Quick Drive: Cadillac XLR-V

Marvin brought his black Cadillac XLR-V to the 2011 Cadillac owners meet in Chicago. After dinner at Wildfire, he generously allowed us to take it for a spin. This, for me, was an especially HUGE deal. I first saw the XLR in a magazine in 2003. I remember walking over to my friends, holding the issue in my hands, and saying word for word “What do you think of this car? Isn’t it amazing? I have to have one. I HAVE TO!”

For most men, the ultimate pin-up car is the Lamborghini Countach. For many my age (born in the 80s), it was the Diablo. For me, in adulthood, its the Cadillac XLR.

The 2004-2010 XLR never sold in large quantities due to its high price ($75k for XLR, $101k for XLR-V). The interior was never quite as nice as the Jaguar XK or Mercedes SL. But, it had a distinctive look and feel only Cadillac could do. Car and Driver described it as the ultimate luxury cruiser for rich guys who want to buy American.

The XLR-V arrived in 2006 with a  supercharged 4.4L Northstar V8 producing 440hp (100hp more than standard XLR). Like the Corvette, its built in Bowling Green on the same line. Like the Corvette, its rear-drive and made of fiberglass. BUT IT DOESN’T DRIVE LIKE A CORVETTE.

Detractors accuse the XLR of being an overpriced Vette with a boxy body and a hard folding roof, but they’ve never driven one. The Corvette is an outstanding American sports car, but it lacks the XLR’s class and finesse. XLR’s smoother ride, cushy seats, and easy steering are distinctly Cadillac. The sound of the Northstar is distinctly Cadillac. The level of comfort, quiet, and technology are miles ahead of anything offered in the C5 or C6 Corvette. But, it probably wasn’t worth the price premium for most buyers.

The XLR is arguably more reliable than the Mercedes SL of the same era and costs far less to maintain, but suffers from atrocious resale value, which makes it very appealing as a used car.


Marvin’s XLR-V is modified with well over 500hp.

A gentle blip on the throttle got the back tires loose and made enough beautiful noise (Corsa exhaust) to scare a grizzly bear. When I wanted to go easy on it, it loped around effortlessly, as comfortably and pleasingly as my big fat Seville. The Bulgari gauges were easy to read and the seats were superbly comfortable.

But again, while build quality was good, the interior materials were not on the level of the SL. I don’t care. I still want one.

Austin took this picture of his Eldorado and Marvin’s XLR-V.

HUGE thanks to Marvin for letting me indulge an automotive fantasy. I am seriously jealous.

3 Responses to Quick Drive: Cadillac XLR-V

  1. Marvin says:

    Glad I could share my fantasy with you guys. Funny thing is, I told Jesda 25% throttle on the way out, 50% on the way back. After the 25% run his eyes were so wide he only got to about 40% on the way back. I think the throttle response scared him a little. LOL

  2. jesda says:


  3. Josiah Flynn says:

    I thought that car was going to slide all over that icy parking lot when I tried driving it, but DAMN, it was worth it!

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