PRO’s: Edgy styling, wonderful road manners, quality fit and finish.
CON’s: Intrusive traction control system, tight rear seat.
FINAL THOUGHT: An American alternative crossover with high style, luxury and all weather versatility.
In today’s automotive society crossover vehicles are all the rage. They offer versatility, performance and all-weather capabilities in a package that is a bit more subtle then a standard SUV. You see driving an SUV has become somewhat passé these days, so manufacturers decided to create a new species of vehicle and market it to those wanted the SUV style, but not the SUV size. The first Cadillac SRX was released back in 2004 as a traditional upscale SUV, it had a longer wheelbase then the current model, a traditional four-wheel drive system and could be had with either a V6 or V8 engine. Then for 2010 Cadillac decided to put the SRX on a massive diet by chopping 6 inches off the wheelbase, going to an all-wheeled drive system and ditching the V8 in favor of either a turbocharged or naturally aspirated V6.
I picked up my 2011 Cadillac SRX tester the night before New York City got clobbered with its second snowstorm of the season, which was great as I was looking forward to playing in the snow. Clad in Black Ice Metallic paint and wearing attractive 20-inch wheels, this particular SRX was equipped with the 300hp 2.8-liter turbo V6, which was plenty of power for turning the SRX into a proper snow machine. I woke up, threw on my boots and jumped in the SRX for some good old fashion snow bound hoonage. Most new Cadillac’s have done away with traditional keys in favor of either push button starts or key-like ignition switch on the steering column. Personally, I dislike them both and prefer that good old fashion keys were reinstated.
Regardless, I jumped in, hit the starter button and proceeded to back down the driveway. The SRX was equipped with Cadillac’s nifty pop-up navigation system which by the way, also doubles as a back-up camera when your rolling in the wrong direction. The camera however was covered with snow, which meant going old school and using my mirrors. I backed out and proceeded to run down my snow covered street. The SRX plodded through the deep snow without a care in the world, until that is, I came to a complete stop. Understand that having something with all-wheel drive means that I should be able to have a little fun in the snow, but the electronic nannies that were in place in this system put a stop to that immediately. Hitting the gas in deep snow results in a quick burst of wheel spin, then complete shut-down as the traction control tries to figure out how to get you moving again. What that means is that the system eliminates the possibility for any sort of wheel spinning, sideways action fun.
To double check this, I headed to a big empty parking lot and completely disabled (or so I thought) the traction control system. I then planted my foot to the floor and turned right, only to be met with complete shut down again. People, this was the most obtrusive AWD system I’ve ever encountered and I simply hated it. Since the electronic nannies decided to shut down my fun I proceeded on my drive as most normal people would do. As mentioned, the SRX did fine on the snow covered streets, but struggled a bit when the snow got really deep. This was in part due to the auto shut down feature I experienced.
The interior of the 2011 SRX was actually quite nice. Double-stitched leather flows throughout the cabin giving the SRX a very upscale look and feel. Panel gaps and trim fitment were dead-on as well. Driver and passenger room in the forward cabin was sufficient, but legroom out back was a bit cramped. People under 6’1″ will be fine, but taller guys like myself may find themselves wanting more room.
As mentioned this SRX was equipped with the pop-up navigation/audio/camera unit on the dash and is, in my opinion, one of the best in the business. Its touch screen system is painfully easy to use and the graphics utilized look as though they came from an XBOX as opposed to an automobile manufacturer.
The digital information center that’s embedded in the middle of the dash cluster is a beautiful piece as well. Never in a million years did I think that readouts like this would make a difference, but the more I drove the SRX, the more I liked them. Scrolling through the digital readout was also a snap and provided you with a full readout of the vehicles statistics.
The list of features included in this SRX was simply enormous and provided one with everything from heated front and rear seats, to headrest mounted rear entertainment systems, to a panoramic roof that was simply outstanding. One of my concerns with the current crop of crossovers on the market today is that manufacturers are cutting way down on their size.
As mentioned, this SRX is 6 inches shorter then the previous model which means passenger and rear storage room is way down. For some this may not make that much of a difference, but it was my understanding that one bought a crossover for not only its foul weather versatility, but for its interior space as well.
Standard room under the rear tailgate is 29.9 cu ft. with the rear seats up and 61.1 cu ft with the seats folded down. For the SRX’s market segment that’s actually not too bad, considering it has more cargo room than say a Mercedes-Benz GLK (23.3/54.7 cu ft.) or an Audi Q5 (29.1/57.3 cu ft.).
The actual experience of driving the SRX is actually pretty rewarding. It runs a fully independent suspension that offers a nice ride and sporty handling. The steering is also nicely weighted and provides the driver with good feedback and gives one the impression that the SRX is more capable in the corners then you may think. Power comes from a 2.8-liter turbocharged V6 that on paper produces 300 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. Unfortunately though, due to the SRX’s high weight of 4387 lbs, the turbo-six just didn’t seem like it had enough grunt until you got way up there in the rev range. Unfortunately, due to poor sales of turbo models in 2009 and 2010, GM has decided to kill it off. That means that going forward the only engine choice will be the standard direct injected 265 hp V6.
Cadillac built the new SRX with crossovers like the Lexus RX350, Audi Q5 and BMW X3 set dead in its sights. From a styling perspective it trumps the competitions plain vanilla wrappers with an edgy and aggressive look and feel, which is something that permeates throughout Cadillac’s entire product line. The SRX is about being different, being bold and buying American. It offers best in class styling, a refined 6-speed drive line and interior room that bests the competition. So if you’re in the market for an American alternative crossover with style, luxury and versatility you’d be doing the right thing by giving the 2011 Cadillac SRX a good look.