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2010 Cadillac SRX 3.0 AWD Performance Review

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2010 Cadillac SRX 3.0 AWD Performance

SEE ALSO: Compare Cadillac Specs - Cadillac Buyers Guide


2010 Cadillac SRX 3.0 AWD Performance

The second generation of Cadillac's SRX luxury crossover is here. Or should that be "second iteration"? For while it is still Cadillac's entry in the mid-sized luxury crossover class, the 2010 SRX shares nothing but its name with the vehicle that debuted back in model year 2004.

Surprisingly, it's a smaller, less-expensive vehicle.

Or maybe that's not so surprising, given the volatility in fuel prices, changes in government fuel economy standards, concern over greenhouse gas emissions, and economic turmoil that seems to pass for early 21st Century reality.

Don't think that "smaller and less-expensive" is synonymous with the pejorative "cheaper" here. Cadillac made that mistake once, long ago, and isn't about to do that again. And parent General Motors is in no position allow, or even tolerate that, either. The 2010 SRX is a true Cadillac, and offers distinctive styling, good performance and fuel economy, and fine road manners that allow it to compete with the best from Japan, Germany, and the U.S.A.

V6 power is the order of the day for the new SRX. All early examples have a 3.0-liter naturally-aspirated engine with 265 horsepower 223 lb-ft of torque. Want more? Wait a bit, and a slightly smaller, 2.8 liter, variant will be available. It's turbocharged, and expected to produce 300 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. Regardless of engine, the transmission is a six-speed automatic. The 3.0 base model is front-wheel drive only; upscale Luxury. Performance, and Premium trim levels are also offered with a new, full-time, performance-oriented all-wheel drive system.

The AWD 3.0 Performance SRX that I've driven for the past week left a very good impression. Its roomy inside is wrapped in a not overly large outside, for easy maneuverability in traffic and parking lots. The higher than passenger car seating position gives a good view for the driver and passengers. Outside, it is easily recognized as a Cadillac. True inside, too, with the style, comfort, and conveniences expected. At Performance level, that mean all of the traditional luxuries -- first-class comfort, leather and wood interior trim, ambient lighting, a power liftgate and oversized sunroof -- and all the high-tech conveniences, like a high-grade AM/FM/XM/CD/external player audio system, ultrasonic park assist, an easy-to-use navigation system, rearview camera, and Bluetooth connectivity. The engine is up to its task, especially with judicious use of the transmission's manual-shift mode, and the 20 mpg overall for the week is commendable for a 4300-pound vehicle. An excellent suspension calibration, that combines a supple ride with minimal lean in corners and fine road manners -- also helped by the transparent power and traction allocation of the AWD system -- is the final touch. It's All-American in style and character, but can go up against the best of the imports with nothing conceded.

APPEARANCE: In a era when copying is so prevalent, Cadillac is refreshing. It has been developing its distinctive, angular styling for a while now, and that makes its cars, crossovers, and trucks instantly recognizable. Looking at the proportions, the new SRX is obviously based on GM's mid-size crossover platform. But the oversized eggcrate grille, vertically-stacked headlights, sharp edges, and yes vestigial tailfins molded into the (vertical, of course) taillights could only be from Cadillac. An upswept character line on each side adds interest. 19- or 20-inch wheels fill the wheel arches and add to the powerful, sporty look. The SRX is most definitely on the car side of the crossover range, with no pretense to a "rugged outdoors" look.

COMFORT: As outside, the 2010 SRX's interior further develops recent Cadillac styling themes, and adds contemporary touches like "aluminum"-look plastic trim to the standard (in Luxury, Performance, and Premium models) leather seating and wood and leather trim. It adds an appropriately youthful look. As expected, just about everything that can be power-operated except the steering wheel is power-operated, and the steering wheel adjusts manually for both tilt and reach. A leather and wood rim looks good, and feels right in the driver's hands. Cruise and auxiliary audio controls add convenience. Seat comfort is very good, and a standard "UltraView" full-length glass sunroof adds a large touch of light and airiness to the interior. Useful storage spaces are found throughout the interior. A semi-touch screen navigation system is standard in Performance and Premium models, and is easy to use. Yes, it also displays information for the AM/FM/6CD/MP3/iPod BoseŽ 5.1 Cabin Surround audio system but all major functions are via hard buttons below the pop-up screen. The 60/40 folding rear seat is wide enough for three medium-sized adults, with comfort helped by the flat floor. The optional rear-seat entertainment system uses a flip-up monitor mounted on the rear of each front seat, and wireless headphones. A power liftgate, with programmable opening height, is standard in Performance and Premium models. The Cargo Management System uses the space under the load floor, a divider, and a U-rail rack system for versatility in, well, cargo management.

SAFETY: The 2010 Cadillac SRX meets both American and European crash standards. It protects passengers with a strong structure designed for controlled deformation in the event of a crash, front, front-seat side, and full-length head curtain air bags, rollover mitigation sensors that work with the standard StabiliTrak stability control system, and for active safety, strong four-wheel antilock disc brakes, responsive handling, and available all-wheel drive traction.

RIDE AND HANDLING: If your last memory of Cadillac handling involves a large sedan with a vaguely nautical feel, that was a long time ago, and for a generation now gone. Today's Cadillac sedans have a distinctly European touch to their ride and handling, no surprise since they are sold on that side of the Atlantic. And the SRX is no different. Sport meets utility. Its strongest attribute is its supple but well-controlled ride and well-mannered handling, especially with the "sport suspension with real-time damping" on Performance and Premium models. Active damping is something Cadillac has been using for well over a decade, and here it allows a smooth, comfortable ride -- and fine cornering ability with minimal body roll. Relatively quick steering helps, too. As does the electronically-controlled all-wheel drive system, which works with the suspension controllers to optimize traction.

PERFORMANCE: Power meets efficiency in the 2010 SRX's drivetrain. The aluminum alloy twincam, 24-valve V6 uses direct fuel injection , which allows both more precise fuel metering and higher compression for greater efficiency - lower fuel consumption and emissions - and power. Maximum horsepower is 265 at 6950 rpm, just below the 7000 rpm redline, with maximum torque of 223 lb-ft at 5100 rpm. Use of six speeds in the multi-mode automatic transmission allows lower low gears, for improved acceleration, and higher high gears, for economical highway cruising. In standard mode, the automatic is programmed to shift early for economy. This is fine except on steep highway grades, where there can be multiple downshifts as the engine does develop its maximum amount of power at fairly high revs. Sport mode allows higher sift points and holds gears longer, with minimal impact on economy. And manual shifting is readily done.. The engine likes to rev, but power equals fuel plus air so too much of that will get you better acquainted with the oil companies. Still, with a judicious mix of modes and pretty even split between highway and city driving I managed 20 mpg for the week -- not bad at all for a two ton-plus crossover. And note that that's on unleaded regular, not premium.

CONCLUSIONS: Cadillac has a worthy entry in the mid-size luxury crossover field in its new SRX.

2010 Cadillac SRX 3.0 AWD Performance

Base Price$44,995
Price As Tested$47,365
Engine Typedohc aluminum alloy 24-valve V6 with direct fuel injection
Engine Size3.0 liters / 183 cu. in.
Horsepower265 @ 6950 rpm
Torque (lb-ft)223 @ 5100 rpm
Transmission6-speed automatic
Wheelbase / Length110.5 in. / 190.3 in.
Curb Weight4307 lbs.
Pounds Per Horsepower16.3
Fuel Capacity21 gal.
Fuel Requirement87 octane regular unleaded gasoline
TiresP235/55R20 102H
Michelin Latitude Tour HP
Brakes, front/rearvented disc all around, twin-piston front and single-piston rear calipers, ABS and ESC standard
Suspension, front/rearindependent struts / independent linked H-arm
Ground clearance7 inches
Drivetraintransverse front engine, full-time all-wheel drive
EPA Fuel Economy - miles per gallon
city / highway / observed
17 / 23 / 20
0 to 60 mph8.5 sec
Towing capacity2500 lbs, 3500 with towing package
20" chrome alloy wheels$250
Rear-seat entertainment system$1,295
Destination charge$825

SEE ALSO: Compare Cadillac Specs - Cadillac Buyers Guide