The Cadillac SRX is among the best of the luxury SUVs. The SRX drives like a European sports sedan and its edgy styling stands out in a sea of boxy sport-utilities and minivans. Yet the SRX is quite practical. It can carry up to seven passengers and its nice, flat carpeted cargo area works great for hauling stuff.
The SRX comes trimmed with leather upholstery and is loaded with luxury features. The interior is stylish and comfortable, if not warm and inviting. Its available in V6 and V8 versions. The V8s are smooth and confident and deliver brilliant acceleration. All-wheel drive is available and we've found the SRX performs superbly in the snow.
Its sharp handling, quick acceleration and high-performance braking make for a sporty, enjoyable experience. Yet it offers a smooth, extremely quiet ride. It's sporty luxury.
The SRX was launched as an all-new vehicle for 2004, and there are few changes for 2005, though popular options on last year's V8 model are now standard and its price has been raised accordingly.
The Cadillac SRX comes standard with two rows of seats to carry five people; an optional power third-row seat is available to accommodate up to seven passengers. Two engines are available, a 3.6-liter V6 and a 4.6-liter V8. Both are paired with a five-speed automatic transmission. The SRX comes standard with rear-wheel drive, with all-wheel drive available as an option.
The base SRX ($38,340) comes with rear-wheel drive and the V6. It comes standard with leather upholstery and a long list of luxury features, including an eight-way driver seat; a power-adjustable second-row seat; one-touch power windows; heated mirrors; steering wheel-mounted audio controls; driver and passenger climate controls; AM/FM cassette in-dash single CD player; and OnStar telecommunications. All-wheel drive ($1,900) is optional along with most of the features available on the V8 model. Other options include the UltraView sun roof ($1,800); navigation system ($1,995); power-adjustable pedals ($150); heated front seats ($450); and trailer package ($250).
The V8 model ($50,135) comes with all the V6 features plus 18-inch wheels; tire pressure monitor; heated front seats; power passenger seat; power-adjustable pedals; memory system for driver's seat, mirrors, and pedals; wood/leather-wrapped steering wheel; wood interior trim; rear air conditioner system; Bose AM/FM radio with in-dash 6-disc CD changer; UltraView power sun roof; driver's side automatic day/night mirror, universal garage door opener; reconfigurable rear storage system and roof rack. The V8 can be further upgraded by adding the Luxury Performance Package ($6,920), which includes a navigation system, rear-seat DVD entertainment system, XM Satellite Radio ($9.95 monthly fee after third month), third-row seats, xenon headlights, power-stowable third-row seat, trailering equipment, and Magnetic Ride Control suspension. All-wheel drive is available ($1,900).
For comparison, buyers of the V6 model will can add the $3,095 $2,640 luxury package, and $2,250 utility package including all-wheel drive and third-row seat for an average price of $44,685 $43,925, which makes it competitive with the Mercedes-Benz ML350 at $45,760, the Volvo XC90 at $42,005 and the BMW X5 3.0i at $46,070.
The already well-equipped V8 can be upgraded by adding all-wheel drive ($1,900) and third row seat ($1,000), bringing the price to $53,730. That positions it between above a similarly equipped Lexus GX 470 at $46,715 and the Mercedes ML500 at $49,235 and below matching the BMW X5 4.4 at $53,445 $53,495. By selecting every option, it's possible to load the SRX up to $60,000, but few buyers are expected to do that.
Standard safety features cover the gamut and consist of: dual-stage front airbags; front side seat-mounted airbags; roof-mounted side curtain airbags that cover the first and second rows of seats; anti-lock brakes; traction control; Panic Brake Assist to help during emergency braking and Dynamic Rear Brake Proportioning to regulate brake pressure for improved stopping; electronic stability control; rear parking assist; seatbelt pretensioners; the LATCH universal child safety seat system in the outboard second row positions; child security door and window locks; engine immobilizer anti-theft system; battery rundown protection; and one-year of the OnStar communications system.
The edgy styling of the SRX represents Cadillac's latest "Art and Science" design philosophy. People tend to love it or hate it. It looks modern, even futuristic, but harkens back to Cadillac's heritage. When Cadillac marketers, designers and engineers dug into the company's 100 years of history, they found two prevailing themes had made Cadillac successful in its glory days: distinctive, futuristic styling a la the 1959 Eldorado with its exuberant tailfins, and Cadillac's leadership in technology. Cadillac's $4 billion worth of new vehicles, including the SRX, embody the modern interpretation of those themes.
Bottom line is that if you like the edgy, angular look of the CTS, XLR and STS sedans, then you'll like the styling on the SRX. And if you don't like the SRX, you won't like the new Cadillac sedans. Love it or hate it, however, the styling is bold and unabashedly American. You will stand out in a crowd.
We like it. We think it looks good from most angles, though the upper rear corner looks a little awkward when viewed from the side.
Cadillac considers the SRX as a medium-size luxury utility. Like many of the latest crossover utility vehicles that are based on cars, the SRX looks and feels more like a station wagon than a traditional truck-based sport utility. Indeed, American automakers (and many buyers) think station wagon is a dirty word while European automakers sell lots of station wagons. Some buyers think station wagons are more sophisticated than sport utilities. Probably because they are. The SRX fits this description. It's much more sophisticated than a truck-based SUV.
Cadillac marketers say the SRX competes against the BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz M-Class, along with the Acura MDX, Lexus RX 330 and Volvo XC90. A high-end Chrysler Pacifica may be a contender as well.
The Cadillac SRX interior also is very similar to the CTS, which again is love it or hate it in terms of design. It certainly is stylish, comfortable and practical, but it isn't particularly beautiful or warm and inviting. It seems cold.
To address this, Cadillac interior designers have revamped the instrument cluster on the 2005 models, adding chrome accents. The V8 model adds wood touches for more warmth. Interior colors include ebony, light neutral and light gray. It's an improvement, but we wish the SRX offered the warmth of the beautiful interior of the all-new 2005 Cadillac STS. We don't care for the chrome surround for the shifter and the typeface used to label the gears; they just don't live up to Cadillac elegance, at least not by the new, higher standards.
Everything is easy to operate, however, with window switches on the doors, right where you expect to find them.
The SRX is roomier than some of its competitors, especially the BMW X5 and Infiniti FX. At 41 inches, the SRX has more rear legroom than other midsize luxury sport-utilities and as much rear hip room as the roomy Acura MDX.
Five-passenger seating is standard, with two rows of seats. The second row powers back and forth for added legroom or added cargo space, a nice feature. The cargo area in the five-passenger model can be outfitted with storage spaces built into the floor under hatch doors.
Seven passengers can fit in the SRX when ordered with the optional third-row bench seat. The third row is not available on many of its competitors, including the BMW X5, Infiniti FX, and Lexus RX. But the third-row seat provides less room, including legroom, than that of the Acura MDX or Volvo XC90. The Cadillac's third-row seat folds flat into the floor with the push of a button near the rear hatch or on the pillar just behind the second row of seats. The third row comes with storage bins and cup holders. Each row of seats sits higher than the one in front of it, like those in a movie theater, so everyone can see out.
Luggage space is about average for the class. The nice, flat, dog-friendly cargo floor behind the second row makes the SRX an excellent vehicle for the fur-bearing members of the family. Roof rails come standard to expand cargo-carrying capability. (Yellowstone here we come!)
Storage cubbies abound and include covered front door compartments, front door map pockets, front seatback pockets, a front center console with two compartments, a bin behind the front console, a glove box with a shelf, covered cup holders in the front seat center console and second seat fold-down armrest with cup holders. SRX also has rear coat hooks accessible from the rear passenger doors or liftgate, good for picking up dry cleaning.
Among the available options, the coolest feature, literally, is its super-sized sunroof. Push the button to open the Ultra View Sunroof and first- and second-row passengers can enjoy 5.6 feet of open air overhead. The Ultra View Plus option even adds a shaded glass sun roof over the third row.
The Cadillac SRX boasts an outstanding chassis in terms of structural rigidity, giving it stable yet responsive handling. We loved its smooth, extremely quiet ride and spirited handling while driving it on twisting mountain roads in Arizona. The SRX rides on the same Sigma global architecture used for the CTS and STS, which is proving to be a superb platform.
The 4.6-liter V8 delivers lots of power. Cadillac's latest-generation Northstar V8 is rated at 320 horsepower and 315 pounds-feet of torque. With the V8, the SRX can accelerate from 0-60 mph in 6.2 seconds (6.9 for the heavier all-wheel-drive version), according to Cadillac. The SRX V8 we drove through the mountains of Arizona delivered smooth, confident power. It's rated to tow up to 4,250 pounds.
The SRX is also available with a new 3.6-liter V6 that makes 255 horsepower and 254 pounds-feet of torque. We have not tested the V6 model, but Cadillac engineers say the V6 versions are capable of 0-60 mph acceleration in the low 7-second range, which is reasonably quick. (Generally, the eight-second mark separates slow from fast.) The V6 offers a trailering package rated at 2,000 pounds, good for personal watercraft but not boats.
Both engines come with five-speed automatic transmissions, though different ones. The transmissions offer a manual-shift mode allowing the driver to change gears.
Cadillac engineers have focused on the SRX's all-weather capability with good results. To begin with, the SRX has a noticeably lower center of gravity than most sport utilities and a long wheelbase, all of which gives it better stability both in terms of roll (lean) and yaw.
Active safety systems improve its handling stability further: SRX comes standard with anti-lock brakes (ABS), traction control, panic brake assist, and dynamic rear brake proportioning. It's also available with StabiliTrak, an active handling system designed to keep the SRX under the driver's control on wet, snowy and icy surfaces, in tight turns, and in evasive maneuvers. It is enhanced with optional Magnetic Ride Control, which GM calls the world's fastest reacting suspension control system. We highly recommend StabiliTrak for its ability to help you maintain control in slippery corners. ABS allows the driver to maintain steering control under hard braking. Brake Assist and dynamic rear brake proportioning improve braking performance and stability. Traction control improves stability when accelerating on slippery surfaces.
In a winter test drive in northern Michigan, the SRX performed well on ice and snow against its competitors. The SRX was the best all-around performer except for the Volvo XC90. As it began to slip or slide, the invisible co-pilot gently and unobtrusively nudged the SRX back on course.
Safety likely will be a major priority for families shopping the SRX, and Cadillac has addressed this. SRX comes standard with virtually every active and passive safety device available today. Crash-test results by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for 2005 were excellent: four stars for frontal impacts, five stars for side impacts. And the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the SRX "Good" grades for 40-mph offset frontal crashes.
The Cadillac SRX provides as much or more practicality, functionality and roominess as other midsize sport utilities but it is wrapped in a distinctively styled package and delivers a spirited driving experience usually reserved for European sports sedans.
The SRX is one of our top choices in this class. The V8 model is sportier and more fun to drive than a Lexus RX 330 or Mercedes M-Class, and it's more practical and rides nicer than a BMW X5. A V6 SRX with all-wheel drive compares favorably with a Volvo XC 90.
New Car Test Drive correspondent Michelle Krebs filed this report from Arizona, with Mitch McCullough reporting from Los Angeles.
|Model Line Overview |
|Base Price (MSRP) |
|Model lineup: |
|Cadillac SRX V6 ($38,340); V8 ($50,135) |
|3.6-liter 24-valve V6; 4.6-liter 32-valve V8 |
|5-speed automatic w manual-shift feature |
|Safety equipment (Standard): |
|dual-stage front airbags; front side seat-mounted airbags; roof-mounted side curtain airbags that cover the first and second rows of seats; daytime running lights; anti-lock brakes; traction control; Panic Brake Assist to help during emergency braking; Dynamic Rear Brake Proportioning to regulate brake pressure for improved stopping; stability control; rear parking assist; seatbelt pretensioners; the LATCH universal child safety seat system in the outboard second row positions; child security door and window locks; engine immobilizer anti-theft system; battery rundown protection; one-year subscription to the OnStar communications system |
|Safety equipment (Optional): |
|Basic warranty: |
|4 years/50,000 miles |
|Assembled in: |
|Lansing, Michigan |
|Specifications As Tested |
|Model tested (MSRP): |
|Cadillac SRX V8 ($50,135) |
|Standard equipment: |
|leather upholstery w burled walnut wood accent trim; automatic front & rear dual-zone climate control; windows, power w/express-up front & express-down all; automatic programmable power door lock system; tilt/adjustable steering column; leather-wrapped steering wheel w mounted controls for audio & A/C; premium AM/FM w/6-disc in-dash CD changer & 8 Bose speakers; XM Satellite Radio - 3 month trial service; HomeLink universal transmitter w/3-channel programmable garage door opener; cruise control; floor mats, carpeted, front & rear; remote fuel filler & trunk door release; cargo cover; cargo convenience net; body-color dual heated power mirrors, electrochromic on driver's-side w memory; power adjustable pedals w/memory; sunroof, Ultraview tilt/slide w/express open & power sunshade; OnStar 1 year Directions & Connections service; mirrors, electrochromic interior rearview w/compass; mirrors, dual front illuminated vanity; PASS-Key III audible theft-deterrent system; seats, leather front buckets w/driver's 8-way power adjuster w/memory & 8-way power passenger adjuster, front heated; Seats, 2nd row, 60/40 adjustable split bench; ultrasonic rear parking assist; trailering package w heavy-duty cooling system |
|Options as tested: |
|all-wheel drive ($1,900); power folding third-row seat ($1,000); DVD navigation system ($1,995) |
|Destination charge: |
|Gas Guzzler Tax: |
|Price as tested (MSRP) |
|all-wheel drive |
|4.6-liter 32-valve V8 |
|Horsepower (hp @ rpm): |
|320 @ 6400 |
|Torque (lb.-ft. @ rpm): |
|315 @ 4400 |
|5-speed automatic w manual mode |
|EPA fuel economy, city/hwy: |
|17/22 mpg. |
|116.4 in. |
|194.9/72.6/67.8 in. |
|Track, f/r: |
|61.9/62.2 in. |
|Turning circle: |
|39.7 ft. |
|Seating capacity: |
|Head/hip/leg room, f: |
|40.3/56.3/42.1 in. |
|Head/hip/leg room, m: |
|38.4/56.3/41 in. |
|Head/hip/leg room, r: |
|35/55.1/24.2 in. |
|Cargo volume: |
|69.5 cu. ft. |
|Towing capacity: |
|4,250 lbs. |
|Suspension F: |
|independent short/long arm with aluminum upper and lower control arms, hydraulic control arm front bushings, pressurized monotube front shock absorbers, 36-mm stabilizer bar |
|Suspension R: |
|independent multi-link with fully isolated sub frame, aluminum upper control arms, knuckles and rear differential, Nivomat load-leveling rear shocks, 22-mm stabilizer bar |
|Ground clearance: |
|8.2 in. |
|Curb weight: |
|4442 lbs. |
|P235/60R18 front, P255/55R18 rear Michelin all-season |
|Brakes, f/r: |
|disc/disc w ABS, Brake Assist, Dynamic Proportioning in. |
|Fuel capacity: |
|20 gal. |