After going more than a decade without one, Cadillac added a two-passenger sports car to its lineup for 2004. Named the XLR, the retractable-hardtop coupe gave Cadillac a luxury roadster with a performance-oriented chassis and structure. Changes for 2007 include a new six-speed automatic transmission and two special editions: Platinum and Passion Red. The latter will be limited to 200 vehicles.
Cadillac promotes the "harmonious blend of technologies and materials meant to add pleasure, not complexity, to the driving experience." A long list of technical features includes a head-up display, radar-operated adaptive cruise control and General Motors' StabiliTrak electronic stability system.
Magnetic Ride Control provides magnetic-fluid-based real-time damping. Keyless Access with push-button start permits true no-key operation. For safety's sake, the engine will not start unless the remote fob is in the car and the driver is depressing the brake pedal.
Cadillac launched a high-performance XLR-V for 2006.
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Cadillac says stealth fighters inspired the XLR, which serves as "a contemporary expression of Cadillac's heritage of landmark design and advanced technology." Linear lines display hints of the marque's history. The strong grille also suggests the past, but with a modern expression. The XLR's vertical headlights are part of Cadillac's current design philosophy.
The roadster's weight distribution is virtually 50/50, helped by the rear-mounted transmission. Cadillac says the XLR's steel hydroformed frame rails couple with an aluminum cockpit structure and balsa-cored composite flooring to provide "rigidity without bulk." Run-flat tires eliminate the need for a spare.
Built on a 105.7-inch wheelbase, the XLR is 177.7 inches long overall. Retracting the hardtop takes less than 30 seconds. Made of aluminum and magnesium, the top structure features composite exterior panels, a heated glass back window and glass rear-quarter windows.
Eighteen-inch wheels are standard. Passion Red and Platinum editions receive special colors and wheel designs, though tire sizes remain the same. Other changes for both cars include a chrome grille, new interior colors and unique badging.
Two occupants fit inside the XLR's luxurious interior, which features eucalyptus wood and aluminum accents. The seatbacks and cushions are heated and cooled. The DVD navigation/entertainment system has a 7-inch screen in the upper center console, but the entertainment system operates only when the gear selector is in Park.
A nine-speaker Bose audio system includes an in-dash six-CD changer. XM Satellite Radio and GM's OnStar communication system are standard. Trunk capacity is 11.6 cubic feet with the top up, but space dips to 4.4 cubic feet when the roof is retracted.
Under the Hood
A 4.6-liter Northstar V-8 with variable valve timing produces 320 horsepower at 6,400 rpm and 310 pounds-feet of torque at 4,400 rpm. Premium fuel is recommended. A six-speed automatic transmission replaces last year's five-speed automatic. It incorporates a manual-shift mode.
Side-impact airbags are installed in the seats. The seat belts have powered pretensioners. Four-channel all-disc antilock brakes, traction control and a stability system are standard.
With a low driving position like Chevrolet's Corvette, the XLR is one sweet road machine. Acceleration for passing is close to stunning, and the XLR is also quick from a standstill. Ride comfort beats most sports cars by a mile, and steering is tight and impressively precise. High sills demand some twisting to get inside.
A performance-packed V edition of the XLR, fitted with a supercharged 4.4-liter V-8 that develops 443 hp at 6,400 rpm and 414 pounds-feet of torque at 3,600 rpm, went on sale for 2006. A new six-speed automatic transmission incorporates Performance Algorithm Shifting and Performance Algorithm Liftfoot systems, along with Driver Shift Control for manually selected gear changes.
Unique XLR-V design features include polished wire-mesh upper and lower grilles, a sculpted hood, four stainless-steel exhaust tips and 10-spoke aluminum wheels with a sterling silver finish. Zingana wood interior trim complements leather seats with perforated suede fabric inserts. The car has a rear stabilizer bar and a larger front stabilizer bar. Back to top