By Lary Coppola
Cadillac’s original SRX is history, with nothing left but the name. The all-new SRX should be a strong contender in the rapidly crowding, and largest industry segment — the midsize luxury sport utility vehicle (SUV) segment. Stiff competition is provided courtesy of the Lexus RX 350, Mercedes-Benz GLK, Acura MDX, Audi Q5, BMW X3, and Volvo XC60 — among others.
The original SRX featured rear-wheel-drive with a choice of a longitudinally mounted V6 or V8. The new SRX is front-wheel-drive with a transverse-mounted V6 powerplant. Another notable change is moving from three-rows, and seven-seats, to two, with seating for five. While GM is famous for its global platform-sharing, the SRX shared its underpinnings with only the Saab 9-4X, which given GM’s shutdown of Saab, will never be built.
Model Lineup: The 2010 Cadillac SRX comes in four versions: SRX ($33,330), SRX Luxury ($36,910), SRX Performance ($41,350), and SRX Premium ($43,895). All-wheel drive is about a $2,500 upgrade and is available on the Luxury, Performance, and Premium models.
The SRX comes standard with 18-inch aluminum wheels, leatherette (vinyl) upholstery, multi-function tilt steering wheel, dual-zone air conditioning, cruise control, power windows, mirrors and locks, AM/FM/CD with auxiliary outlet, iPod compatibility, and four speakers.
SRX Luxury upgrades include leather upholstery, wood trim, seat heaters for the front seats, eight-way power passenger seat, sunroof, power sunshade, Park Assist, Bluetooth wireless connectivity, remote starting, power liftgate, and other features.
SRX Performance adds a navigation system, rearview camera, premium 10-speaker audio, upgraded steering, adaptive suspension, 20-inch wheels, adaptive xenon HID headlights with auto-leveling and integrated fog lights.
SRX Premium upgrades include three-zone automatic climate control, rear audio controls, and heated rear seats
Walkaround: The 2010 SRX exterior design features crisper, sharper edges, mirroring Cadillac’s current designs, rather than the slab-sided look of the original SRX. It’s instantly recognizable as a Caddy, beginning with its wider stance, pointed grille adorned with a large Cadillac crest, very complex headlamps, and rounded lower spoiler with a large air intake for engine cooling. The side window design features a forward-slanted D-pillar leading to Cadillac’s signature vertical, knife-sharp taillights.
The SRX features a power liftgate with programmable settings for full or three-quarter openings to spare the sheetmetal in low-roofed garages or parking structures.
Overall, the styling is very pleasing, riding on a chassis nearly six inches shorter than the original SRX. It’s also 4.6-inches shorter in overall length, with a 2.1-inch lower roofline and about an inch wider, adding to interior comfort with additional hip and shoulder room.
Interior: “Loaded” doesn’t begin to describe the sumptuous interior trappings of the 2010 Cadillac SRX, which shares much of its technology and some of its design with the CTS sedan. There’s an enormous list of standard equipment including pushbutton starting, a tilt-and-telescope steering column, upper and lower adjustable ambient lighting and much more.
The SRX interior is beautifully finished, and quiet, with eight-way power memory seats that are supportive and extremely comfortable. The center stack buttons feature icons with names on them. It’s well laid out, very intuitive, and easy to understand and use. The steering wheel is thick, with a nice feel, and adjustable, as are the pedals.
Available are a full-color driver information center with two main sections — one for the vehicle and one for the trip you’re on; OnStar (free for the first year, subscription required after that); satellite navigation with voice recognition; adaptive headlights; a huge, two-segment power sunroof with 95-percent UV protection; and a power liftgate.
The navigation system has the capability of displaying speed limit signs, because the system knows what road you’re on and what the posted limit is. Also available is Sirius/XM satellite radio with optional NavTraffic, and Bluetooth phone capability.
Entertainment begins with an audio system offering a 2-GB memory capable of downloading up to 20 CDs. There’s the optional Bose sound system with AM/FM/XM/CD capability, USB and iPod inputs, an optional 40-GB hard drive for music storage, and optional upward-tilting twin screens with wireless headphones for individual rear-seat entertainment via DVDs or radio.
The reclining rear seat is split 66/33, offering a wide adjustment range, but doesn’t slide back and forth, so legroom is fixed. The rear cargo area normally holds 29.2 cubic feet of cargo, and when folded flat with the seatbacks locked into place, offers more than 61 cubic feet (compared to 32.4 and 69.5 in the previous three-row SRX). The cargo area behind the second seat features an under-floor storage area and a U-shaped channel built into the floor that accepts a variety of sliding hold-down cleats. Also offered are first- and second-seat doggie screens similar to those in the Volvo XC70, that secure into the roof to keep canines contained.
Safety equipment on all models includes six air bags: front, side-impact, and curtain, along with anti-lock brakes (ABS), traction control, StabiliTrak yaw control, and OnStar emergency notification.
Under The Hood: Front-wheel drive is standard on all models, with two powerplants offered: The same 3.0-liter V6 that powers the Cadillac CTS, is married to a Hydra-Matic six-speed automatic transmission. There’s also an optional 2.8-liter turbocharged V6 engine that originated with Saab, and is rated at 300 horses and 295 foot-pounds of torque. It’s mated to a completely different Aisin-Warner six-speed automatic transmission capable of handling the higher power and torque of the turbo engine.
The available Haldex II all-wheel-drive system is among the world’s best, debuting last year on the Saab 9-3X. Although designed for ice, snow, rain and mud driving, the system makes high-performance dry-road driving a lot more fun because there’s no torque steer or tire spin on full-throttle starts in first gear, and it utilizes all four tires for high-speed, high-force cornering. It’s one of the fastest-acting, most capable systems on the planet, able to move up to 100 percent of the engine’s torque f
rom front to rear tires in about one wheel rotation, and via its electronic limited-slip rear differential, able to transfer up to 85 percent of the drive torque from left to right in a few milliseconds. I highly recommend it.
Behind The Wheel: Our test model was the front-wheel drive Premium version, equipped with the 3.0-liter V6, which boasts a segment leading EPA fuel economy rating of 18/City and 25/highway mpg.
I found the luxurious new SRX to be a great ride. The cabin is beautiful, comfortable, quiet, and loaded with features that are easy to understand and use. The handling and braking are exceptional, and although 1.2 inches lower than the older, larger SRX, the new SRX still feels like a high-riding CTS sports sedan.
The powertrain is efficient, with the direct-injection 24-valve V6 burning regular fuel — while many of its competitors do not. It delivers more power at higher rpm than the 3.6-liter engine it replaced, but substantially less peak torque. Our test vehicle got better city mileage, and at speeds between 65 and 80 mph, matched the rating according to the car’s information center.
Whines: I found the engine lacking in the strong acceleration inherent in the CTS, and a bit loud. However, power, torque and acceleration are all about equal to anything else in its class. The smaller engine also has less useable torque than the previous 3.6-liter powerplant, an apparent tradeoff for mileage.
Bottom Line: The all-new 2010 Cadillac SRX enters the huge, crowded market of crossover SUVs priced $3,500 less than the segment-leading Lexus RX 350. It offers about the same power, performance and fuel economy, with a notably more stylish design and a chassis that’s an engineering marvel. With GM officially having a viable future as a car company, the SRX is definitely worth a very long, hard look.