Cadillac Totally Botched Its Return to Real Car Names with the Lyriq and Celestiq


Cadillac’s once-proud history as the former Standard of the World includes some of the classiest vehicle names to ever grace a shiny body panel. Eldorado! Seville! Coupe de Ville! Even the cynical, thinly disguised rebadge of a Chevrolet Cavalier known as the Cadillac Cimarron had a fun moniker. 

When Cadillac announced that they would be returning to real names for their vehicle lineup, fans rejoiced! Sadly, General Motors’ preview of its eleven new luxury electric vehicles ran over all of our hopes and dreams with the might of a 1994 Fleetwood. Cadillac’s first new vehicles to get real names in years will be the Lyriq two-row crossover and the and Celestiq four-door luxury sedan, per Car and Driver. Lyriq. Celestiq. I’m sick.

These dorky sounding names are a true stab in the back. What the heck is a Celestiq aside from that kid in your dorm who smoked way too much pot, got really into slam poetry and wore smelly white-dude dreads? Celestiq was the new nickname he gave himself to become one with the crystal energy of the universe or whatever.

What’s a Lyriq if it isn’t a D-list early 2000s boy band who failed to launch? At the very least, it’s begging for typos. Even Car and Driver’s article on the car spelled it as “Lyric” in the middle. I had to use my browser’s “Find In This Page” option just to make sure I wasn’t Lyric-ing this up. 

Frankly, I’d rather use “lyric” (spelled correctly) to Google what Accept is actually screaming in “Balls to the Wall.” The Lyriq is like the WeatherTech Raceway of cars: calling it that just feels wrong. It’s got mad Frank Zappa baby names vibes in the worst way.

Admittedly, as someone who grew up with the cushy brougham-era luxury of a Sedan de Ville, my beef with Cadillac’s recent naming strategy runs deep. When everything but the Escalade got renamed anonymous-sounding combinations of letters and numbers, I was among those deeply confused and slighted by the move. Names like STS sounded modern in the Nineties but had no meaning or lasting connection. Did you even remember that GM claimed it stood for “Seville Touring Sedan”?

Former Cadillac boss Johan de Nysschen later twisted the knife when he renamed all the SUVs with XT- as the prefix and all the cars with CT-names. This move was all too similar to how de Nysschen standardized Audi names with A-prefixes and standardized Infiniti names with Qs up front. Does the name CT6 really stand out in your mushy brain-folds from names like A6 or Q60? Not really. 

Alphanumeric names that mean nothing to the general public really just blend Cadillac into the background, making it look like an also-ran in a crowded luxury field—and General Motors knows this. 

“Do you think the Cadillac brand is in good shape? It’s not,” General Motors President Mark Reuss told Car and Driver at the announcement of GM’s 11 planned EVs.

Cadillac desperately needs a return to its former glory, and part of that plan was to give its cars distinctive names once again. Concepts from recent years rolled smoothly off the tongue and gave us precious hope: Ciel! Elmiraj! Escala! These are names truly befitting of the groundbreaking electrified turnaround of a once-proud American luxury brand. Lyriq, not so much. 

There are still positives to what GM’s doing, even if it’s all too easy to roast the names. People have had an easier time remembering Lincolns now that Ford’s luxury brand switched back to actual names for its vehicles like the Nautilus and the Aviator. The full Cadillac lineup isn’t named yet, so maybe we’ll still see beloved nameplates like Coupe de Ville return later. To GM’s credit, the Lyriq and Celestiq are different enough from what Cadillac’s made in the past that they deserve to be called something new—and as much as I hate it, I have to admit that these silly names are memorable. 

Teaser for the new Lyriq, Cadillac

The two-row Lyriq crossover goes on sale first, riding on GM’s all-new Ultium EV architecture, which will be shared across its range of new EVs. GM teased the Lyriq concept at the event Car and Driver attended, which a company spokesperson claims is 95 percent similar to the final car. Its proportions suggest a long, longitudinally mounted engine up front that it obviously doesn’t have, and the teaser outline looks more like a lifted wagon than the taller egg shape of crossovers like the Lexus RX and the Cadillac XT5. An Escalade-style curved 34-inch display shares infotainment and instrument cluster duties, and the rear console has its own touchscreen for the rear seats. 

The second electric Caddy after the Lyriq will be the Celestiq, a low-volume luxury fastback reminiscent of the Tesla Model S or the Porsche Panamera, Car and Driver reports. The Celestiq will be Cadillac’s new flagship car with an expected six-figure price to match. The Celestiq concept that GM showed off was long and low, riding on 23-inch wheels with one big touchscreen reaching across the dashboard. Each Celestiq will be hand-built near Detroit for the lucky folks who can get one. 

If done well, GM’s 11 new EVs could position the company in a better place for an electrified future. Given that the current Chevrolet Bolt is a good little car that’s surprisingly fun to drive, I have high hopes in these next-generation models.

Both of Cadillac’s planned electric cars are right in line with current luxury trends, surreal names notwithstanding. Smaller crossovers like the BMW X1 and the Porsche Macan are big hits, serving as the new entry-level cars that introduce buyers to a luxury brand. If buyers have a good experience with those, they may upgrade to a more expensive model later. 

An ultra-luxe Audi A7-style fastback sounds like a great way to build hype at the high end of the market, too. It’s hard not to compare the upcoming Celestiq with the Lincoln Continental, another cushy American flagship sedan whose buzz helped drive Lincoln out of the doldrums. We’ll have to see how the decision to build the Celestiq as a hand-built, limited-run car works out, but it could set it apart from its mass-produced rivals and inspire a new higher-volume model later if it’s a hit. 

These are such important cars for Cadillac’s turnaround that it’s painful to see the conversation hijacked by people rightfully roasting their silly names. So Cadillac, please hire someone else to rebrand your cars before the Lyriq reveal in April. The Standard of the World depends on it.