2009 Cadillac XLR Review

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2009 Cadillac XLR Overview

With few updates since its introduction in 2004, the Cadillac XLR roadster desperately needed a pick-me-up. The 2009 version gets it, with a facelift based on the CTS sports sedan and a few new standard features. Starting with the front fascia, the rear-wheel-drive sports convertible borrows the wider “Arts and Science” grille from the CTS, gets new foglights, and adds chrome fender vents along with matching side vents. The sculpted bulging hood comes from the XLR-V. In the back, the rear fascia sports larger exhaust tips. The update gives the XLR a more modern, streamlined, haughty profile.

The 2009 Cadillac XLR keeps its 4.6-liter, 320-hp Northstar V8 engine and 6-speed shiftable hydramatic. It packs plenty of power and driving excitement, hitting 0-60 in just under 6 seconds, but noticeably lags behind the power plant in the comparable Mercedes Benz SL550 and the Chevrolet Corvette, with which it shares a platform. With a more expensive pricetag than the Corvette, drivers might wish for a little more oomph and might want to look at the more performane-oriented XLR-V. Handling matches the superior quality in the rest of the Cadillac lineup, thanks to standard traction control and StabiliTrak, Cadillac's own Magnetic Ride Control adaptive suspension, and an electronic throttle and adaptive transmission that provide smooth, quiet shifting.

The two-passenger convertible gets a new Alcantara headliner and hand-stitched leather trim on the instrument panel, which carries revised gauges. The hardtop convertible retracts in less than 30 seconds at the touch of a button, sliding easily into the trunk. This feature provides one of the few complaints about the 2009 XLR. The already small trunk (11.6 cubic feet) shrinks down to a useless 4.4 cubic feet with the top down. Bluetooth joins the long list of upscale and technologically advanced amenities this year. Keyless start, heated and cooled seats and steering wheel, a navigation system, and a DVD player provide all the necessary creature comforts for the open road. One hopes the DVD player in a two-person car is intended only for the passenger.

Along with the standard ABS brakes, dual front-side airbags, parking sensors, and 18-inch wheels, the 2009 XLR boasts advanced technology, some of which was first introduced in previous versions of the convertible. Adaptive cruise control maintains a safe distance between cars and Adaptive Lighting synchronizes the direction of the lights with the steering wheel. Though the XLR might not match the acceleration power of some of its counterparts, and drivers do report a general vagueness to the steering, it delivers satisfying, smooth, and confident open-air performance.

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