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2011 Cadillac SRX Turbo Review
Cadillac looks to overwhelm the competition with turbocharged power
By Ken Glassman, Photography by Cadillac, Oct. 07, 2010

Cadillac introduced the first generation SRX way back in 2004, with a major interior update in 2007. That vehicle was based on the rear wheel drive CTS platform, had 7-passenger seating capability and with its Northstar V8 could also tow up to 4,250 lbs.  It was in the same class as the Volkswagen Touareg, Land Rover LR3, Acura MDX, BMW X5, Volvo XC90, Mercedes-Benz ML350 and Lexus GX470. And in comparison with those other trucks, the SRX acquitted itself just fine, especially after the interior was upgraded. But unfortunately, the SRX wasn’t the sales hit that Cadillac had hoped for. 

FAST FACTS

1. While the standard SRX comes with a 265-hp 3.0L V6, the SRX Turbo gets 300-hp and 295 ft-lbs of torque from a turbocharged 2.8L V6.

2. Offered exclusively with AWD, the SRX Turbo also gets variable-ratio steering, Sachs continuously variable shocks and 20-inch wheels.

3. Fuel economy is rated at 15/22-mpg (city/hwy) with a 0-60 mph time in the mid 7 second range.

4. Pricing for Turbo models starts at $49,315.

So for 2010, the SRX underwent changes that weren’t so much evolution, but revolution, and the redesigned vehicle seems to set its sights on the Lexus RX350, the sales leader in the luxury crossover category. So Cadillac said goodbye to the rear wheel drive platform and hello to the transversely mounted engine in a front wheel drive (or optional AWD) platform.

BIG POWER FROM 300-HP TURBOCHARGED V6

The base engine is a 3.0-liter V6 that generates 265-hp and 223 ft-lbs of torque, and the upgraded powerplant, which is only available in the all-wheel drive model, is a 2.8-liter turbo V6 that puts out 300-hp and 295 ft-lbs of torque at a very low and usable 2000 rpm, and remains flat until about 5000 rpm. There is little turbo lag, but the boost can sometimes come on abruptly and make the SRX feel a little jerky depending upon how the power is applied in a corner. While not blindingly swift, the engine is up for the challenge of moving the 4,387 lb. SRX smartly away from a stoplight, or for passing on rural roads. Caddy rates the crossover’s 0-60 mph time in the mid-7 second range, roughly half a second faster than the standard 3.0-liter V6 model

Premium petrol is required, with economy ratings listed at 15-mpg city, and 22-mpg highway, although I experienced slightly better numbers of 17 and 24 during my week with the crossover. 

The AWD Turbo comes with an Aisin Warner 6-speed manumatic, which has a Sport mode that automatically makes its upshifts at higher rpm, and you can manually shift through the gears as well. There is also an “Econ” button, which will automatically shift at lower rpm to help with gas mileage.

EXCELLENT BALANCE OF SPORT WITH LUXURY

The AWD version means you also get the sporty FE3 suspension, which includes variable-ratio steering, Sachs continuously variable dampers, and 20-inch wheels. The ride quality is European firm, but quite comfortable on the highway and over rough roads.  It cruises with a luxury car feel, corners quite nicely, has solid steering feel and feedback with reasonably good grip from the tires, although you still get the body lean in turns that you expect from a tallish crossover vehicle. Overall, the handling is superior to the Lexus.  

THERE’S NO MISTAKING IT’S A CADILLAC

Cadillac has done the best job of all the GM brands in terms of styling across the entire model lineup. You can tell every Cadillac model is a Cadillac.

The SRX has many of the styling cues of the larger Escalade, with its upright headlights and taillights, and some sharp crease lines offsetting the rounded shapes of the roofline. It’s definitely better looking than the last generation, plus there are plenty of chrome accent pieces that dress this new generation model up a bit. 

The interior is the new SRX is beautiful, luxurious, and inviting. The dash of my test model came finished in two-tone chocolate over beige, with tasteful wood inserts in the doors, and small touches in the console and the top of the steering wheel and shift knob. The driver sees a three-gauge array in front of him, with a large speedo in the center, tach on the left, and fuel, temp, and turbo boost on the right. There’s an LCD info screen in the center of the speedo for all the electronic trip computer, fuel mileage, cruise control settings, etc. Each gauge has a surround of brightwork, which is carried over to the steering wheel insert, HVAC outlets and center stack. 

The interior is covered in soft touch leather on the door armrests, and dual storage center console. The seats are also covered in soft perforated leather. They’re supportive, yet wide enough to be all day comfortable and are both heated and cooled, although even on the highest of the three cooling settings I couldn’t tell it was on.

Another complaint I had was with the dual cupholders, which are designed for huge drink containers, and don’t support smaller ones all that well. A nice feature that I hadn’t anticipated was the electrically adjustable brake and gas pedals. Another nice touch is the “Ultraview” moonroof, which spans nearly the entire roof.  Only the front half opens, but with the power sunshade retracted, it gives the cabin a bright, open and airy feel.

A pop-up Navigation system dominates the top of the center stack. The screen is huge, which makes the touch screen operation easy, and it’s very simple and intuitive to operate, without needing to pour through the instruction book. A back-up camera is included along with the back-up warning sonar system. The SRX is also Bluetooth equipped and there are plenty of electronic goodies to play with. The test vehicle also was equipped with the reasonably priced rear seat entertainment system, which puts a dual TV screens behind each of the passenger seats, to keep the kids occupied with DVDs. The system comes with dual wireless headphones, and a remote control.

DON’T FORGET, IT’S SPACIOUS AND FUNCTIONAL TOO

Even adults will find themselves quite comfortable in back because there is lots of head and legroom, and the fold down center armrest has dual cupholders, and a storage compartment to keep the headphones out of the way when not in use. The seats are comfortable and heated, and there is a set of heating and audio controls in back, as well. 

Behind those seats is a spacious cargo area that measures 30 cubic feet, plus there’s a hidden under-the-floor cargo area. Rear seatbacks also fold flat to double the cargo space.  The electronic liftgate can be programmed to open all the way up, or three-quarters open in case your garage ceiling is low. 

The base SRX Turbo in Performance trim starts at $49315, while the Premium trim goes for $51,860. Add the $1,295 for the Rear entertainment system, and $995 for the must-have Crystal Red tintcoat paint, plus the destination charge, and you get a bottom line of $54,975.

THE VERDICT

Cadillac has hit another home run with the SRX Turbo. It’s got plenty of power, handles nicely, will transport five adults and their luggage quite comfortably and with the luxury that one would expect from a premium brand like Cadillac.

LOVE IT
  • Excellent handling for this class
  • Outstanding cabin appointments
  • Easy to operate electronics
  • Added power from turbocharged V6
LEAVE IT
  • Cooled seats disappointing
  • Front cupholders for Big Gulp containers only
  • Would like to see adaptive cruise control as an option
  • Fuel economy lacking

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