2010 Cadillac SRX review: 2010 Cadillac SRX

2010 Cadillac SRX

Wayne Cunningham

Wayne Cunningham

Managing Editor / Roadshow

Wayne Cunningham reviews cars and writes about automotive technology for CNET's Roadshow. Prior to the automotive beat, he covered spyware, Web building technologies, and computer hardware. He began covering technology and the Web in 1994 as an editor of The Net magazine.

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7 min read

2010 Cadillac SRX

The Good

The 2010 Cadillac SRX's navigation system uses bright, clear maps and it proactively warns you about traffic conditions. In Sport mode, the transmission is eager to downshift.

The Bad

The Bluetooth phone system lacks an onboard phonebook and its iPod connection can't play music from an iPhone.

The Bottom Line

The 2010 Cadillac SRX fits Cadillac's luxury reputation and combines a modern cabin tech package in a useful small SUV form.

The CTS sedan has been a great success for Cadillac, garnering much praise from the automotive media. So it's no wonder that the 2010 Cadillac SRX leans heavily on the same cabin tech and bold design features that made the CTS so popular. In many ways, the new SRX looks like the CTS on stilts.

When this small SUV arrived in our garage, we were pleased to find cabin tech similar to what we liked so much in the CTS. There was the same LCD that partially stows itself in the dash, leaving a strip visible to show audio information. There was the hard-drive-based navigation system with traffic. The car even comes with the record button that saves radio broadcasts, essentially it works like TiVo for radio.

A round screen in the center of the speedometer shows a variety of useful information.

However, there were a few new details included, too. Details that we hope find their way into the next CTS update. For example, Cadillac added a round, color information display to the speedometer that shows a variety of information--such as the trip computer, navigation directions, and even the speed limit of the current road. When starting the SRX, an animation of the Cadillac logo rolls into place, adding a little special effects glory for this high-tech cruiser.

Direct injection religion
GM is adhering to its new direct-injection religion with the 2010 SRX, fitting the small SUV with a 3-liter V-6 engine, which should be the perfect size for this vehicle. For most people, its 265 horsepower will be enough to get to work, make grocery runs, and take the occasional weekend trip to grandma's house. However, power-mad speed demons will be disappointed with the cars meager reaction when they hit the gas pedal. The SRX engine's 223 pound-feet of torque does not deliver the kind of thrust to put you firmly in your seat.

However, Cadillac hasn't forgotten driving enthusiasts. The company has an optional turbocharged 2.8-liter V-6 engine for the 2010 SRX. While the turbocharged engine doesn't have direct injection, its turbo helps it make 300 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque.

The transmission is very capable, more so than the engine.

Our review car came with all-wheel-drive and the 3-liter V-6. It also had a six-speed-automatic transmission, the same as the one used in the CTS. We've been impressed with this transmission's Sport mode in other reviews. When racing toward a corner and then hitting the brakes, the transmission will aggressively downshift and hold a low gear as you hit the gas on the way out to the next straightaway. The transmission exhibits similar behavior in the SRX, only the 3-liter engine can't really realize the transmissions potential. It's like putting an F-22 pilot into a 747; he might have incredible reflexes, but they will be largely wasted.

Putting the transmission into Sport mode enables manual shifting, with sequential gear changes. For a torque converter, these shifts are pretty sharp, and it is best when used to drop a few gears to gain passing power or for engine braking down a long grade.

In standard Drive mode, the transmission seeks higher, gas saving gears. The SRX gets an EPA-rated fuel economy of 17 mpg city and 23 mpg highway, fairly typical numbers for a small SUV. In our driving, we only achieved 19.4 mpg.

Cadillac luxury
Although it's not dynamically dampened, the SRX's suspension system uses stabilizer bars fore and aft along with a linked H arm at the rear to control body roll and provide a generally supple ride. The ride is part of what makes sitting in the SRX a treat, and keeps Cadillac's luxury reputation intact.

With the LCD retracted, a strip of the screen stays exposed to show audio information.

The SRX's cabin also treats occupants with generally nice fit and finish, and has comfortable leather seats with power adjustment. We were particularly pleased when driving on a drizzly day that the rain-sensing windshield wipers took over, adjusting the wiper speed depending on the intensity of the rain. This feature embodies luxury tech, taking care of the minor details so that you can concentrate on other things.

The touch screen is part the SRX's imperfect cabin tech interface. Several buttons on the stack provide access to navigation and music options, while a dial with an enter button integrated in its center controls what's on the screen--or, at least, some of it. The dial and enter button let you select basic features, such as choosing how to enter a destination. However, you usually have to resort to using the touch screen at some point in the process. We generally like touch-screens interfaces, but Cadillac doesn't make it clear when you need to use it or the physical buttons.

The SRX's navigation system is excellent and has clear, colorful maps that are easy to read. They maps are stored on a hard drive, which makes map rendering and route calculations fast. While driving, most destination entry options are blocked; however, the voice command system works very well. It lets you say the name of streets and cities, and generally it recognizing them.

Weather reports are included in the satellite radio data stream, along with traffic information.

Under route guidance, the navigation system uses text-to-speech to read out street names, sometimes with highly amusing pronunciations. Its route guidance graphics are nice and clear, but we like its traffic avoidance feature best. Most navigation systems with traffic information will dynamically route around bad traffic when you program in a destination, which the system in the SRX also does. However, the SRX will also proactively warn you about bad traffic on the road ahead, even when you don't program in a route. Sure, you may already be planning to take an exit before the traffic problem, but it's nice to be warned about what's happening up ahead.

As with the CTS, the SRX's in-dash hard drive has space reserved for music storage that you can use by ripping CDs with the car's CD player. There is also satellite radio and a USB port that can read MP3 tracks on a USB drive and works with an iPod. However, the iPod interface uses an old specification and can't play music off an iPhone.

The onboard hard drive has space for music.

At lesser trim levels, the SRX gets an eight speaker Bose audio system. At the Performance and Premium levels, Cadillac upgrades the SUV's audio system to a Bose 10 speaker 5.1 surround system. We were very pleased with the audio quality from this upgraded system, and found that its sound is less heavy than we typically find with Bose to be. The system handled acoustic and orchestral tracks as well as multilayered electronic music with heavy bass well. The SRX's Bose system manages to keep good detail in its audio reproduction, something we can't say about Bose systems we've heard in other cars.

The SRX's lack of iPhone compatibility highlights an area somewhat neglected by Cadillac in general. While the SRX does have a hands-free Bluetooth connection for phones, it is about as rudimentary as you will find in a modern car. There is no phonebook function and mealy uses voice commands to dial by phone number.

GM still favors OnStar, included in the SRX, and it has its own in-car phone service. OnStar also provides a number of other typical telematics services, such as alerting authorities when a collision is detected and remotely opening the doors if you lock your keys inside. Additionally, OnStar offers a concierge service where you can ask for directions to a location and have it sent to the car's navigation system if you're not comfortable with using the cars interface, as well as having a stolen car recovery feature.

The SRX is a little short on driver aid technology, its key feature being a back-up camera. We like this camera, as it shows trajectory lines and even has an obstacle-warning icon. However, other driver aid features, such as blind spot detection, would be useful.

In sum
In evaluating the 2010 Cadillac SRX, we give it good marks for its modern power train composed of a direct-injection engine and six-speed-automatic transmission. However, it didn't turn in particularly great fuel economy rating. There is also a lot we like about this car's cabin tech, the navigation system being a particular high point. However, its Bluetooth phone system let us down and its lack of significant driver aid technology keeps it from excellence. The SRX's design really stands out--Cadillac has definitely made its mark with its Art and Science design language. However, we have to ding it a bit for its sometimes confusing cabin tech interface.

Spec box

Model2010 Cadillac SRX
TrimAWD Performance Collection
Power trainDirect injection 3-liter V-6
EPA fuel economy17 mpg city/23 mpg highway
Observed fuel economy19.4 mpg
NavigationHard drive-based system with live traffic
Bluetooth phone supportStandard
Disc playerMP3 compatible CD/DVD player
MP3 player supportiPod integration
Other digital audioSatellite radio, Onboard hard drive, USB drive, auxiliary input
Audio systemBose 10 speaker
Driver aidsRear view camera
Base price$44,995
Price as tested$48,110

2010 Cadillac SRX

Score Breakdown

Cabin tech 7Performance tech 7Design 8


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