February 11, 2010
Cadillac's chances of deposing the king of luxury crossovers is a lot better now that consumers, the media and even the government have taken to labeling Toyota as a villain, the role those same consumers, media and government bestowed on General Motors the last few years.
The midsize Lexus RX crossover from Toyota's luxury division has dominated the market segment since it was created. But a redesigned five-passenger SRX has lifted Caddy from ninth spot in 2009 to second in 2010, behind the RX.
A raft of upgrades for about $3,000 less helped SRX sales surge, but you can't overlook the role that Toyota's recalls in January played in the 264 percent sales jump by SRX from a year earlier. The RX is not involved in the sudden-acceleration recalls, but the sins of the parent have a way of affecting the kids.
For 2010, SRX is offered in front- or all-wheel drive. In response to requests for better mileage, it replaces the 3.6-liter, 265-hp V-6 and 4.6-liter, 320-hp V-8 with a 3-liter, 265-hp V-6 or a 2.8-liter, 300-hp turbo V-6 (AWD only with 2.8).
No V-8 needing premium fuel and no 500-hp supercharged performance V-Series engine for a zero-to-60-mph time measured in milliseconds. The turbo will get the call off the line.
We tested SRX with the 2.8 turbo and AWD. Ample power and a little exhaust-tuned rumble in keeping with its performance image. Only drawback is how fast the gas gauge moves with the 15 mpg city/22 highway rating with 6-speed automatic. Better than the 13/20 with the V-8 and no gas-guzzler tax, but no Sierra Club trophy either.
The V-6 is asked to move 4,300 pounds before people and cargo are added. Cadillac won't say when, only that a higher-mileage hybrid is in the division's future, and SRX certainly deserves to be a candidate for it.
SRX is offered with a choice of luxury suspension with 18-inch radials for blemish-free ride or sport suspension with 20-inch radials and more focus on handling ability and steering agility. The version tested had the sport suspension, which helped lighten those 4,300 pounds in corners. Stability and traction control contribute to security.
SRX has good cabin room front and rear and a spacious cargo hold for gear that expands when rear seatbacks are lowered. It also comes with a clever cargo-management system, a U-shaped track in the floor that holds adjustable fencing to secure items. Under the floor, a plastic-lined tub can hold cold pop on the way to the beach; wet suits on the way home. No drain hole, though, so bring a sponge. There are also small, covered compartments along the sides of the floor and a privacy curtain to hide everything.
Have to admit we liked the navi on this machine for its real-time traffic info, which included an audible warning that "five miles ahead the right lane is closed," which gave us time to change lanes or routes. The weather forecast was also helpful.
SRX is offered in luxury, performance or the premium trim on our test vehicle, which means such goodies as the $800 heated/cooled front and heated rear seats, $1,200 glass sunroof with shade over front and rear seats (rear glass fixed), and $2,800 navi system are standard, along with remote start, adaptive lighting that follows the path of the steering wheel and a rearview camera to show what's behind when backing up — unless snow has left it a blur.
There's also a power liftgate activated with the key fob, reclining rear seatbacks with a ski pass-through, an info-center graphic in the dash that shows if anyone in back is unbelted, lighted door-sill plates to aid entry/exit, and cut and sewn dash, door and seat trim for a look of quality throughout the cabin.
The window sticker, however, starts at $51,360 before adding only one option: a rear-seat DVD entertainment system with screens that lift out of the backs of the front-seat headrests ($1,295).
Luxury, comfort and great looks. Now it needs to slow the gas gauge — and put a drain hole in the cargo tub.
Read Jim Mateja Sunday in Rides. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright © 2013, Chicago Tribune