All-new in 2004, the Cadillac XLR is unchanged for 2005, save for the choice of a new light or dark eucalyptus wood interior, and Blue Steel exterior paint which replaces Thunder Grey.

The most expensive offering in Cadillac’s stable, the XLR is based on the Chevrolet Corvette C6’s platform, although it’s shorter in length, narrower, and taller in height than the Vette. Power is from a 4.6-litre Northstar V8 engine mated to a five-speed automatic transmission. The lightweight roof, made of aluminum, magnesium and composite exterior panels, contains a heated glass backlight and glass rear-quarter windows, and retracts at the push of a button in less than 30 seconds.

The XLR comes in a single trim line, and features Xenon headlights with washers and automatic control, fog lights, LED taillights and third brake light, heated mirrors with driver’s side auto-dimming, rear parking assist, rain-sensing wipers, automatic dual-zone climate control, adaptive cruise control, HomeLink garage door opener, head-up display (HUD), tire pressure monitoring system, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, OnStar, DVD-based navigation system with multilingual voice recognition, memory/personalization package, express up/down windows, leather-wrapped wheel with audio and cruise controls, power tilt and telescopic steering column, cargo net, perforated leather heated and cooled seats with eight-way power adjusters, Bose six-CD stereo, Magnasteer speed-sensitive variable-assist steering, Magnetic Ride Control, and keyless access system.

Cadillac’s edgy design works well on the XLR, which is beautifully proportioned and aggressive-looking. But it’s still a Cadillac, and so all that is tempered with good manners and a civilized ride, thanks to the award-winning Magnetic Ride Control that uses electro-magnetically adjustable shock absorbers that react instantly to changes in the road surface. This would be a great ride even if the top didn’t go down – but it does. It’s pricey, though; the Porsche Boxster and Mercedes SLK 55 AMG both make quite a splash for considerably less cash.

The XLR is built in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

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