A few years after Lexus touched off the luxury-crossover craze with its RX 300, Cadillac chose to offer the SRX--a completely different, angular tall wagon with a rear liftback built on its rear-drive CTS sedan chassis.
Although the SRX was excellent, its showing in a marketplace seeking stylish RX-like crossovers wasn't good. Since it introduced the SRX as a 2004 model, Cadillac has sold a total of 120,000; Lexus sells about 90,000 RXs every 12 months.
Cadillac appears to have learned from that lesson with the 2010 SRX, a true luxury crossover in every sense. The five-seat, two-row model, on sale now and more widely available in September, offers the perfect combination of panache, power and practicality that has drawn droves of buyers to the growing luxury-crossover market.
The SRX has a lot riding on its chiseled haunches, and it delivers, with an impressive array of technology, powertrains and road presence worthy of the wreath and crest. Tops in the techno department is the Haldex all-wheel-drive system with electronic limited-slip rear differential. The system, with some improvements, is lifted directly from the Saab Turbo X. It produces impressive grip and stability using power, rather than braking, to correct its path and dig its way around corners. The optional (and recommended) AWD system is mated to a 3.0-liter direct-injection V6 that produces 265 hp and 223-lb-ft of torque. An optional turbocharged 2.8-liter, 300-hp, 295-lb-ft V6 shared with Saab will be available only on AWD models in October. Six-speed automatics are used in all models. Power from the base 3.0-liter is ample and well managed by the gearbox; waiting for the turbo may not be necessary.
The chassis is not derived from the similarly sized Saturn Vue and Chevrolet Equi-nox; the SRX employs all-new architecture. Buy your SRX with AWD and the uplevel 20-inch wheels, and you also get Cadillac's continuously variable “real-time” damping.
The suspension system is miraculous in the way it undetectably smooths bumps by adjusting shock rates in response to road conditions. The net effect is a vehicle that remains planted and poised. The system also provides ample body control in cornering, despite the vehicle's tall stature and two-ton-plus weight. Those used to the dull ride of Cadillacs past will complain that the SRX suspension is too taut, while CTS owners will find it just about right. Steering is spot on and steady, but we found the brakes somewhat underwhelming though capable.
There's a lot to like inside, from the stitched leather surfaces, to the information reports in the center of the speedometer, to the LED turn-signal “repeaters” in the instrument panel. Fits are excellent throughout, and the layout of all the various systems is good though a little busy. The rear seatbacks fold completely flat, opening up a huge expanse of cargo space.
Another view of the SRX crossover.
The 2010 SRX represents Cadillac's first car under the umbrella of the “new” General Motors. If GM keeps making cars like this, it certainly won't be the last.
2010 Cadillac SRX
ON SALE: Now
BASE PRICE: $34,155
DRIVETRAIN: 3.0-liter, 265-hp, 223-lb-ft V6; FWD, six-speed automatic
CURB WEIGHT: 4,224 lb
0-60 MPH: 7.8 sec (mfr)
FUEL ECONOMY (EPA): 21 mpg (FWD)
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