On the inside, the driving position is comfortable and visibility is excellent in all directions--even including above for those who fork out $1,800 on the huge UltraView motorized panoramic sunroof, which stretches way back over the back seats to give rear passengers in the second row a view of the heavens. Also available is UltraView Plus, a vented glass panel, which extends over the available third-row seating, and turns the SRX into a greenhouse on wheels.
Rear seating, including the optional foldable third-row seats is arranged in what GM calls a "tiered" configuration, giving passengers in back a decent view of the road ahead by placing them progressively higher than the row in front. For those who forgo the extra seating, the SRX offers 32.4 cubic feet of cargo room and an as-standard power liftgate to get into it. We must admit to having had some issues with the power liftgate: on numerous occasions we pressed the trunk-release key-fob button and waited in vain for anything to happen, eventually resorting to the tried and trusted manual method of opening the hatch.
Playing voice tag
In-cabin tech is also similar to that in the Escalade: our review model came with the optional touch-screen navigation and CD/MP3/WMA/DVD in-dash multimedia head unit with auxiliary input jack, although without the available rear-seat DVD entertainment system. Similar to the Escalade, the SRX boasts a voice recognition system that is programmed to understand around 40 commands, enabling drivers to switch between audio sources and map views without taking their hands from the wheel. While the system doesn't support destination entry via voice command, it does let you "voice tag" destinations that have been manually entered on the map. After tagging our offices here as "CNET," we barked out our order, and the navigation duly brought us home (well, our second home).
The system is adept at recognizing simple, first-level commands (such as "radio," "CD," "XM," and "navigation"), but second-level commands involving more complex instructions, such as "navigation go to destination home," for example, are less well received, and we found ourselves frequently setting AM radio stations when we wanted to input navigation requests.
Entering destinations manually via the in-dash touch screen is straightforward, and GM's DVD-based navigation system is well stocked with points of interest. The SRX's precise turn-by-turn voice guidance proved very useful in negotiating a tempest on the way to Monterey, California. On one occasion after firing the car up, the navigation display showed us to be about a mile away from our location, and it took a few minutes of driving for it to recalibrate to the correct coordinates. In general, though, we like the look and feel of the Cadillac navigation system, as it's easy to program and easy to understand.
Less intuitive is the interface XM satellite radio, which we found to be frustrating in more ways than one. First, while the touch screen allowed us to scroll through music genres with the touch of a button, the selection of individual stations within each category had to be made either with the knob to the right of the display or the rocker switch on the right-hand side of the steering wheel. Secondly, the screen lists only the name and song of the station that is currently playing, so drivers have to scroll through each station to find out what's on: we much preferred the system in the 2007 Audi A4 , which let us browse what was playing on other channels before tuning into them. Another gripe we have with the stereo is the apparent contradiction it presents regarding DVD audio: although the bezel of the head unit clearly states that the stereo is able to play DVD audio, we could not get any audio output from our homemade DVD audio disc.
Other than these few foibles, the standard stereo in the SRX is versatile and easy to use. MP3- and WMA discs played without incident, and all ID3-tag information showed up on the LCD screen. It features an auxiliary-input jack handily located in the front of the head unit, which makes it far more accessible than those for which we have to dig around in the glove box or center console. Another feature we liked is the ability to view detailed audio information and a GPS navigation map in split screen configuration.