The History and Evolution of the Cadillac XLR

The Cadillac XLR enjoyed a brief run of just five years, but the luxury roadster made its mark. Production commenced at the plant in Bowling Green, Kentucky. The XLR was earmarked to become the Cadillac brand’s flagship sports car. Designers took their inspiration from the Y platform of Chevrolet’s Corvette. The XLR had a look of its own and was no mere imitation of any other brand or model in its era.

2004 Cadillac XLR 2004

Cadillac introduced its new sporty luxury roadster at the 2003 Detroit Motor Show, where the vehicle made its debut. It hit the spotlight with a Corvette C5 assembly as GM was transitioning to the C6 at the time. Production of the new Caddy began in 2004. It was the first auto of the brand to feature radar Adaptive cruise control. The standard equipment for the first generation vehicle included cooled and heated leather seats, remote keyless access, wood interior trim, side airbags, 18 in. alloy wheels, audio, DVD and navigation system with a seven inch screen located on the dashboard.

An aluminum based hard top retractable roof was a feature that gave the automobile sex appeal and a sporty demeanor, and was manufactured by a joint venture by Porsche and Mercedes Benz. The XLR came equipped with a 4.6 liter V8 Cadillac Northstar engine that cranked out 320 horse power and 310 pound feet of torque. It averaged 17 mpg in the city and 25 on the highway. The 2 door luxury roadster came with a 5 speed shift-able automatic transmission. The XLR was the successor of the previous roadster, the Allante. In 2004, the XLR won the North American Car of the Year Award.

2005 Cadillac XLR

The XLR maintained its 4.6 liter DOHC V8 engine with the same horsepower and torque as the previous year. The rear wheel drive and 5 speed automatic electronically controlled transmission were also a carryover from the previous year. Cadillac knew that it had a good thing going and there were no real problems to address at the time. There were only a few minor changes made, including a higher production rate, along with the addition of two new color choices and they did away with the gray exterior. As with the 2004 model, the newer XLR busted out of the starting gate achieving zero to sixty mph in just 6 seconds.

2006 Cadillac XLR-V

The 2006 XLR-V was intended to show its stuff with a higher performance rating with a higher octane version. As their habit, Cadillac made minimal changes to their high selling flagship luxury roadster. One of the most remarkable improvements was the addition of a standard XM satellite radio. Some of the exterior colors were dropped and replaced with new ones. The fuel consumption remained the same with no obvious changes other than the addition of the satellite radio. No changes in trunk space or wheelbase were made.

2007 Cadillac XLR

The XLR began to undergo a mini revolution with the introduction of two special editions for 2007. The Passion Red and Ultra-luxury Platinum were changes that had to happen to keep the pond water from becoming stale. The higher octane feature from the XLR-V was carried over to the same engine, but now, offering a 6 speed automatic transmission. The major complaint about the XLR is that the aesthetics appealed to an older crowd and it didn’t have the eye appeal to attract the younger crowd.

2008 Cadillac XLR

For 2008, Cadillac did make a few upgrades to the XLR. The addition of a heated steering wheel pushed the luxury features over the top. An Alpine White, limited edition version of the 2008 XLR was offered this year. Consumers were also given the option for chrome wheels, which was something new. A stabiltrack electronic vehicle stability enhancement system was also employed, giving the car smooth handling and a comfortable ride.

2009 Cadillac XLR-V

2009 was the final year of production for the Cadillac XLR. The automaker allowed the model to go out with a bang. It came out with a high performance supercharged XLR-V version with a 443 horse power engine that cranked out 414 lb ft of torque. It achieved a fast climax from zero to sixty mph in just 4.6 seconds with a limited top speed of 155 mph. the automaker added a new fascia to both the front and the rear with chrome side fender vents and upgrades to the interior. Larger brakes were thrown in to go with the new 19 inch wheels. The last vehicle in this production line rolled out of the plant on March 31, 2009 and the XLR had made its final run.


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