Thumbs Up: Comfortable, quiet and reasonably priced for the segment.
Thumbs Down: Meaty A and B pillars impact visibility.
Buy This Car If: You want a luxury crossover with a unique sense of style.
Shortly before its demise, GM used the slogan, “This is not your father’s Oldsmobile” to shill for its near-luxury division. While the slogan took some artistic license back then (there was a reason why Oldsmobile went out of business, after all), the motto would be very appropriate to use for Cadillac today. After decades of obscurity, bizarre product choices and cars designed exclusively for those who hated to drive, Cadillac has turned a corner.
The Cadillac of today is producing cars and trucks with a unique sense of style, filled with content for the price and screwed together as well as any luxury brand on the market. Cars like the CTS-V sport sedan / coupe / station wagon thumb their nose at conventional wisdom, and the upcoming Cadillac ATS has been designed to go toe to toe against the BMW 3-Series. Even the Cadillac SRX crossover is a legitimate challenger to the segment leading Lexus RX, the Infiniti FX and the Mercedes-Benz M Class.
On the outside, the SRX’s lack of curves sets it apart from the luxury crossover herd. The style isn’t derivative of anything else, except perhaps other Cadillac models, so it stands out in a sea of box-on-box crossover conformity. The sweeping A-pillar (which, incidentally, impacts visibility) and plunging roofline work with the angular front end to convey a sense of speed, while the minimal and tasteful chrome bits add a bit of style.
Blacked-out B-pillars and limo tint rear windows combine with a relatively high beltline to give the greenhouse an almost a show-car, chopped appearance, while the slightly-protruding taillights pay homage to the finned Cadillacs of old. All in all, the styling should appeal to much wider variety of consumers than Cadillacs of the past.
Inside, the same angular theme carries over to center console, which widens from bottom to top and is flanked by curve-less air vents trimmed in aluminum. Since the common design elements between inside and out are subtle, it’s not a case of “too much of a good thing,” and the rest of the dash is a visually pleasing blend of shapes, textures and materials.
The SRX’s instrument pod is covered in a thick layer of soft touch vinyl, embossed with a leather-like grain. Inside, the driver gets a large, center-mounted speedometer with a bright LCD information display in the center. The speedometer is flanked by a tachometer (on the left) and a multi-function gauge (on the right) which includes fuel, coolant temperature and MPG displays. I’m at a loss to explain why Cadillac would include an MPG gauge, other than “BMW has one.” It provides only “Min” and “Max” readings, which hardly delivers helpful information to coach the driver. We’d much rather see a functional oil pressure or transmission temperature gauge here, and while we’re making suggestions to improve the instrument cluster, we say ditch the redundant turn signal indicators. You already have an arrow indicator, so what’s the sense of including giant lenses flanking the speedometer?
The front seats of the SRX are near perfect for long-distance trips, with reasonable side and thigh bolstering and plenty of lumbar support. The thick leather features contrasting stitching, and the seats in my range-topping SRX Premium are both heated and ventilated for year-round comfort.
SRX models above Base trim also come with a panoramic sunroof, which treats even rear-seat passengers to a view of the sky (or stars). The same models can be ordered with a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, ensuring that long family road trips are endured with as little drama as possible from rear seat passengers.
Rear-seaters won’t complain about the accommodations, either. While the rear chairs lack the bolstering or adjustability of the front seats, they’re still plenty comfortable for long trips and heated for cold-weather comfort on Premium trim models. The sloping roofline and panoramic sunroof work against tall passengers, however, and those much taller than six feet will probably want to flip for the shotgun seat.
In 2012, all Cadillac SRX models get a 3.6-liter V-6, which is a big improvement over last year’s 3.0-liter V-6. In fact, from a price-dependent perspective, it’s a better option than last year’s 2.8-liter turbo V-6, which provided plenty of grunt but added way too much cost to the bottom line to make it a viable option. This year’s 3.6-liter engine delivers 308 horsepower and 265 lb.-ft. of torque, which is more than enough to get the job done even on all-wheel-drive SRX4 models (like my press-fleet tester). All SRX models now come with a six-speed automatic transmission which includes an “Eco” mode for the best fuel economy. The EPA rates the 2012 Cadillac SRX AWD at 16 mpg city and 23 mpg highway, and I saw an indicated 17.8 mpg in mostly-city driving.
Despite its two-ton-plus bulk, the SRX feels remarkably light on its feet. We wouldn’t call acceleration brisk, but it certainly is sufficient for a luxury crossover, and the steering is weighted enough to give the driver a reasonable amount of feedback. If you’re looking for a sportier ride, Cadillac even offers the SRX in a “Performance” version, complete with 20-inch wheels, a stiffer suspension and adaptive shocks. We’d say “pass,” since no crossover will ever be our vehicle of choice for lapping a racetrack or winding up a canyon road at speed.
We prefer our luxury crossovers to be on the comfortable but predictable side in terms of ride and handling, and the SRX Premium doesn’t disappoint here. In fact, we’d be hard-pressed to name a better long-distance family road trip vehicle than the SRX, including those from foreign luxury brands that cost thousands more. We’re fans of Cadillac’s new style, and we’ll give it praise for its attention to detail on newer models as well. If you’re in the market for a luxury crossover and haven’t considered shopping Cadillac, we recommend you give the brand a chance. It’s not your father’s Cadillac, and the division is working hard to resume its place atop the luxury food chain.
Cadillac supplied the 2012 SRX4 Premium for my evaluation. Base price on my press-fleet tester was $49,660, including a destination fee of $875. Options included the $495 Black Ice Metallic paint and the $1,395 Rear Seat Entertainment System for a total sticker price of $51,550. For comparison, a similarly equipped Lexus RX 350 would sticker for $55,165, while a comparable Mercedes-Benz ML350 4Matic would list at $59,730.