To those of us born in the 1960’s and 70’s the world has become a different place. Sure most of the changes have been good ones. We no longer have to physically mail something from a box or in an envelope, or even fax it, we can simply press “send” and email it on the interwebs. Nor to we have to put a piece of wire on our roof just to be able to watch one of four or five TV stations, we now have cable with hundreds of channels to choose from.
But there are still things from the past that we miss. Take road trips for example. Back in the days of our youth, our parents would pile us in a big roomy sedan or station wagon and set off across the state or across the country; along the highways or the back roads to long forgotten places or grandma’s house. Along the way there were wondrous sights and smelly truck stops and Stuckey’s and rest stops filled with vending machine goodness.
Sadly those days seemed to have died thanks in part to the rise in gas prices, among other things. Besides we now can take our trips virtually; Google Earth can take us to the Grand Canyon in an instant and using street view we can stroll down Main Street in Anytown USA and have a face-to-face meeting with grandma on Skype.
But it’s just not the same.
Another problem is there are very few cars today that can allow one to pile the family in and take off down the highway. Thanks to most vehicles today we are tethered to the city and suburbia; tied to the soccer fields, the grocery store or school. Meanwhile our children are growing up online, seeing the world in virtual form and wondering what the heck a Stuckey’s really is. They will never know what a pecan roll tastes like, nor salt water taffy or a honey bun that’s passed its expiration date and has melted in the sun behind the glass inside a rest stop vending machine.
Fortunately there are vehicles that do exist and aren’t afraid of the open road. The Cadillac SRX is just such a machine. While it is able enough to live with every day, where it really shines is on the open road.
Normally when given a car to test we get it for a week. That week is spent driving around the various roads in Central Florida where we can get a good idea what it will be like to live with over the long term. There are city streets, suburban throughways and highways nearly always clogged with tourists and residents. Sure it gives a general idea of what a vehicle will be like, but these are short trips; little hops, short commutes. When we were given the SRX for a week we tested it just as we do the others and we found it able and very capable. However for the final four days we took the SRX on the open road; specifically from Orlando to Charlotte North Carolina over the course of three days to cover the fall NASCAR race there. The trip has been made many, many times before but never has it been so enjoyable. Because the open road is where this SRX really shines, setting apart from the vehicles of everyday.
The Cadillac SRX has been around in some form since 2004. The mid-size SUV crossover didn’t exactly catch on fire at first. With sharp lines unlike anything seen in the lineup before it was a few years before the somewhat odd looking vehicle took off. Now the SRX is the top seller in the lineup and after our recent experience there is little wonder why.
Cadillac made only minor tweaks to the option packages on the SRX for 2014 and besides why should it do anything else? The SRX has been a success so there is no reason to tinker with that. There are four trim levels, Base, Luxury, Performance and Premium.
The base model has 18-inch alloy wheels, front and rear parking sensors, automatic headlights, keyless entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, leatherette (GM’s version of premium vinyl) upholstery, and an eight-way power driver seat with reclining and 60/40 split-folding rear seat. There’s also cruise control and a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel. The CUE (which stands for Cadillac User Experience) infotainment-control system with an 8-inch display is also standard, as is OnStar, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and an eight-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite, HD radio, two USB ports and an auxiliary audio jack.
With the Luxury model you get keyless/remote ignition, a rear cross-traffic alert system with our ever-favorite blind-spot warning system. There’s also a rearview camera, rain-sensing wipers, a panoramic sunroof and a power lift-gate with adjustable opening height. You get an upgrade to leather upholstery, adjustable thigh support for the driver seat, an eight-way power passenger seat, heated front seats and steering wheel, power-adjustable pedals, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, interior wood trim and accent lighting and a cargo management system. A voice-activated navigation system and a 10-speaker Bose surround-sound audio system are among the options.
Another option on the Luxury trim level is the Driver Awareness package (more about this later), which includes forward-collision and lane departure warning systems, automatic high beams and a safety alert driver seat. Also available is the Driver Assist package, which has adaptive cruise control, automatic collision preparation and automatic braking (used when the SRX identifies a potential low-speed front- or rear-end collision situation). The top-of-the-line SRX Premium adds the Driver Awareness package as standard, along with tri-zone climate control, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats and rear-seat audio controls. A towing package and a rear-seat entertainment system with dual seatback-mounted screens are available on all but the base model. The SRX Performance model adds 20-inch alloy wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, adaptive xenon headlights, fog lights, the navigation system and the Bose surround-sound audio system.
We had the Premium All-Wheel-Drive model with the 20 inch wheels and the Driver Assist package. The Driver Assist package is nearly useless in everyday around town driving, and the 3.6 V6 power plant mated with the six-speed automatic transmission is okay, though not great.
However that all changes on the open road; the power is more than adequate, the ride smooth and the steering easy and responsive. Never having used an adaptive cruise control we didn’t know just what to expect. The system is designed to maintain a specified distance from the vehicle in front. Basically we set it to 80 mph and forgot about it. If a vehicle in front was going slower, the SRX responded by adjusting the speed to match. Move to a clear lane and the preset speed returns. The lane departure warning will rattle the seat on the side you have drifted to; a little disconcerting at first but a definite attention getter. On the highway when the cruise control is set, the SRX practically drives itself. With the SUV height giving clear sight around us, driving on the open road has never been easier, or safer.
The ease on the highway meant we could enjoy the other features the SRX offers; specifically the Cadillac User Experience and no we never took our eyes away from the road for long.
The CUE is one of the better systems on the market; simply waving your hand over it will wake it up and have the touch screen controls appear. The other controls below aren’t as user friendly unfortunately. They consist of metal slide bars and touch buttons. When a button is touched and something is selected the inside of the dash will give a slight rattle, and the slides can sometimes take more than one slide to operate which truth be told can be somewhat annoying. Those however are the only real issues we could find and they are far from deal breakers.
The satellite navigation was spot on, timing our trip out and missing the arrival by less than two minutes (something that can’t be said for every system we’ve tried in the past). The satellite radio meant of course that no longer do you need to listen to one radio station fade out of range then try and find another.
Sure there is the available entertainment system complete with wireless headphones and LCD screens for the back seat passengers. But why put the kids in the backseat then turn them catatonic on useless electronic drivel. This is the open road, with sights that look far better than on Google Earth. There are rest stops, license plate bingo, truck stops which are a lot less smelly than we remember from our youth and yes even the occasional Stuckey’s.
The fuel mileage isn’t bad either; while on paper looking at an estimated 16 city and 23 highway and 18 combined may not be all that impressive, during our road trip the amount spent on gas wasn’t far from the trips in the past and in the end nothing that would dissuade such a trip in an SRX in the future. We were closer to the 23 and perhaps even a few ticks more thanks to the steady cruise controlled speed. Finally the luxury, quality and comfort Cadillac is known for needs no further comment; all that is here as it should be. Inside and out there is no mistaking the fact that this is a vehicle with the Cadillac legacy.
So pull out the old paper maps and decide where to go, or call grandma and tell her to get ready. With the SRX getting around town everyday is fine but after your first road trip you’ll be longing to hit the open highway once again set the cruise control and munch on a pecan roll.
The 2014 Cadillac SRX
MSRP (AWD Premium): $50,995
Price as tested (Includes rear entertainment system, Driver Assist, 20 inch wheels): $56,465
Engine: 3.6 liter V6 308 hp @ 6800 rpm, 265 ft-lbs. torque @ 2400 rpm
MPG (Estimated): 16 city, 23 highway, 18 combined
MPG (As tested): 24 (20% mixed roads 80% highway)
Transmission 6-speed shiftable automatic
Width 6 ft. 3.2 in. (75.2 in.)
Height 5 ft. 5.7 in. (65.7 in.)
Length 15 ft. 10.3 in. (190.3 in.)
Ground clearance 0 ft. 7 in. (7 in.)
Front track 5 ft. 3.8 in. (63.8 in.)
Rear track 5 ft. 3.4 in. (63.4 in.)
Wheel base 9 ft. 2.5 in. (110.5 in.)
Front head room 39.7 in.
Front hip room 55.4 in.
Front leg room 41.2 in.
Front shoulder room 58.3 in.
Rear hip room 54.7 in.
Rear head room 38.4 in.
Rear leg room 36.3 in.
Rear shoulder room 56.3 in
Curb weight 4442 lbs.
48 months/50,000 miles
72 months/70,000 miles
48 months/50,000 miles
Roadside Assistance Coverage
72 months/70,000 miles
72 months/unlimited distance