The first generation SRX was really never the sales success that Cadillac hoped for. Styling on the the first generation made it look like a tall, boxy station wagon. With both an optional third row and V8, the first generation was rear wheel drive with all wheel drive as an option. None of this really lined up with what the mainstream rivals were offering.
For the second generation, Cadillac has taken a much more mainstream approach. The third row option was ditched, front wheel drive and all wheel drive replaced the old drive train and there is no more V8. The largest change is the price. This generation is starting at $33,330 where the first generation was $38,880 for the V6 and $45,880 for the V8. The new SRX is much more competitively priced. You can immediately tell that Cadillac is gunning straight for the RX in every sense of the word. A base SRX is now almost $4,000 less then the starting price of a Lexus RX. So how does it stack up?
The interior is closely related to the CTS, which is not a bad thing. The center stack with the rising screen is directly lifted from the CTS. The software used in the touchscreen is definitely upgraded. I could pair my phone using only the screen in the SRX while I had to dig out the manual to figure out phone pairing with the voice command system in the CTS. The gauge cluster has a trick screen in the center of the speedometer. This screen essentially had all the trip computer functions while also displaying the speed limit on most major roads. Navigation directions are also shown with this display. The interior has non-overpowering white LED “mood” lighting at night. The seats are supportive but not firm. They are much softer than the seats in the CTS Sportwagon which, in my opinion, were better. The cargo area has a track running around it that sliders can be placed in to secure cargo. This is a very nice feature that is executed quite well.
The styling of the SRX is strong both inside and out. From the outside, the evolution of Cadillac’s arts and science styling is in full swing. The sharp creases and strong character lines all play together to create a rather good looking CUV. The rear end has the classic Cadillac “tail fin” tail lights. The angular styling leaves a D pillar in the back that creates a large blind spot. The rear window is very small, causing visibility to be less than stellar when backing up. The back-up camera is a much needed feature. The front air dam is low and I actually asked people at GM about this. They said it was both for aerodynamics and it looks better in their opinion. I do not know about all that, but in deep snow it acts as a plow. The little touches on the outside caught my eye. For example, the headlight has the Cadillac symbol stamped in the reflector. One thing that did not add up was the GM chiclet. This “Mark of Excellence” has now been removed from new models, but I assume the tooling for the SRX was already in place before the decision was made to ditch this “Old GM” symbol.
The engine in the vehicle I had was the base 3.0 liter direct injection V6 putting out 265 hp and 223 ft-lb to the front wheels. All wheel drive is optional with this engine. The optional 2.8 liter turbo V6 puts out 300 hp and 295 ft-lb to standard all wheel drive with torque vectoring. Both engines feed out to six speed automatic transmissions with manual shift capabilities. The base 3.0 liter is some what of a dog. The lack of torque is the main problem here. The SRX is not light weight, as such you can feel every one of those 265 hp and 223 ft-lb trying to get underway. The vehicle is more engaging than the class champion, Lexus RX, but feeling the engine trying to cope with the vehicle’s weight is not the best experience even though it does get up to speed just fine. More power would be welcome via the optional 2.8 liter turbo. The problem with this option is the mileage, which is rated at 15/21 mpg while the front wheel drive 3.0 liter is rated at 18/25 mpg. People seem to take these numbers very seriously these days and that turbo looks thirsty on paper for this vehicle segment.
The particular SRX I had was a premium collection vehicle with a sticker price of $47,010. This is the top level non-turbo model. There were not many options, but rear seat entertainment was on board for $1,295 and of course GM’s crystal red tintcoat for $995. Each rear seat has a flip up monitor attached to the back of the front seats with two wireless headphones and a wireless remote control that comes standard with the system. I liked the set up, and in my opinion, was done correctly. The upgraded stereo that was in this package was a 10 speaker 5.1 digital surround sound by Bose. I was not really that impressed with the system. It sounded decent enough but the optional Mark Levinson system in the Lexus RX is better. I would have liked to have seen something like the optional Harmon Kardon system from the LaCrosse in the SRX.
Equipped with 20 inch wheels, low profile tires and front wheel drive, I will admit I was a little nervous when the blizzard came through town. In fact, I drove through three blizzards and over 1000 miles within three days while driving the SRX. The only problem that I saw was with the front air dam. It is so low that it plowed through the snow and getting started down an unplowed street was not easy. It is worth mentioning that I was able to make it up a driveway that was covered in 2.5 feet of snow. To do this I had to turn off traction control and slam the gas in order for it to crawl its way up. Overall, I was impressed with everything it did in the snow. I somehow managed to eek out 26.5 mpg on the highway back through one of those storms. That is 1.5 mpg more then the EPA’s 25 mpg highway rating.
So we have gone from a rear wheel drive with an optional third row and V8 to a front wheel drive and optional turbo V6. How did we fare? The SRX is now officially a competitive vehicle. The last generation was not a mainstream approach and sales reflected that. Yes, I do think the base engine is under powered. In reality, the general public might not even notice. They will notice the mileage numbers that the turbo gets and will not be that impressed with them. I am guessing most SRX’s will leave the lot with the base 3.0 engine and customers will be content. The vehicle has distinctive styling and I like the overall packaging. While some powertrain improvements are needed, this new SRX is a solid contender in this hotly contested segment.
Full Disclosure- The review vehicle was provided by General Motors