2009 Cadillac XLR Photo
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On Performance
On Performance
The 2009 Cadillac XLR is built first to be a luxurious high-speed grand-tourer, so don’t expect too nimble a sportscar.
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PERFORMANCE | 8 out of 10

Expert Quotes:

reassuring high-speed discipline

not as sporty

accelerates smoothly...well past any legal speed limit
Kelley Blue Book

The 2009 Cadillac XLR carries over most of its mechanics from 2008. TheCarConnection.com finds that this makes it a good choice for all-around performance despite the fact that it's not as sporty as a Corvette.

Car and Driver describes the XLR’s sole engine as “a 4.6-liter Northstar V-8 with variable valve timing.” It makes 320 horsepower at 6,400 rpm and 310 pound-feet of torque at 4,400 rpm. But Car and Driver characterizes the Cadillac XLR 2009's "acceleration for passing" as "close to stunning." Edmunds calls the engine "muscular and refined," as well as "spirited," and notes that accelerating from 0-60 mph takes "less than six seconds." Kelley Blue Book reports that the Northstar engine installed in this 2009 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." The 2009 Cadillac XLR delivers good all-around performance, but it's "not as sporty as its Corvette underpinnings would suggest," Edmunds says.

A six-speed automatic is the 2009 Cadillac XLR's only available gearbox. 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." 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."

Of course, all this power comes at a cost, which is probably of no consequence to those who can afford the vehicle. Cars.com reports that "premium fuel is recommended." 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.

Edmunds is not a fan of the 2009 Cadillac XLR's suspension, reporting, "the XLR's softer suspension tuning results in noticeable body roll during hard cornering and plenty of nosedive under heavy braking." Car and Driver says 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."

Cadillac's Magnetic Ride Control wins rave reviews. Cars.com observes, "Ride comfort beats most sports cars by a mile, and steering is tight and impressively precise." ConsumerGuide says, "Magnetic Ride Control helps provide reassuring high-speed discipline." This 2009 Cadillac offers "first-rate structural solidity [and a] forgiving ride," confirms Car and Driver.


The 2009 Cadillac XLR is built first to be a luxurious high-speed grand-tourer, so don’t expect too nimble a sportscar.

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