Cadillac XLR

The Cadillac XLR is a two-seat roadster that debuted in 2003 and was ultimately discontinued in 2009. However, during its six year run, the XLR roadster was considered Cadillac's flagship vehicle. Mechanically, the XLR was based on the same platform as the Chevrolet Corvette.

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About the Cadillac XLR

Visually, the Cadillac XLR was known for signature Cadillac design features such as a bold front grille, vertical headlights, and taillights as well as a body-side character line that accented its sleek design. In terms of drivability, the XLR offered a smooth, well-controlled driving experience that was perhaps never quite as high-performance as the car's image and design suggested it would be. Nonetheless, the XLR was a moderate hit for a time with drivers who appreciated it as something different. Unfortunately, the XLR turned out to be a victim of its own innovation.

While the XLR could generate an impressive amount of acceleration and cruise comfortably at high speeds, it wasn't a true sports car. For starters, it didn't come close to the speed of a Corvette that it was based on. The XLR's soft suspension also resulted in a discernible amount of body roll when cornering. Furthermore, the car suffered from nosedive when the brakes were applied heavily. The XLR was at its best on the open highway where it could provide a fast, breezy, smooth ride while effortlessly tracking the road. Therefore in retrospect the XLR could be regarded as a grand tourer more than a high performance sports car. As a Cadillac, its responses were softer and more refined than you'd expect from a sports car. While the car's 4.6-liter V-8 engine seemed formidable with its 320 horsepower, it was far more subdued than the kind of V-8 that anyone would find under the hood of a true American muscle car.

Cadillac XLR Features

2009 was the final model year for the Cadillac XLR. That model featured a grille that was restyled as well as included the additions of fog lamps, Bluetooth capabilities, and OnStar. As always, the XLR featured a retractable hardtop roof and was equipped with a generous portion of standard luxury features. These included 18-inch polished aluminum wheels, LED taillights and high-intensity discharge (HID) headlights that were steering-reactive. The car's interior featured eight-way power heated and cooled front seats that were upholstered in leather, dual-zone climate control, and a head-up display that projected certain gauge readings on the bottom portion of the windshield. Other features included a tire pressure monitor, keyless entry, adaptive cruise control, and ultrasonic rear parking assistance. The XLR also featured Bluetooth capabilities, a navigation system, and a Bose sound system complete with satellite radio and a CD changer.

Under the hood the XLR was fitted with a 4.8-liter V-8 engine that produced 320 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. The engine was matched with a six-speed automatic transmission. The car featured several other performance-minded features such as four-wheel traction control and GM's magnetic ride control system.

There was also a high-performance version known as the XLR-V that was produced between 2006 and 2009. The 2009 XLR-V featured updated wheels and was powered by a 4.4-liter V-8 outfitted with an Eaton-Roots supercharger. This potent combination produced a formidable 443 horsepower. Magnetic ride control settings for the XLR-V were firmed up, and the suspension featured larger stabilizer bars. The 2009 XLR-V also boasted bigger brakes, wheels, and tires. The design intent of the XLR-V was to offer ultra-high performance combined with the level of comfort and luxury one would expect from a Cadillac.

While the XLR may not have lived up to its hype as far as performance, it was certainly no slouch and was capable of making it from zero to 60 in less than six seconds. While cruising at high speeds, the car was quiet and exerted minimal discernible effort. Among the XLR's other performance oriented features were antilock disc brakes, run-flat tires, stability control and a tire pressure monitor.

The interior of the Cadillac XLR was a more compact version of what a driver would expect to find in any Cadillac. It featured seats upholstered in leather, fine wooden trim, and aluminum accents. The cabin was modern, clean, yet rich and warm like a classic Cadillac. However, it gained criticism for being cramped by comparison to other vehicles in its class, particularly certain models produced by its European competitors.

Cadillac XLR Evolution

The Cadillac XLR changed little during its six-yarn run. Notable evolutions included replacing the five-speed automatic transmission early models had featured with a six-speed transmission in 2006 as well as the availability of color-themed special editions during the final years of the XLR's run of production.

Select a Cadillac XLR Year

2009 Cadillac XLR

Convertible, Luxury

The Cadillac XLR is a two-seat luxury roadster.

2008 Cadillac XLR

Convertible, Luxury

The 2008 Cadillac XLR serves as a high-end, performance roadster with a retractable hardtop.

2007 Cadillac XLR

Convertible, Luxury

The 2007 Cadillac XLR continues the company’s push into the performance arena in an effort to match European rivals.

2006 Cadillac XLR

Convertible, Luxury

The 2006 Cadillac XLR effectively changed Cadillac’s dated image to that of a brand offering style and bit of attitude.

2005 Cadillac XLR

Convertible, Luxury

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.

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