2012 Cadillac SRX Preview | National Post Toronto
2012 Cadillac SRX
Graeme Fletcher, National Post, Toronto
Santa Barbara, Calif. – Aside from adding Bluetooth to the base SRX, which is long overdue given the growing number of jurisdictions with hands-free legislation, the big news for Cadillac’s mid-sized crossover is the addition of a more powerful engine, something the company promises will add horsepower without exacting a fuel consumption penalty.
After completely reworking the SRX in 2010, the addition of the new engine addresses one of the few remaining complaints. While the outgoing standard 3.0-litre V6 developed 265 horsepower and 223 pound-feet of torque, it never quite had the sort of performance needed to wow the driver – it was trying to motivate darned close to 2,000 kilograms of shiny sheetmetal. The upgrade to a 3.6L V6 more than addresses the shortfall. The use of variable valve timing and direct injection, along with the increased displacement, reworked intake manifold and new exhaust system, pushes the output to 308 hp and, more importantly, 265 pound-feet of torque. The latter is also available over a much broader range (2,400 to 5,300 rpm) than before, which emphasizes the SRX’s new-found zest. The fact the engine is 10 kg lighter than the outgoing unit also helps matters. It also replaces the optional 2.8L turbocharged V6 – again, no loss given the tractive nature of the new six.
Driving the SRX around the Santa Barbara area and up into the Santa Ynez hills proved just how much difference the right power can make. To begin with, there is now some semblance of alacrity off the line, and the crossover pulls strongly through its mid-range. This energized work ethic shows up in the acceleration times – the zero-to-100-kilometres-an-hour time comes in at seven seconds, which is more than a second faster than the 3.0L six. The SRX also accomplishes the 80-to-120-km/h passing move in 7.1 seconds, which is pretty good for a vehicle that keys on luxury more than sportiness.
At the top end of the rev range, the engine still has enough to satisfy the need for speed, even when climbing a grade. The six-speed manumatic, which features a sport mode, downshifts quickly as the V6 stretches for redline. For the conservationists at heart, the transmission features a driver-selectable Eco mode that softens the throttle response and alters the shift points in an effort to improve fuel economy. For me, however, the Eco mode tends to take the edge off the sense of power.
Power is relayed to either the front wheels or all four, but forget the front-driver unless the SRX is going to be used exclusively in an urban setting. The Haldex-based all-wheel-drive system, which includes an electronic limited-slip rear differential, does a much better job of putting power to the pavement. It also adds to the SRX’s sure-footed feel, especially if it is driven with a little enthusiasm.
The same applies to the steering and suspension. While the base suspension is well sorted, it is not as proficient as the optional Sachs-based adaptive system. The adaptive side is tied into the transmission’s sport mode – when the driver selects this mode the suspension automatically firms the damping level according to the driving conditions.
Likewise, the base models feature a straight power-assisted steering setup. While it has decent feel and points the SRX with precision, it takes a back seat to the up-level variable-rate system that’s also speed sensitive. Feel and feedback is sharper, the weighting is better over all ranges and the amount of steering that needs to be dialled in through a given corner seems to be less. This, too, is tied into the sport mode.
In the end, the only way to properly equip the SRX is with all-wheel drive (which has an 80% take rate in Canada), adaptive suspension, speed-sensing steering and 20-inch wheels wearing P235/55 tires. This combination puts some real sport into the drive.
As noted earlier, the SRX is all about luxury. In this regard, it pounds the ball out of the park. The interior materials are rich (the French stitching and wood accents in particular), the instruments feature cool luminescent backlighting and the content list is lavish if one ponies up for the higher trim levels – especially the Premium Collection version I tested. Another of the more noticeable improvements is found in the reduction of interior noise – the use of isolation and insulation materials delivers a very quiet cabin.
The cabin design is not without its foibles, however. The navigation system rises out of the top of the centre stack, which hints at the scarcity of prime dashboard real estate. Likewise, the driver and front passenger temperature and heat/cool seat controls sit on the lower outer edges of the stack where they appear out of place. Minor nits, yes, but nits nonetheless.
In the end, though, the SRX’s overall execution is about as far removed from the Cadillac of yore as it is possible to get.
The SRX is a solid entrant in the luxury crossover category. It was once a distant challenger to the Lexus RX 350, but it now plays in the same league. The SRX starts at $42,000 (front-drive model) and tops out with the all-wheel-drive Premium Collection edition at $54,580.
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