2005 Cadillac XLR

  • 2005 Cadillac XLR Base Roadster Convertible

    Base Roadster Convertible

    • MAX MPG
    • SEATS
    • ENGINE
      4.6L V8
    • MSRP
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2005 Cadillac XLR Review

Fresh, distinctive styling plus outstanding ride and handling make it a highly successful luxury roadster.

Reviewed by Automotive on


After almost 10 years without a two-passenger sports car in the lineup, Cadillac breaks out of its traditional reputation with the XLR, a luxurious, high-performance sports car based on the new Corvette. A luxurious interior plus edgy, powerful exterior styling put this hardtop convertible in a class all its own. Press a button and the top goes down in 30 seconds. With the top up, it looks like a powerful coupe and acts like one. The last such car for Cadillac was the 1987-1993 Allante. The 2005 XLR offers excellent handling, thanks to its modified Corvette chassis. Its 320-horsepower V-8 delivers brilliant acceleration, yet it is quiet and pleasant when cruising.

The Range

Body style: convertible
Engine: 4.6-liter V-8
Transmission: five-speed automatic
Models: Cadillac XLR

What's New

The Cadillac XLR was all-new in 2004 and carries over with minimal changes for 2005. Buyers now have the choice of dark or light eucalyptus wood trim.


The sharp styling of the 2005 Cadillac XLR is both distinctive and controversial. It seems people either love it or hate it. According to Cadillac, stealth fighters inspire the XLR’s design. With the hard top is up, its chiseled lines suggest a hot rod. The top, constructed of aluminum and magnesium with composite panels, contributes to the structural rigidity. Retracting it takes less than 30 seconds. Cadillac’s signature egg-grate grill is flanked by headlamps that wrap around the corners. The sides are unadorned with full wheel cutouts and subtly flared fenders. Four wide exhaust tips point out from under the center of the rear bumper, adding to the XLR’s powerful presence. The XLR is low and wide, riding on seven-spoke, 18-inch, mirror-polished alloy wheels. There are no door handles. Instead, a button nested inside a deep notch behind the top trailing edge opens the doors. A special key fob unlocks the doors, and the engine is started and stopped by a button on the instrument panel. Riding on a 105.7-inch wheelbase, it is 177.7 inches long overall and stands 50.4 inches tall.


Two occupants fit into the interior of the 2005 Cadillac XLR, surrounded in beige or black leather. Dark or light eucalyptus and anodized aluminum trim accent the interior. A head-up display projects speed information and the selected gear onto the windshield. The Italian design company Bvlgari is responsible for the instrument panel. Chrome rings surround white-on-black gauges. The leather-wrapped steering wheel is trimmed with burled wood. Heated and cooled seats are soft with fairly good bolstering. Most of the controls consist of simple switchgear with finger-sized buttons. The navigation system is displayed on a seven-inch LCD screen on the center console. With the transmission in Park, the display will also play DVDs with the help of the nine-speaker Bose audio system, which also includes an in-dash six-disc CD changer. XM Satellite Radio is available as an option. Perhaps the only negative about the interior is the lack of storage space. Storage spaces within the cabin are good for small items only. With the top up, the trunk capacity is 11.6 cubic feet, but this dips to a mere 4.4 cubic feet of cargo space with the top down.

Performance & Handling

The 2005 Cadillac XLR boasts a 4.6-liter Northstar V-8 capable of 320 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque. Its double overhead cams, variable valve timing, and electronic throttle control make for a smooth, quiet, and powerful ride. It can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds and complete the quarter-mile in 14.2. A relatively light curb weight of 3647 pounds makes it faster than many competing cars. The five-speed automatic transmission includes a true manual-shift mode that doesn’t override the driver. Mounted on the strong, light Corvette chassis, it has aluminum sub-frames to accommodate the body and lightweight aluminum suspension components. The suspension, like the Corvette’s, uses transversely mounted composite leaf sprints with short and long control arms both front and rear. Magnetic fluid in the shock absorbers control stiffness by means of sensors that read the road 1000 times per second. The result is exceptionally good handling.


Standard safety features on the XLR include dual front airbags with passenger-sensing airbag disengagement, seat-mounted side-impact airbags, four-wheel anti-lock brakes, traction control, seatbelt pre-tensioners, and OnStar telematics.

EPA Fuel Economy

Cadillac XLR: 15/23 mpg city/highway

You'll Like

  • Distinctive design
  • Loaded with standard features
  • Smooth ride and handling

You Won't Like

  • Minimal cargo space
  • Cramped for taller drivers
  • Some low-quality interior materials

Sum Up

Fresh, distinctive styling plus outstanding ride and handling make it a highly successful luxury roadster.

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