2011 Cadillac SRX Expert Review:Autoblog
The first generation Cadillac SRX brought General Motors' premium brand into the crossover segment, providing better fuel economy compared to similarly sized SUVs while also delivering significantly improved driving dynamics. We bought into that first-generation, rear-wheel-drive SRX when we reviewed it way back in 2007, but the luxury car-buying public apparently wasn't all that interested. Sales of the sharp handling SRX never took off, largely keeping Cadillac off of the luxury crossover gravy train long dominated by the Lexus RX 350.
Cadillac hopes to change its crossover fortunes with the introduction of the all-new 2010 SRX. This time out, the SRX is very different from the one it replaces, with a fundamental shift from a rear-wheel drive platform (with available all-wheel drive) to a front-drive setup (also with available AWD). Along with that shift in powered wheels, the 2010 model goes with smaller, more efficient powertrains. Cadillac doesn't try to hide the fact that the new SRX is gunning for the RX, but GM's designers and engineers didn't want to simply copy the strong-selling Lexus. Cadillac wanted its crossover to be more expressive inside and out, with state-of-the-art tech and superior driving dynamics. Does the new SRX have what it takes?
Follow the jump to find out.
Photos Copyright ©2009 Chris Shunk / Weblogs, Inc.
Cadillac has already won a big battle with the Lexus in undercutting its entry price by some $3,500. The SRX starts at $34,115 while the base RX comes in at a more sobering $37,675 with delivery. Optioned out, though, the two vehicles come closer in price. Our Radiant Silver 2010 SRX tester came equipped with Cadillac's mid-level Performance Collection, which carries an MSRP of $45,820 including destination charges.
Among the option boxes ticked for our tester were all-wheel drive, 20-inch alloys, a navigation system and a moonroof. Our tester also came equipped with the standard 265 horsepower, direct-injected 3.0-liter V6 engine mated to a six speed automatic transmission. An uplevel, turbocharged 2.8-liter V6 capable of 300 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque will be available this Fall.
One common complaint about the outgoing SRX is that its styling was both startling and stale. The wreath-and-crest brand applied its "Art and Science" design aesthetic to the crossover body style, which resulted in acres of flat sheetmetal and creases sharp enough to cut cheese. While we didn't mind that car's styling, some accused it of looking more like a tall wagon than a conventional crossover, and prevailing thought has it that lower-to-the-ground aesthetic harmed sales. Thus, Cadillac designers have changed all that in a big way, giving the model more traditional upright proportions with dimensions very similar to that of the benchmark Lexus.
With less interior volume than its predecessor, the SRX has lost its third row of seats, but since those were only suitable for small children, we're guessing the empty nesters and young professionals that Cadillac is targeting won't miss them.
To bring the design of the SRX closer to the rest of the Cadillac family, designers have incorporated the next generation of the aformentioned Art & Science design cues. An in-your-face grille punctuated by a big badge resting between two huge, uniquely-shaped HID headlights give the front end a look that is unmistakably Cadillac. An elegant, sweeping roofline and a wide stance with a muscular looking beltline lend the SRX a suitably sporting appearance. Team Cadillac punctuated the SRX with long, vertical taillights that have long been a trademark design element for the brand.
Cadillac is hoping that luxury crossover buyers looking for brash, no-excuses exterior styling will find the SRX well suited to their wants, and it passes the Autoblog eye exam. But to seal the deal, the SRX needs to flat-out nail the interior test. Once inside the SRX, all eyes are drawn to the cabin's impressive center stack. With a jewel-like analog clock, high-end materials and the massive (and we mean truly huge) retractable nav screen in our tester, it's hard not to stare.
The seats are supportive and generous in size, the dual stitched dash is soft and pliable to the touch, and the thick, leather-stitched steering wheel is a joy to hold. We also found that the wheel's control buttons were easy to use, which is important considering all the tech and features at the driver's finger tips. Cadillac has also taken great pains to keep noise out of the cabin, and we were able to hold a conversation with passengers in the rear seats without raising our voices. And if you must have a moonroof, the SRX has got a good one. The large expanse of overhead glass was a topic of conversation for all who entered the SRX, as its absolutely huge dimensions gives occupants an unencumbered view of the world above them.
When we first began driving the new SRX, we weren't sure if we liked the fact that the navigation screen was of the pop-up variety (like that of the CTS), but after some time with the system, we were sold. When not in use, the nav screen stays tucked away, and when it was time to find something, the system came alive with the touch of a button. And using the system is a piece of cake, although some among us still prefer the ease of use of On-Star's turn-by-turn directions. Why punch in coordinates while the car is in Park when you can have someone else do it for you while you're already on the road? Luckily for Cadillac owners, with the SRX, you can do both. We also liked the fact that the stowed nav system would pop up whenever we shifted into Reverse so that we could make use of the backup camera, and when we put the shifter in Drive, it tucked itself back inside the dash.
Our favorite feature inside the new SRX was easily the customizable display built into the instrument panel. Not only does it look great as the centerpiece gauge, it's also packed with info. The nifty little readout shows everything from instant miles-per-gallon to trip mileage, just like most other systems on the market – but Cadillac's system can assist with turn-by-turn navigation directions and tell you how many of your kids in the back seat have their seatbelts on.
Our lone complaint about the SRX's interior is that we've sat in more comfortable seats with better bolstering in other vehicles that occupy the same price range, and this CUV's leather seating surfaces were merely adequate in quality. The competition from Audi, BMW and Lexus are a bit ahead of Cadillac in this regard. We would have also liked cooled seats, but that option is available for buyers willing to opt up for the Luxury package.
To give the new SRX improved fuel economy while also providing class competitive power, GM opted for a new direct-inject 3.0-liter V6 engine that produces 265 hp and 223 lb-ft of torque on regular fuel. Cadillac engineers tell us that direct injection has improved fuel economy by 3 percent while also boosting power by up to 8 percent. The front-wheel-drive SRX carries an EPA estimate of 18 mpg city and 25 mpg highway, while the all-wheel-drive model is rated at 17/23. We averaged 20.1 mpg in combined driving during our time with the all-wheel drive SRX.
Three liters is a smaller displacement than most engines in the same class as the SRX, yet the GM motor still looks good on paper. Our fully equipped AWD tester, however, weighs in around 4,400 lbs, which is an awful lot of mass to motivate. Delicate gearing finessed for the best possible fuel economy combined with a slow initial throttle response makes the SRX feel more sluggish off the line than its spec sheet would suggest, so buyers interested in higher performance may want to wait for the more powerful engine that will be available in the Fall. The six-speed automatic transmission is very smooth, and in manual mode, it will hold gears all the way to redline. This at least allows you to wring as much power out of the motor as your fingers please.
The SRX uses a unique platform that combines bits and pieces from the Theta platform that also underpins the Chevrolet Equinox and the Epsilon II platform that sits beneath the 2010 Buick LaCrosse. Company officials insists that it mainly uses components found on no other GM vehicle. The FE3 suspension package on our Performance Collection tester was more than willing to tussle with twists and turns, and when diving into a corner, the SRX exhibited very little body roll, even when pushed hard. To give drivers better communication with the road, Cadillac engineers have ditched the electronic steering and instead opted for a hydraulic unit that could be better tuned to suit the new crossover's needs. The result is steering that's nicely weighted and well balanced for both leisurely driving and the occasional switchback.
On dry pavement, the new torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive system will help hold the road under forces that would otherwise bring tire squeals and massive understeer to a FWD-only vehicle. When the weather takes a turn for the worse, the system provides drivers with a capable safety net. About three hours after we picked up the SRX for a long weekend, the skies opened up and it rained hard for several hours. The AWD system in the new SRX cut through the wet pavement without a hint of wheel slip, which is not surprising considering the system is capable of shifting 100 percent of available torque to the front or rear wheels at any time. That's pretty common with most AWD systems, but the SRX's Haldex-sourced unit can also shift up to 85 percent of its thrust from side to side. The fruit of the system's labor is peace of mind for the driver, even though it is so seamless that you'll likely never know when it's working.
Cadillac needed to make a real statement with the new SRX in order to steal attention from the perennial best-selling Lexus RX, and the division's designers and engineers have responded with a beautiful cabin and styling that commands attention. The SRX sold us with a driving experience that makes you forget you're behind the wheel of a crossover, and it also delivers excellent utility and top-notch creature comforts that customers in this segment demand. After a few days behind the wheel of the SRX, we're convinced that Cadillac may finally have the goods to go toe-to-toe against Lexus' all-powerful RX. While a more powerful engine and aggressive throttle tuning is required to reach the front of the pack, the 2010 Cadillac SRX still comes highly recommended.
Photos Copyright ©2009 Chris Shunk / Weblogs, Inc.
|2010 Cadillac SRX|
|Engine||3.0-liter V6||Front Brakes||13.6-inch, two-piston caliper (ABS)|
|Configuration/Valvetrain||DOHC, 4 valves per cylinder||Rear Brakes||12.4-inches, single-piston caliper|
|Max Horsepower @ RPM||265 hp @ 6,950 RPM||Wheels (front)||20-inches|
|Max Torque @ RPM||223 lb-ft @ 5,100 RPM||Wheels (rear)||20-inches|
|Drive Type||All-wheel drive||Tires (front)||235/55 R20|
|Transmission||Six-speed Automatic||Tires (rear)||235/55 R20|
|Fuel Injection||Direct Injection|
|Compression Ratio||11.7:1||Exterior Dimensions|
|Recommended Fuel||87 octane||Length||190.3 inches|
|Fuel Capacity||21 gallons||Width||75.2 inches|
|EPA Fuel Economy (city/hwy)||17 / 23 mpg||Height||65.7 inches|
|0-60 mph time (MFR est.)||Not Available||Wheelbase||110.5 inches|
|Top Speed||Not Available||Curb Weight||4,307 pounds|
|Front||Independent, strut-type, anti-roll bar||Maximum Seating||5|
|Rear||Linked H-arm, anti-roll bar||Luggage Capacity||29.2 cu-ft|
|Steering||Hydraulic-power-assist rack-and-pinion||Head Room (Front/Rear)||39.7 / 38.4 inches|
|Turns Lock-to-Lock||2.84||Shoulder Room (Front/Rear)||58.3 / 56.2 inches|
|Turning Circle (feet)||40.3||Leg Room (Front/Rear)||41.2 / 36.3 inches|
Cadillac invited a handful of local media to its Milford, MI proving grounds for an early "preview" drive of the second-generation SRX crossover. The first official media launch won't happen until late May, just ahead of the mid-summer on-sale date, but GM wanted to provide a sneak peak at the chassis and hardware underpinning the new SRX. Contrary to popular opinion, the SRX and the Saab 9-4X aren't built atop the Theta platform used for the Saturn Vue and Chevy Equinox. Both vehicles uses a mix of Theta pieces, bits from the Epsilon II platform and a host of new components to create a new premium crossover architecture.
Unfortunately, Michigan weather just didn't want to cooperate with the SRX. After an early event was cancelled due to unseasonably warm weather in February, GM decided to let us loose on a 50-mile local road loop to show off the SRX's new chassis control and vehicle dynamic systems. Read on to find out how it fared.
Photos Copyright ©2009 Sam Abuelsamid / Weblogs, Inc.
Southeast Michigan got several inches of heavy, wet snow just in time for our early April drive. As a result, the Milford safety crew was unable to prepare the traction control hill and other surfaces for the event. Instead, we did two laps of the drive loop on wet and slushy Michigan roads -- a suitable alternative, but not the kind of chassis-challenging tests we'd hoped for. Cadillac brought out a pair of pre-production, non-saleable units for us to evaluate. The cars were built on the standard assembly line, but because of the build timing, the production-intent interior parts weren't available. As a result, there are color, finish and fitment mis-matches, so we'll withhold final judgment on build quality after we have a chance to try out production versions within the next few months.
Both SRXs were powered by the new 265 hp 3.0-liter direct injected V6 that's shared with the new Chevrolet Equinox, GMC Terrain, Buick LaCrosse and other upcoming sedans and crossovers. Each SRX also had the new Haldex torque vectoring all-wheel drive system that we sampled last year in the Saab Turbo-X. In fact, the only substantive difference was the suspension trim level: the gold SRX in the photos rolled on standard 18-inch wheels and FE2 suspension, while the silver model had 20-inch rims, the FE3 setup and an adaptive damping system.
For the second SRX, Cadillac decided to split the jack of all trades, master of none first-gen model into two distinct vehicles that should have more appeal to prospective buyers. The Griswold-esque aspects of the old model can be had in the CTS Sport Wagon due to arrive this summer, while the SRX is a pure CUV with a more aggressive stance that looks particularly handsome on the road. Anyone familiar with recent Cadillac offerings will instantly recognize the new SRX's familial resemblence. Those who prefer the high-riding stance of an SUV, but want something that drives more like a car, will feel right at home.
The 2010 model is smaller than before and Cadillac has decided to dispense with the limited utility of a third row and focus on optimizing the space for four (or five, in a pinch) passengers. The new SRX is aimed directly at the heart of the segment leader, the Lexus RX350 and is almost a dead-ringer size-wise. Inside, CTS fans will feel at home with the integrated center stack and pop-up navigation screen. The gauges have a glowing translucent back face and the center of the speedometer features a circular LCD driver information center. On the non-nav equipped models drivers can call OnStar for directions and the turn-by-turn instructions will be displayed at the center of the IP.
The front seats are comfortable and reasonably supportive, although they feel flatter than the CTS seats with less aggressive side bolstering, and the driver's seat has an optional adjustable thigh support, welcomed by the long-limbed among us. Those relegated to the back have ample room for legs and hats and can also adjust the angle of the seat back. Even in in pre-production form, the SRX was pleasantly quiet with no noticeable wind noise. While cruising, the engine was hushed with none of the injector ticking other DI engines suffer from. Only under hard acceleration does the engine display any signs of aural ferocity, letting the driver know that this CUV can get up and go. The new V6 offers sufficient power to move the 4,360-pound all-wheel drive SRX without ever feeling strained, even with three adult males on board.
The transverse-mounted engine sends power through the same six-speed automatic transmission used in the larger Lambda crossovers, as well as the 3.6-liter Chevy Malibu. Like most of its contemporaries in the segment, the shift lever can be popped over into a sport gate that enables more enthusiastic throttle response and higher shift points for the transmission. During braking, the transmission down-shifts to enhance engine braking and under hard acceleration, the engine revs to about 6,500 rpm before shifting. Thankfully, even after backing off the throttle, it doesn't immediately up-shift. The transmission will stay in gear, holding higher revs in the event that the driver gets back on the throttle, something you'll appreciate when negotiating a series of curves. The advantage to this strategy is that the transmission doesn't get into a gear-hunting situation, shifting back and forth mid-corner.
This is the transmission that was jointly developed with Ford and can be found in all the large transverse applications from Dearborn including the Flex and MKS. Both companies use the same hardware, but developed their own control software. In normal drive mode, the transmission shifts fairly smoothly, although it's still not quite as polished as Ford's application. With the shift lever in the sport gate, a tap forward or back induces a quick shift up or down, respectively. Only the 2.8-liter turbo will have steering wheel mounted paddles when it launches later this summer.
Even with the base suspension setup, the SRX offers an excellent balance of ride and handling. The standard dampers keep body motions in check over broken and uneven pavement. Rough surfaces mid-corner did nothing to unsettle the SRX, with predicable body transitions that allowed the CUV to stay planted through the bends. The adaptive damping system handled the extra unsprung mass of the 20-inch tire/wheel combination well and overall, the ride didn't feel noticeably worse. Cadillac opted for a less sophisticated variable orifice damping system rather than the magnetic ride setup used on the CTS-V. The SRX doesn't need the dynamic range of the MR system since it doesn't have the performance capabilities of the high-powered sedan, not to mention the variable orifice system is less expensive. One other factor weighing against the MR is the fact that it's supplied by Delphi and GM is trying to wean itself off its former parts division as a supplier.
Another dynamic high note for the SRX is the steering, which retains a hydraulic assist system. The engineers couldn't get the feel they wanted from the electronic systems, particularly the column-mounted designs. The SRX has virtually no on-center free play and the effort required to turn the wheel has a nice heft to it from both the fixed rate system on the base suspension or the variable effort installation on the FE3.
One of the major mechanical selling points of the new CUV platform for the SRX is the inclusion of the Haldex torque vectoring all-wheel drive. Like the Super Handling All Wheel Drive of the Acura MDX or the xDrive system of the BMW X5/X6, this system is tightly integrated with the stability control. When addtional yaw adjustment is needed without slowing down the vehicle, the rear axle can send extra drive torque to one side or the other to help overcome understeer or oversteer. While most modern vehicles have very similar hardware, the key to getting the most out of the system is in the control software and vehicle integration. Here, GM excels, especially compared to vehicles from Brand T. When the stability control/torque vectoring intervenes, it does so in seamless manner that just makes the vehicle go where the driver originally intended without jerking it around or delivering a series of annoying beeps.
Unfortunately, our time behind the wheel of the SRX was limited to less-than-ideal public roads, but the fresh wet snow and patchy coverage did provide an opportunity to try out the ABS, traction and stability control. All worked as advertised. Accelerating with two wheels in the snow and two on damp pavement proved utterly uneventful, exactly as it should. The calibrations on the vehicles we tested were at the 100% level, meaning this is what will go into the first saleable CUVs when production begins next week. Those vehicles will go into GM's internal fleet for field testing, followed by full production vehicles starting in late May or early June. Between now and then, expect a full First Drive review, where we'll get the chance to explore every aspect of the 2010 Cadillac SRX -- weather permitting.
Last month, we sampled the 2010 Cadillac SRX in naturally aspirated, 265-horsepower guise, and after a week behind the wheel we are convinced General Motors' luxury brand finally has a competitive crossover to take on the segment-defining Lexus RX. Along with Cadillac's unique angular styling and a full complement of amenities, the SRX surprised us with an edgy chassis that wasn't afraid to cut the rug when pulled onto the dance floor.
But while the SRX has some moves, the direct injected 3.0-liter V6 isn't exactly Fred Astaire. It provides just enough motivation for daily driving, but for customers that need more – particularly for those who want to fully enjoy the SRX's underpinnings – Cadillac has decided to offer a second, more aggressive engine to the mix. But with 300 horsepower, the 2010 SRX 2.8T – the first production Cadillac in the US fitted with a turbocharger – aims to please buyers looking for more pop in the pedal... a bit more skip in their step. Does the boosted Caddy deliver? We went to the Milford Proving Grounds to find out.
While Cadillac has high expectations for the sporting performance of the SRX 2.8T, its sales goals are far more modest. Cadillac expects only 10% to 15% of SRX buyers to opt for the turbocharged version, and those that do will pay a premium for its increased capabilities. The 2.8T option will only be available in Performance and Premium trim, and all-wheel drive, moonroof and navigation are all standard.
The turbo'd SRX utilizes the same FE3 suspension found in uplevel 3.0-liter models, though it has its own Aisin-Warner six-speed automatic transmission. We'd estimate the 2.8T's extra power will yield a 0-60 time of 7.5 seconds; about a second faster than the 3.0-liter model. Even with the 2.8T's improved performance, Cadillac still expects similar fuel economy to the 17/23 numbers of the non-turbo 3.0-liter mill, with city/highway numbers of 16/23. Although final pricing hasn't been announced, Cadillac tells us the 2.8T will carry a $3,000 premium versus a similarly equipped 3.0-liter model, so the MSRP is likely to max-out around $53,000 if all the boxes are checked.
Normally, when we get an invite from The General to test one of its more subdued offerings, we're relegated to a test track normally used to evaluate suspension setup, NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) and general driveability. With the SRX 2.8T, we received a bit of a surprise. Instead, we were escorted to the Chevrolet Corvette ZR1's stomping grounds, affectionately referred to as the "Lutz 'Ring."
Bob Lutz' signature track takes cues from some of the world's most impressive circuits, combining hairpin turns, significant elevation changes, blind crests and aggressive straightaways into a course designed to test the mettle of GM's high performance offerings. A select group of test drivers are qualified to attack the track at full throttle, and the training regimen requires pilots to cut their teeth with a Pontiac Solstice before graduation to bigger game. If they come within a few tenths of John Heinricy's times, they get certified. Needless to say, not an easy task.
Evidence of the track's victims are peppered throughout the course, with long, thick skid marks exiting the cement surface and disappearing into the grass. Our track guide (and certified badass) Matt Satchell told us some of the markings were the result of ABS failures on test mules and other pre-preproduction issues, although we're sure that's only part of the story. Regardless, those black stripes gave us pause. We've tackled the Lutz 'Ring in Chevy's world-beating, 638-hp ZR1, but a luxury crossover? This was going to be interesting.
After Matt gave us a quick tour of the grounds, we settled in behind the wheel and headed out on the track with the gearbox set to automatic. No surprise, the extra 74 lb-ft of twist provided by the turbocharged 2.8-liter V6 was a revelation over the torque-challenged 3.0-liter mill. Turbo lag is minimal, and with 295 lb-ft available from 2,000 RPM, any mid-corner temerity (or stupidity) can be wallpapered over upon exit thanks to the SRX's newfound thrust.
And when the time came to attack those bends, we were greeted by the same dynamic chassis we enjoyed in the standard SRX. Although the crossover's relatively high center of gravity dolls out minimal body roll in both the tighter turns and high-speed sweepers, the suspension and chassis feel at home when driven aggressively. When we overstepped the boundaries of physics and the rear tires lost adhesion, the Haldex AWD system quickly regained traction before the stability control stepped in to govern our fun. Unfortunately, the SRX's thrones aren't bolstered enough for track duty, so staying firmly behind the wheel requires plenty of forearm exercise.
On our next go 'round, we slipped the SRX into Sport mode by bumping the shifter into its Manual setting, allowing us to pick our preferred ratio or let the transmission figure it out. In Sport, the SRX becomes slightly racier. Shifts are held longer, downshifts are more aggressive and the suspension reacts accordingly. We didn't notice any major differences with the steering or throttle, but the higher revs make the SRX easier to drive quickly.
After seven runs around the L-Ring, we left the Milford Proving Grounds to get a sense of how the SRX handles real-world conditions. On public roads, the SRX showed its civic side, staying comfortable and compliant across a myriad of surfaces in stereotypical Caddy fashion. Again, the extra oomph provided by the boosted six was more than welcome, and cracking the window let the 2.8's siren song into an otherwise quiet cabin. Although the force-fed V6's note is slightly more refined in the Cadillac than it is when installed in the (less-powerful) Saab 9-3 Turbo X, the added gruff of the exhaust urges you to push a little harder, something noticeably missing in the segment.
Even with its advanced capabilities, the SRX 2.8T has little business on a high performance test track, yet it never embarrassed itself (or us) around the circuit. When we reviewed the naturally aspirated SRX, we felt it was an aggressive powertrain away from being outstanding. With the addition of the 300 hp 2.8T to the SRX llneup, Cadillac's new crossover has taken its game to the next level. There are plenty of luxury crossovers with "me-too" styling and the driving feel of a Barcalounger, so it's refreshing to see Cadillac has taken the road less traveled with the SRX 2.8T.
New Car Test Drive
All-new crossover has new roots.
The 2010 Cadillac SRX is all-new for the 2010 model year.
There's nothing left of the original SRX but the name. Whereas the original SRX used a rear-wheel-drive platform with a longitudinal engine and a choice of V6 or V8, the new version is built on a front-wheel-drive platform with a transverse-mounted V6 engine.
Where the old SRX was a three-row, seven-seat SUV, the new one has two rows and five seats. And, although GM has been known for its global platform-sharing way of doing things, this vehicle shares its underpinnings with only one other vehicle, the Saab 9-4X, which has not been introduced yet.
The exterior design is all new, crisper and sharper than the original, with a lot less of the slab-sided look. The interior shares much of its technology and some of its design with the 2010 Cadillac CTS sedan, which we count as a good thing.
The Cadillac puts the SRX in the midsize luxury sport utility vehicle segment, one of the largest and fastest-growing segments in the industry at about 25 percent of the total sales. Cadillac counts as the SRX's direct competitors the Acura MDX, Lexus RX 350, Mercedes-Benz GLK, Audi Q5, and BMW X3.
Initially, all SRX models will be powered by a 3.0-liter V6 engine, the same engine that powers the Cadillac CTS, and will come with a Hydra-Matic six-speed automatic transmission. All models come standard with front-wheel drive.
In the fall, Cadillac will add an optional 2.8-liter turbocharged V6 engine sourced from Saab, an engine rated at 300 horsepower and 295 foot-pounds of torque, with a completely different Aisin-Warner six-speed automatic transmission capable of handling the higher power and torque of the turbo engine.
The changes are welcome. We found the luxurious new SRX cabin beautiful and comfortable. Though loaded with features, everything is easy to use and the SRX is very quiet underway.
Underway, the handling and braking are very good. The new SRX feels like a high-riding CTS sports sedan. We preferred the responsiveness of the 20-inch wheels and tires over the standard 18-inch setup.
We found the engine lacking in power and on the loud side. The 3.0-liter V6 gets an EPA-rated 18/25 mpg with front-wheel drive.
The available Haldex II all-wheel-drive system is excellent, among the world's best. It makes the SRX highly capable in the winter or on unpaved roads or when encountering a slippery corner. It also tames the handling on dry roads, and we recommend getting it.
The 2010 Cadillac SRX comes in four models: SRX ($33,330), SRX Luxury ($36,910), SRX Performance ($41,350), and SRX Premium ($43,895). All-wheel drive comes on SRX Luxury AWD ($39,405), SRX Performance AWD ($44,995), and SRX Premium AWD ($47,540).
SRX comes standard with leatherette upholstery (vinyl), dual-zone air conditioning, cruise control, multi-function tilt steering wheel, power windows, mirrors and locks, 18-inch aluminum wheels, AM/FM/CD with auxiliary plug, iPod compatibility, and four speakers.
SRX Luxury upgrades to leather upholstery, wood trim, seat heaters for the front seat, an eight-way power passenger seat, a sunroof, a power sunshade, Park Assist, Bluetooth wireless connectivity, remote starting, power liftgate, and other features.
SRX Performance gets a navigation system, rearview camera, upgraded steering, adaptive suspension, 20-inch wheels, upgraded audio with 10 speakers, integrated fog lights, adaptive xenon HID headlights with auto-leveling.
SRX Premium upgrades with three-zone automatic climate control, rear audio controls, heated rear seats.
Safety equipment on all models includes six air bags: front, side-impact, and curtain. All come with anti-lock brakes (ABS), traction control, StabiliTrak yaw control, OnStar emergency notification.
Cadillac's latest designs are all full of sharp edges and well-defined creases, and the new SRX is no different in that respect. The 2010 Cadillac SRX looks very much part of the family, and is far less slab-sided than the outgoing truck.
Its design impact starts with a jutting, pointed nose, very complex headlamps, and a racy, rounded lower spoiler with a large air intake for engine cooling. The side window treatment ends in a forward-slanted D-pillar leading to the Cadillac trademark knife-sharp vertical taillamps.
All in all, it's a very pleasing, crisp and modern design on a chassis that is nearly six inches shorter than the original SRX, with a 4.6-inch shorter overall length, and a 2.1-inch lower roofline. But is also about an inch wider, allowing for more interior comfort and more shoulder and hip room.
The SRX features a power liftgate that can be set for full opening, or programmed for three-quarter opening to keep the sheetmetal safe in low-roofed garages and parking structures.
Loaded is too weak a word for the interior accoutrements of the new 2010 Cadillac SRX. Most models will have an enormous list of standard equipment including pushbutton starting, a tilt-and-telescope steering column, upper and lower adjustable ambient lighting. Available are adaptive headlights, a huge, two-segment power sunroof with 95-percent UV protection, a power tailgate, a full-color driver information center between the main gauges, OnStar, and satellite navigation with voice recognition.
Audio entertainment starts with a radio system with 2-gigabyte memory that will download up to 20 CDs to its memory through a single-CD loader. Then there is a very, very good optional Bose sound system with AM/FM/XM/CD capability, USB and iPod inputs, an optional 40-gigabyte hard drive for music storage, and optional upward-tilting twin screens and wireless headphones for dual rear-seat entertainment through DVDs or radio.
The comprehensive driver information center has two main sections, one for the vehicle and one for the trip you're on. With the navigation system, it has the capability of displaying speed limit signs, because the system knows what road you're on and what the posted limit is.
The rear seat is split 66/33 and reclines through a fairly wide range of adjustment but does not slide back and forth, so available legroom is fixed. When up, the rear cargo area holds 29.2 cubic feet of cargo, and when folded down, the seatbacks lock into place to create a nearly flat load floor and space for more than 61 cubic feet of cargo (compared to 32.4 cubic feet and 69.5 cubic feet for the previous three-row SRX). The cargo area behind the second seat features an under-floor storage area for precious cargoes and a U-shaped channel built into the floor that accepts any number of sliding hold-down cleats. Cadillac will offer first- and second-seat doggie screens that secure into the roof to keep canines contained.
We found the SRX interior to be beautifully made and finished, sumptuous, comfortable, quiet, and very easy to use. The steering wheel is nice and thick, the pedals are adjustable, as is the column, and the eight-way power seats with memory are beautifully made, supportive yet cushy. The center stack is full of buttons with icons and words on them, but it's all well laid out, very intuitive and easy to understand and use.
Our test SRX was a Performance version with all-wheel drive, remote and pushbutton starting, 20-inch Michelin 235/55R20 Latitude Tour HP tires and alloy wheels, a power liftgate, and the huge ultra power sunroof. It carried the full load of electronics including the optional Bose sound system, navigation, voice activation, sport suspension, adaptive xenon headlamps, front and rear park assist, chrome roof rails, Sapele wood trim, power sunroof, heated power seats, power adjustable pedals, ambient lighting, keyless access, Bose audio with 40-gig hard drive, navigation, rearview camera, USB and iPod sockets, voice recognition, and Bluetooth connectivity.
The powertrain is modern and efficient, a direct-injection 24-valve V6 with a very high 11.7:1 compression ratio that burns regular fuel where many competitor engines do not, an engine that gets segment-leading fuel economy ratings of 18 mpg City and 25 Highway and 17 City, 23 Highway in all-wheel-drive versions like ours (by comparison, the 3.6-liter V6 engine in the old SRX got only 15/22 and 14/22). It makes more power at higher rpm than the 3.6-liter engine it replaces, but substantially less peak torque. In our test, we got better city mileage, and at highway speeds between 65 and 80 mph, we matched the rating, at 23 mpg, according to the car's information center.
That said, we didn't care much for the noisy startup and for the engine's droning sound at anything less than full-throttle. Power, torque and acceleration were all on par with everything else in the class, but many V6 and I6 entries sound better than this in light-throttle acceleration and cruise modes. This smaller engine is way down on useable torque compared to the larger, outgoing 3.6-liter engine, an apparent tradeoff for mileage. The transmission dithered here and there, especially on the 2-1 downshift, but was always ready for full-throttle upshifts.
Driving dynamics of the new SRX are very, very good in terms of handling and braking, helped by the fact that this truck is 1.2 inches lower to the ground than the older, larger SRX. The base SRX and the Luxury versions have power steering for their 18-inch wheels and tires, but the Performance and Premium versions come with a completely different ZF variable-ratio power steering system that's better matched to the 20-inch tires and feels quicker and more sporty out there on the road.
A Sport mode for the transmission on the Performance and Premium models allows for semi-manual shifting. And when the shift lever is eased to the left, not only the transmission but also the real-time-damping suspension programming changes instantly and stiffens the shock absorbers for crisper handling.
At the end of the day, the new SRX is even more like a CTS sports sedan that's been turned into a high-riding hatchback. (A real CTS sport wagon is also available.)
The SRX AWD features the Haldex II all-wheel-drive system that debuted last year on the Saab 9-3X, and it is among the world's fastest-acting and most capable systems, able to move up to 100 percent of the engine's torque from front to rear tires in about one wheel rotation, and able, through its electronic limited-slip rear differential, to transfer up to 85 percent of the drive torque from left to right in a few milliseconds.
While it is designed for ice, snow, rain and mud driving, this all-wheel-drive system makes high-performance dry-road driving a lot more fun because there's no torque steer or tire spin on full-throttle starts in first gear, and high-speed, high-force cornering is accomplished by all four tires. The system adds $2495 and some weight to the price of the truck, but we wouldn't have one without it.
The all-new 2010 Cadillac SRX is the latest arrival in a huge, crowded market of crossover SUVs. It's priced $3500 less than the segment-leading Lexus RX 350, with about the same power, performance and fuel economy. It's a tidier design with less room inside, and its chassis is a marvel of competence and composure and a paragon when you're counting up safety features. Now that GM officially has a future as a viable car company, we think the SRX is worth a long look from those who are looking to downsize and economize.
Jim McCraw filed this report to NewCarTestDrive.com after his test drive of the SRX near Birmingham, Michigan.
Cadillac SRX ($33,330), SRX Luxury ($36,910), SRX Performance ($41,350), SRX Premium ($43,895), SRX Luxury AWD ($39,405), SRX Performance AWD ($44,995), SRX Premium AWD ($47,540).
Ramos Arizpe, Mexico.
Options As Tested
Cadillac SRX Performance AWD ($44,995).
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