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Luscious XLR gives Cadillac a cruiser

March 07, 2005|by KEN CHESTER, JR./Motor News Media Corp.

Every now and then, there is a vehicle that attracts attention from the community at large. Such is the case with the Cadillac XLR.

Low, wide, sleek and sexy, the Cadillac XLR was introduced in 2003 and is making its mark as a luxury roadster with performance roots. Built at the Chevrolet Corvette plant in Bowling Green, Ky., the XLR shares much of its underpinnings with the legendary muscle car. Despite its roots, the XLR's blend of technologies and materials add pleasure to the driving experience.

Driving this convertible hardtop gets a positive reaction from young and old alike. Its chiseled lines are unlike any other coupe on the road today, while the operation of the convertible hardtop always seems to draw a crowd. With the driver pushing and holding a single button, the XLR can convert from coupe to open roadster in less than 30 seconds. The top is constructed of aluminum and magnesium with composite exterior panels, a heated glass backlight and glass rear quarter windows.

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Standard technology in the XLR includes head-up display, adaptive cruise control, Magnetic Ride Control, StabiliTrak vehicle stability system,, heated/cooled seating, keyless access with push-button start and DVD navigation and entertainment system.

For 2005, the Cadillac roadster adds a new Dark Eucalyptus wood interior and Blue Steel exterior paint, replacing last year's Thunder Gray. The XLR's crisp, linear look bears a family resemblance to the automaker's exterior design language across its product line.

Power is generated by the refined Northstar 4.6-liter V-8 engine and transferred to the pavement through a five-speed electronically-controlled automatic transmission.

On the road, the XLR is responsive and willing at speed. The overall driving experience behind the wheel is classy and understated - yet with an unmistakable personality. Despite its width, the XLR boasts an impressive turning radius.

At the heart of the roadster's road manners is its backbone. Based on GM's new performance car architecture, the foundation uses hydroformed steel perimeter frame rails, an enclosed structural "tunnel," an aluminum cockpit structure and balsa-cored composite floors.

This serves as the basis for the XLR's suspension hardware, with double wishbones at each corner, combined with transverse-mounted composite leaf springs front and rear. The Cadillac is shod with Michelin ZP Extended Mobility tires with advanced run-flat technology that eliminates the need for a spare and provides outstanding overall tire performance.

Electronic control systems that work with the suspension hardware include Magnetic Ride Control - a computer-controlled active system with adjustable, computer-controlled shock absorbers and Magnasteer - a magnetically controlled speed-sensitive steering system.

Contemporary luxury is reflected inside the cabin, with unique eucalyptus wood in light or dark tones combined with aluminum accents. The gauges were designed in conjunction with Italian luxury brand Bulgari for a genuine upscale look. Seating is both heated and cooled in the back and in the cushion.

A seven-inch color touch screen mounted in the upper center console gives driver and passenger access to DVD navigation. The OnStar communications system and DVD entertainment system complements the nine-speaker Bose audio system with in-dash six-CD changer. In fact, the only option available for the XLR is XM Radio at $325.

QUICK VEHICLE STATS

Wheelbase: 105.7; overall length: 177.7; width: 72.3; height: 50.4 - measurements in inches.

Engine: Northstar 4.6-liter V-8 - 320 hp at 6,400 rpm and 310 lbs-ft of torque at 4,400 rpm.

Transmission: Hydra-Matic 5L50-E electronically-controlled five-speed automatic.

EPA fuel economy: 17 city/25 hwy., using premium unleaded gasoline.

Cargo capacity: 11.6 cu. ft. (top up); 4.4 cu. ft. (top down).

SAFETY FEATURES

Dual front air bags, side-impact air bags, head-impact air bags, four-wheel disc brakes with anti-lock, tire pressure monitor, run flat tires, StabiliTrak stability control system, all-speed traction control, remote keyless entry, daytime running lights, ultrasonic rear parking assist, keyless access with push button start, adaptive cruise control, automatic power door locks, navigation system, high intensity headlamps/washers, automatic headlamp control, fog lamps, theft deterrent system and OnStar communications system.

WARRANTY

Basic: 4-year/50,000 mile, bumper-to-bumper.

Corrosion: 6-year/unlimited.

Roadside assistance: 4-year/50,000 mile, 24-hour.

PRICING

The base Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the 2005 Cadillac XLR starts from $75,835. Destination charges add $815.

Copyright 2005, Motor News Media Corporation

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