The 2004 Cadillac SRX is as useful as your mother's station wagon or sport-utility vehicle, but it sure doesn't look or drive like your mother's car. The SRX sports futuristic styling that stands out in a sea of boxy sport-utilities and minivans that fill school parking lots. And it drives more like a European sports sedan than it does a minivan or sport utility.
Still, the SRX, which goes head-to-head the BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz M-Class, is strictly for affluent families. It starts at about $39,000, but it can be loaded up with a host of available features so that it closes in on the $60,000 mark.
We like the stable yet responsive handling and smooth, extremely quiet ride. The V8 versions offer smooth, confident power, while the all-wheel-drive models are among the best-handling vehicles in the class on snow and ice. The edgy, angular styling is distinctive and the interior is stylish, comfortable and practical, though not warm and inviting.
Like the CTS sedan upon which it is based, the SRX sports love-it-or-hate-it styling. All of Cadillac's new vehicles have adopted its "art and science" design philosophy. When Cadillac marketers, designers and engineers dug into the company's 100 years of history, they found two prevailing themes had made Cadillac successful in its glory days: distinctive, futuristic styling a la the 1959 Eldorado with its exuberant tailfins and firsts in technology, such as the self-starter. Cadillac's $4 billion worth of new vehicles being introduced over the next few years, including the SRX, embody the modern interpretation of those themes.
Bottom line is that if you like the edgy, angular look of the CTS, you'll like the styling on the SRX. And if you don't like the CTS, you won't like the SRX. Love it or hate it, however, the styling is bold and unabashedly American. You will stand out in a crowd.
Cadillac insists on referring to the SRX as a medium-sized luxury utility. The SRX looks and feels more like a station wagon than a sport utility, however. Indeed, American automakers think station wagon is a dirty word while European automakers sell lots of station wagons. Some buyers think station wagons are more sophisticated than sport utilities.
Cadillac marketers say the SRX competes against the BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz M-Class, specifically as well as with the Acura MDX, Lexus RX 330 and Volvo XC90. A high-end Chrysler Pacifica may be a contender as well.
The Cadillac SRX interior also is very similar to the CTS, which again is love it or hate it in terms of design. It certainly is stylish, comfortable and practical, but it isn't particularly beautiful or warm and inviting. It has far more plastic than most cars of this price category, something Cadillac interior designers reportedly are working on. The V8 model adds wood touches. Interior colors include ebony, light neutral and light gray.
The Cadillac SRX is roomier than some of its competitors, especially the BMW X5 and Infiniti FX. At 41 inches, the SRX has more rear legroom than other midsize luxury sport-utilities and as much rear hiproom as the roomy Acura MDX.
The SRX comes standard with two rows of seats for five passengers. The second row powers back and forth for added legroom or added cargo space. The cargo area in the five-passenger model can be outfitted with storage spaces built into the floor under hatch doors.
An optional third-row bench seat provides accommodations for up to seven passengers. The third row is not available on many of its competitors, including the BMW X5, Infiniti FX, or Lexus RX 330. But the third-row seat provides less room, including legroom, than the Acura MDX or Volvo XC90. The third-row seat folds flat into the floor with the push of a button near the rear hatch or on the pillar just behind the second row of seats. The third row comes with storage bins and cupholders. Each row of seats sits higher than the next, like those in a movie theater, so everyone can see out.
Luggage space is about average for the class. Roof rails come standard to expand cargo-carrying capability.
Storage cubbies abound and include covered front door compartments, front door map pockets, front seatback pockets, front center console with two compartments, a bin behind the front console, glove box with shelf, covered cup holders in the front seat center console and second seat fold-down armrest with cupholders. SRX also has rear coat hooks accessible from the rear passenger doors or liftgate, good for picking up dry cleaning.
In addition to the power third-row seat, the literally coolest feature of the SRX, which no competitor has, is its supersized sunroof. Push the button to slide open the Ultra View Sunroof and front and rear passengers can enjoy 5.6 feet of open air for front and rear passengers.
The Cadillac SRX rides on the same Sigma global architecture used for the CTS and the upcoming 2005 STS, which replaces the Seville. It is an outstanding architecture in terms of structural rigidity, which gives it stable yet responsive handling. The SRX delivered a smooth, extremely quiet ride, along with spirited handling on highways and twisty mountain curves of Arizona.
Its next-generation Northstar 4.6-liter V8 delivers plenty of power, rated at 315 horsepower and 310 pounds-feet of torque. Cadillac engineers put 0-60 mile per hour acceleration at 6.2 seconds for the V8 rear-drive model and 6.9 for the heavier all-wheel-drive version. The SRX V8 we drove through the mountains of Arizona delivered smooth, confident power. It offers a towing capacity of 3,500 pounds.
For 2004, the SRX will also be available with a new 3.6-liter V6 that makes 260 hp and 252 lbs.-ft. of torque. We have not tested the V6 model, but Cadillac engineers say the V6 versions will be capable of 0-60 mph acceleration in the low 7-second range.
Both engines come with five-speed automatic transmissions, though different ones. Both use electronics for engine braking and brake assist to adjust shifts on uphill and downhill grades, something we encountered frequently on the Arizona test drive. The downhill adjustments were disconcerting and unnatural, not what we would expect. Gear shifts were stretched out longer than felt comfortable. The transmissions offer a manual-shift mode allowing the driver to change gears.
Cadillac engineers have focused heavily on the SRX's all-weather capability. To begin with, it has a noticeably lower center of gravity than most sport utilities and a long wheelbase. In addition, Cadillac claims the SRX can be outfitted with more electronic dynamic controls than any vehicle General Motors has ever sold. SRX comes standard with anti-lock brakes, traction control, panic brake assist, and dynamic rear brake proportioning. It's also available with StabiliTrak, an active handling system designed to keep the SRX under the driver's control on wet, snowy and icy surfaces, in tight turns, and in evasive maneuvers. It is enhanced with optional Magnetic Ride Control, which GM calls the world's fastest reacting suspension control system.
In a winter test drive in northern Michigan, the SRX performed well on ice and snow against its competitors. The SRX was the best all-around performer except for the Volvo XC90. As it began to slip or slide, the invisible co-pilot gently nudged the SRX back on course unobtrusively.
Safety likely will be a major priority for families shopping the SRX, and Cadillac has addressed this. SRX comes standard with virtually every safety device available today. While crash-test results by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration weren't available at press time, we expect to see solid safety ratings because the SRX is built from the CTS sedan, which performed well in the crash tests. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the CTS "good" grades across the board.
Quality is likely to be good as well. The CTS upon which the SRX is based scored high in quality in the recent J. D. Power and Associates Initial Quality Study. Since the SRX is built at the same plant as the CTS and uses its underpinnings, good quality ratings are likely for the SRX.
For well-heeled families, the luxurious SRX provides as much, and in some cases more, practicality, functionality and room as other midsize sport utilities but it is wrapped in a distinctively styled package and delivers a spirited driving experience usually reserved for European sports sedans.
Build and price your dream Cadillac SRX in just a few easy steps.
|Build & Price|
2013 Cadillac SRX$32,990 | 25,599 mi
2013 Cadillac SRX$35,995 | 11,282 mi
2013 Cadillac SRX$37,856 | 12,945 mi
2013 Cadillac SRX$39,995 | 6,238 mi
2012 Cadillac SRX$35,465 | 30,076 mi
2011 Cadillac SRX$23,999 | 29,639 mi
2011 Cadillac SRX$24,991 | 65,545 mi
2011 Cadillac SRX$26,759 | 31,240 mi
2011 Cadillac SRX$27,724 | 77,893 mi
2011 Cadillac SRX$27,759 | 33,675 mi
2011 Cadillac SRX$28,912 | 47,064 mi
2011 Cadillac SRX$28,922 | 54,901 mi
2011 Cadillac SRX$29,422 | 37,246 mi
2011 Cadillac SRX$29,998 | 31,699 mi
2011 Cadillac SRX$30,603 | 21,163 mi
2011 Cadillac SRX$31,483 | 32,829 mi
2011 Cadillac SRX$31,987 | 25,240 mi
2011 Cadillac SRX$32,653 | 38,510 mi
2011 Cadillac SRX$32,778 | 38,070 mi
2011 Cadillac SRX$39,995 | 9,703 mi
2011 Cadillac SRX$41,995 | 12,302 mi
2010 Cadillac SRX$26,890 | 65,192 mi
2010 Cadillac SRX$27,990 | 28,340 mi
2010 Cadillac SRX$28,442 | 48,064 mi
2010 Cadillac SRX$28,896 | 50,692 mi
2008 Cadillac SRX$17,997 | 89,591 mi
2005 Cadillac SRX$13,985 | 112,858 mi
2004 Cadillac SRX$9,900 | 133,590 mi