2009 Cadillac XLR Expert Review

You'll Like The 2009 Cadillac XLR If...

If you love the feel of the wind in your hair, but only once in a while, the 2009 Cadillac XLR's retractable hardtop should suit you just fine. Edgy styling stands out from the crowd, a bonus for those who like to be noticed.

You May Not Like The 2009 Cadillac XLR If...

If you need room for more than two, you're better off shopping the Mercedes-Benz CLK. Luggage room is greatly reduced with the top down, and the XLR's interior is somewhat reserved, lacking the polish found in Jaguar and Mercedes-Benz cars.

What's New

The XLR lineup is now comprised of two models: The ultra-luxury Platinum model and the high-performance XLR-V. Minor styling changes include revised front and rear fascias, new chrome side vents and a host of interior updates and improvements. The bulging hood previously unique to the V-Series is now featured on both trims.

Interior Features

The 2009 Cadillac XLR's interior is neatly arranged, with a carefully placed combination of real wood, leather and brushed aluminum. You sit low in this car, with the doors feeling like huge protective walls. Storage space is reserved to a small storage console between the seats, the glovebox and two flip-out map pockets in the doors. For 2009, additional leather is added to the dash pad, while the instrument panel receives new trim rings and wood inserts. The XLR's seats are supportive, with a multitude of possible positions. Mounting the transmission in the rear provides abundant room in the foot-well areas, an uncommon feature in a rear-wheel-drive roadster of this size. A new OnStar package allows voice-requested driving directions to be downloaded to the car's DVD navigation system, eliminating the need to pull over and input the data.

Exterior Features

The XLR is molded in the new Cadillac aesthetic and makes a bold and provocative statement about the future of automotive design. With its long hood and short deck, the XLR retains the traditional roadster formula wrapped in a modern shell. The true design masterpiece is the folding hard top, which, with the push a button, begins a mechanical ballet almost as enjoyable to stare at as the car itself. The process is quick. The trunk lid positions itself high in the air, while the two-piece hard top collapses like a clamshell. The folded top is then remanded to the trunk, where it promptly consumes most of the usable luggage space.

Driving Impressions

The 2009 Cadillac XLR's powerful NorthStar V8 jumps to life with the muffled burble that only a V8 engine can produce. 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. There seems to be an inexhaustible supply of low-end torque, always on tap when you need to pass, merge or dart across a busy intersection. At high speeds, the XLR feels absolutely in its element, returning a marvelously level and controlled ride. Credit the XLR's Magnetic Ride Control Suspension, which adjusts the shock absorber settings at a rate of one thousand times per second and delivers an exemplary combination of ride comfort and handling response.

Pricing Notes

The 2009 Cadillac XLR comes fully loaded and has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting around $83,500. That's substantially more than the Lexus SC 430, slightly higher than the Jaguar XK and well below the Mercedes-Benz SL550. For the best deal on your new XLR, be sure to check the Fair Purchase Price, which shows the typical transaction price being paid in your area. Also, check on the incentives to see what incentives and rebates are being offered. Although the XLR does not come cheap, you can take some solace in the knowledge that the car is expected to retain resale values slightly below the SC 430 but on par with the XK and SL550.

Notable Equipment

The XLR has a retractable power hardtop roof, a 4.6-liter Northstar V8 engine, six-speed automatic transmission, side-impact airbags, Bose speakers, Magnetic Ride Control, Adaptive Cruise Control, Head-Up Display, heating and cooling seats, a heated steering wheel, Adaptive Forward Lighting, DVD navigation and entertainment touch screen and keyless entry and start.

Notable Options

With so much many features standard, options are limited to a chrome wheel package, an iPod interface and a Weather Veil Package that includes a custom-fit car cover and windscreen.

Favorite Features

Retractable Hardtop Roof
The XLR's retractable hardtop roof tucks away in just seconds.

Keyless Entry
With the XLR's keyless entry and start, all you have to do is have the remote key fob in or near the car and it will unlock its doors and allow you to start the engine with a button.

Under the Hood

The XLR offers only one powerplant: Cadillac's famed 4.6-liter Northstar V8. This thoroughly modern engine includes such state-of-the-art features as continuously variable value timing, variable intake and exhaust cam phasers and low-restriction intake and exhaust manifolds for better engine breathing. The Northstar V8 makes the XLR plenty quick and returns surprisingly good fuel economy. The enthusiast in us just wishes for a manual transmission option.

4.6-liter V8
320 horsepower @ 6400 rpm
310 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/24

Editors' Notes

Continuing as Cadillac's only open-air offering, the XLR competes with other long-established premium convertibles in a battle to regain the company's world-class status. With a potent V8 engine, a Corvette-derived chassis and a retractable hardtop as slick as it is practical, the XLR is certainly a contender. But, in this league, name recognition is just as important as performance and price. Of course, the premium convertible market is a small slice of the pie and, with such a short list of competitors, XLR sales should continue to gain momentum. The only thing we can see holding back sales might be the high price tag some may feel the XLR has yet to earn.

Road Test Video Reviews

  • 2009 Cadillac XLR-V Supercharged Start Up, Exhaust, Short Drive, and In Depth Tour
  • 2008 Cadillac XLR Roadster Review and Test Drive by Bill - Auto Europa Naples (239)298-8000
  • Is the 2004 Cadillac XLR just a FANCY Corvette? - Raiti's Rides
  • Here’s why Cadillac XLR is the car I always wanted!
  • 2009 Cadillac XLR V For Sale
  • Motorweek Video of the 2006 Cadillac XLR-V

Owner Reviews


3 Reviews

33% 33% 3 star 0% 33% 1 star 0%

Owner reviews are verified by our team and cannot be altered or removed.

It is a great family vehicle and gets good gas mileage for its size.

I honestly dislike nothing about my vehicle, my only complaint would be maybe it should have more room. But other than that it's great.

- Matthew A

Its reliable and its fairly good on gas i love the way it drives.

I love my vehicle its rarely giving me any problems i a big fan of my car brand and have been for years.

- Terrence D

It's a Caddie and everyone loves Caddies! It is a great Brand!

I love my vehicle. It is very roomy as far as legroom. I dislike the gas it guzzles!

- Curtis T