The appeal of the Cadillac Escalade SUV has always eluded me. I?m not a fan of big SUVs in general, but even accounting for my sports car orientation, the Escalade was always a puzzlement. The Escalade version of luxury is opulence, and while I?m no Spartan, I like my luxury to be understated ? less bling and more detail.
So I was interested to spend a week in the new Cadillac SRX. This is an entirely new Crossover that does not share a platform with any other vehicle. It?s still a big vehicle, however, and still delivers AWD and the commanding driver?s position you expect from a larger SUV.
But where the Escalade gives you traditional Cadillac luxury, the SRX provides a more European luxury experience. The interior is still supremely comfortable, with seats sized for a typical full-sized American man, but the seats have a sportier feel and are covered in sturdy top-grain leather. Of course, the cabin features every convenience and doodad known to the modern automobile industry, including rear seat DVD player, GPS navigation, Bluetooth hands-free phone support, MP3 & CD changer stereo, power everything and zone climate control.
Where the SRX really appeals to the new generation of Cadillac buyers is in the driving experience. The SRX is sure-footed and smooth riding, but Cadillac has not sacrificed good handling on the altar of the cloud-floating gods of luxury. The SRX corners like a CUV, not a big body-on-frame SUV. There?s plenty of power underfoot, courtesy of the 3.0-liter direct-injected V6 engine, which delivers 265 horsepower and 223 pound-feet of torque.
Fuel economy is still the bugaboo of larger CUVs, and the SRX comes in at an average 17/23. When you?re dealing with a car of this weight and and engine in this power range, that?s just what you?re going to get. It?s part of the package and even a hybrid engine can?t overcome the laws of physics ? it takes energy to move that much mass.
Pricing on the SRX starts at $33,330 for a basic FWD, but the least expensive model you want (Luxury AWD) will set you back $39,405. The Performance AWD version runs $44,995 and the ultimate Turbo Premium edition is a cool $51,360. From my point of view, if you?re buying a Cadillac CUV, you might as well take the dive and load it up. That?s what the Caddie experience is all about.
The bottom line on the 2010 Cadillac SRX is simple: If you want a nice mid-to-large CUV and you?ve been shopping BMW, Volvo and Audi, you should add the SRX to your test drive list. If you love the Cadillac experience, but want something sportier than an Escalade, you should test drive the SRX. And if you have already been converted to Cadillac by driving the excellent CTS or STS sedans, you?ll find the SRX shares the same DNA in an SUV-shaped package.