Cadillac is a brand on the rise due to the fact that parent company General Motors has spent the better part of a decade revamping the once stodgy nameplate in an effort to attract younger buyers to the showroom. It appears to be working as the CTS model line-up has proven popular, as has the enormous Escalade, but for some reason the SRX crossover has struggled to find its niche.
Now well into its second generation, the current SRX should not be overlooked if you are looking for a luxurious mid-sized people hauler as it brings an awful lot to the table.
The SRX is available in both front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive configurations, but I suspect that most Canadian buyers will opt for the four-season surefootedness offered by the latter.
The SRX handles like a sports sedan when prodded but delivers a ride comfortable enough for extended touring. I took my test unit for a short trip to the Seattle-Tacoma area of Washington State, and if you have ever tackled the roads in this region you will realize that they will test even the best suspension system. I must admit that I was surprised by how well the SRX's suspension smoothed out the bumps along the irregular concrete road surfaces and how well insulated its cabin was with regards to both road and engine noise. I completed the exact same journey in a Volvo XC60R a month later, and as capable as the Volvo was, its ride was nowhere near as supple as that of the SRX.
The SRX is classified as a mid-sized vehicle so its rather compact dimensions allow it to effectively slip through traffic and navigate the tight confines of the urban environment with relative ease.
There is only one engine offered for 2013 as the turbo-charged V-6 was axed from the catalog for model year 2012. The current mill is a direct-injection 3.6-litre V-6 that produces 308-horsepower and 265 lb-ft of torque. Acceleration is brisk and the rather wide torque band ensures that you can execute passing manoeuvres without any extra drama. The six-speed automatic transmission proved to be very efficient and one smooth operator, and when operated in "sport" mode it helped make full use of the engine's potential.
One look inside the cabin and it is obvious that the folks at GM have stepped up their game. The fit-and-finish is top-notch, and the high-quality of the leather and various trim materials is evident throughout.
Visibility is exceptional out front, as the hood quickly falls away and the large windshield gives the cockpit an airy feel. However, the same cannot be said when it comes to the subject of rear visibility, as wide rear pillars and a relatively small rear window restrict the view. Luckily my test vehicle featured a rear vision camera system as well as front and rear ultrasonic parking sensors.
The power-operated front seats are firm, but supportive, as is the rear bench. I found the four outboard seating positions perfectly comfortable for my 6'2" height, and XXXL frame, but the centre position is best reserved for smaller children. The optional Ultra View sunroof is so expansive that it transforms the driving experience for all parties. My two rear seat passengers kept commenting on the many birds, helicopters and cloud formations they spotted as we hustled down the interstate, not to mention the impressive architecture and sheer size of the skyscrapers of downtown Seattle. At times the visual onslaught of data can overload the senses or become distracting, so there is a handy screen that can be deployed for more privacy or to filter out the sunlight.
Most of the SRX's exterior styling cues are derived from the CTS, so it should come as no surprise that the interior design and layout will look familiar to Cadillac fans. The dashboard features a tidy gauge cluster while the centre stack houses the bulk of the car's switchgear and system controls. A multi-function LCD screen takes centre stage high on the dashboard and serves to provide the driver with a host of touch controls for the audio system and vehicle settings, while also serving as the display for the backup camera and the navigation system.
My test vehicle was the range topping AWD Premium model so it was loaded with all the luxury appointments one expects in a modern executive class vehicle. This includes standard Bluetooth phone connectivity, a Bose 10-speaker audio system complete with surround sound and a 40GB hard drive, navigation, 20-inch wheels, HID headlamps, privacy glass and a rear power lift-gate. The winter sport crowd will appreciate such niceties as a heated steering wheel, a tri-zone climate control system, and heated seats (front and rear). Other niceties include rain sensing wipers, push button start, cooled front seats and highly visible LED tail lamps.
With the seats folded the rear cargo area serves up an impressive 1,730-litres of space. It also features an innovative fence system which adjusts to help hold your luggage and bulky items in place, and a soft, retractable roll cover helps keep your items out of view from prying eyes. The rear cargo door was power operated on my test vehicle, which proved handy when I found myself juggling parcels or luggage.
The Cadillac SRX is a solid performer in all departments but it faces stiff competition from an ever-expanding list of rivals in this crowded segment of the automotive marketplace. The Lexus RX350 is regarded as the benchmark by most, but a similarly equipped SRX can usually be had for far less money, as the domestic dealers tend to offer more significant discount programs than their foreign counterparts.
Technical Specifications: 2013 Cadillac SRX
Base price (MSRP): $40,495 - $57,445
Type: 5 Passenger mid-sized CUV
Layout: Front engine, rear-wheel-drive / AWD
Engine: 3.6 litre, DOHC, V-6 with direct-injection
Horsepower: 308-hp @ 6,800 RPM
Torque (lb-ft): 265 @ 2,400 RPM
Transmission: 6-Speed electronically controlled automatic
Brakes: Four-wheel ventilated discs
Cargo volume (L / cu. ft.): 1,730 / 61.1
Fuel economy (L / 100km/h): FWD - City-12.7 (22 mpg) / Highway 8.3 (34 mpg)
AWD - City-13.2 (21 mpg) / Highway 8.8 (32 mpg)