You can use AutoCAD commands to control the display of Xrefs. For example, you can change the color, visibility, linetype, and other properties of xref layers with the AutoCAD VISRETAIN system variable. The layer settings affected are On, Off, Freeze, Thaw, Color, Ltype, LWeight, and PStyle.
You can turn off label visibility as long as you know what layer the labels reside on. If you xref a parcel that includes a label, you should place the area label on a layer that will not plot or on a layer that you can freeze. You can set different layer references for the area label and the parcel segments. So after you insert the xref, you can freeze the area label layer and the parcel segments will remain visible. Then if you freeze the parcel segment layer, the entire parcel will disappear. When adding labels in the current drawing to objects referenced from an xref, the labels are placed on a layer in the current drawing based on the style definition.
To save your changes to layer settings, enter VISRETAIN at the command line, and set the variable to 1. This saves the current session’s changes in the current drawing’s layer table so that in subsequent sessions, the layer state remains set to what you want. If VISRETAIN is set to 0 (zero), the settings are not saved after you close and the drawing.
To change the color of an object, you can change the xref’s layer as long as you know what it is. Some users prefer to control ByLayer, while others prefer to use color explicitly to display an object no matter what layer it resides on. Use the method that works best for you.