Remember The Cadillac XLR? That Time That GM Made a Northstar Corvette?
With rumors of Cadillac creating their own halo supercar from the bones of the mid-engine Corvette C8, I thought it would be nice to take a look back on Cadillac’s last halo car. The XLR was essentially a Corvette with Cadillac styling, and Cadillac exclusive engines. The XLR was a brilliant car, but between 2004-2009, Cadillac only sold 15,000 of them. For reference, Chevrolet moved nearly 180,000 examples of the Corvette in the same time period.
So what was the issue? What was it about this Cadillac that resulted in such a poor reception? Well, let’s start under the hood. You had a choice of two engines, either a 4.6L Northstar V8 or a 4.4L Supercharged Northstar V8. Now even in base form, this Northstar V8 was different from the one in your Grandma’s DTS, because this one was putting out 320 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque. In fact, it was the same Northstar that you could get in the SRX and STS at the time. The supercharged version, found in the XLR-V, put out 443 horsepower and 414 lb-ft of torque, which was more than a base Corvette, but nearly 60 horsepower lower than a Z06 from the same period. The supercharged Northstar was the same as the one found in the STS-V, except it made more power than it did in the XLR-V.
The window sticker could’ve also been the reason for it’s demise, considering base price for a 2004 XLR was roughly $75,000. That’s $25,000 more than a base Corvette convertible. That means that realistically, you could’ve bought a 2004 Corvette convertible, and then a fully loaded 2004 Malibu LT V6 for the price of a base XLR. The XLR-V came in around $95,000, which made it one of GM’s most expensive vehicles at the time, and while that 443 horsepower was impressive, a Corvette Z06 was still an entire 2004 Malibu LT V6 cheaper.
Then there was the other V’s. The STS-V had the same Northstar V8, two more doors, and nearly 30 more horsepower than the XLR-V and stickered for $20,000 less. The CTS-V, while down a little bit on horsepower until the introduction of the LSA, 505 horsepower V8, could be bought for a little under $50,000. Which means that you could buy a CTS-V, sink it in the ocean, or bury it in the ground, get a taxi back to the Cadillac dealer, buy another one, and still be better off than if you bought an XLR-V.
The only car that rivaled the XLR-V in price, was the Corvette ZR1, with it’s 631 horsepower, which was about 200 more horsepower more than the XLR-V, and I think we both know which one we’d choose if the keys were on a table.
So a lot of infighting, and not a lot of fitting in was the reason the XLR was not long for this world, and while that is a shame for Cadillac, it’s great if you want to pick one of these up second-hand. Relatively low mileage examples can be had for about $20,000 which makes it quite the deal. You could also drop in some CTS-V running gear and have a great hardtop roadster.
While the rumors are still nothing but rumors, I wouldn’t be too surprised if Cadillac pulled the wraps off of a mid-engine supercar with a few more luxury bits and pieces in a few years time. While the CT6 and Escalade make for some great flagships, they're not as eye-catching as it’s competition. Mercedes has the GT, Porsche has the 911, Audi has the R8, Acura has the NSX, and even Lexus has the RC F and LC500.
So I’m hoping that we will see a successor to the XLR, so that the Corvette doesn’t hog all the spotlight.
What’re your thoughts on the XLR? Comment below!