A grey 2024 Cadillac Lyriq leaving a parking garage after visiting a Cadillac dealer.

GM and Honda: The Cadillac LYRIQ, the Acura ZDX, and the Ultium Platform

Electric vehicles are becoming less and less rare. However, in the scramble to get models on the market, several brands that are lagging behind have chosen to partner with more experienced manufacturers for their first EVs. One of the most notable examples of this partnership is Honda’s decision to partner with GM and use the American brand’s Ultium platform to underpin a pair of electric SUVs: the Honda Prologue and the Acura ZDX.

The first SUV to use the Ultium platform was GM’s luxurious Cadillac LYRIQ, which rolled into Cadillac dealers for the 2023 model year, and Honda followed suit by starting with its luxury brand, Acura. As both vehicles are luxury midsize SUVs, some have wondered whether the ZDX is simply a rebadged LYRIQ rather than a genuinely new vehicle. It turns out there are some similarities, but there are also plenty of differences that separate the two despite the shared platform.

Are Honda and GM the Same Now?

In April 2020, Honda announced that it would be partnering with GM in the development of two all-new electric vehicles. As part of that partnership, Honda’s vehicles would be built on GM’s Ultium EV platform. But that’s it. The design and engineering of the exterior and interior of these collaborative vehicles has always been left to Honda to develop.

This is not a new partnership, however. GM and Honda have been working together towards the goal of electrification for many years. In 2017, Honda and GM joined forces to develop more functional fuel cells, and they have also worked together on battery technology and self-driving vehicles. In fact, GM and Honda have collaborated on a variety of projects dating back to the 1990s.

According to Doug Parks, GM executive vice president of Global Product Development, Purchasing, and Supply Chain, “It is another step on our journey to an all-electric future and delivering a profitable EV business through increased scale and capacity utilization. We have a terrific history of working closely with Honda, and this new collaboration builds on our relationship and like-minded objectives.”

The Acura ZDX is the first Honda vehicle to be built on the Ultium platform and is intended to jumpstart Honda’s EV production. As stated by Emile Korkor, assistant vice president of Acura National Sales, “The Acura ZDX represents the start to what will be an accelerated path toward electrification by the end of the decade and the key role the Acura brand will play in our company’s global goal to achieve carbon neutrality in 2050.”

The Ultium Platform

What exactly is the Ultium platform? Essentially, it is a versatile structure that allows for a variety of motor and battery configurations. With the ability to house up to three motors and several battery modules, each with its own independent wireless battery management system, the Ultium platform is ideal for vehicles of many different sizes and shapes, including cars, trucks, and SUVs. This modular platform can be reconfigured for front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive, or all-wheel drive models.

But that’s not the only thing that this EV platform can do. GM has engineered the platform with innovations like heat pump technology, which means less strain on the battery while keeping the cabin comfortable. The design of the Ultium platform is also helpful for drivers, as the cell structure allows for faster charging, along with the ability to engage energy conservation measures like Regen on Demand and One Pedal Driving. Furthermore, the platform has been designed to not only improve overall driving and handling but also offer solid protection for the batteries and motors.

A blue 2024 Acura ZDX angled left while driving.

Two Flavors of Ultium Performance

The 2024 Cadillac LYRIQ is offered in both rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive across the lineup. Both versions share the same 102 kWh battery pack. Rear-wheel drive models have 340 hp and an estimated range of 314 miles. All-wheel drive LYRIQ models have a range of 307 miles but considerably more power at 500 horses.

The 2024 Acura ZDX is offered in three configurations: the A-Spec trim provides a choice of rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, but the performance-oriented Type S is all-wheel drive only. The A-Spec provides 358 hp and an estimated range of 313 miles for rear-wheel drive models or 490 hp and 304 miles for all-wheel drive models. The Type S again brings the zip with 500 hp but a range of only 278 miles on a full charge.

There are certainly some similarities between these two vehicles that can be attributed to the Ultium platform, but as always, the world of automotive manufacturing goes much deeper than that. The ZDX has a bit more power in its base trim, while the LYRIQ has more range.

The Most Enjoyable Parts

How does all of this technology and collaboration lead to creating cars that we want to drive? One blessing provided by the Ultium Platform is that it allows EVs to be equipped with more technology more easily. Things like wireless battery cell monitoring can make it easier to keep an eye on real-time battery health, allowing for easier diagnosis of issues and providing manufacturers with the ability to program those batteries.

For instance, GM has been experimenting with what it terms “Ultifi” technology, which would allow for easy app development, over-the-air vehicle updates, and fun things like rain-and-pollen sensing windows that close themselves, driver recognition software, and alerting drivers of road hazards before they can even see them. While those updates are still a bit down the road, it’s clear that the Ultium Platform is ideal for luxury EV drivers who want the best of everything.

Those who prefer having more options and choices may be interested in the 2024 Cadillac LYRIQ, which is offered in three trims: Tech, Luxury, and Sport. Living up to its name, the Tech includes wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, wireless phone charging, and a 33-inch Advanced LED display that provides information and serves as the control panel for the infotainment system. The Luxury trim adds things like choreographed exterior LED lighting, a heated steering wheel, and rain-sensing windshield wipers, while the Sport trim adds fun and helpful extras like 26-color LED dual-zone ambient interior lighting, heated outboard rear seats, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.

The interior of the ZDX is dominated by digital screens that include an 11-inch Precision Cockpit Driver Information Cluster and an 11.3-inch Center Information Screen. The center touchscreen includes access to wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and a Wi-Fi hotspot. The A-spec trim includes an automatic dimming frameless rearview mirror, while the Type S has a digital rearview system and a head-up display. The front seats are heated and ventilated in both trims, though rear outboard seats are heated only in the Type S model.

A 2024 Cadillac LYRIQ parked in front of a mountain range at sunset.

All Electric Vehicles Are Not the Same

As you can see, the 2024 Cadillac LYRIQ and Acura ZDX are two different vehicles despite sharing the GM Ultium platform. While some brands have simply rebadged existing models to get an EV to market faster––for example, the Subaru Solterra and Toyota bZ4X––Honda put in the effort to build an entirely new vehicle on GM’s platform. This results in a slightly different experience from performance to technology.