2004 Cadillac XLR (491)


This week I tested the 2004 Cadillac XLR and I’m not ashamed to tell you how hedonistically wonderful a car like this makes one feel. Fact is you don’t know what you don’t know until you DO know when you experience unique and different things.

Many things in life are that way, like the first time you eat an apple or oysters. With this XLR, there were so many neat features to discover and appreciate it was like an Easter egg hunt.

But this was not like testing the surreal oversized toy called the Plymouth Prowler.  This XLR is new and exciting serious business. The smaller retractable hardtop Mercedes Benz SLK comes to mind. But XLR is more a rogue. It is less refined but all the more exciting for that fact. Or perhaps it is the wayward child of an SL500 and a Corvette. The male is sure to be the more macho Corvette. No same sex unions here.

General Info:

Parts –  n/a

Assembly – Bowling Green, KY, USA

Class:  – Two Seater

Cars: – CTS, DeVille, Escalade, Escalade EXT, Seville, SRX & XLR.

Handling & Performance:

Wonderful. It’s smooth, comfortable and just flat fun to drive … and fast too. That’s NorthStar fast at 320 horsepower mated to a 5-speed transmission gives you super smooth shifting. It also has a manual controlled shift, but the XLR doesn’t offer a manual transmission, rightfully so. Competitors are similarly powered but the lighter weight XLR helps it to sprint 0-60 in just 5.8 seconds, which is a little faster than the others.


Forward thinking and very tomorrow. The sharp lines are attractive, strong and confident. The grill is beautiful and daring. This is a “Go For It” kind’a car and the expected production of only 3,000 cars will make it hard to find. It has lots of sex appeal and the expected buyer will be a 54-year-old male with annual household income of about $250,000 seeking much younger woman, the personals will exclaim. But I have news for the ladies – at the end of the day this car will out perform its owner.

Fit and Finish:

Nothing to complain about.


More than you can imagine. Let’s see, where do you start with a car that has every gadget available?

Ok, start by placing the key fob in your pocket or purse and leave it there. When you walk up to the car the door unlocks and a touch pad opens the door (no handles), then you get in and a light on the dash (where the key would ordinarily be inserted) lights up. You touch the button and wa-la the car starts. Pressing the bottom of the button turns the ignition off. Ok, I just thought of one thing it doesn’t have… remote starting.

Anyway, you tool down the highway seated in heated or cooled power seats. You engage the cruise control and that information pops up on the window reflecting the speed you are traveling, the speed you set for cruise and it then controls and maintains a safe distance between you and the car in front. You can just see it isn’t long before we have “Auto Pilot” in cars. When someone pulls in front of you and shortens the distance between you and that car, braking occurs as needed. Wonderful. I’ve tested this feature before and I’m lov’n it more every time.

The hard top magically tucks away in the trunk at the touch of one button. When it starts to sprinkle or rain, the wipers snap to attention and wipe away the moisture. Just say thank you. The Navigation system provides the usual map and assists you in reaching your destination when needed. OnStar system is available not only for emergencies, but it can be the most convenient thing on the car. You can request help finding a gas station, or any directions or distance anywhere. They will tell you where you are, call for roadside assistance or lead you to the nearest Neiman Marcus or Mervin’s for that matter.

When you get to your destination and parallel park, sensors alert you when you’re getting close to any object. Then with the touch of a button the door pops open. What’s not to love on this car?


It doesn’t matter!

Consumer Recommendation:

There are many who would like to drive this XLR, but few who would own it for several reasons. One, it is a big two seater, so it limits utility. Two, it is a retractable hard top car so there is almost NO storage space with the top down. Three, it costs nearly $80,000. But that being said, this is a keeper. That’s my code for I Really Love This Car. When I hate to give a test car back, I know it’s special.

Looking at the cost of the competition the XLR is most affordable of many. But if you want to pop for one, you’d better act fast due to limited production.  If you want to open your wallet wider, you can easily find a higher priced competitor since there are far fewer able to afford the ride. But those few are not on this planet anyway. Why, because only race drivers can truly appreciate the handling prowess of such cats. More importantly, those other cars can never really appreciate the average driver. If you’ve ever ridden a horse and think it doesn’t know your ability to set astride that magnificent animal, think again. If they could only talk! Cars can talk, but they would never say anything offensive like, Where’d you get your license, in a Cracker Jack’s box?

The Competition:

2003 Aston Martin DB7 Vantage $142-152,000, 2003 BMW Z8 $132-136,000, Lexus SC 430 $63,000, Jaguar XK Series $69-93,000, Mercedes-Benz SL Class $89-126,000, Maserati Spyder $86-90,000.

Good News:

Fantastic styling, fun to drive and features from the next dimension.

Bad News:


Standard Equipment:

4.6 liter NorthStar 320 hp V8 engine, 5-speed auto trans with driver shift control, 4-wheel independent suspension with magnetic ride control, 4-wheel power assist ABS disc brakes, 18 inch polished alloy wheels with run flat tires and pressure monitors, Stabilitrak and traction control, speed sensing power steering, power retractable hardtop, keyless access with push start, heads up display, heated and cooled 8-way power seats, Bose AM/FM with 6-disc CD changer, DVD Navigation and voice recognition system, adaptive cruise control, climate control, Eucalyptus wood trim, wood and leather wrapped steering wheel, high intensity headlights with washers and twilight sentinel control, ultrasonic rear sensors, dual front and side airbags, fog lights, theft deterrent system and OnStar system.

Gas Stats:

17 City and 25 Highway MPG.


MSRP $76,000.

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