[FoRK] Autoweek's long-term test of the XLR

Rohit Khare khare at alumni.caltech.edu
Mon Nov 1 10:08:26 PST 2004

2004 Cadillac XLR
End Of The Marking Period, And Cadillac Gets An "A"
  AUTOWEEK Published Date: 10/18/04

Like teachers preparing report cards, we pored over our logbook, 
tallied up the track test results, and boiled down all the owners’ 
opinions to determine if the Cadillac XLR passes muster.

 From its hardtop-convertible operation to its true dual exhaust, we 
found very little to detract from the XLR’s luxury-sport ambitions. We 
give the car top marks for looks and handling, and though a couple of 
owners wrote to us detailing problematic purchasing experiences, the 
overwhelming majority of comments were positive.

At the drag strip we found the XLR got quicker with each successive 
run, with a best 0-to-60 time of 6.30 seconds, putting it 0.38 second 
ahead of both the Lexus SC 430 (Dec. 17, 2001) and the Mercedes-Benz 
SL500 (Sept. 23, 2002) in our test file. The XLR reached the 
quarter-mile pole in 14.59 seconds, which again compares favorably with 
the SC 430 (15.03 seconds) and the SL500 (15.09 seconds).

The SL500 easily matched the XLR through our slalom course, however, 
its tauter chassis driving the big two-seat Benz through at 43.7 mph, 
making both the Cadillac and the Mercedes six-tenths of a mile per hour 
faster than the Lexus. The XLR would no doubt perform better if 
equipped with more performance-oriented tires instead of the run-flat 
all-season Michelins it wears.

The Caddy takes just 119 feet to come to a stop from 60 mph, which not 
long ago would have put it in near-supercar territory. That figure 
still makes for a superior stopping distance, but the SC 430 bests the 
XLR by a foot, while the Benz blows it away, at 113 feet.

Away from the track the XLR makes for a buttery-smooth ride. There is 
almost no freeway hop of which to speak, bumps are absorbed with ease 
and it is very composed on the expressway. Owners and staffers agree 
the Cadillac’s magnetic ride control suspension works well in balancing 
a placid, luxurious cruising ability with decent handling prowess.

According to our stopwatch, the power-retracting hardtop takes 26.5 
seconds to open and 28.5 to return to its fully closed position. Top 
down, even at 80 mph, we felt very little disturbance, and with the top 
up, a minimum amount of wind noise leaks into the cabin.

Without a doubt, this car is a head-turner. Its sleek sports car looks 
draw attention top up or down. Many owners who wrote to us admitted the 
XLR’s looks first drew them to the car.

"I wanted one since I first saw the Evoq at the Los Angeles auto show a 
few years ago," wrote one owner. Another, who praised Cadillac for 
finally delivering a vehicle attractive to new customers, wrote, "This 
is the only car that still turns heads in Beverly Hills."

We appreciate the power express (up and down) windows on both sides of 
the car, and we also like that you can turn off the daytime running 
lights. There are other touches we could live without, including the 
Bulgari-designed key fob and instrument-panel gauges. The name may 
imply luxury, but we don’t think it adds much to the XLR’s sense of 
elegance. Our only other complaint about the interior: We wouldn’t mind 
a little more thigh support in the seat cushions.

Owners and testers alike expressed a hesitation in fully trusting the 
keyless access feature, though it is a hoot to start up a car with the 
keys still pocketed. One owner reported he had driven off in his own 
car with the XLR keys still on him after a dealer test drive, and yet 
an employee at the dealership was able to start the XLR.

A couple of owners wrote of troubling initial experiences as well. One 
waited months for the XLR he had ordered only to have it show up 
requiring immediate attention by the service department to repair its 
flywheel. Another owner had his XLR delivered with a crack in the 
decklid. Repairing it required an additional four-week stay at the 

All tallied, most seem to agree the Cadillac XLR more than makes the 


I have my pick of many fine autos, but I find myself wanting to drive 
the XLR more. The Northstar engine is smooth and sufficient, but I 
would like to see a V-Series with the Z06 engine. The ride quality is 
excellent and is a nice balance between sport and touring. I don’t 
think I could have a more pleasurable open-air driving experience 
without being totally impractical. Cadillac is finally figuring out how 
to build sleek and competitive luxury cars.
Barry Helman, Malibu, Calif.

The sleek silhouette and chiseled lines of the XLR are more pleasing 
than the Ferrari we used to own. It also feels more stable and planted 
while cornering than our Corvette. It offers enough performance to keep 
me entertained and enough luxury to keep me comfortable. While no other 
car on the road looks like the XLR, the one thing I really like is that 
it’s a solid convertible that doesn’t leak. This is what the Allante 
should have been.
Alan Morrison, Key West, Fla.

The Cadillac XLR is exceptionally good-looking and has no problem 
attracting plenty of attention. It is one of the flattest cornering 
vehicles I have ever driven, but the steering ratio seems a little too 
quick for a luxury car. The interior of the XLR is comfortable and 
roomy, and there is no cowl shake. It is by far one of the best 
interiors to ever come out of Detroit. However, small things like the 
wood on the steering wheel and the cheap pebble-grain trim leave me 
wondering what the designers were thinking. And the lack of storage 
makes the XLR rather impractical as daily transport. Only time, and 
perhaps the new Corvette, will tell if our XLR will be considered a 
good buy.
Jack Miller, Pittsburgh

I love the fact that XLRs are in short supply and in high demand, 
unlike SL500s, which are a dime a dozen in Los Angeles. It is built 
well and handles and drives great. I traded my Lexus SC 430 for the XLR 
because it has a sports car demeanor the Lexus was missing. I can’t 
wait for the V-Series.
Ed Glazer, Los Angeles

Owners paid; average: $76,200 to $76,525; $76,362

0-60 mph: 6.30 sec
0-100 km/h (62.1 mph): 6.58 sec
0-quarter-mile: 14.59 sec @ 97.6 mph

20-40 mph (first gear): 2.2 sec
40-60 mph (second gear): 3.1 sec
60-80 mph (second and third gear): 3.7 sec

60 mph-0: 119 ft

490-foot slalom: 43.7 mph
Lateral acceleration (200-foot skidpad): 0.84 g

Idle: 50
Full throttle: 82
Steady 60 mph: 67

EPA combined: 20.83 mpg
AW overall: 19.9 mpg

Total: $81,108
Average cost per mile: $1.08

After one year: $17,587
Five-year total: $41,763

  Head-turning style
  Trick power-folding hardtop
  Great ride/handling balance

  Needs more tire
  Seat bottoms too short
  No trunk with top stowed

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