The 2008 Cadillac XLR delivers good all-around performance, but it’s “not as sporty as its Corvette underpinnings would suggest,” Edmunds says.
Car and Driver comments the XLR’s sole engine is "a 4.6-liter Northstar V-8 with variable valve timing produces 320 horsepower at 6,400 rpm and 310 pounds-feet of torque at 4,400 rpm." This makes the Cadillac XLR 2008's "acceleration for passing...close to stunning." Kelley Blue Book reports that the Northstar engine installed in this 2008 Cadillac "makes the XLR plenty quick and returns surprisingly good fuel economy," with "an inexhaustible supply of low-end torque, always on tap when you need to pass, merge or dart across a busy intersection." Edmunds calls the engine “muscular and refined” and “spirited” and notes that accelerating from 0-60 mph takes “less than six seconds.”
A six-speed automatic is the XLR’s only available gearbox. Cars.com says the "six-speed automatic transmission incorporates Performance Algorithm Shifting and Performance Algorithm Liftfoot systems, along with Driver Shift Control for manually selected gear changes." It's also mounted in the rear, which "makes the weight distribution close to 50/50." Kelley Blue Book declares, "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."
Of course, all this power comes at a cost, which is probably of no consequence to those who can afford this vehicle. Nonetheless, fuel mileage is better than one might expect; the bigger Northstar V-8 gets 15 mpg in city driving and 24 mpg on the highway, according to EPA estimates. Cars.com reports that "premium fuel is recommended."
Based on the Chevy Corvette, this 2008 Cadillac offers "first-rate structural solidity [and a] forgiving ride," according to Car and Driver, which adds that with "the exception of its artificial steering feel, the XLR's back-road manners and performance is on par with top European GT convertibles." Edmunds disagrees; the XLR "comes up short in terms of maximum performance when compared to its similarly priced rivals from Germany and Great Britain...those expecting a true Cadillac sports car will be disappointed." Edmunds adds "the XLR's softer suspension tuning results in noticeable body roll during hard cornering and plenty of nosedive under heavy braking."
Nonetheless, ConsumerGuide says "Magnetic Ride Control helps provide reassuring high-speed discipline." Cars.com observes, “Ride comfort beats most sports cars by a mile, and steering is tight and impressively precise.”