The year 2010 marks a pivotal year for Cadillac and its luxurious people movers. On the one hand, you have the new CTS Sport Wagon, a “traditional” station wagon. On the other, you have our subject here, the all new SRX crossover. This second generation SRX is quite a departure from the original, which debuted as a 2004 model. That car was based on the rear-wheel drive CTS, while the current SRX rides on a heavily reworked platform shared by the Chevy Equinox and GMC Terrain. While the old SRX had the look of a big, tall station wagon, the current car cuts a more contemporary crossover silhouette.
The changes are more than skin deep. The SRX is available in front or all-wheel drive, as opposed to the rear/all-wheel drive setup offered in the last SRX. The car is also smaller-five inches shorter, and two inches lower. Options on the last SRX like a third row seat and a V-8 are absent on the new car. Ã‚Â Most of these changes seems to bring the SRX a little closer to what Cadillac considers its key competition, chiefly the Lexus RX350 and Audi Q5.
In appearance, the SRX fits well into the current Cadillac look, and there is no mistaking this for anything but a Cadillac. The change of direction has served this car well-gone is large, oafish looks of the old SRX, replaced by tight sheetmetal that is arguably one of the edgiest in its class. The SRX wears just enough ‘jewelry’ to look upscale, but the designers opted for a clean look that works well here. The 20″ alloys on our test car were beautifully designed. At the rear, I found the barely finned tail lamps a nice touch. Rear end styling of crossovers can be tricky, as practicality rules over style in most cases, but here the designers managed to keep the look distinctly Cadillac.
Unfortunately, style did win out over practicality in other areas of the SRX. The sweeping line that pulls upward along the base of the side windows gives the SRX an aggressive look, but coupled with bulky pillars rearward visibility is an issue, making the back-up camera and parking sensors a necessity, not a luxury.
Inside, the SRX proved to be a comfortable and serene oasis. Our test car, a Turbo AWD Premium, is the top-spec SRX. The power heated and cooled seats Ã‚Â were supportive, and it was easy to find a comfortable driving position. While not bad, I did find the quality of the leather a couple notches below what you would find in a comparable Audi or Lexus. Otherwise, the fit and finish was good and the quality of materials left nothing to be desired. A pleasant mix of wood, leather, metal Ã‚Â and soft touch plastics make the SRX a great place to spend hours of stress-free driving.
The touch-screen navigation was a breeze to use, and the 10 speaker Bose audio system provided quality sound. Our car featured the Ultraview sunroof-a two piece panel that extends all the way to the top of the rear seats. A power adjustable shade allows the driver to let in as much or little light as desired, and gave the SRX’s cabin an open, sunny air. Despite our feature-laden SRX, I was disappointed to find a manual adjustment for the tilt/telescoping steering wheel, which seemed out of character, especially since our SRX had power adjustable pedals.
Our SRX was powered by a Saab sourced 2.8L turbo V-6, good for 300hp. Power off the line was good, and passing power was excellent. There was never a hint of turbo lag. The six-speed automatic was a willing partner. Shifts were positively seamless, and there was never a hesitation to grab a lower gear when desired. On the downside, this engine is only available on the most expensive SRX’s. Lesser models make do with a 3.0L V-6 rated at 265hp, which some reviews have complained as being underpowered.
The steering on our SRX was quick and precise, but lacking in road feel, and lighter than I had expected. Braking was excellent and confidence inspiring. Even more impressive was how composed the SRX felt in cornering, no mean feat for a nearly 4,400lb crossover, no doubt helped by our car’s sport suspension with real-time damping. In a car this size and weight, you expect some dive, roll, or unusual shifts in weight when you throw it into a turn, but none of these were an issue in the SRX. Yet with a decent amount of power on tap and solid handling capability, the SRX is not a particularly engaging or memorable car to drive.
Finally, there is the matter of price. Our top of the line SRX had an MSRP of $53,480USD-big money, especially when you consider the fact that a base SRX with the 3.0L V-6 and front wheel drive costs a full $20,000 less. Overall, I did like the SRX. There really is little to fault here, but at the same time nothing that particularly blew my mind either, and for $53,000 I do expect more. Perhaps my revelation with the SRX came when I pondered if I could live without the prestige of the Cadillac name, the Ultraview sunroof, lighted sill plates and wood, why wouldn’t I just buy a fully optioned GMC Terrain and save myself over $16,000?