Cadillac continues to transition from the cars Granddad drove to sleek vehicles the rest of us might want to drive. Exhibit A is its small crossover, the stylish SRX, which carries the same angular design as the sleek CTS coupe. The SRX has undergone changes for 2012 that should better position it to compete with the luxury imports.
Appearance: We think the SRX is one of the best-looking crossovers on the market. It has a wide stance and modern features set off by its large, angled grille and adaptive high-intensity headlights. In the rear, the vertical LED taillights jut out next to the hatch. (A tip of the hat to the classic Cadillac fins?) Our tester came in the premium paint color Black Ice Metallic, which brought depth, sparkle and class to the whole look.
Performance: New for 2012 is the 3.6-liter, 308-horsepower V-6, which is responsive and has plenty of low-end oomph. There's even a pleasing exhaust note when you step on it. For a front-wheel-drive vehicle, there is little torque steer. The smooth-shifting 6-speed automatic gets an eco mode, but that supposedly gets you only one extra mile per gallon on a somewhat mediocre estimated mpg of 17/24 for FWD and 16/24 for the optional AWD. The speed-sensitive power-steering assist feels just right. The ride was smooth and quiet with minimal road noise.
Interior: The eye-catching exterior design is mirrored in the quiet cockpit with lots of soft-touch and refined surfaces. As you should expect in a luxury brand, the fit and finish are good, with nice details such as stitching on the dash, polished trim and Sapele wood accents. We liked the gauges, which are black on backlit white and surrounded by a soothing blue glow on the instrument panel. The color information display between the gauges is crisp. We found the heated and vented leather in our Premium-trim tester plush and comfortable. The SRX seats five, but the price you pay for the sleek design is a sloping roof that compromises rear visibility and backseat headroom. (Peter felt like he needed to duck his head a bit). The available UltraView sunroof is huge, covering the front and rear seats. It gives the SRX an expansive feel. In the rear, a Cargo Management System comes standard: a rail where you can snap on a gate to hold down items. Under the deck is a hidden storage compartment. Something we both appreciated is a power lift gate that allows you to adjust the height of the opening so you don't hit the roof of your garage when you're opening the hatch. Another nice feature: the double-deck glove box that can be cooled.
Our 3 favorites
Looks: Cadillac has found a distinctive design theme.
Screen: There is an available slide-up navigation and entertainment system.
Handling: Even though it's on the corpulent side, the SRX is fairly nimble.
Warnings: On major roads, the driver's information screen shows the current speed limit.
Smart design: Lots of angles and creases.
Beverage-friendly: The front cup holders have dual levels for short or tall containers.
The bottom line: Lyra, who is more of an SUV fan than Peter, loves the SRX. (He likes it a lot, too.) There were few disappointments — except for mpg and pricing. Still, it's well-appointed, fun to drive and a major player in the segment.