Anyone who doubts that Cadillac is back as a genuine player in the luxury vehicle marketplace need only look to the new 2012 SRX as proof.
|1. The 2012 SRX is powered exclusively by a 3.6-liter direct-injection V6 with 308 hp and 265 lb-ft of torque.
2. Fuel Economy is rated at 17/24 mpg for front-drive models and 16/23 mpg for AWD.
3. Pricing starts at $36,860 with the top trim Premium model at $47,650.
4. Next year the SRX will get Cadillac’s new CUE telematics system, with iPad like touch controls.
Sure the Escalade is the favorite of the rich and famous who are looking for a big roomy truck that can go from zero to 60 in less than 7 seconds, haul an 8,000 lb trailer, and still pamper the occupants in unrivaled luxury. And the CTS-V is a legitimate rival to German performance sedans. But the re-loaded 2012 SRX, boasting a new engine with class-leading power, is the true favorite where it counts – sales numbers.
Only the Lexus RX sells more vehicles in the mid-size luxury crossover segment, with the SRX Caddy’s most popular model. Better yet, over 70% of SRX customers are first time Cadillac buyers, which bodes well for the brand’s future.
NEW ENGINE FOR 2012
As mentioned, the biggest news for 2012 is the new 3.6-liter, direct-injected V6 motor, similar to the one in the CTS, which puts out 308 horsepower, and 265 lb-ft of torque at a low down 2400 rpm. It’s a huge improvement over the previous year’s offerings of the 3.0-liter V6 or even the 2.8-liter Turbo V6. And gas mileage on our AWD test car is still a respectable 16 mph city and 23 mpg highway, which is 1 mpg fewer than the standard front wheel drive models. During a 500-mile highway trip, our SRX registered 25.5 mpg when cruising at 70 miles per hour and 23 mpg when at 75 miles per hour. Regular gas is recommended, instead of Premium that was required on last year’s turbo.
Now all those horses still have to move 4,442 lbs of automobile (AWD adds 165lbs to the front wheel drive models). So while acceleration isn’t neck snapping, (zero to 60 is in the 7 second range) the SRX still moves smartly and the 6-speed automatic transmission makes all shifts smoothly and effortlessly, with quickly downshifts for passing maneuvers. The All-wheel-drive model is equipped with an electronic limited-slip differential, and it can route as much as 85 percent of the power to the rear wheels. Also, like the Acura SH-AWD system, it will even send power individually to the left or right wheels for maximum grip and performance.
COMFORTABLE BUT NOT FLOATY
Cadillac paid a lot of attention to the SRX’s ride quality. It’s firm, not floaty, though it does lean in turns as all SUVs do. Thankfully its relatively minimal and quick side-to-side directional changes won’t upset the car or driver. It also absorbs bad pavement and potholes well, even on our SRX tester with optional 20-inch wheels. Part of the FE3 package, other goodies include adjustable shock absorbers that firm up at the push of a button should you require added sport.
The SRX’s steering is well executed, and aids in the sharp handling. It responds quickly, with good feel because it isn’t over boosted. There isn’t much play in the wheel, and the steering system meshes nicely with the suspension. By comparison the Lexus RX feels sloppy.
If we have a complaint about the driving experience, it’s the brakes, which are effective in slowing the SRX, but they lack feel.
DESTINCTIVE STYLING INSIDE AND OUT
One of the things we like about the Cadillac is the family resemblance to the other cars in the lineup, which all stand out in the sea of cookie cutter egg shape styling. With the edgy, angular lines, you’ll be able to spot the Cadillac in the parking lot full of Mercedes MLs and Lexus RXs. The front grill isn’t too large, and the profile is nicely swept back with a sloping roofline that has an integrated spoiler. The rear end is muscular with tall taillamps that frame the large hatch opening nicely and dual exhaust tips hint at the performance.
The interior is another bright sport for the brand. It borrows from other GM vehicles, but that’s a good thing. The angularity of the dash shapes fits in nicely with the exterior. The huge panoramic moonroof makes the cabin light and airy. Brightwork surrounds the drives gauges, the center stack, vents, and console. . . enough to set things off without being gaudy.
The large NAV screen pops up from the dash, and is easy to use and program, and can be set to display a lot of useful information including. A back-up camera and sonar are standard features.
The center stack controls for the radio, heating and air controls are all easy to see, intuitive to use and nicely laid out, unlike most luxury cars that think it is important to look overly busy, and require a complicated overly-fussy iDrive-like dial. Good, simple engineering never goes out of style.
The leather seats are wide, nicely bolstered, and comfortable. Front seats are both heated and cooled, though the latter isn’t overly impressive. The drivers seat cushion also has a pull-out extender for extra thigh support. Electrically adjustable brake and accelerator controls are an excellent amenity – especially for those who aren’t gifted in the height department.
There’s plenty of storage space all around the cabin with a nice large closing compartment at the base of the center stack which has an outlet to charge a phone or MP3 player and store it out of sight. There is another outlet with a USB port and MP3 interface in the large, deep center console. Dual storage compartments in the driver and passenger doors . . . one for small items the other for maps, etc. is another nice touch. Bluetooth is standard this year on all models.
Soft touch materials on the tops of the doorsills, armrests and center console make spending long hours in the SRX pleasant. The cabin is whisper quiet on the highway thanks to an increased use of sound deadening materials in the engine compartment. The info screen between the tach and speedo offers a host of trip information and even redundant Navigation directions. The Xenon headlights offer excellent illumination going down the road, and the electro-luminescent gauges are smartly lit up at night.
One amenity that goes in our “that’s why the terrorist hate us” file is the heated steering wheel. Seemingly unnecessary for the California folk, anybody who lives in a cold weather climate will love it. Once you have a vehicle with it, you’ll never want another one without it.
The rear seats are heated and comfortable for two large adults, and even the center seat isn’t torturous for an hour or so. Rear passengers can enjoy watching a DVD on the screens built into the rear headrests, plus there’s a separate climate control system back there.
For added storage the rear seats fold down to add to the cargo space with a track system for securing items it necessary.
Our all-wheel-drive Premium Collection SRX lists for $48,785. Add on the available $1,395 Entertainment system with the dual screen DVD player plus the destination charge and the price pushes past the $50K mark. That sounds like a lot of money until you go pricing the other vehicles in its class. Then it looks quite reasonable. Still, you don’t need to spend $50,000 to get a decent SRX with the base model priced at $36,860.
The Cadillac SRX is an excellent luxury crossover, being just the right size between a monster SUV and a cramped crossover. A great overall package, it is quick, luxurious and delivers plenty of content for comparatively little cash.