The 2010 Cadillac SRX is all-new for the 2010 model year.
There's nothing left of the original SRX but the name. Whereas the original SRX used a rear-wheel-drive platform with a longitudinal engine and a choice of V6 or V8, the new version is built on a front-wheel-drive platform with a transverse-mounted V6 engine.
Where the old SRX was a three-row, seven-seat SUV, the new one has two rows and five seats. And, although GM has been known for its global platform-sharing way of doing things, this vehicle shares its underpinnings with only one other vehicle, the Saab 9-4X, which has not been introduced yet.
The exterior design is all new, crisper and sharper than the original, with a lot less of the slab-sided look. The interior shares much of its technology and some of its design with the 2010 Cadillac CTS sedan, which we count as a good thing.
The Cadillac puts the SRX in the midsize luxury sport utility vehicle segment, one of the largest and fastest-growing segments in the industry at about 25 percent of the total sales. Cadillac counts as the SRX's direct competitors the Acura MDX, Lexus RX 350, Mercedes-Benz GLK, Audi Q5, and BMW X3.
Initially, all SRX models will be powered by a 3.0-liter V6 engine, the same engine that powers the Cadillac CTS, and will come with a Hydra-Matic six-speed automatic transmission. All models come standard with front-wheel drive.
In the fall, Cadillac will add an optional 2.8-liter turbocharged V6 engine sourced from Saab, an engine rated at 300 horsepower and 295 foot-pounds of torque, with a completely different Aisin-Warner six-speed automatic transmission capable of handling the higher power and torque of the turbo engine.
The changes are welcome. We found the luxurious new SRX cabin beautiful and comfortable. Though loaded with features, everything is easy to use and the SRX is very quiet underway.
Underway, the handling and braking are very good. The new SRX feels like a high-riding CTS sports sedan. We preferred the responsiveness of the 20-inch wheels and tires over the standard 18-inch setup.
We found the engine lacking in power and on the loud side. The 3.0-liter V6 gets an EPA-rated 18/25 mpg with front-wheel drive.
The available Haldex II all-wheel-drive system is excellent, among the world's best. It makes the SRX highly capable in the winter or on unpaved roads or when encountering a slippery corner. It also tames the handling on dry roads, and we recommend getting it.
Cadillac's latest designs are all full of sharp edges and well-defined creases, and the new SRX is no different in that respect. The 2010 Cadillac SRX looks very much part of the family, and is far less slab-sided than the outgoing truck.
Its design impact starts with a jutting, pointed nose, very complex headlamps, and a racy, rounded lower spoiler with a large air intake for engine cooling. The side window treatment ends in a forward-slanted D-pillar leading to the Cadillac trademark knife-sharp vertical taillamps.
All in all, it's a very pleasing, crisp and modern design on a chassis that is nearly six inches shorter than the original SRX, with a 4.6-inch shorter overall length, and a 2.1-inch lower roofline. But is also about an inch wider, allowing for more interior comfort and more shoulder and hip room.
The SRX features a power liftgate that can be set for full opening, or programmed for three-quarter opening to keep the sheetmetal safe in low-roofed garages and parking structures.
Loaded is too weak a word for the interior accoutrements of the new 2010 Cadillac SRX. Most models will have an enormous list of standard equipment including pushbutton starting, a tilt-and-telescope steering column, upper and lower adjustable ambient lighting. Available are adaptive headlights, a huge, two-segment power sunroof with 95-percent UV protection, a power tailgate, a full-color driver information center between the main gauges, OnStar, and satellite navigation with voice recognition.
Audio entertainment starts with a radio system with 2-gigabyte memory that will download up to 20 CDs to its memory through a single-CD loader. Then there is a very, very good optional Bose sound system with AM/FM/XM/CD capability, USB and iPod inputs, an optional 40-gigabyte hard drive for music storage, and optional upward-tilting twin screens and wireless headphones for dual rear-seat entertainment through DVDs or radio.
The comprehensive driver information center has two main sections, one for the vehicle and one for the trip you're on. With the navigation system, it has the capability of displaying speed limit signs, because the system knows what road you're on and what the posted limit is.
The rear seat is split 66/33 and reclines through a fairly wide range of adjustment but does not slide back and forth, so available legroom is fixed. When up, the rear cargo area holds 29.2 cubic feet of cargo, and when folded down, the seatbacks lock into place to create a nearly flat load floor and space for more than 61 cubic feet of cargo (compared to 32.4 cubic feet and 69.5 cubic feet for the previous three-row SRX). The cargo area behind the second seat features an under-floor storage area for precious cargoes and a U-shaped channel built into the floor that accepts any number of sliding hold-down cleats. Cadillac will offer first- and second-seat doggie screens that secure into the roof to keep canines contained.
We found the SRX interior to be beautifully made and finished, sumptuous, comfortable, quiet, and very easy to use. The steering wheel is nice and thick, the pedals are adjustable, as is the column, and the eight-way power seats with memory are beautifully made, supportive yet cushy. The center stack is full of buttons with icons and words on them, but it's all well laid out, very intuitive and easy to understand and use.
Our test SRX was a Performance version with all-wheel drive, remote and pushbutton starting, 20-inch Michelin 235/55R20 Latitude Tour HP tires and alloy wheels, a power liftgate, and the huge ultra power sunroof. It carried the full load of electronics including the optional Bose sound system, navigation, voice activation, sport suspension, adaptive xenon headlamps, front and rear park assist, chrome roof rails, Sapele wood trim, power sunroof, heated power seats, power adjustable pedals, ambient lighting, keyless access, Bose audio with 40-gig hard drive, navigation, rearview camera, USB and iPod sockets, voice recognition, and Bluetooth connectivity.
The powertrain is modern and efficient, a direct-injection 24-valve V6 with a very high 11.7:1 compression ratio that burns regular fuel where many competitor engines do not, an engine that gets segment-leading fuel economy ratings of 18 mpg City and 25 Highway and 17 City, 23 Highway in all-wheel-drive versions like ours (by comparison, the 3.6-liter V6 engine in the old SRX got only 15/22 and 14/22). It makes more power at higher rpm than the 3.6-liter engine it replaces, but substantially less peak torque. In our test, we got better city mileage, and at highway speeds between 65 and 80 mph, we matched the rating, at 23 mpg, according to the car's information center.
That said, we didn't care much for the noisy startup and for the engine's droning sound at anything less than full-throttle. Power, torque and acceleration were all on par with everything else in the class, but many V6 and I6 entries sound better than this in light-throttle acceleration and cruise modes. This smaller engine is way down on useable torque compared to the larger, outgoing 3.6-liter engine, an apparent tradeoff for mileage. The transmission dithered here and there, especially on the 2-1 downshift, but was always ready for full-throttle upshifts.
Driving dynamics of the new SRX are very, very good in terms of handling and braking, helped by the fact that this truck is 1.2 inches lower to the ground than the older, larger SRX. The base SRX and the Luxury versions have power steering for their 18-inch wheels and tires, but the Performance and Premium versions come with a completely different ZF variable-ratio power steering system that's better matched to the 20-inch tires and feels quicker and more sporty out there on the road.
A Sport mode for the transmission on the Performance and Premium models allows for semi-manual shifting. And when the shift lever is eased to the left, not only the transmission but also the real-time-damping suspension programming changes instantly and stiffens the shock absorbers for crisper handling.
At the end of the day, the new SRX is even more like a CTS sports sedan that's been turned into a high-riding hatchback. (A real CTS sport wagon is also available.)
The SRX AWD features the Haldex II all-wheel-drive system that debuted last year on the Saab 9-3X, and it is among the world's fastest-acting and most capable systems, able to move up to 100 percent of the engine's torque from front to rear tires in about one wheel rotation, and able, through its electronic limited-slip rear differential, to transfer up to 85 percent of the drive torque from left to right in a few milliseconds.
While it is designed for ice, snow, rain and mud driving, this all-wheel-drive system makes high-performance dry-road driving a lot more fun because there's no torque steer or tire spin on full-throttle starts in first gear, and high-speed, high-force cornering is accomplished by all four tires. The system adds $2495 and some weight to the price of the truck, but we wouldn't have one without it.
The all-new 2010 Cadillac SRX is the latest arrival in a huge, crowded market of crossover SUVs. It's priced $3500 less than the segment-leading Lexus RX 350, with about the same power, performance and fuel economy. It's a tidier design with less room inside, and its chassis is a marvel of competence and composure and a paragon when you're counting up safety features. Now that GM officially has a future as a viable car company, we think the SRX is worth a long look from those who are looking to downsize and economize.
Jim McCraw filed this report to NewCarTestDrive.com after his test drive of the SRX near Birmingham, Michigan.