2008 Cadillac XLR

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2008 Cadillac XLR Review


Continuing as Cadillac's only open-air offering, the XLR competes with other long-established premium convertibles in a battle to regain the company's world-class status. With a potent V8 engine, a Corvette-derived chassis and a retractable hardtop as slick as it is practical, the XLR is certainly a contender. But, in this league, name recognition is just as important as performance and price. Of course, the premium convertible market is a small slice of the pie and, with such a short list of competitors, XLR sales should continue to gain momentum. The only thing we can see holding back sales might be the high price tag some may feel the XLR has yet to earn.

You'll Like This Car If...

If you love the feel of the wind in your hair, but only once in a while, the 2008 Cadillac XLR's retractable hardtop should suit you just fine. Edgy styling stands out from the crowd, a bonus for those who like to be noticed.

You May Not Like This Car If...

If you need room for more than two, you're better off shopping the Mercedes-Benz CLK. Luggage room is greatly reduced with the top down, and the XLR's interior is somewhat reserved, lacking the polish found in Jaguar and Mercedes-Benz cars.

What's New for 2008

Cadillac now offers a limited-edition Alpine White model and has improved the XLR's Magnetic Ride Control system. Expanded color choices, a heated steering wheel and optional 18-inch chrome wheels finish out the changes.

Driving the XLR
Driving Impressions

The 2008 Cadillac XLR's powerful NorthStar V8 jumps to life with the muffled burble that only a V8 can produce. Slip the transmission into gear and the XLR pulls away...

... from stop signs with relentless authority. The XLR accelerates smoothly, with a nice, linear progression that continues to build well past any legal speed limit. There seems to be an inexhaustible supply of low-end torque, always on tap when you need to pass, merge or dart across a busy intersection. At high speeds, the XLR feels absolutely in its element, returning a marvelously level and controlled ride. Credit the XLR's Magnetic Ride Control Suspension, which adjusts the shock absorber settings at a rate of one thousand times per second and delivers an exemplary combination of ride comfort and handling response.

Retractable Hardtop Roof
The XLR's retractable hardtop roof tucks away in just seconds.

Keyless Entry
With the XLR's keyless entry and start, all you have to do is have the remote key fob in or near the car and it will unlock its doors and allow you to start the engine with a button.

2008 Cadillac XLR Details

The 2008 Cadillac XLR's interior is neatly arranged, with a carefully placed combination of real wood, leather and brushed aluminum. You sit low in this car, with the doors feeling like huge protective walls. Storage space is reserved to a small storage console between the seats, the glovebox and two flip-out map pockets in the doors. The XLR's seats are supportive, with a multitude of possible positions. Mounting the transmission in the rear provides abundant room in the foot-well areas, an uncommon feature in a rear-wheel-drive roadster of this size.


The XLR is molded in the new Cadillac aesthetic and makes a bold and provocative statement about the future of automotive design. With its long hood and short deck, the XLR retains the traditional roadster formula wrapped in a modern shell. The true design masterpiece is the folding hard top, which, with the push a button, begins a mechanical ballet almost as enjoyable to stare at as the car itself. The process is quick. The trunk lid positions itself high in the air, while the two-piece hard top collapses like a clamshell. The folded top is then remanded to the trunk, where it promptly consumes most of the usable luggage space.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

The XLR has a retractable power hardtop roof, a 4.6-liter Northstar V8 engine, six-speed automatic transmission, side-impact airbags, Bose speakers, Magnetic Ride Control, Adaptive Cruise Control, Head-Up Display, heating and cooling seats, a heated steering wheel, Adaptive Forward Lighting, DVD navigation/entertainment touch screen and keyless entry and start.

Optional Equipment

The only options are the Platinum and Alpine White Editions and chrome wheels.

Under the Hood

The XLR offers only one powerplant: Cadillac's famed 4.6-liter Northstar V8. This thoroughly modern engine includes such state-of-the-art features as continuously variable value timing, variable intake and exhaust cam phasers and low-restriction intake and exhaust manifolds for better engine breathing. The Northstar V8 makes the XLR plenty quick and returns surprisingly good fuel economy. The enthusiast in us just wishes for a manual transmission option.

4.6-liter V8
320 horsepower @ 6400 rpm
310 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/24

Trading in or Selling? Know where you stand with the most up-to-date Kelley Blue Book Value at your fingertips. See your car's value

Buying this car?

Share this page
Trading in or Selling? Know where you stand with the most up-to-date Kelley Blue Book Value at your fingertips. See your car's value

Buying this car?