Cadillac gave European sport luxury brands a real run for their money with the CTS, even going so far as to release the CTS-V, a tuned up model competitive with BMW's M and Mercedes-Benz's AMG brands. Now America's premier luxury automaker throws down the gauntlet in the crossover segment, with the 2010 Cadillac SRX.
The 2010 SRX retains Cadillac's angular design language, most notably at the grille and front fenders. Things become a little more homogeneous when you follow the roofline back to the rear spoiler, at which point it becomes difficult to tell the SRX apart from an Acura RDX or a Lexus RX. But the head and tail lights emphasize the Cadillac look, down to the vertical light pipes in the headlight casings.
Cadillac puts a vertical light pipe in the headlight casing of the SRX.
Call it a crossover or small SUV, the SRX has seating for five and a high riding position offering a good view of the road. Ample cargo space includes a smuggler's compartment under the rear floorboard.
Inside the cabin, expect to find modern Cadillac luxury, which means wood trim, leather, and soft surfaces over the dashboard. In our high-trim turbo Premium edition, a smart key allowed easy access, front and rear seat climate control was individually adjustable, and the front seats got cooling and heating.
The cabin tech in the SRX is very similar to what you get in the CTS sedan, a car that won our Tech Car of the Year award for 2007. That means a responsive navigation system with maps stored on an internal hard drive, accessible through an interface that combines hardware and touch-screen elements.
When it comes to route guidance, this navigation system reads out street names, shows rich graphics for complex interchanges, and gives lane guidance, putting it on equal terms with the competition. The system also shows weather forecasts and traffic information. Along with adjusting routes around traffic jams, this system also proactively alerts you to bad traffic on the road ahead when no destination is programmed, a feature we find quite useful and that hasn't caught on with the competition.
A weather feed comes in through the satellite radio connection.
Although it shows maps in 2D and 3D, this system lacks the rich, rendered buildings now appearing on BMW and Audi systems. Of course, the need for these detailed downtown renderings is debatable.
Sound comes from a solid Bose 10-speaker system with 5.1 channel surround. We found the quality of this system very satisfying, although not elevating. It reproduces music with a nice punch, and balances lows and highs well. We found ourselves turning up the volume to really enjoy our music. But this system didn't have that really high level of clarity we've heard in a few other systems that gets us tingling.
When we plugged in an iPhone to the car's USB port, the interface proved perfectly usable as we selected music using the touch screen. But after each button push we had to wait a moment as a message saying Building List appeared on the screen. Satellite radio comes with the SRX, which also serves as the conduit for traffic and weather data.
The SRX's biggest failing for cabin tech is the Bluetooth phone system. This system handles the most basic functions, letting you enter phone numbers by touch-screen or voice command, but there is no phone book. To make an outgoing call, you will need to know the actual number.
The back-up camera shows trajectory lines and a warning icon over objects.
The car also uses its LCD to show the back-up camera view, useful in a vehicle like the SRX. Along with showing distance and trajectory lines, the SRX displays a triangular warning icon on the screen over any objects it senses. This feature comes in handy when backing up in low-light conditions.
Features the SRX is currently lacking are an around-view camera system, adaptive cruise control, and blind spot detection-- all of which are cropping up on competitors. As the Buick LaCrosse does have blind spot detection, we expect GM will soon extend this feature to the SRX.
A small V-6
This 2010 SRX is powered by a V-6, but unlike every other six-cylinder engine currently on the market, this displaces less than 3 liters, weighing in at only 2.8. V-6es this small haven't been used in years.
Of course, Cadillac fits it with a turbocharger so the SRX will have the kind of power you would expect. The turbo gets its output up to 300 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. By contrast, the direct injection 3-liter V-6 SRX we tested last year made only 265 horsepower and 223 pound-feet of torque.
This turbocharged engine represents GM's efforts to get more power out of smaller engines, efficiency technologies aimed at better fuel economy. With the turbo SRX, the EPA fuel economy comes out to 15 mpg city and 22 mpg highway. We came up with 19 mpg in freeway-biased driving, which is not a bad number for an engine with that amount of output.
But we can't say that 300 horsepower was apparent from launch. Slamming down the gas led to uneven acceleration, turbo lag making itself felt. The car's initial acceleration is good, but not breathtaking. North of 40 mph, though, the car continues to accelerate, the turbo keeping it from running out of breath.
The SRX's six-speed automatic includes manual shift and sport modes.
Recent Cadillacs have been good sport drivers, so we put the SRX through a mountain course of winding roads. The six-speed automatic transmission's sport mode proved aggressive, downshifting rapidly as we braked at the end of a straightaway, giving the engine plenty of revolutions per minute for the ensuing turn. This transmission also has a manual mode, although no paddle shifters, which was a little disappointing.
The suspension was adequate for cornering, using antiroll components to keep the SRX on its feet. Lacking an adaptive suspension to actively fight body roll, however, this crossover proved too tall for truly excellent cornering performance. SRX's with the turbocharged engine come standard with all-wheel-drive, which helped in cornering, but not to the extent that a torque vectoring system could.
Cruising down the freeway or over rough city streets, the ride quality was good, but not what we would really want in a Cadillac. It damped out the bumps reasonably well, but didn't glide over them. However, the suspension was not tuned too softly either, providing a decent, nondramatic ride.
There are some very good elements to the 2010 Cadillac SRX's cabin tech, such as the navigation system, with its traffic avoidance feature, and the stereo system. OnStar also provides useful services. But the Bluetooth phone system is very basic and we would like to see more driver aid features, especially a blind spot warning system.
Cadillac's use of a small V-6 with a turbocharger is intriguing, and we like that it squeezes out 300 horsepower while getting reasonable fuel economy. Cadillac also made a good choice with the transmission, which reacts well in sport mode. With its conventional suspension, the SRX isn't one of the best-handling crossovers we've driven.
The cabin tech interface looks good, and is very usable. We particularly like that you can use hardware control for menus and the like, and touch-screen control for alphanumeric input. The SRX also displays the Cadillac design language well, even if it looks a little homogeneous toward the rear.
|2010 Cadillac SRX
|2.8L V6 Turbo Premium
|Turbocharged 2.8-liter V-6
|EPA fuel economy
|15 mpg city/22 mpg highway
|Observed fuel economy
|Hard drive-based system with traffic
|Bluetooth phone support
|MP3 compatible single DVD/CD player
|MP3 player support
|Other digital audio
|Onboard hard drive, USB drive, satellite radio
|Bose surround sound 10 speaker system
|Price as tested