- Powerful performance from standard V-8
- Effective keyless entry and starting
- Easy-to-master technology
- Not as responsive as its looks suggest
- Tiny trunk
- Not as refined as it could be
The 2008 Cadillac XLR still manages to turn heads with its style.
The 2008 Cadillac XLR has aged well since its 2004 introduction, although it's due for a light exterior refresh for the 2009 model year. If you didn't know, Cadillac's sporty two-seat retractable hardtop roadster is based on the Chevrolet Corvette, but is defined by its own sharp-edged styling and exclusive 4.6-liter, 320-horsepower Northstar V-8 engine in standard trim.
For 2008, Cadillac has updated the XLR with a heated steering wheel and a retuned version of Magnetic Ride Control. Adaptive Forward Lighting swivels the headlamps as the vehicle corners; a head-up display, heated and cooled seats, and a DVD navigation system are among the standard equipment. GM's StabiliTrak stability control, Magnasteer power steering, and Magnetic Ride Control are also standard on all versions of the XLR. A new Alpine White Limited Edition sports a chrome grille and 18-inch chrome wheels. The returning Platinum edition wears handcrafted leather in its cabin.
Performance enthusiasts can choose the high-performance XLR-V, which packs a 443-horsepower punch from a supercharged 4.4-liter dual-overhead-cam V-8 engine and can reach 60 mph in less than five seconds. (TheCarConnection.com has a separate review of the 2008 Cadillac XLR-V.) As impressive as the V-Series XLR is, most drivers won't be disappointed with the standard 2008 Cadillac XLR.
This Cadillac roadster handles well, but it's not a Corvette. The XLR is a bit slower and also slightly less nimble, but the trade-off is well worth it, given the XLR's purpose in life is to be a luxury two-seater, not a bad-boy racer. One of the XLR's strongest traits is its outstanding MagneRide system. Explaining how it works would require an entire story of its own. Suffice it to say, this computer-controlled suspension can read the road--and the driver's input--so rapidly that it can change settings in about the time it takes for the XLR to roll three inches at 60 mph.
From the driver's seat, the 2008 XLR is comfortable, and the space feels especially airy if you specify the lighter interior tone--but GM is even better at making interiors than it was in 2004 when the XLR was new. Still, the mechanical dance performed by its folding hardtop is pure engineering magic that will stop people in their tracks so that they can take a better look.