Bank Breakers: The Cadillac XLR-V and Jaguar XKR

If you're considering a high-performance convertible like the Cadillac XLR-V or Jaguar XLR — both of which are at or around six figures — it's not asking too much to expect everything to be top-notch, right? You would think so, but after driving and examining these two cars, it's clear that certain areas received more of those hard-earned dollars than others.

Cadillac XLR-V
Price as tested: $100,000

Where the Money Went

  • The engine: The XLR-V's hand-built, 443-horsepower supercharged V-8 is a powerhouse, but what's equally impressive is how cooperative it is when driving in city traffic. It's not a one-dimensional beast.
  • The retractable-hardtop roof: It's such a carefully choreographed piece of machinery that you don't even want to imagine how much it would cost to fix if something went wrong out-of-warranty.
  • The styling: The XLR-V's sharp-edged look is really nice, and subtle V-Series cues tastefully distinguish it from the regular XLR. What's more, the roadster's proportions are near perfect.

Where it Didn't Go

  • The navigation/radio combo: Though the navigation map is fairly contemporary, the graphics for the audio presets are reminiscent of a Commodore 64's. It screams low-tech in a car that otherwise has futuristic, high-tech styling.
  • The cabin: Some elements impress, like the detailed stitching on the dashboard, but it lacks consistent luxury throughout due to downmarket buttons, controls and trim pieces.
  • The cargo area: Even though there is plenty of room when the retractable-hardtop is up, the luggage space is downright paltry when that fancy roof is lowered. Pack light.

Jaguar XKR
Price as tested: $96,475

Where the Money Went

  • The transmission: It’s one of the most responsive automatics in the business. Toe the accelerator through a corner, and it picks the right gear at a moment’s notice. It blips the throttle and downshifts two or three gears in the time it takes most automatics to downshift one. If we could never drive stick again, this is the slushbox we’d choose.
  • The seats: The leather has a sporting feel, and everything seems infinitely power-adjustable. There are even adjustable side bolsters, which transform the seat from a bona fide racing chair to something in which you could relax for hours.
  • The suspension: Jaguar’s Computer Active Technology Suspension keeps body roll in check — though it’s not as hunkered down as the XLR-V — but the real magic here is the highway ride, which is as comfortable as any full-size sedan’s.

Where it Didn't Go

  • The controls: Oh, those Brits. The navigation system ranges from amusing — it can locate nearby vineyards, and the welcome screen uses words like “whilst” — to frustrating: I couldn’t find a place to fill up anywhere under “G” in the map categories. (It’s there — under “petrol stations.”)
  • The interior materials: The leather and wood look great, but there’s too much cheapo silver plastic. The cabin has real metal on the door handles and gearshift, which makes the fake stuff look even worse.
  • The grille: We’ve dumped on it before, and we’ll dump on it again. From a distance, the XKR’s grille looks like it might be stainless steel. Up close, it’s low-rent, painted plastic.

By Mike Hanley and Kelsey Mays


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