Since the luxury crossover segment was created back in 1998, it has been divided into two categories of vehicles: the Lexus RX and everything else. For Cadillac, the first-generation SRX helped bring the luxury automaker into the crossover segment, but with its bland station wagon styling, it never amounted to much competition for the dominant Lexus RX. With its all-new 2010 SRX, Cadillac finally has a vehicle that matches, and even surpasses in some regards, the Lexus when it comes to luxury, technology and sportiness.
Having introduced the segment and continuing to be a segment benchmark, the Lexus RX has the biggest target on it, but competition for the 2010 Cadillac SRX continues to expand with vehicles such as the Audi Q5, Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class and Infiniti EX all sprouting up since the SRX's 2004 introduction. While the 2004-2009 SRX was assembled in Lansing, Michigan, the second-generation model is now produced in Ramos Arizpe, Mexico where the Saturn VUE was built. Available in four trim levels (base, luxury, performance and premium), one of the biggest advantages the 2010 Cadillac SRX has over the Lexus RX is a starting MSRP that is almost $4,000 lower than the RX starting at $33,330. The model I tested was the all-wheel drive Performance SRX that has a base MSRP of $44,995, but the optional features and destination charge bumped the final as-tested price up to $47,115.
2010 Cadillac SRX Exterior
While the original SRX resembled a tall station wagon, the 2010 Cadillac SRX finally gets a more ideal crossover design which was inspired by the 2008 Cadillac Provoq Concept. Replacing the slab-sided, straight-edged first-generation design, the 2010 model gets a more attractive design thanks to its swept roofline, wide stance and angular body creases and beltline. Although the new SRX has a shorter length and wheelbase than its predecessor, it is almost three inches wider giving it an athletic stance similar to the Infiniti FX. Using many elements of Cadillac's Art & Science design language, the 2010 Cadillac SRX has a more modern look than the previous SRX, but one of the best aspects of the luxury crossover is a nod to historical Caddy models: tailfins. Like the CTS, the SRX has vertical headlights and taillights, but the trailing edge of the tall taillights extends back from the sheet metal creating small, noticeable tailfins that pays homage to past Cadillac models including the iconic 1959 Cadillac Eldorado. In addition to adaptive, high-intensity discharge (HID) headlamps and LED taillights, both also use Cadillac's stylish light pipe technology for a more unique look. Completing its modern look, this Cadillac SRX came in a dark Imperial Blue with 20-inch, seven-spoke alloy wheels and tasteful amounts of chrome surrounding the exterior.
2010 Cadillac SRX Interior
As is the case with any luxury vehicle, the SRX features a cabin that is filled with soft-touch materials and is laid out in an elegant and attractive manor. While the angular center stack and pop-up navigation display may seem like the obvious high points of the cabin, it's the small details and surprising standard equipment that end up garnering the most attention. Finely detailed, hand-sewn leather coverings are found all throughout the interior including the instrument panel, door panels and steering wheel, while wood and faux aluminum trim accent most of the interior. The instrument gauge cluster also features some unique elements that include jewel-like inserts at the top of the speedometer pod that glow green with the turn signals, a blue-backlit multifunction display within the speedometer gauge that shows information such as local speed limits, navigation directions and vehicle speed. My only complaint about the interior of the Cadillac SRX is 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 GM's touch-screen navigation screen may feature one of the clearest displays and is one of the easiest to use in the industry.
The new SRX may be considerably smaller than its predecessor, but the fact that it switches from a seven-passenger layout to a five-passenger layout helps to open up space inside the cabin. Rear legroom is smaller than the RX and even the previous model, but the 2010 SRX is still comfortable for all five passengers. Unlike the Equinox I recently drove, the rear seat is able to fold completely flat and allows for a total cargo volume of just over 61 cubic feet (with the rear seat up, cargo volume is 29.2 cubic feet).
Some of the more impressive standard features on the SRX AWD Performance Collection include the panoramic roof, navigation system with 40 gigabyte hard drive, illuminated door sills and heated front seats. The only option that came on this particular test vehicle was the optional ($1,295) rear seat entertainment system. In addition to playing DVD movies on the front screen (when in park) there are also two flip up screens available behind each front seat headrest. Since the only available DVD slot is mounted in the center stack, the rear seat entertainment system uses wireless headphones and a remote control to reduce distractions for front-seat occupants. Sound quality from any one of the audio inputs (AM/FM/CD/DVD with auxiliary and USB port inputs) is crisp from the Bose 10-speaker audio system.
2010 Cadillac SRX Performance & Handling
Borrowing its base engine from the Cadillac CTS lineup, the 2010 Cadillac SRX uses a 3.0-liter direct-injected V-6 paired with a front-wheel drive six-speed automatic transmission. While this engine is one of the most refined among its competitors, it is also one of the smallest in its class with one of the weakest outputs producing 265 horsepower and 223 lb-ft of torque (compared to 275 hp and 257 lb-ft for the 2010 Lexus RX 350 and 297 hp and 253 lb-ft for the 2010 Infiniti EX35). For those looking for a boost in power, Cadillac will offer a turbocharged 2.8-liter V-6 later in the 2010 model year which produces best-in-class output with 300 horsepower and 297 lb-ft of torque. As for fuel economy, the 2010 Cadillac SRX FWD gets an EPA estimated 18 miles per gallon in the city and 25 mpg on the highway, while our all-wheel drive test model is rated at 17 mpg city and 23 mpg highway. When the turbocharged V-6 arrives sometime next year, GM estimates that it will get 15 mpg city and 21 mpg highway. 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.
Despite its power disadvantage, this 4,307-pound SRX never felt underpowered during acceleration and provided a smooth, well-balanced suspension that could either absorb Michigan potholes without excessive kidney damage or quickly maneuver to avoid them in the first place. Labeled the Theta Premium platform, the SRX uses a combination of chassis components from the Theta platform (2010 Chevrolet Equinox) and Epsilon II platform (2010 Buick LaCrosse), and it features a four-wheel, sport-tuned suspension. As for handling (in both wet and dry conditions), the SRX uses a Haldex-based all-wheel drive system with an electronic limited-slip differential that not only enables full torque split front-to-rear, but it also enables torque distribution side-to-side across the rear axle. During my week behind the wheel the 2010 SRX, a couple intense rain storms popped up while driving, but the all-wheel drive system kept the SRX under control and firmly planted to the road.
2010 Cadillac SRX Safety
Although the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has yet to test the 2010 Cadillac SRX for crash safety, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has already given the new crossover a full complement of Good ratings and its coveted status as a Top Safety Pick. 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.
After taking on the Lexus ES with the Buick LaCrosse sedan, General Motors seems to have come up with the perfect answer for one of Lexus' best-selling vehicle, the RX. Looking to knock the Lexus crossover off its pedestal, the second-generation Cadillac SRX complements its unique design and luxurious interior with a sporty, smooth chassis and an incredible value compared to the competition. With styling and quality similar to the Cadillac CTS, the 2010 Cadillac SRX continues to improve the exemplary brand image that Cadillac has built for itself.
Select photos by Jeffrey N. Ross