Page 1: Intro
When Lincoln debuted the Navigator sport-utility to the world in 1997 as a 1998 model, Cadillac was already hard at work developing the SRX. Problem was, the SRX was several years away, and Lincoln was poised to steal thousands of potential Cadillac customers with its hulking, Expedition-based luxo-ute. With dealers clamoring for something with which they could battle Lincoln, Cadillac gussied-up a GMC Yukon Denali with a couple of wreath-and-crest badges and began selling the Escalade in 1999.Today, the Escalade, originally a stopgap product but now one of the strongest selling models in the luxury division's lineup, has lead a product renaissance at Cadillac. It is an icon of popular culture, a vehicle people aspire to own, single-handedly lowering the average age of a Cadillac buyer and available in three flavors: original (Escalade), spicy (Escalade EXT) and extra crispy (Escalade ESV).
Still, the SRX lurks. Good thing, too, because sales of luxury crossover suvs that drive like cars but look like trucks have taken off, and the Escalade cannot satisfy this buyer. Furthermore, in recent years, performance has become a key ingredient to success in everything from the Lexus RX 330 and Infiniti FX to the BMW X5 and Porsche Cayenne. Cadillac needs a like-minded product if it truly intends to become, once again, the Standard of the World.
Page 2: Power
Both transmissions include Performance Algorithm Liftfoot (PAL - which prevents upshifts during spirited driving), electronically controlled engine braking and downgrade detection with brake assist. Muscular V8 models benefit from Performance Algorithm Shift (PAS - which automatically downshifts during hard cornering to anticipate the proper gear before the driver tries to accelerate out of a turn) just in case the driver wishes to hot-shoe the Cadillac SRX through some twisty bits. With a near perfect 50/50 front/rear weight distribution and a low center of gravity, the SRX proves to be as sporting to drive as some performance-minded sedans.
Page 3: Off-road
Just because it's meant to be driven primarily on the pavement, don't assume that the SRX can't manage light off-roading. The all-wheel-drive system splits power in half between the front and rear axles during normal driving, apportioning more or less oomph fore and aft as wheel slippage dictates. Wheel travel measures a generous eight inches up front and ten inches in back, while a turning radius measuring less than 40 feet makes for relatively easy maneuvering.
Page 4: Driving
It's too bad about the dismal fuel economy, because the 2004 Cadillac SRX inspires spirited driving. The brakes offer excellent pedal feel, and it's easy to squeeze just the right amount of pressure required for conditions. We experienced a hint of brake fade on the downhill portion of our mountainous twisty road loop, but otherwise can lodge no complaints about the brakes.
Page 5: Understeer
Page 6: Cargo, Comfort
Fold the second row seat flat, a one-handed operation, and the Cadillac SRX offers nearly 70 cubic feet of cargo space, not great for this size of vehicle. Loading is easy, and six-footers can clear the rear tailgate when it's raised. Our test SRX was equipped with three handy underfloor cargo bins, available only on models without the optional third-row seat.
Page 7: Design
Using the stereo and climate control systems is a joy. Cadillac endows the SRX with huge volume and tuning knobs, with a row of station pre-set buttons located up high where they are easy to find and use. Satellite audio controls are mounted to the steering wheel as an added convenience. Likewise, controls for the dual-zone climate control system are large, well marked, and equipped with a big display screen.
Page 8: Quality
Underway, the 2004 Cadillac SRX is mostly serene. Wind rush around the front glass is the most intrusive aural annoyance at speed, while constant rattles and squeaks accompany city driving. Large bumps deliver suspension noise to the cabin, but the engine and tires are barely evident regardless of conditions.
Page 9: As Equipped
Unquestionably, the 2004 SRX moves Cadillac closer to its goal of competing on equal footing with the best the world has to offer. It is exceptionally comfortable, quite fun to drive, distinctively styled, and more competent than any domestic crossover SUV to come before it. But, is it worthy of the automaker's retired "Standard of the World" advertising tagline?
Not quite. But one thing's for sure. It punts Lincoln to the curb.
Page 10: FAQs
Yes, but that is not to say that it performs exactly like a sports sedan. This is still a tall vehicle with well over two tons of body weight to manage, and while it can hustle down a twisty road quickly, it requires more attention and skill to drive fast than a traditional sports sedan. If driving fun is at the top of your priority list, choose a performance-oriented station wagon instead.How far off the pavement can I travel in the Cadillac SRX?
Weather kept us from venturing into areas where we could test the SRX's limits, but it did fine on muddy, well-traveled trails. Given its basis on the same platform that underpins the Cadillac CTS and new 2005 STS, we'd guess that it's wise to stick with nothing more difficult than heavily trafficked fire roads. With proper snow tires, the Cadillac SRX with all-wheel-drive is likely to prove quite competent during winter storms.
Is the Cadillac SRX capable of carrying seven adults?
Our test vehicle did not have the optional third-row seat, but other publications report that the space in the rearmost quarters is adequate only for children.
Why should I consider the Cadillac SRX?
Big selling points for the Cadillac SRX include interior comfort, distinctive styling, thoughtful standard and optional features, and an impressive handling/performance mix.
Why should I pass on the Cadillac SRX?
If you're in need of true seven-passenger capacity, lots of cargo space, an ability to travel over difficult terrain, or you simply wish to own a vehicle with nearly guaranteed reliability and resale value, you should steer clear of this new Caddy.
Page 11: Notes
Base Price: $47,290 (including $695 destination charge)
Engine Size and Type: 4.6-liter V8
Engine Horsepower: 320 at 6,400 rpm
Engine Torque: 315 at 4,400 rpm
EPA Fuel Economy (city/highway): 15/20 mpg
Observed Fuel Economy: 12.1 mpg
Curb Weight: 4,527 pounds
Maximum Cargo Capacity: 69.5 cubic feet
Maximum Towing Capacity: 3,500 pounds
Competitors: Acura MDX, Audi allroad 4.2, BMW X5, Chrysler Pacifica, Hummer H2, Infiniti FX, Infiniti QX56, Land Rover Discovery, Lexus RX 330, Lexus GX 470, Lincoln Aviator, Lincoln Navigator, Mercedes-Benz M-Class, Porsche Cayenne, Volkswagen Touareg, Volvo XC70, Volvo XC90