Cadillac SRX Review

cadillac srx review

Car-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.

The 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.

The 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.

Our $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.

Off 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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  • Blautens Blautens on May 15, 2007

    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.

  • WorkingGirl WorkingGirl on Jun 14, 2007

    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.

  • Dave M. I will say this generation styling has grown on me; previously I thought the Fiat version was far better looking. Miatas have always been pure joy to drive.
  • Kendahl A Tesla feature has been free, periodic, over-the-air, software updates that add new features or improve existing ones. Owners brag that their x-year-old car is better today, because of the updates, than it was brand new. Will Tesla start charging for these updates after a few years? Teslas hold their value very well. I suspect losing free updates will do serious damage to that.
  • BklynPete When I was a kid, the joke about Nissan choosing the name Datsun goes like this:Nissan execs were uncomfortable with the World War 2 connotations of their name in the North American market. Seeing how successful VW was over here, they went to VW's most-recent German ad agency. The Japanese told the Germans they needed a new name. The Germans agreed. They asked the Nissan execs when they wanted a review of potential names. The execs said two weeks. The German ad people said, "dat soon?"I will be crucified.
  • Kendahl Modern cars are better mechanically in every way compared to cars from the 1960s. But, and my age is probably showing here, the older ones are prettier.
  • Master Baiter I like the references to Red Barchetta. My fun car is a spiritual cousin to this Miata: 2001 BMW M Roadster--green with tan leather; five speed.