Though they share the same three-letter moniker, Cadillac‘s all new SRX is such a significant departure from the first generation, it is an entirely different vehicle. It’s shorter, stubbier, less wagon-looking, with visual cues pulled from big brother Escalade. Yet it’s decidedly not a truck; gone are the CTS-based, rear-drive platform and options like third-row seating and the 4.6-liter Northstar V-8.
Instead, the 2010 SRX is pure crossover and aimed squarely at the market’s 800-pound gorilla, the Lexus RX 350. The SRX apes Lexus this time around, offering a two-row, five-passenger SUV based on a new front-/all-wheel-drive platform shared with the SAAB 9-4x. SAAB also shares the torque-vectoring AWD system and electronic LSD it developed with Haldex.
Two new powertrains are on offer. The standard is a 3.0-liter, direct-injection V-6 (as in the CTS) that makes 265 horsepower and 223 pound-feet of torque. In place of the V-8 option, Cadillac offers a brand new 2.8-liter turbocharged V-6, though only in AWD trim. Different six-speed transmissions come with each engine: The 3.0-liter receives a hydra-matic 6T70 while an Aisin AF40 distributes output from 2.8-liter turbo.
So, with all of these significant changes, how does Caddy’s top-step SRX 2.8 turbo fare in the hotly contested midsize-luxury SUV field?
Not particularly well in terms of acceleration performance. Even with 300 turbocharged horses, the SRX takes 7.6 seconds to hit 60 mph and 15.9 seconds to cover a quarter mile, which is exceptionally mediocre. The Audi Q5 3.2 quattro, Lexus RX 350 AWD, Mercedes-Benz GLK 4matic, and Volvo XC60 T6 are all significantly quicker. Braking performance is more in line with the pack; the SRX’s 13.6-inch front and 12.4-inch rear discs help haul it to a stop in 128 feet.
The skidpad is even more forgiving. Checking the turbo engine option mandates AWD and sporty FE3 suspension, which includes variable-ratio steering, Sachs continuously variable dampers, and, ironically, 20-inch wheels. As equipped, the SRX turbo lays down 0.82 g of grip and runs our figure-eight course in 27.2 seconds at 0.63, which puts it just above average in the aforementioned quartet.
Cadillac estimates the SRX turbo will return 15 mpg in the city and 21 on the highway, placing it on the thirsty end of the competitive set. In comparison, its chief rival RX 350 AWD gets 18/24 mpg on the same cycle.
Why the disparity? Weight is a compelling factor. At 4595 pounds, the SRX 2.8L Turbo weighs roughly 100 pounds more than the RX 350 and over 180 more than the Audi Q5 3.2 quattro (which gets 18/23 mpg).
Unfortunately, the additional mass doesn’t compensate with a more relaxed or comfortable ride. A number of Motor Trend staffers sampled our preproduction SRX 2.8L Turbo and uniformly panned its weighty, unforgiving ride. Saddled with 20-inch wheels and sporty FE3 suspension makes it feel jittery, “as if it’s running on Peet’s French Roast” claims Detroit editor Todd Lassa. “I didn’t find the production 3.0-liter [which uses the softer, traditionally sprung FE2 setup] quite this stiff.”
“Feels heavy; in corners, it’s unsure of itself,” says editor at large Arthur St. Antoine, who also cites the SRX for “anemic” performance off the line. “Engine feels way under its claimed 300 horsepower — maybe it’s just all that mass,” he concludes. Online producer Carlos Lago concurs, “I love the turbocharger wooosh — but delivery is lumpy. It feels like the SRX is choking.”
What has Cadillac done right? Depends whom you ask. Our staff is split on Cadillac’s latest exercise in art and science. For some the SRX made a clean transition from the Provoq concept vehicle. “This crossover has attitude, something the Lexus will never match,” says Lassa.
St. Antoine is not so sure: “I liked the previous edition, with its creased-origami styling and responsive character. This one is just another generic blob. Looks huge outside for how little room you get inside,” he concludes.
Inside, the SRX gets dinged for a perceived lack of rear-passenger room, though it should be noted, rear head- and legroom measurements are competitive. Suspect build quality in our preproduction tester was also a concern when we took out for some light offroading. “The rattles and loose feel cause concern for the complex collection of wood, vinyl, leather, and metal pieces inside” says Lassa.
He and others do like aspects of the CTS-inspired interior. “The SRX does ambient lighting well, and I like the CTS-style ‘light pipes’ and the Epsilon-based info center in the middle gauge.” St. Antoine calls the pop-up touchscreen “clean and excellent,” a sentiment echoed by Lago. “The infotainment system itself is intuitive. Selecting music source, type, track, or artist is simple.”
Too bad there are simply not enough of these positives to justify the price tag. A fully loaded SRX 2.8L turbo approaches $50,000, which buys a lot in this ultra competitive segment.
|2010 Cadillac SRX 2.8L Turbo|
|Base price range||$34,155-$49,640|
|Price as tested||$49,640|
|Vehicle layout||Front engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV|
|Engine||2.8L/300-hp (est)/295-lb-ft (est) turbocharged DOHC 24-vavle V-6|
|Curb weight (dist f/r)||4595 lb (58/42%)|
|Length x width x height||190.3 x 75.2 x 65.7 in|
|0-60 mph||7.6 sec|
|Quarter mile||15.9 sec @ 90.7 mph|
|Braking, 60-0 mph||128 ft|
|Lateral acceleration||0.82 g (avg)|
|MT figure eight||27.2 sec @ 0.63 g (avg)|
|EPA city/hwy econ||15/21 mpg|
|CO2 emissions||1.13 lb/mile (est)|