2007 Cadillac SRX

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2004 Cadillac SRX

This 2004 review is representative of model years 2004 to 2009.
By Ann Job of MSN Autos
Rating: 9.5

Bottom Line:

Cadillac joins the crossover sport utility segment with its 2004 SRX. A tall wagon-like vehicle offered in rear- and all-wheel drive and with V6 and V8 engines, the SRX distinguishes itself with a sporty ride and a comfortable, quiet interior.
Pros:
  • Pleasing Northstar V8
  • Lots of available features
  • Surprising second-row legroom
Cons:
  • Annoying doorsill ledge
  • Can be pricey
  • Easy-to-forget name

You know, I didn't much care for the cold, edgy styling at the front of the Cadillac CTS sedan when the CTS debuted as an early 2003 model.

Either Cadillac has done a good job refining the styling or it just looks a lot better on a crossover sport-utility vehicle like the 2004 Cadillac SRX.

This is Cadillac's first crossover. Unlike the Escalade, which is a big, truck-ish SUV, the SRX is a wagon-like vehicle that rides on the same car platform as the CTS, has up to three rows of seats and is available with all-wheel drive.

With a starting manufacturer's suggested retail price at introduction of around $38,000 for a V6-powered two-wheel-drive model, and mid-$40,000s for one with a V8, the midsize SRX is meant to compete with other luxury crossovers. These include the Lexus RX 330, Acura MDX, Infiniti FX, Mercedes-Benz M-Class and BMW X5.

Takes different approach
It's not difficult to separate the SRX from the competition, and I'm not talking about the wreath and crest on the vehicle.

The SRX engine offerings include a 320-horsepower V8, while the RX 330 and MDX come only with V6s.

The RX 330, FX and X5 aren't available with third-row seating, but a third-row seat is standard in the MDX. The SRX, meantime, lets buyers choose whether to add a third-row seat and carry seven passengers.

The features are plentiful here, sort of what you'd expect in a Cadillac.

Second-row seats can provide as much as 41 inches of legroom—a segment record. In comparison, the MDX offers 37.8 inches of second-row legroom and the RX 330 offers 36.4 inches. Note the second-row seats in the SRX can move fore and aft 4 inches to help accommodate riders in the third row.

Options include the usual luxury SUV amenities like navigation system and rear-entertainment system. There's the largest sunroof combination in the segment, too, a cargo management system and XM satellite radio, among other options, available for the SRX.

Ride to satisfy many
Here is the most notable difference: The well-tuned driving dynamics of the SRX combined with a quiet, wood-appointed interior.

Drivers who have twisty mountain roads nearby have opportunities galore to relish the fine road manners and scenery in serenity now.

Well, OK, on acceleration, you're likely to hear the snorts of the V8 in the SRX. Note there are dual tailpipes at the back of this new wagon.

The ride can be immensely satisfying, as it was when I took curves with gusto and bounded up mountain roads.

Note that while the SRX rides on sizable, 18-inch tires, the vehicle is well-insulated to keep out a lot of road and wind noise.

In contrast, there can be quite a bit of road noise from the 20-inch tires on the FX and the 18- to 20-inche tires on the X5.

There's still a lot of grip from the Michelin tires on the SRX. The suspension with the high-tech Magnetic Ride Control (MR) that works via suspended iron particles in dampers does a great job of controlling the level of roll and/or pitch so the vehicle maintains a flat attitude.

On road and off, the test SRX felt stable. It stayed buttoned down quite nicely and in tune with the road. Note the weight distribution in this crossover is nearly 50-50, front/rear.

Much of the time I forgot I was driving an SUV-like vehicle that sits up off the pavement and has 8.2 inches of minimum ground clearance.

Engine used in Cadillac roadster
The V8 here is a revised Northstar power plant that's also in the sleek new Cadillac roadster, the XLR.

Cadillac kept the basic, 4.6-liter double overhead cam engine structure of previous Northstars and added variable valve timing for intake and exhaust. There's also electronic throttle control.

There always was plentiful power available on the test drive, and I often found myself traveling at a higher speed than I would have guessed.

Torque is 315 lb-ft at 4400 rpm and gets the lengthy SRX—it's longer than the RX 330, MDX, FX and X5—moving quickly.

Even the V6 feels peppy. This 3.6-liter engine has variable valve timing and is the same new powerplant that's in the 2004 CTS.

In the SRX, it produces 260 horses and 252 lb-ft at 2800 rpm.

Both engines are mated to a five-speed automatic transmission.

Odds and ends
I liked that I didn't have to hoist myself up into the SRX, even though I enjoyed decent views out the front over some of the traffic ahead of me. The hip point for the driver seat in this vehicle is 5 inches higher than in a CTS, but 10 inches lower than in an Escalade.

Prices on this crossover can get expensive quickly, especially when some fun features—such as rear entertainment system and the huge UltraView sunroof—are added.

I struggled to get in and out of the SRX without rubbing my leg on the lower doorsill ledge that seems to extend outward more than expected.

The blend of wood and leather inside is tasteful, and the leather can be pleasingly aromatic.

While I've warmed to the CTS-like exterior styling that's on the SRX, I found the texture atop the SRX dashboard, which is similar to that in the CTS, doesn't fit with what is otherwise a rich-looking interior.

The SRX's towing capacity is 3,500 pounds with the V8, but only 1,000 pounds with the V6. In contrast, the RX 330 can tow a minimum 2,000 pounds.

I don't know about you, but I find Cadillac's new naming convention difficult to master. Rather than selecting words as names, i.e., Escalade, the automaker has decided to join some European imports in designating letter combinations. The fact is, the SRX, as a name, isn't as memorable as the Escalade.

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BB05 - 9/17/2014 12:48:25 AM