By on May 11, 2007

statuesque.jpgCar-based crossovers (CUV's) are America’s SUV escape pod of choice. Domesticated SUV’s from Nissan, Toyota, Honda, Ford and more have found favor, as have their upmarket homonyms. Although GM was late to the crossover party, the GMC Acadia and Saturn Outlook are (at least for the moment) highly competitive products. At the top end, Cadillac stands pat with its three-year-old SRX. For '07, Caddy’s attempted to re-invigorate their CUV with a new interior.

Yes, well, first impressions last. Here’s the long and tall of it: the SRX looks more like a station wagon than an SUV, albeit a very BIG station wagon. From the front, the SRX wears a surprisingly demure version of Caddy’s spizzarkle prow. From any other angle, the vehicle’s “Art and Science” creases work at cross-purposes to a distinctly disjointed multi-level assortment of window shapes. There are some strange details: fly-eyed headlights, boomerang taillight and the like. Overall, the genre-straddling SRX has a lot of generic GM about it. At best, it’s more distinctive than attractive.  

And so to the interior.

interior.jpgThe SRX’ center console benefits from a much needed makeover. The old console’s central feature— a large, featureless letter box (CD and DVD slot)— has disappeared. The display screen assumes its rightful place mid-dash, with an undersized analog clock above and two oversized rotary controls climate control buttons below. A chrome strip surrounds the pod and the new, intersecting gauges. A wood strip (complete with hidden dash cubby) bisects the cabin. 

In general, the ’07 SRX’ fit, finish and softer, [partially] hand crafted materials are a cut above the previous model’s. In specific, details bedevil. The thin plastic door pockets still flex when you insert road supplies. The trim surrounding the vent rings reflects straight into the oversized side mirrors. The seat belt attaches to the seat instead of the B-pillar, eliminating adjustment and inviting decapitation for shorter drivers.

dashcubby.jpgThe SRX’ touch screen navigation system is a disaster. The screen graphics are crude. The voice prompts are unclear and imprecise, suggesting turns on roads that merely curved (once putting us on the Blue Ridge Parkway with no exit to our destination). In contrast, the [optional] Bose 5.1 Cabin Surround DVD-based digital audio system is a glorious device. Played through the SRX’ 10 speakers, Pink Floyd never sounded so hallucinogenic.

The SRX’ intrusive transmission tunnel renders the second row quad (not quint) compatible. Despite the Caddy’s considerable length, the SRX’ third row is best suited to pre-pubescent children who like to hide in cupboards. On the positive side, the process of getting into the way back is so tortuous they’ll probably fall asleep from exhaustion once they arrive. After detaching the headrests, the motorized third row chairs tumble and stow in a sloth-like 35 seconds. If you’re still awake, you’ve got enough space for several large boxes of lifestyle brochures.

trees.jpgOur $38k SRX holstered Caddy’s 260hp 3.6-liter V6 with a five-speed autobox (the ‘07 V8 gets six cogs). The double overhead cammed, multi-valved powerplant is smooth and responsive in waft mode, and throaty and powerful when stomped upon. Although the SRX motors to 60 mph from rest in a respectable 7.2 seconds, highway passing occurs at roughly the same pace as the folding rear seats. Plan ahead, leave early.

On long sweepers, Caddy’s crossover is a confident companion, absorbing undulations and responding to minor steering inputs with grace and something not unlike élan. But as soon as you up the pace and/or tighten the bends, the SRX’ light steering, soft rear suspension, high center of gravity and long wheelbase exact a poise penalty. The modestly shod, grip challenged SRX takes to small mountain roads like a country music fan to Judas Priest’s Painkiller. Although, it's a serene cruiser, the Caddy's dynamics aren't a patch on Infiniti FX-series. 

end.jpgOff road, c’mon, get real. The SRX is about as rugged as your average string quartet. Towing? You can schlep anything you like as long as it’s under 2000 pounds. The SRX six’ fuel economy clocks in at 15/22mpg. That may be about par for the course for its competitors, but it’s still a pretty frightening stat for a company desperately seeking sales in a world of escalating gas prices.

It’s hard to say why the SRX has failed to capture the imagination of American SUV refugees. Cabin quality (or lack thereof) was certainly a problem— which the automaker’s now rectified. The lack of a sustained and coherent marketing campaign also kept Caddy's CUV off the import buyer’s radar. And the vehicle’s bland looks did it no favors.

Ultimately, it’s the latter that torpedoed the SRX. Caddies need charisma. The SRX rides, handles and cossets beautifully; it walks the walk, but it doesn’t talk the talk. In fact, the SRX proves that automotive beauty must be skin deep. 

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35 Comments on “Cadillac SRX Review...”


  • avatar
    mastermik

    hmmm… funny, i always thought that the SRX was the better looking of the CUVs. The infiniti FX is the only other one that looks better, IMHO. 

  • avatar

    The optional adaptive shocks improve the handling considerably. It is shocking how poorly the SRX has sold. The interior deserves some of the blame, but the wagonish proportions probably deserve most of it. The market has spoken, and it prefers stubbier, chunkier proportions in its SUVSs. F or pricing information on the SRX: http://www.truedelta.com/models/SRX.php

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    Good review. The SRX has the same problem as the Freestyle and R-class — they look too much like a station wagon for families trying to avoid the mommyvan label. Pity.

  • avatar
    Chaser

    Lost on the Blue Ridge Parkway…life could be worse. That’s where I spend many a weekend this time of year. :)

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    Grave concerns about Cadillac quality and resale value prompted us to purchase an Infiniti FX35. So far we are very pleased with it.

  • avatar
    NN

    This could make for a nice contrarian used car buy

  • avatar
    durailer

    More details please… Is Caddy’s Northstar the optional V8? To which division does the V6 owe its existence? I understand that these answers are often muddled in GM’s corporate soup.

    Here’s what I’m getting at: how is this CUV a real Cadillac? GM’s got this platform covered with the Acadia, Outlook, probably the Ranier and Equinox as well -and heaven forbid, the H3? It appears that as long at Caddy offers the Escalade (the last Caddy with a real name), they have to offer something in between.

    The existence of this badge-engineered orphan is proof positive that GM doesn’t know how to orient its divisions to prevent competition under its own umbrella. Why can’t GMC handle all the upmarket trucks? If Caddy’s gonna save its skin, they gotta return to making proper luxury sedans, maybe allowing for one coupe/roadster.

  • avatar
    kaye

    durailer- It's neither badge engineered (SIGMA architecture in GM speak) and the V6 appears in few other products (pre-07)… this vehicle has been mismarketed since intro-ed. Caddy made a last minute change to make this a nominal 7 seater…it was supposed to look more like the Vizion (sp?) concept of the early '00. 

  • avatar
    AKM

    I actually quite like this vehicle. Not as nice-looking as the FX35, but comes without the anemic lawn mower exhaust sound of said vehicle…

    It got rave reviews in comparos in many car mags. So is it really that bad?

  • avatar
    Zarba

    Car and Driver placed the SRX V-8 2nd only to the new Acura MDX in a recent test of $50K SUV’s. Obviously, the extra grunt and cogs of the V-8/6 speed and the adaptive shocks help.

    Unfortunately, the vast majority of SRX’s are equipped like the tester, and so suffer dynamically, though the 0-60 times are very competitive. I’m guessing that the tester was RWD.

    The major problem with the SRX is that it is drived from the old CTS platform (which may have been an Opel platform, I could be wrong), and as such is narrow in comparison to its rivals. This seriously compromises cabin space and gives the SRX an ungainly, top-heavy appearance.

    The SRX’s new interior is indeed a major improvement on the old model. Unfortunately, GM has once again squandered an opportunity by allowing the old version to pollute buyer’s minds. Now, with a crop of newly-designed or redesigned competitors, the SRX is badly behind the curve.

    I think what has hurt the SRX most is neglect from GM marketing. Once again, we see that GM’s proliferation of nameplates and lines means that everyone gets less than they need; and some, like the SRX, get nothing at all.

    Frankly, many, if not most, SRX shoppers will be drawn to the Acadia, and if they need three rows, the GMC wins hands down. GM’s mind-numbing badge-engineering means that the SRX is cometing against other GM brands’ SUV/CUV’s, and all they end up doing is cannibalizing sales from each other, and the SRX cannot get the resources it needs to be a serious competitor to the RX350/Acura MDX/BMW X5, etc.

  • avatar
    Joe O

    I remember reading an article about how Volvo pioneered the attachment of the seatbelt to the seat as it considerably enhanced the effectiveness.

    I could most definitely be wrong about this, or mistaken about my understanding of how it is attached to the seat, but I think it is worth looking into. GM may not always have the best fit or finish, but it typically has alot of small details, such as seatbelt design.

    0-60 in 7.2 seconds in this beastie? I’ve got to say, that’s either downhill or something is going on here. Otherwise, my Honda Civic SI will yet again lose the stoplight race to a vehicle of confused nature.

    Joe O.

  • avatar
    Lokkii

    I’ve always thought of the SRX as the most attractive of the Art and Science family – which I don’t care for overall. Glimpsed in traffic the SRX has a distinctive look without the girl-in-glasses-wearing-braces-and-has-a-fat-butt look of the CTS.

    However attractive the outside, the vehicle still has to answer the question: “Why buy a Cadillac?”

    Even if the Caddy scores on the reliability, service, comfort, and style cards, I think that it fails on the “I’m rich as a rapper” card that the Escalade has. Without that, the market for the SRX becomes those with enough money for a 40K SUV… but who still have to worry about resale value.

    In short, for those for whom the Cadillac name pushes no buttons, the SRX isn’t the best choice available.

  • avatar
    durailer

    -kaye,

    Thanks for the info, I’ll try to stay on topic here. Tossing similes, metaphors and allusions aside, how does THIS car, the SRX, reinforce Cadillac’s quintessential brand identity?

    I happen to like Caddy’s Art & Science design language, I think if they’re trying to shake-off the brand’s bad rap as an ‘old granny’s car’, it’s working.

    Many would contend that a luxury marque musn’t be all things to everyone… it has to build damn good cars, and it order to do that, it has to stop beancounting and focus on a few models that sit squarely in the luxury buyer’s radar. One coupe/roadster, a couple of luxury sedans, and maybe one SUV for the time being (at least until Porsche stops making the Cayenne).

  • avatar
    theflyersfan

    From what I understand about mounting the seat belts to the seat itself is that in theory, there would be less slack compared to having it mounted on a pillar, and especially in a coupe, it would be much easier to reach. The front seats would require extra hardware to handle the forces of a crash, which is why for cost and weight reasons, GM removed them from the new generation of trucks, Tahoe, and Suburban.
    I am a couple of inches taller than average, and have found very few comfortable seat mounted belts. Since they don’t adjust, they tend to either press down hard against the shoulder (and after several shoulder/nerve operations, that gets old very quickly) or rub against the neck. I keep my belt fastened when I take any SUV/truck offroad because, well, you never know but the belt position in an Envoy and Trailblazer almost drove me to insanity – you need to be able to navigate in the driver’s seat and the combination of a low belt position and neck rubbing lead me to deal with the near constant reminder chime of the “put it back on fool” belt light. Chrysler’s setup with the eternal rental Sebring ragtop was also poorly located.

    The best I’ve seen so far has been what BMW did with the original 850 and the newer 3-series convertible. They are mounted higher on the seat and don’t ride up the neck and shoulder as much. Of course the granddaddy of poor ideas, especially with ragtops was the classic GM “let’s mount everything to the doors so no one is safe” belt idea that stuck around way too long.

    There’s one thing I’m surprised wasn’t included with this review. The gymnastics leap into the SRX isn’t mentioned. Granted, it is much worse into, say, a Lotus or Corvette that sits just a few inches off of the ground, but you don’t want to be wearing nice pants with a dirty SRX – the rocker panel requires a blind leap of faith and hopefully will be corrected with the next generation. I’ve personally liked the look, but I agree with many of the posters here – I can look at the Infiniti FX series all day. They just nailed it.

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    From what I understand, the 3.6 in the CTS, STS and SRX will get Direct Injection, bumping hp to nearly 300. At that level, and given the reliability of the Northstar, I don’t see much reason to pay up for the V8.

  • avatar
    umterp85

    I recently traded in my very disappointing and trouble prone BMW X5.

    I looked at the SRX, RX330, Acadia, and Lincoln MKX. We decided we did not need the 3rd row. So decided against the larger Acadia (the 3rd row of the SRX is not fit for any human). The SRX did not do anything particularly well (except the Northstar V8) and the second row seating was more cramped than the Lexus or Lincoln.

    In the end we bought the mkX over the Rx330 and have been VERY happy woth our purchase; its a terrific vehicle. The mkX is a true value buy (I could care less that it is a badged up Edge) and does everything and more than the Caddy or Lexus but comes in at $3-6K less.

  • avatar
    Alex Dykes

    Great review Michael. Did you have a chance to take a brief spin in the V8 to see if it might be worth the extra $6K?

    The looks of the SRX have always left me wondering why Cadillac played it safe with the SRX. Polarizing styling seems to be Cadillac’s hallmark these days and yet their crossover is rather plain in comparison. Still, I think if it were $5k cheaper in V6 form and 10K cheaper in V8 form they might have something there despite the disjointed window shapes.

  • avatar
    omnivore

    I’m confused about why people think this vehicle looks bland. For all their other shortcomings, I think contemporary Cadillacs really look distinctive in an era of jellybean-inflated Japanese luxury cars and overwrought melodramatic “flame-surfaced” German luxury cars. I’ve always found “Art & Science” to be distinctive, unique, and classy. Sort of like Audi, except more interesting.

    I’ve always wondered why it didn’t sell better. Intuitively, I would have thought that Cadillac hit a sweet spot with this one, and the Sigma architecture and mechanicals are certainly well done. I guess it must have been the old interior and the marketing?

  • avatar
    Buick61

    We bought an ’07 SRX V6 AWD about 3 months ago. After comparing against the RX350, there really was no comparison. The SRX drove incredible well, used regular fuel, had a nicer interior, was cheaper, had more cargo room (we didn’t get the 3rd row seat), looks better (I don’t see anything bland or station wagon-esque about it), and has OnStar, which has been an extremely valuable tool–especially the turn-by-turn navigation.

    The SRX doesn’t get the respect it deserves. It’s GM’s fault for not giving it a decent interior from the beginning and not advertising it.

    Do yourselves a favor and experience one before you pan it. It’s GM’s best kept secret.

  • avatar
    jthorner

    Personally I would have much prefered that GM make a proper sport wagon version of the CTS without the silly tipsy tall ride height of the SRX. Fine, make AWD an option for snow country, but the rest of the pseudo SUV stuff is just silly. The 7 passenger craze in this class of vehicles is a joke as well, the third row of seating is no more usefull than the old optional third row of seats for Volvo 240 wagon. Fine for two midgets, but useless in most cases.

    I looked at the original CTS when I was car shopping in 2003 and two things did it in: The mediocre interior and the horrible Navigation system. I ended up buying a fully loaded Honda Accord with it’s excellent Navigation system. Even today a highly equipped Accord beats the socks off a base model CTS.

    That Cadillac still is fielding a bad Navigation system four years later is completely absurd. Maybe GM can just cut a deal with Alpine to supply GM a version of the Honda/Acura system …. but then maybe Alpine doesn’t want to do business with GM. Any supplier who can avoid that fate is probably smart to stay away.

  • avatar

    It always surprised me that GM never really pushed this vehicle in a world demanding SUV alturnatives. JT I wish Honda would bring back the Accord station wagon

  • avatar

    jthorner

    Your wish (which is mine as well) will be granted. In a couple of years a CTS wagon will replace the SRX.

    A few years after that there will be a Theta-based CUV called the BRX. Having a hard time getting my head around a Theta-based Cadillac.

    And a few years after that, around 2014 MY, the BRX will likely migrate to a new compact RWD platform.

    This being GM, all plans subject to change without notice.

  • avatar
    carguy

    The problem with this vehicle is the value proposition – unless you pay for the optional V8 and ride control you end up with an underpowered 5 seater with questionable handling. If they fixed the handling and go to the direct injection V6 then I’m sure it would be more attractive – if it weren’t for the competition. The Acadia, Edge and CX-9 do an equal or better job for less money and the MDX and X5 that the SRX is meant to compete with beat it in virtually every category.

    I think the idea of a CTS or STS AWD wagon would make a lot more sense for Cadillac.

  • avatar
    Wallyray

    My wife has an 03 CTS and I have an 04 SRX, V6,2 seat and I have really enjoyed my SRX. I thought that it handled really well, guess I was wrong. The infiniti and the Murano are just plain ugly to me, at least from the rear. The SRX looks better than anything else on the road to me and I don’t really like station wagons that much. To me, the back seat is very spacious and comfortable, so I guess I am wrong about that also. Mainly I like that it doesn’t look like a truck and it doesn’t have that generic rear end that so many of the luxury SUV’s have. By the way, they have fixed the problem with the rocker panel in the 07 version.
    I really haven’t driven anything much, so I can’t compare the power and handling. I drove a 240Z for 18 years and I thought it handled pretty well also.

  • avatar
    NickR

    I also quite like the look of the SRX and actually included it my recent cars to look at.

    However…

    The SRX six’ fuel economy clocks in at 15/22mpg.

    Mileage like that and the rudest car salesman on the planet scared me away. And the prices of used examples didn’t make this too great a contrarion buy. pity.

  • avatar
    pb35

    Been shopping for a crossover lately to replace my Mazda 6 Wagon. Looked at all of the usual suspects. FX35/45, none in stock (even though the dealer had one in every color listed on their website; another story) though it would have looked nice next to our G35x. MDX, could not agree on a price and despite all of the recent accolades, it just didn’t “feel” right. I especially didn’t like the way the steering wheel “weaved” under moderate acceleration. Not cool at all. Didn’t like the fake wood and the 1000 buttons on the dash as well. Also looked at a Ridgeline. I am one of the few who think that it is not the ugliest thing on wheels. Not quite lux enough though and do I really need a pickup? I just drove the XC90 Sport today and screw what C/D said in their review, I think it should have placed higher than 6th. Very nice and it may just wind up in my garage next week.

    I emailed the local Cadillac dealer regarding the SRX and you know what their response was to my query? Nothing! So freaking typical, GM gets what they deserve.

  • avatar
    tony-e30

    That bit about seat mounted seat belts inviting decapitation; hyperbole or statistically verified? Just curious.

    Also, it seems that if you wish to tow anything with a Cadillac, the barely noticable price increase between the SRX and the Escalade is necessary.

  • avatar
    ghughes

    ” In fact, the SRX proves that automotive beauty must be skin deep.” Nailed it- it is not a CADILLAC-looking auto. It needs to look like a traditional, lowered wagon of yore, think 64 bel-air(with the chromed impala nose that had). That and a complete lack of advertising $ and marketing. But, then again, I always want throw-back styling(30s-70′s) to caddys grandeur. I am currently shopping for a 60 special from the early 40′s.

  • avatar
    Terry Parkhurst

    I don’t know, having just seen the occasional Cadillac SRX blasting by me on the roadway, and once looked at one up close in the parking lot, I thought it looked – looks – all right. Jesus, it sure as hell beats that pimpmobile the Escalade. And let’s not even start talking about the tarted up Avalache that Cadillac is trying to schlepp.

    Maybe Bob Lutz is correct about building that 12-cylinder Ubbercar. Cross-overs and trucks just aren’t Caddy territory, to my mind. But then again, I could be wrong.

  • avatar
    svensk

    They give you the northstar for the optional V8? Ah poo… for that much money you would think they could shoehorn in a 5.3L small block. Anyone ever tried replacing plugs or an alternator on a northstar? YIKES!

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    they are kinda dopey lookin.

  • avatar
    Wallyray

    as far as mpg, we took a 1300 mile trip last year in our 04 SRX up into the mountains around Pigeon Forge and Ashville and drove 85mph on the interstate most of the time. We averaged 24mpg for the trip. Pretty good, I thought.

  • avatar
    MR42HH

    “A few years after that there will be a Theta-based CUV called the BRX.”
    As L7 already knew in 1992 – BRX are heavy.

  • avatar
    blautens

    Questionable reliability and horrible resale besmirch this otherwise competitive vehicle, even if you step up to a fully optioned model…not to mention typically bad GM dealer treatment.

    Sorry, for our money, the Lexus RX was a much better overall package (resale, reliability, buying experience, features, interior quality). Not nearly as engaging to drive (think “syrupy”) as an SRX, but I have another car for those sorts of shenanigans.

  • avatar
    WorkingGirl

    I purchased a V8 SRX two months ago. My commute is in the mountains. For the first 1,200 miles the car worked like a dream. After that it began to loss power and shifts constantly. In a 25 mile stretch of road it will shift from 33 to 40 times, the Dealer now says this is how the car should perform, that the six speed transmission is “high geared”. The drive is noisy and rough with the constant shifting. Gas milage is fare at about 18 to 19 mpg. Back up warning is not worth anything. Interior is room and comfortable. I would not recommend the V8 to anyone for the addtional funds paid, the power is gutless and constant shifting annoying.


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