2012 Cadillac SRX: Driven Page 2

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As it is, the SRX seems to have two personalities; keep your right foot light and the transmission lugs along in the higher gears, not wasting any revs. Dip into more throttle and you’ll summon up a different personality, with the transmission letting the engine rev into its upper ranges and snapping off quicker shifts. There’s not much of a transition between these two modes, so fast-moving Detroit freeway traffic we found ourselves going back and forth a bit between lugging along, then easing up to speed with more gusto than intended.

Still a lot of weight to shift around

Overall, the powertrain’s a winner, but we still don’t think the current SRX is one of the better-driving models in its class, let alone one of the better-driving Cadillacs. A number of crossovers feel surprisingly low and lean when you actually push them hard into a corner, but the SRX is somewhat the opposite; it feels even heavier than you’d expect, and it’s a bit disconcerting in that its center of mass feels higher, even if it isn’t. One thing we also couldn’t warm up to were the brakes, which like some recent GM models we’ve recently driven (Sonic, Cruze, Verano) are spongier than we’d like; factor in the excessive weight and some perceptible nosedive, and our first few stops with the SRX were hardly reassuring.

The interior remains warm and welcoming, however. The interior design feels like a more upright extension of the CTS (sedan, wagon, coupe) family, with great detailing throughout. Just as in other Cadillac vehicles, we like the navigation system, its display, and its wide range of configurability (with or without a split screen) and points of interest. The nav display, which can rise to expose the whole screen, or retract to a partial position for audio display with the push of a button, is still one of the best luxury-vehicle setups.

The SRX, like the Chevrolet Equinox on which it’s based (GM notes that it’s extensively bolstered, padded, and reengineered), lands at the small end of mid-size, a bit larger than the Audi Q5 or BMW X3, and about the same size as the Lexus RX350 or Acura MDX.

Premium ambiance in most respects

In damp, chilly weather, we especially appreciated the heated steering wheel, as well as the quick-and-toasty heated seats. And speaking of the front seats, they’re great for this tall driver, with extendable thigh cushions, even back support, and actually a little bit of side bolstering. Backseat space remains a little disappointing—it’s not especially comfortable for adults, mainly because the lower cushions are rather hard, and it’s not as well contoured as some other back seats in this class.

2012 Cadillac SRX FWD 4-door Performance Collection Steering Wheel

2012 Cadillac SRX FWD 4-door Performance Collection Steering Wheel

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The Bluetooth system worked well paired with an iPhone for hands-free chatting, but it didn’t seem up-to-date in all the protocols; when a passenger went to it—for Yelp food recommendations, for instance—the sound system would mute, even though there was no effort to stream or play music.

Our SRX AWD Premium Collection model included a mother lode of standard features like navigation, Bose surround audio, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, heated mirrors, a heated steering wheel, a Sapele wood-trimmed interior, remote start, tri-zone climate control, rear-seat audio controls, adjustable pedals, fog lamps, and rain-sensing wipers, totaled $51,550, and included the standalone ($1,395) DVD entertainment system option (with dual screens).

Compared to last year’s 3.0-liter model, the SRX drops a mile per gallon in the city and remains the same on the highway, at 16/23. Over about 350 miles of moderate, with-the-flow style driving, mostly on suburban expressways and boulevards, we managed an average of just below 19 mpg—about the same as we’d seen with previous 3.0-liter versions.

In all, the SRX has become one of the top-selling luxury crossovers; we agree there’s a lot to love inside, and we think the new powertrain will only broaden its appeal. We’d still much rather have a CTS Wagon, but apparently thousands of shoppers would call us crazy.

If only it could drive lighter—and be lighter—the SRX would be the sort of platform we could also fully endorse for driving purists as well as those who just want a luxurious, well-appointed, and uniquely American luxury crossover. For now, it’s just the latter.

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