Here are the cars that did...
The Lyriq is the most advanced Caddy ever produced - for now - yet it leans hard into the brand's history of producing luxury cars rather than speed machines. We were surprised that adaptive damping isn't standard or an option; instead, the Lyriq relies on single-state dampers tuned for every possible driving scenario.
It takes five miles to realize why Cadillac went in this direction. The Lyriq is unashamedly tuned for comfort. You get the idea that anyone on the Lyriq design team who dared mention the word "sporty" was evicted from the building immediately. We respect that and wish more companies would focus more on the default settings drivers use 90% of the time.
On the technology side, Super Cruise is the single-best semi-autonomous driving technology we've experienced, and an active sound cancellation system is also standard. It also has a 33-inch curved LED display, running a Google-powered interface.
The Lyriq is the first Caddy to feel bespoke in a long time, and signifies the start of a new era for the American luxury brand.
As Hyundai's spun-off luxury brand, Genesis has been hitting it out of the park recently.
First, we like the Genesis because it's an old-school sedan with a beautifully-proportioned design. Unlike many newfangled EVs that look like amorphous blobs or futuristic spaceships, the Electrified G80 retains the regular car's styling, which is a win in our books.
The Electrified G80's electric components have been designed to impact its owners' lives as little as possible. It has a 00/800V multi-rapid charging system and using 350 kW charging, it can go from 10% to 80% in 22 minutes. It also features Vehicle-to-Load functionality, which means it can power the house for a few days if the grid fails.
The interior is the highlight. Instead of equipping it with an all-digital interface, Genesis relies on a beautiful 14.5-inch infotainment display and several physical buttons for the most-used features. Material quality is on par with the Germans, and an onboard Active Noise Control system further enhances the driving experience.
The exterior of the BMW i7 may be controversial, but who cares? If you own one, everyone else has to look at it, and you get to experience the interior. And that's where you want to be. Unlike the Mercedes-AMG EQS, BMW took a more traditional approach. It has the obligatory 14.9-inch touchscreen powered by BMW's latest iDrive 8 software, but it doesn't dominate the cabin. There's still room left for other upmarket touches, like glass buttons and the innovative BMW interaction light bar that stretches the entire length of the dash. It's a functional design feature and the next big step from ambient lighting.
The real party is in the back if you opt for the Rear Executive Lounge Seating package; the seats will recline, and a 31-inch 8K resolution theatre screen with built-in Amazon Fire TV will drop down to a soundtrack composed by Hans Zimmer. The man also composed every other sound you hear when driving, which has had a transformative effect on the experience.
To date, the i7 is the best example of how an EV powertrain can enhance luxury.