Big luxury SUVs like the Cadillac Escalade were at one time the first choice for families with cash to burn, but these days there is no shortage of crossovers to fill that niche.
|Engine: 3.6-liter V6 that puts out 308 hp and 265 lb-ft of torque.
Transmission: Six-speed automatic.
Fuel Economy: 16 MPG city, 23 MPG highway and 18 MPG combined.
Pricing: Starts at $38,530. Our Premium Model costs $51,880.
Cadillac’s offering, the SRX, was the second best-selling luxury crossover behind the Lexus RX last year, and was thoroughly updated for 2013 to keep it modern and in line with the rest of Cadillac’s updated lineup. Although the styling and platform are getting old, the fully revamped interior complete with Cadillac’s CUE infotainment setup helps this crossover compete more directly with its rivals, many of which are all new for 2014.
Our tester is the 2014 SRX Premium AWD, a fully loaded model that comes with just about every option possible, though buyers can still upgrade further with a ‘sport edition’ package along with a ‘driver assist’ package. On the outside, Cadillac’s typical angular design gives the SRX a rather striking appearance. Chrome side vents just in front of the doors also help to make this vehicle pop, along with the tail lights styled as a throwback to when cars wore tail fins.
Getting into the SRX, you are greeted with a handsome interior helped by the center stack which uses capacitive strips to control the audio and climate rather than a stack of black plastic buttons. The soft leather is offered in a variety of colors and laid out in a two-tone fashion in the Premium model that lends to the luxurious feel inside. Even the shapes of the air vents and dashboard mimic some of the design lines on the exterior, making the SRX feel like a complete design package.
A massive sunroof tops it all off, allowing loads of natural light into this small crossover.
Some Interior Issues
All is not great in the interior however. Besides looking very nice, the Cadillac CUE center stack takes some getting used to. Without physical knobs to grab, the system forces you to look away from the road and it can be finicky to use. There are steering wheel mounted buttons, but these too take some learning as each hand has quite a few commands to choose from. What really made CUE frustrating for us was the overload of information. There is always so much coming at you, it can be a task to juggle it all.
The guage cluster is also worth mentioning, because it is so ugly. Backed by a black piece of plastic, it looks especially cheap, which is dissapointing next to an otherwise aesthetically appealing interior.
Powerful V6, Lackluster Drive
Powering the SRX is a 3.6-liter V6 that puts out 308 hp and 265 lb-ft of torque, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Off the line, the SRX makes use of its power numbers well and jumps up to speed quite quick. GM says it will hit 60 mph in 7.1 seconds, a decent number considering its rather hefty 4,442-lb (AWD) curb weight, which is roughly 100 lbs more than an all-wheel drive Lexus RX 350.
Its fuel economy ratings are less than class-competitive these days as well with the EPA pegging the all-wheel drive SRX at 16 mpg city, 23 on the highway and 18 mpg combined. We averaged about 17 mpg and for reference, the Acura MDX is rated at 21 mpg combined while the Lexus RX 350 is supposed to achieve an average 20 mpg.
The SRX feels top heavy, it doesn’t tuck into the corners well and the steering is rather light. That’s a problem because its main rivals – the Lexus RX and Acura MDX – are both much better in those areas.
Despite the lackluster handling, the ride is comfortable, especially for highway driving. Rear seat space is ample for a full sized adult with 36.3 inches of legroom, which is on par with the competing products mentioned above.
One other glaring weak point did expose itself to us in this vehicle and that is the sight lines. The angular side mirrors look good, but they’re small and that limits their usefulness. The swept-back design is to blame as well. Because the SRX’s belt line slowly lifts from nose to tail, the windows in the rear gets smaller and makes it a little tougher to see what’s behind the car. The back window also suffers from this design element and is quite small and tough to properly see out of.
A blind-spot monitoring system is available on the SRX and it works well, but the good looks of this crossover hinder its drivability.
The SRX starts at $38,530, which is likely one of the keys to this vehicle’s success. The Acura MDX starts at $43,185, while the Lexus RX will sell for $41,705 at the base end, making the Cadillac the bargain of the segment. Not only is it the cheapest, it makes a little bit more power than both of those Japanese rivals.
However, a 2014 SRX Premium Collection, which packs in the feature content, goes for $51,880. With the BMW X5 starting at just over $52,000 and an optioned up RX selling for about the same, the loaded-up Cadillac doesn’t make the same value proposition considering that both of those competitors bring more efficiency and better driving dynamics to the table.
When it comes down to it, the SRX doesn’t drive that well, its not very efficient and it is beginning to look old. If you go for the base model you will save some money over the competition, but if you are looking to dress up your luxury crossover, you can do much better than the SRX.