Thumbs Up: As much comfort and style as you can fit into a crossover, holds its value well.
Thumbs Down: Turbo motor adds $3,820 to price and is only available on AWD platform.
Buy This Car If: You’re looking for the best value in a luxury crossover vehicle.
Cadillac introduced the SRX as a mid-sized crossover in 2004, and built the first generation from 2004 to 2009. The original SRX confused buyers, who saw it as more of a big station wagon than a mid-sized crossover. Sales, while not disappointing, never took off the way Cadillac had hoped. Rival vehicles, such as the Lexus RX350 and the BMW X3, outsold the SRX by a significant margin. Worse yet, these vehicles retained their value better than the first generation SRX did.
In 2009, Cadillac introduced a new version of the SRX as a 2010 model. Based on the Provoq concept vehicle, the all new Cadillac SRX represents another out-of-the-park home run for GM’s premium luxury brand. Consider these stats: Cadillac is now second in the mid-sized luxury crossover segment with the SRX, trailing only the Lexus RX350 in sales, and has seen triple digit sales increases for the SRX for the past 11 months. The SRX has the largest gain in sales within the mid-sized crossover segment, and it also lays claim to the biggest gain in residual value. In case you needed further proof, Cadillac’s sales of the SRX in July of 2010 were at 783% of July 2009 sales. The U.S. economy certainly isn’t much better, so that leaves one alternative: the SRX represents the best vehicle and the best value in the segment.
The new SRX utilizes GM’s Theta Premium platform, and has a wheelbase nearly six inches shorter than the model it replaces. It also features a two and a half inch wider track and is two inches lower than the first generation; these improvements make a noticeable difference in handling compared to the original SRX. Buyers can choose from a base 3.0 liter V6 (good for 265 horsepower) or the superb, optional 2.8 liter turbo V6 (good for 300 horsepower). The SRX is available in both FWD (another departure from the first generation, which was RWD) and AWD platforms, but the turbo motor is only available with the AWD drivetrain. The outside features Cadillac’s cutting-edge style, which gives the SRX a much more masculine appearance than other vehicles in the segment. Inside, there’s still plenty of room for four or five adults plus cargo, and Cadillac’s angular design cues are prominently featured throughout the interior.
Climb behind the wheel, and you’ll immediately realize that the SRX is a great place to eat up the miles. The leather seats are power adjustable for driver and passenger, and feature an inflatable lumbar support and a driver’s seat memory. As you’d expect from a luxury crossover, the seats are both heated and cooled; I always found “seat cooling” to be a gimmick on other cars, but the fans worked quite well on the SRX. In fact, I actually had to turn it down from the maximum setting because it worked too well. Instruments are electroluminescent, and feature an oversized speedometer centered between the tach and gear indicator on the left, and the fuel gauge / boost gauge / temp gauge on the right. In the center of the speedometer is the driver’s information display, which takes some getting used to. Personally, I’d have preferred a smaller speedometer with the information display either above or below, but it didn’t take long to get used to the unconventional layout. At the speedometer’s 11:00 and 1:00 position are clear, molded turn signal indicators, which illuminate green when the turn signal is activated; these are just another design cue that separates Cadillac from the rest of the luxury herd.
The thick, leather wrapped steering wheel accommodated my over-sized hands with ease, and buttons for the cruise control, audio and phone fell easily to hand. The wheel is adjustable for reach and tilt, and aside the steering column is the the adjustment for the gas and brake pedal. Even at the farthest distance, I found the brake pedal to be a little high for my tastes, but it’s best to keep in mind that the SRX is a crossover and not a sport sedan. Besides, my wife found the pedal placement to be just right for her.
I love GM’s driver information system and nav system, which I find easy to use and among the most intuitive on the market. The ten speaker Bose sound system in my tester was, as you’d expect, quite good regardless of the type of music selected. I’ll listen to anything from blues to classical to punk, and it can be hard to find an audio system that sounds as good with Howlin’ Wolf as it does with Vivaldi or Black Flag, but the system in the SRX did an admirable job.
Don’t think that luxury is reserved for front seat passengers alone: rear seats in my tester were heated and came with front seat mounted LCD displays for the in-dash DVD player. Rear seat passengers also get to select their own temperature, and the UltraView panoramic sunroof gives rear passengers a view of the sky usually reserved for front seat passengers only. You’ve also got separate A/V input jacks for the rear, just in case rear seat passengers want to watch something different than front seat passengers. In the interests of safety, the front seat DVD system only works when the vehicle is stopped.
On the road, the SRX feels sportier than a lot of vehicles in the mid-size crossover segment, helped by the 300 horsepower, 2.8L turbocharged V6 motor and a smooth shifting six-speed automatic transmission. If you’re inclined to row your own gears, the SRX allows you to select a manual mode and shift via the console shifter. Unlike the CTS-V, the SRX lacks a steering wheel mounted shift system, but trust me – you won’t miss it. From a standing start, the SRX Turbo will hit 60 miles per hour in under 8 seconds, which isn’t bad for an AWD crossover pushing 4,400 pounds. You feel the mass when you hit the binders, and stopping distances remind you that you’re driving something closer to an SUV than a sedan. Steering, on the other hand, is superb and communicative, much better than you’d expect in a crossover.
I’m a huge fan of AWD, even if you don’t live in the snow belt, and I was impressed with the SRX’s turbocharged motor. If you opt for this combination, be aware that you will absolutely need to use premium gasoline, especially if you drive under extreme conditions (in the mountains, in high heat, towing, etc.). The EPA gives the SRX Turbo a fuel economy rating of 15 city, 22 highway, and I realized 18.5 mpg in a mix of city and highway driving. If you go for the 3.0 liter V6 and FWD, you can expect to see 18 mpg city and 25 mpg highway, while the 3.0 liter V6 and AWD gets you 17 mpg city and 23 mpg highway.
If you’re concerned with safety, don’t be. Even base model SRXs come with GM’s outstanding Stabilitrak stability control system; front, side and head curtain airbags, and OnStar with one year of service included in the purchase price. The redesigned SRX received a Top Safety Pick award from the Insurance Institute For Highway Safety, and five star crash ratings for side impact and driver front impact. Unlike SUVs with a high center of gravity, the SRX managed a four star score in rollover resistance.
My 2010 SRX Turbo AWD Premium tester came about as loaded as you can get this vehicle, and had a base price of $52,685 including destination charge. Options on my tester included the $1,200 Rear Seat Entertainment System and the $995 Platinum Ice Tricoat paint, for an “as equipped” sticker price of $54,975. That may sound steep, but consider this: A comparably equipped BMW X3 will run you $55,900, a comparably equipped Mercedes Benz GLK350 4Matic will cost $56,100 and a comparably equipped Lexus RX350 will set you back $59,880. The Cadillac SRX is the winner when you factor in price versus value, and now you can add resale value to that equation as well.
I continue to be impressed with recent products from GM, and astounded by recent products from Cadillac. If you’re in the market for a luxury crossover, you really need to shop the Cadillac SRX, which is as high in quality as anything else in the class. The starting price for the SRX, in a FWD, 3.0 liter V6 configuration is just $34,655. With the 2011 model year, pricing includes four years or 50,000 miles of scheduled maintenance from Cadillac, which covers everything except wear items (like tires, brake pads or wiper blades). Given how many SRXs Cadillac is moving these days, you may not want to put off driving one too much longer.