Cadillac SRX — Second generation gets it right

By Al Vinikour

For the past week I drove a lot of miles putting a 2010 Cadillac SRX through its paces. It’s a completely new, second generation luxury crossover vehicle.

The first generation covered the years 2004-2009 and as nice a vehicle as it was its most annoying feature was it’s third-row seat. At the press preview in 2003 we were told the third row seat would “allow three couples to go to the opera or country club in style and in the same vehicle.” My first question to myself was, “What couple would want to crawl into the third row wearing a tuxedo and evening dress?” And exiting would be completely unladylike to say the least…even for the guy!

For its second generation SRX Cadillac got it right. It’s a smaller, more stylish vehicle with TWO rows of seating. It bears a familial resemblance to the 2010 Saturn Vue, which is not a bad thing, but there the similarities end. It’s considerably larger at 190.3 inches, wider at 75.2 inches and overall height of 65.7inches. Furthermore it has a 110.5-inch wheelbase, also larger than the Vue.

There is no doubting the SRX is a Cadillac. It bears the signature Cadillac grille and vertical headlamps that blend into a tightly-wrapped, sweeping body that’s tapered downward at the rear, giving SRX a sport profile. If I were so inclined I would describe the SRX as “jaunty.”

But I’m not, even though the SRX is jaunty. The side bears distinctive vertical chrome fender vent that incorporates a side marker lamp. An integrated spoiler on the rearward edge of the roof extends its sleek lines and improves aerodynamics. It also had chrome roof rails and a power programmable liftgate.

SRX has a wide stance with minimal overhang and its wheels are pushed to the corners. My test vehicle was the SRX FWD Premium Collection that comes standard with 20-inch painted aluminum wheels. The Premium Collection is one of four trim levels — the other three being the Base, Luxury Collection and Performance Collection. (For simplicity’s sake I’ll keep the focus of this review on the Premium Collection.)

Standard engine is a 3.0-liter V-6 putting out 265 horsepower and 223 pound-feet of torque. It’s mated to a six-speed automatic overdrive transmission. It runs on regular unleaded fuel and EPA estimated fuel economy is 18 mpg city/25 mpg highway. I found the powertrain plenty adequate for this vehicle. Engine noise was higher than I expected, especially from a Cadillac.

As nice as the exterior is it’s the interior that actually says “Cadillac.” Cadillac script logos in the front door sill plates illuminate when the doors are opened.

The leather seating surfaces make for a smooth entrance and exit. Once seated the first thing one sees is the beautiful instrument panel. It’s comprised of three individual housings. The center one that contains the speedometer has a really neat Cadillac logo that lights up when the vehicle is first started (via its keyless ignition) that soon becomes the driver information system. The pure white background is highlighted in blue and makes for easy reading.
Unless you want to read the manual – and who does anyway? – some of the controls on the center stack are not that intuitive. You’ll eventually be able to figure them out…but it’s not going to happen quickly while sitting in your driveway, Sammy. 

Front seat room is pretty decent all around but if the seats are in their farthest rearward position they eat in to the legroom of the back-seaters. Total EPA interior volume is 129.8 cubic feet and passenger volume is 100.6 cubic feet. Cargo volume behind the first-row seats is 61.18 cubic feet and 29.20 cubic feet behind the second row. When equipped with a towing package, trailer towing is 3,500 pounds (or 2,500 without the package).

My test vehicle came equipped with a rear-seat entertainment system that has a dual screen DVD with two wireless headphones and remote control. I don’t know how you’re fixed for doubloons but I assume if you’re shopping for a Cadillac there won’t be any spaghetti dinners to raise money for you. Consequently if you have a couple of kids and tend to drive long distances, whether you’re tolerance threshold is amazing or you’re about three whines away from committing a double homicide, spend the $1,295 this system costs.

Last week I drove my twin-grandsons back to their house and before we left I put on some dinosaur DVD they like. Every few miles I had to turn around to make sure they were still there because they were sitting so silently watching their movie all the way back to their house. Though I’ve driven many cars with this system this is the first time I’ve ever put one to practical use. (Of course now they’re going to expect this system in everything I drive and can’t understand why they can’t watch a movie in the Chevy Cobalt Grampa is driving this week.

There are a lot of vehicles you can buy in this price range – some better and some worse. But I found the SRX growing on me rather quickly. Cadillac used to have an advertising tag that said, “Cadillac…the standard of excellence throughout the world” (or something to that effect). It’s been set as the standard for most everything, like “the Cadillac of health care programs” or “the Cadillac of refrigerators.”

As a brand it’s a true American icon. Just don’t hold it against SRX that its engine and final assembly are in Mexico.


Base price: $43,895; price as tested, $46,015

Engine: 3.0-liter DOHC four-valves per cylinder V-6 direct injection VVT  

Horsepower: 265 @ 6,950 rpm 

Torque: 223 pound feet @ 5,100 rpm
Drive: front wheel
Transmission: 6-speed automatic

Seating: 2/3 

Wheelbase: 110.5 inches

Length:190.3 inches

Curb weight: 4,224 pounds

Turning circle: 40.3 feet
EPA Cargo Volume: 61.18 cubic feet (behind 1st row); 29.2 cubic feet behind second row
Fuel capacity: 21 gallons (87-Octane unleaded)

EPA rating: 18 mpg city/25 mph highway

0-60: 8.3 seconds 

Also consider: Lexus RX; Acura MDX; BMW X3 and X5 

The Good

• Decent looks
• Beautiful instrumentation

• Relatively smooth powertrain 

• Maneuverable  

The Bad

• Extreme engine noise

The Ugly

• High learning curve for interior controls