Crossover vehicle sales account for one-quarter of the total luxury vehicle market and the segment is dominated by car-based vehicles like the Lexus RX and Acura MDX. In developing the 2010 Cadillac SRX, GM took one step backward in order to take two forward.
Where the outgoing unit was based on a rear-drive, truck-sourced platform with a big V-8 as the top power plant, the second generation SRX is founded on a new global front-drive platform. It is smaller and lighter allowing the use of more fuel efficient six-cylinder engines.
The bigger first-generation SRX did not fit in the class dominated by vehicles that are an amalgam of wagon-hatchback-minivan. It was purely a large SUV in a sea of big, heavy truck-like SUVs and sales were frankly, disappointing.
The new SRX is a much smaller and more emotional vehicle with a lower profile and leaner countenance.
Whereas the old one looked as if it was perched atop a frame – which it was – the new one looks wrapped around one. There is no mistaking the fact this is a Cadillac with crisp lines and a massive “wreath & crest” shield dominating the front end. The roofline rises from the header and falls as it nears the rear.
That arched roofline, while a major element of the new design, is also possible because there has been no attempt to accommodate a third row of seats and thus no need to maintain a tall roofline at the rear.
Because it is a front-drive platform and there is no need to accommodate a bulky rear differential, the floor is lower as well allowing easier entry/exit for both people and cargo. There is plenty of head room in all seating positions and generous storage space beneath the cargo floor which is equipped with a cargo management system of tracks and tie-downs – including an adjustable fence that can be positioned to divide the area into segments.
The interior is the highlight of this vehicle and another example of the new GM, specifically Cadillac. As you’d expect in a luxury vehicle fit, finish, panel gaps and material quality are all top drawer.
But what you may not expect is the stunning design work. GM’s global design operations are on a mission to come up with world class interiors at all size and price points. The theory is that this is where owners spend the majority of their time and thus an opportunity to generate a positive impression.
A few moments in the front seat of a 2010 SRX makes for a convincing argument. The overall design is modern and upscale but it is the attention to detail that stands out. From the exquisitely-sculpted door pulls to the “pearl-nickel chrome” and “Spanish Sapele” wood trim and hand-cut-and-sewn leather on the instrument panel there is no sense of a production line, rather one of a custom-finished vehicle.
Interior lighting is exceptional, especially on the instrument panel. The gauges are among the most legible in the industry with a TFT (Thin Film Transfer) information screen in the centre of the speedometer. At the push of the start button the instruments all run the full gamut of their range before settling to a reading while a Cadillac logo in the TFT display gradually dims to leave the information showing.
The SRX is available in one trim level with a choice of two engines and front- or all-wheel-drive.
The standard engine is GM’s latest high-tech V-6. Displacing 3.0 litres and producing 265 horsepower it does a reasonable job of propelling this 2141 kg (4,500-lb) vehicle. But with only 223 lb-ft of torque, and that peaking at a lofty 5,100 rpm, it has its work cut out for it.
The optional engine, sourced from GM's European operations is a turbocharged 2.8-litre V-6 that belts out 300 hp and more importantly 295 lb-ft of torque at 2,000 rpm. Both are paired with a six-speed automatic transmission.
The optional AWD system is the latest compact and lightweight unit from Haldex. Twenty sensors assess traction 100 times per second and electronics adjust power delivery front-to-rear accordingly. The system also comes with an electronic limited slip rear differential which can send 100% of available power to a single wheel if conditions warrant.
Eighteen-inch wheels are standard and chromed 20-inch alloys optional.
The standard equipment list is extensive and worthy of a luxury vehicle in this class and price range. My test vehicle, with the 3.0-litre six and AWD started at $50,875 and topped out at $52,295 with the big 20-inch wheels and a block heater being the only options.
The new SRX is a significant step forward and a tribute to both Cadillac and the new General Motors.