- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 30, 2004

This week I was goggled everywhere I drove. Actually it wasn’t me being eyeballed, it was the car I was driving: a sharp-looking Cadillac XLR roadster.

This $76,200 two-seat hardtop has lots going for it, such as advanced technology and distinctive edgy, sculptured lines sitting on 18-inch wheels made of spun-cast aluminum. Best of all, it is capable of doing what it looks like it can do: 0-to-60 mph in under 6 seconds.

Under the hood is the latest version of the 4.6-liter Northstar V-8 engine that produces 320 horsepower and 310 foot-pounds of torque. Linked to a five-speed automatic transmission with Drive Shift Control, this rear-wheel-drive car performs like a dream.

The ride is a bit harsh but very enjoyable, and the roadster has responsive handling. Magnetic Ride Control uses four wheel-to-body displacement sensors to measure the wheel motion and adjust the shock dampening accordingly. This allows the tires to maintain constant contact with the road, even with hard maneuvers.

I wanted to put the top down on the XLR as soon as I saw it, but I had to make room to put five pieces of luggage in the trunk and the top-down wouldn’t operate with a filled trunk.

Then came the beginning of learning about the “advanced technology” of the XLR. “How do I start this thing?” I asked. Fact is, I even had to be shown how to open the door as there aren’t any door handles (they open with the touch of a button), and with the ignition key in my pocket, the car would start at the touch of a button.

Although the eight-way power adjustable seats with lumbar control can be programmed for Driver 1 and Driver 2, I had to reset them repeatedly. Even after reading the owner’s manual I couldn’t manage the seat-technology instructions. However, I did learn that these seats can be heated or cooled.

This car includes the technology of Head-Up Display, showing my speed and turn signals in the windshield. Head-up is not new for Cadillac, but when it is combined with StabiliTrak, Magnetic Ride Control, keyless entry, DVD navigation, adaptive cruise control, there is no doubt that the XLR is a technological dream on wheels, justifying all the “thumbs up” it gets.

For the next couple of days, I passed up the opportunities to put the top down because it was chilly. Nevertheless, I kept getting the thumbs-up sign wherever I drove. However, when I finally made an attempt to lower the roof, I was not able to do so because I had moved the cargo curtain in the trunk when putting in the luggage and had not reinstalled it properly. I read the owner’s manual for instructions, but failed to get the curtain back to the proper position.

Then came three days of rain so the top remained up. I noticed an interior light stayed on even when I locked the car using the key fob. The bulbs are located behind the rearview mirror. After researching the owner’s manual, I still wasn’t able to turn off the light, but I learned any electrical equipment that was unattended for 20 minutes would automatically shut off — so I felt relieved, yet puzzled. By phone, a Cadillac representative helped me to correct the interior light problem.

On the day the car was to be picked up, the sun was shining — perfect weather for putting the top down. The Cadillac representative showed me how to install the cargo cover properly. Then, in less than 30 seconds, the metal segments opened, lifted, folded and closed. What a beautiful sight! The styling is something to behold. As I watched the driver pull away, I couldn’t resist giving him the thumbs up.

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