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Of all the crossovers that we've had in for review, the 2007 Cadillac SRX comes nearest to the midpoint between car and SUV. With a distinctive Caddy grille, a tapered side profile, and some elegant exterior styling cues, the SRX does a good job of blending form and function. Performance tuned for low-end responsiveness combined with a generous amount of interior space make the SRX a flexible contender for the CUV dollar.
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.
The UltraView sunroof is optional on the SRX, and gives rear passengers a panoramic view of the sky.
Up front, the SRX's eight-way power-adjustable heated driver and front passenger seats provide plenty of seating options and lumbar support thanks to a power lumbar control. The SRX boasts many of the upscale appointments of the 2007 Cadillac Escalade with as-standard leather seats surrounded by burled-ebony accents. Its interior has had something of a makeover for the 2007 model year, with extra wood trim on the doors and across the dash providing a stylish upgrade to the black plastic in the 2006 model.
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.
In general, we like the Cadillac navigation system, although voice commands are limited.
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.
The upgraded 5.1 surround sound system delivered an immersive audio experience with a robust baseline, although we did notice a lack of clarity and separation when playing music that mixed high and low ranges on XM's classical channel.
Our SRX was motivated by the base-level 255-horsepower V-6 engine, which handled the SRX's 4,000lb-plus bulk adequately around the city, and gave it adequate pickup on the freeway, albeit with a whining sound track. As maximum torque is reached at 2,800rpm, the SRX feels nippy in urban situations, but mid- to high end performance is more sedate. For those willing to spend an extra $6,000 to haul the family around with a bit more gusto, Cadillac offers the option of a Northstar V8 engine, which puts an extra 65 horses in the stable. SRX Drivers can take the five-speed transmission into their own hands thanks to the SRX's Driver Shift Control, which is activated by a flip of the shifter to the right and enables clutchless manual shifting.
Flipping the ebony-trimmed shifter to the right enables drivers to switch to manual shift mode.
Our tester came with the Performance Package, which gave it a limited slip differential; Michelin all-season tires; alloy wheels; Xenon, High-Intensity Discharge headlamps; and a headlamp washer system. As an additional $1,650 option, our car also came with Magnetic Ride Control, a system that uses a magnetic coil to regulate the flow of magnetically charged damper fluid to stiffen or soften the suspension response. In practice, the SRX coasts over uneven roads with the minimal amount of jarring transferred into the cabin. Throwing the car into sharp turns results in the expected body roll and pulling up to a sharp stop caused the cabin to lunge forward.
Fuel economy for the 2007 Cadillac SRX is rated by the EPA at 16mpg city/ 24mpg highway. Our observed economy over 317 miles of mixed city and (mainly bumper-to-bumper) highway driving gave a pretty dismal overall average gas mileage of 15.5mpg. The 2007 Cadillac SRX comes with a four-star frontal-impact rating and a five-star side-impact rating. Each SRX comes with six air bags as standard, including frontal- and side-impact airbags for driver and front passenger and side curtain airbags for first- and second-row passengers. Active safety systems include ABS, Stabilitrack, traction control, and a limited-slip differential. An LED-based rear ultrasonic parking sensor is an elegant and cheap alternative to a back-up camera, although the latter would have been nice to help maneuver the SRX's rear end when parallel parking.
The LED backup sensor is an effective low-cost alternative to a rear-view camera.
Potential buyers of the SRX are likely to find the number of options packages bewildering. Our tester came with the V-6 premium luxury collection package for a whopping $7,150 extra. For this, we got all of the goodies from a variety of other lesser packages including the Performance package (limited slip differential, Michelin all-season tires, alloy wheels, Xenon, High-Intensity Discharge headlamps, and a headlamp washer system); the Luxury package (rear cargo area storage system, Universal Home Remote, wood trim, upgraded six-disc in-dash CD changer, tire pressure monitor and auto-reticulating air filter); and the Premium Seating package (heated driver and front passenger seats, driver and front passenger power lumbar control, eight-way power front passenger seat adjuster, outside heated power-adjustable and driver-side auto-dimming mirrors); as well as power-adjustable pedals, DVD-based navigation, and the 5.1 surround system.
The 2007 Cadillac SRX is a car for those who want some upscale trimmings to their family hauler. An impressive array of optional cabin tech makes the SRX a wired ride, and a number of unique interior design elements such as the UltraView roof, and the tiered seating mean that the cabin comfort wealth is shared with those in the rear. Competitors to the SRX include the Mercedes-Benz R350, the Chrysler Pacifica, and the Mazda CX7.