Its design makes the 2006 Cadillac XLR stand out from the crowd. Slowly but surely, Cadillac is effectively changing its image from a company that builds stodgy, old people's cars to a brand that offers exclusivity, style and a little attitude. If the Cadillac XLR can't drive that point home, maybe nothing can.
The XLR comes with an advanced 4.6-liter Northstar V8 that uses variable valve timing and a low restriction intake to generate 320 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. To insure the noise from all that power stays under the hood, Cadillac developed a new acoustic engine cover that also gives the engine bay a perfectly finished look. Using a modified version of the five-speed automatic transmission found in the CTS sedan, the XLR offers both a shift-it-yourself feature and a fully automatic mode. The transmission is mounted in the rear to help achieve proper weight distribution.
The Cadillac XLR is available as a two-door, two-seat roadster only. Its retractable hardtop is power-operated and goes from open to closed in about 30 seconds. Virtually every luxury feature comes standard, including a navigation system, traction control, stability control, adaptive high-intensity discharge headlights, rear parking sensors, headlamp washers, dual-zone climate control, a 250-watt sound system with an in-dash CD changer and a 7-inch touchscreen for driver information, entertainment and navigation system control. The XLR boasts an upscale cabin complete with Eucalyptus wood trim and aluminum accents in addition to leather seating.
Inside, the Cadillac XLR aims for simple elegance. Clean-looking but certainly not bland, the XLR's interior is modern and warm. Standard features include such gee-whiz technology as a head-up display, adaptive cruise control, a voice-activated DVD navigation system, heated and cooled seats plus optional XM radio and a Bose audio system. The touchscreen is mounted high in the center stack and helps keep the dash uncluttered by eliminating the need for numerous single-use buttons.
The Cadillac XLR comes with a host of safety features, most designed to keep the car from getting into an accident in the first place. Four-wheel antilock disc brakes and stability control are standard, as are side airbags. Because the XLR is a two-seater, the passenger-side front airbag can be switched off to accommodate children in safety seats.