Pros: Long list of standard features; advanced CUE infotainment; superb engine and transmission

Cons: High beltline means tight visibility; back seats are cramped

What's New: Standard CUE infotainment; updated exterior styling details; available driver assistance technology; active noise cancellation

In our review of the last model year SRX, we praised the 308-horsepower V6 that is now the sole engine offered in this 4500-pound luxury crossover vehicle. Paired with a standard six-speed automatic transmission, the 3.6-liter V6 made the SRX a pleasure to drive. The 2013 Cadillac SRX builds on the improvements by including Cadillac's advanced CUE system and host of other changes, from updated exterior styling details to new driver assistance technology.

CUE, Cadillac's new entertainment and information interface, is modeled after popular mobile devices like the iPad. Users can input commands by voice, using controls on the steering wheel or by pressing buttons on CUE's large color touchscreen in the center stack. Cadillac introduced CUE on its new XTS flagship sedan, and now the technology is making its way to other models in the automaker's lineup.

The 2013 SRX is available in four different trim levels: Base, Luxury, Performance and Premium. The base model comes well equipped with the aforementioned CUE system, dual-zone climate control, an eight-way adjustable driver's seat, Bluetooth and an iPod hookup for the eight-speaker Bose stereo. Luxury models come with premium features including heated front seats and steering wheel, parking sensors, automatic wipers, keyless ignition and a power-assisted liftgate. The Performance model adds 20-inch wheels, adaptive xenon headlamps and a navigation system. The top-end Premium adds another zone to the climate-control system plus ventilated front seats, heated rear seats and new driver assistance features like lane departure warning and forward collision alert.

Comfort & Utility

Fit and finish inside the SRX is quite good, as has become the standard for Cadillac. And there's plenty of technology, especially with the addition of CUE as standard equipment. Materials are soft to the touch pretty much anywhere the hand can fall.

Legroom is ample in both front and back, and headroom is decent as well, unless you opt for the panoramic sunroof. It is a nice addition and provides a great view of the outdoors, but the pocket needed to hide that expanse of glass cuts into rear headroom noticeably. Six-footers will find their head touching the headliner, and even those who are shorter may feel cramped.

Speaking of cramped, the high beltline that gives the SRX its aggressive exterior look leaves little room for windows. The effect is that the interior feels slightly claustrophobic, and visibility is compromised, too.

Technology

Cadillac vehicles have become synonymous with impressive interior technology, and it all typically works extremely well. But the CUE system really takes technology in the SRX to a new level. CUE was designed with not just a single user in mind, but rather a range of users, from those that prefer simple, basic controls to "super users" that take advantage of every possible function. It's that flexibility that makes the system work exceptionally well for most drivers.

The optional rear entertainment system now includes a Blu-Ray player that displays video on a pair of 8-inch flip-up screens integrated into the front seatbacks. Also included is a pair of wireless headphones and gaming-style remote controls.

Performance & Fuel Economy

The 3.6-liter engine, which makes 308 hp and 265 lb-ft of torque, is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard; all-wheel drive is available. Although Cadillac uses the same engine in its CTS sedan, the heavier and less aerodynamic XTS is not as fuel efficient. It's EPA-rated at 17 mpg city and 24 mpg highway. Still, despite its weight, the SRX feels agile with the 3.6-liter V6.

Safety

The SRX comes standard with ABS, traction control, stability control, front and side airbags, and OnStar's immediate response system. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety testing, the SRX received a Good rating in all areas and five stars in all of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's tests except rollover, for which it received four stars.

New for 2013, the SRX can be equipped with driver assistance technologies like lane departure warning, forward collision warning and adaptive cruise control. Another newly available feature, Cadillac's safety alert seat, provides the driver with warnings without alarming others in the vehicle.

Blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and a backup camera are included on all but the base model.

Driving Impressions

The SRX seems to be the nimblest and sportiest offering in its class. Steering is responsive yet light enough for easy in-town driving. The transmission does a great job of keeping the engine in its optimal power range. When a downshift is needed, the transmission is happy to oblige, even in automatic mode. If you'd prefer to take control, there is a manual mode that lets you select the gears yourself. There's also a Sport mode that provides a more lively driving style while letting the automatic transmission do the shifting.

Other Cars to Consider

Acura RDX - Starting at $34,320 and topping out at just under $40,000, the Acura is less expensive than the SRX. But we prefer the driving characteristics and refined interior of the Cadillac.

Audi Q5 - The Audi's price is nearly the same with the SRX. But at each trim level, the SRX offers more for the money. The Q5's interior finish is hard to beat, but the Cadillac packs more advanced technology.

Lexus RX 350 - The vehicle that invented the class and continues to lead it makes a strong case. But with the sweet V6 and the innovative CUE system, we believe the 2013 Cadillac SRX may now have what it takes to dethrone the Lexus.

AutoTrader Recommends

If you're looking for a sporty crossover, we recommend the Performance model. It includes navigation and is eligible for a long list of extras, from the optional driver assistance package to the rear entertainment system, a must for family road trips. Our next choice is the Luxury model. One step down from the Performance trim, it includes helpful features like a backup camera and front and rear parking sensors. Also, its power liftgate and memory seats are must-haves on a luxury crossover like the SRX.

author photo

Nick Palermo is an automotive writer and lifelong car nut. He follows new and late-model used vehicles for AutoTrader.com, writes about vintage cars for Hemmings Classic Wheels and blogs on all things automotive at LivingVroom. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and twins.

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