2010 Cadillac SRX Turbo Road Test and Review
As if the all-new Cadillac SRX crossover wasn't already popular enough, Cadillac added even more power to its entry-level luxury crossover by giving it a smaller, turbocharged engine. Last month alone, Cadillac SRX sales were up an astounding 550 percent compared to last year, and the addition of the Turbo model (which was added in October) should help that number continue to grow. The 2010 SRX Turbo replaces the rear-wheel drive, V-8 configuration of the original model with a front-wheel drive, turbocharged V-6 which has been very successful so far for the second-generation SRX.
While the new SRX is proving to be a worthy contender to the segment-benchmark Lexus RX, the SRX Turbo model is also proof that Cadillac can compete against sportier models such as the Infiniti FX35. Other than the Lexus and Infiniti, the 2010 Cadillac SRX goes up against luxury mid-size crossovers such as the Lincoln MKX, Acura MDX and BMW X5. One aspect really helping the SRX compete against such big names in this segment is the fact that its $33,330 starting MSRP is much lower than all of the competition. As for the SRX Turbo, the price point is more on par with its rivals starting at $49,315 and an as-tested price of $53,480 for the SRX Turbo Premium used for this review.
2010 Cadillac SRX Turbo Exterior
Despite the more powerful engine, the only visual change between the turbo and non-turbo models is the addition of a '2.8T' badge mounted on the liftgate. Avoiding the urge to alter the sportier model's styling for the sake of standing out, the SRX Turbo the same attractive, angular styling mixed with the wide, athletic stance that has made it so popular so far. While the overall application of Cadillac's Art & Science design language is stunning including the design execution of the vertical headlamps and taillights, the coolest part of the new SRX's design is the subtle use of tailfins on the thin LED taillights that pays homage to historical and iconic Cadillacs including the 1959 Cadillac Eldorado. Trimmed in a tasteful amount of exterior chrome, the painted 20-inch, seven-spoke alloy wheels (instead of the available) added plenty of character to the SRX Turbo and complemented the Gray Flannel (similar to a dark cadet blue) exterior paint.
2010 Cadillac SRX Turbo Interior
Just like the exterior styling, the stylish and luxurious SRX cabin was carried over with no major changes for the Turbo model. Sharp eyes will notice the new boost gauge in the instrument cluster as well as the revised tachometer to signify the engine's lower redline, but all other aspects of the interior looks and feels the same across the SRX lineup. The SRX Turbo's angular center stack and pop-up navigation display provide a great starting point for the cabin, but the attention to details and the abundance of high-tech standard equipment vastly improves the overall experience. Finely detailed, hand-sewn leather coverings are found all throughout the interior including the instrument panel, door panels and steering wheel, while wood and aluminum trim provide accents on the steering wheel, center stack and center console.
The 2010 Cadillac SRX Turbo Premium comes with an impressive list of standard equipment that includes the UltraView panoramic sunroof, heated and ventilated front seats, heated outboard rear seats, Bose 10-speaker premium audio system, pop-up navigation system with 40 gigabyte hard drive and keyless entry and start. The only option that came on this particular test vehicle was the rear seat entertainment system ($1,295) that uses dual, flip-up screens behind the front seat headrests and can play through the audio system or a pair of wireless headsets. The audio system features AM/FM/XM/CD with auxiliary and USB port inputs.
Although the new SRX may be considerably smaller than its predecessor, the fact that it switches from a seven-passenger layout to a five-passenger layout helps to open up space inside the cabin. The new SRX Turbo may be sporty, but it is still a luxury model so there was plenty attention to comfort with the SRX offering more front headroom and more rear legroom than the Lexus RX. The utility aspect of the SRX is also impressive with a maximum cargo volume of 61.1 cubic feet (29.2 cubic feet with the rear seat up), and the rear cargo area even features a hidden storage compartment and a rugged, interchangeable track system with add-on accessories available. My sole complaint about the interior of the Cadillac SRX continues to be the lack of a high-tech interface system (such as Audi's MMI, Lexus' Remote Touch Control and Mercedes-Benz's COMAND) despite the fact that the touch-screen navigation system that Cadillac uses is among the best on the market in terms of display clarity and easiness to use.
2010 Cadillac SRX Turbo Performance & Handling
To make up for the lack of a V-8 option that the first-generation SRX offered, Cadillac equipped its newest model with the same 2.8-liter turbocharged V-6 that is also available in the all-new Saab 9-5. Producing 300 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, the SRX Turbo improves its acceleration by about a second from zero to 60 miles per hour over the stock SRX, but it's the smooth, quiet and refined way that this engine is tuned that really makes the whole driving experience better. The sole transmission is a six-speed automatic that provides a Sport mode as well as a manual shift mode. Even though drivers worried about fuel economy should give the non-turbo SRX higher consideration, the SRX Turbo does feature an Eco mode to squeeze every last mile per gallon out of the powertrain helping the souped-up SRX Turbo get EPA fuel economy estimates of 15 miles per gallon in the city and 22 mpg on the highway.
The 2010 SRX was already exhibited great handling when it was introduced, so no major changes were made to the Theta Premium chassis or the sport-tuned suspension with the peppier turbo engine under the hood. All SRX Turbo models feature all-wheel drive (designated by the SRX4 badge on the liftgate) giving the luxury crossover a well-balanced driving dynamic despite its rather hefty 4,307 pound curb weight. The Haldex-based all-wheel drive system with an electronic limited-slip differential (e-LSD) that not only enables full torque split front-to-rear, but it also enables torque distribution side-to-side across the rear axle. When it comes to towing, the 2010 SRX can handle up to 3,500 pounds (with the towing package) and a payload of 1,243 pounds.
2010 Cadillac SRX Turbo Safety
The Cadillac SRX has received fairly positive crash ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) with five-star ratings for driver frontal-impact, side-impact protection while the passenger frontal-impact and rollover protection resulted in four-star ratings. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the 2010 SRX Good ratings for front-, side- and rear-impact protection, but has yet to test it for the new roof-strength test. Standard safety features on the new SRX includes four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, six airbags, StabiliTrak electronic stability control with traction control, tire pressure monitoring system and, of course, GM's OnStar system with automatic crash response and stolen vehicle assistance.
With the hot-selling SRX crossover already giving the Lexus RX some stiff competition, the sportier Cadillac SRX Turbo adds a whole new dimension to this midsize luxury crossover rivalry. One of the reasons the new SRX is so popular is that it features pricing in base form that is more competitive with smaller luxury crossovers, but the more powerful SRX Turbo delivers improved performance to compete against some of the sportier non-V-8 mid-size luxury crossovers like the Acura MDX and Infiniti FX35. In the end, the 2010 Cadillac SRX Turbo has the looks, luxury and now the performance of the popular Cadillac CTS sedan which should help continue the impressive momentum against the Lexus RX.
Select photos by Jeffrey N. Ross
Cadillac provided a vehicle for this review.