2011 Cadillac SRX: Luxury Crossover that isn’t the Escalade
By Mike Blake, Carlisle Events
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
When one thinks of luxury sports-utility vehicles or crossovers, thoughts generally turn to the massive Cadillac Escalade at $65,000 to $85,000. But Cadillac serves out another Crossover, the mid-size SRX, at about $35,000 to $50,000, that more than doubles its big sister in terms of unit sales. Also, Cadillac thinks of Escalade as a truck-SUV and SRX is a car-crossover, but they both accomplish many of the same things and they both do it in luxury with a capital “L”.
The SRX debuted for the 2004 model year and now, two years into its second generation, is increasing sales at about an 8-percent clip over last year to date, and is currently the best-selling vehicle in the growing compact luxury crossover niche.
SRX is “The Cadillac of Crossovers”, from its styling to its comfort and tech. Designed to connote movement even at rest, the 5467-lb. SRX has a wide stance, a sweeping body that tapers downward from the rear shoulders, bold accent lines on the sides, muscular front end with Cadillac’s signature segmented grille and vertical headlamps, raked windshield, curving rear window and integrated rear roof spoiler. Exterior accents also include Black roof rails, 18-inch wheels and dual stainless-steel exhaust with chrome tips.
Built in Ramos Arizpe, Mexico with a steel body frame, galvanized steel front fenders, hood, roof and door panels, one-piece body side outer panel, and liftgate, SRX measures 190.3 inches long, 75.2 inches wide and 65.7 inches high on a 110.5-inch wheelbase with minimum ground clearance of 7 inches.
SRX power comes from a 3.0-liter V-6 high-pressure direct injection, aluminum block and head engine, mated to a 6-speed Hydra-Matic 6T70 transmission. The system puts out 265 horsepower and 223 lbs.-ft. of torque and is EPA rated at 18mpg in city driving and 25mpg on the highway for FWD, while my test all-wheel-drive model was estimated at 17/23. A week of mixed-use tests achieved an average of 21.1mpg under often-rain-soaked conditions.
The 265 horses didn’t gallop with enough aggressiveness to propel the 2.7-ton SRX with enthusiasm. The engine gives its all without hesitation, but the vehicle’s heft is too great for quick acceleration, either from zero or at speed in passing situations. Tests showed SRX dashing from zero to 60mph in a lumbering 8.5 seconds, completing 440 yards in a tick under 17 seconds. The optional turbocharged engine should do better, but won’t make a sprinter out of the Crossover.
The ride is comfortable, and specifically calibrated hydraulic-power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering is agile while all-speed traction control using engine torque reduction and brake intervention make for a secure experience. The 4-wheel independent suspension – strut-type front and linked H-arm rear -- smoothes out gentle ruts, but uneven terrain is felt in the cabin. Interior visibility is difficult at times due to SRX’s thick shoulders, and quick turns result in noticeable top wobble.
Four-wheel power-assisted disc brakes with ABS and Electronic Stability Control are confident with vented front and rear rotors, cast iron front calipers (two-piston) and aluminum rear calipers (single-piston). The system provides niche-worthy stability and stopping power.
The cabin pays off SRX’s luxury status. An integrated center stack houses controls for climate and audio systems, while the navigation system rises from the center of the instrument panel with three-dimensional imaging. Adaptive forward lighting swivels the headlamps in synch with vehicle steering and Cadillac script logos in the front door sill plates illuminate when the doors are opened.
With seating for five, SRX front headroom measures 39.7 inches, with 38.4 inches for rear passengers, front-row leg room is 41.2 inches with 36.3 inches for the rear seats and shoulder room measures 58.3 inches in row one and 56.23 in row two.
Interior accouterments include dual-zone automatic climate control with individual climate settings for driver and right-front passenger; 8-way power driver seat adjuster; Radio Data System and Bose premium 8-speaker set-up that includes AM/FM/XM stereo audio with single-disc CD, MP3 player and USB; auxiliary jack; Bluetooth compatibility; rear-window electric defogger; power windows, manual rake and telescopic steering column and leather-wrapped 3-spoke steering wheel with mounted controls for audio and cruise control.
Safety matters are attended to with a strong body structure and chassis that absorb crash energy, complemented by martensitic steel in the fully enclosed rocker sections. Additional safety features include head curtain side air bags, front seat-mounted pelvic/thorax side air bags, automatic occupant sensing system, front safety belts with dual pretensioners and load limiters, rollover mitigation sensors, automatic crash response, stolen vehicle assistance, theft deterrent system, tire pressure monitor, tire inflation kit, Stabilitrak and Traction Control.
The 2011 SRX starts at $34,615 for standard trim and moves up to $46,270 for Platinum trim. My Luxury trim SRX based at $39,920. All-wheel drive bumped it $2495; the Protection Package added $380; splash guards protective hood film, rear fascia protector, Black Roof Rack cross rails were $255; Bose 5.1 surround sound 10-speaker system with GPS Navigation added $2395; rear seat entertainment system with dual-player DVD, wireless headphones and remote control added $1385; all weather floor mats were $135 and Destination and Freight added $875. With discounts, the final sticker as tested was $46,975.
> Visit www.CarlisleEvents.com for more on the automotive hobby.
Mike Blake, former editor of KIT CAR magazine, joined Carlisle Events as senior automotive journalist in 2004. He's been a "car guy" since the 1960s and has been writing professionally for about 30 years.
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