2010 Cadillac SRX — Review
Cadillac reinvents its midsize luxury crossover.
- Distinctive, edgy styling
- Nifty storage everywhere
- Good value when thoughtfully optioned
- Chevylike powertrain experience
- Suspension could be plusher
- Great interior shows occasional hard plastic
Downsizing is fashionable lately at General Motors, and at its legendary luxury brand Cadillac, the midsize SRX has just been remade to better fit its market. Previously a relatively long, 7-passenger crossover with 3-row seating, the new 2010 SRX concentrates on core crossover characteristics such as all-weather traction and spacious passenger room in a 5-passenger, 2-row configuration. The resulting look is shorter and proportionally more upright, not to mention Cadillac-chic in presentation.
Available as both a front- and all-wheel-drive vehicle based on a platform loosely shared with the Chevy Equinox, the SRX is offered as a single model that can be optioned to Base, Performance, Luxury or Premium levels. More specifically, the base SRX is sold in front-wheel-drive guise only, while the Performance, Luxury and Premium levels are available with either driveline. All SRXs are well-equipped, with a push-to-start button, single-CD 8-speaker sound and dual-zone climate control; only the lowest trim level employs "leatherette" vinyl seating.
Most typically, the SRX is found with the Luxury Collection and a few options. This means wood trim, leather seats, a power rear liftgate with programmable opening height, an optional Bose 10-speaker sound with full media-player support, and a 2-gigabyte virtual hard drive for generous music storage. A huge Ultra View sunroof is standard on Luxury SRXs. It slides open over the front seats and offers a fixed glass panel above the rear row. An opaque cloth sunshade gives complete sun relief over the total sunroof area. Navigation is optional at the Luxury level.
Performance versions make the navigation system standard, which brings a DVD player, 40 GB hard drive, rear-seat audio controls, Bluetooth and the Bose sound system. It also adds the FE3 sport suspension with variable damping Sachs shocks, 20-inch wheels and 3-mode transmission shift strategy.
Moving all the way to Premium brings in just a few more standard features, such as tri-zone climate control (two zones for front seaters, a third zone for the rear seat). At this level, the only options left are rear-seat DVD, premium paint and a trailer hitch coupled with a 3,500-pound tow rating.
Most SRXs will ride on the optional chrome 20-by-8-inch wheels with 235/55R-20 tires; an 18-inch wheel with 235/65R-18 tire is standard.
Under the Hood
Cadillac downsized the SRX's engines for better fuel economy while retaining the same power rating. Standard is a 3.0-liter 4-valve V6 boasting the latest direct fuel-injection technology to arrive at 265 horsepower at 6950 rpm, with a fuel-economy rating of 18 mpg city/25 mpg highway.
A new, optional 2.8-liter turbocharged V6 is now available. Estimated to put out 300 horses, the turbo V6 could put a needed spark in the SRX's get-along, but we've yet to drive it.
Both V6s are mated to 6-speed automatic transmissions, along with an optional sophisticated all-wheel-drive system (front-wheel drive is standard). Designed for all-weather traction, the AWD features electronically controlled clutch packs from driveline specialist Haldex. They allow shuttling power not only between front and rear axles, but also from side to side to keep things moving in snow or wet weather, along with no-excuses handling on dry pavement. Up to 100 percent of engine power can be transferred to the front wheels, for example, and the system works full time in concert with the traction- and stability-control computers. Completely automated, this AWD system requires no driver input.
With its comfy, upright seats and square-edged design, the SRX's interior takes a stance somewhere between conservative restraint in its analog clock and a touch of youthful enthusiasm in the canted center air registers. It's a pleasantly upscale interior made airy by the immense sunroof and expansive, heavily raked windshield. Generous use of leather, competent design and generally Cadillac-level detailing leave the right impression — but, just as predictably, the gray, corporate hand left its cost-conscious touch on some of the switches.
No expense was spared on storage, however. The SRX packs usable, well-shaped nooks, cubbies and bins into every available spot, sometimes one above the other. In back, the cargo hold is optimized for daily use. A hatch opens and unfolds to securely hook grocery bags, while the cargo floor employs a rail system for segregating and securing items that otherwise would slide and roll.
About the only storage limitation is the forward-sloping rear window, which intersects with those rare, tall boxy items; the pass-through is perhaps a touch narrow. Access to all this storage is unimpeded by the large power liftgate.
On the Road
Feeling larger and noticeably taller than its midsize designation might indicate, but blessed with a rigid chassis and car-like handling, the SRX is at home both in town and on the open road.
Supportive seating, made better by the front seat's slide-out knee bolsters, along with powerful climate control and a quiet cabin make long trips comfortable. Daily driving (especially running errands) is enhanced by the abundant storage and good access.
No doubt the upcoming turbo V6 should provide the easy torque the SRX could use for a true Cadillac powertrain experience. The 3.0-liter V6 we tested certainly gets the SRX down the road and with commendable fuel economy, but tends to downshift and rev busily when asked to perform.
For a minor boost in performance, Cadillac provides a Sport mode via the console-mounted shifter. It holds the engine in gear longer and tightens the shock absorbers for better handling. It helps on twisty roads by sharpening steering response and reducing shift busyness.
Something of a slave to fashion, the SRX glides on smooth roads, but jiggles lightly when the pavement gets rough (due to the fashionably short sidewall tires), especially in Sport mode. Pleasant weather during our test drive cheated us from experiencing what must be seamless traction on snowy roads, but the SRX clawed tenaciously on demanding mountain pavement when pushed in the dry.
Right for You?
A fashion wagon for the in-crowd, the SRX is affordably priced considering the style premium for this sort of vehicle. In fact, its starting price of $34,155 makes it competitive with other vehicles in its class.
Typical sticker prices hover in the low- to mid-$40,000 range for popularly equipped SRXs. An example would be $40,230 for AWD, 18-inch chrome wheels and power liftgate. Adding navigation and one of the higher trim levels brings the SRX into the mid-$40,000 neighborhood, where its many features and edgy styling carry the day.
The SRX also makes sense wherever there is a nasty winter. Its combination of car-like driving dynamics, style and no-fuss wet-weather traction put it on a short list of suitable luxury crossovers.
Longtime Road & Track contributor Tom Wilson's credits include local racing championships, three technical engine books and hundreds of freelance articles.