x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

2010 Cadillac SRX

A thorough makeover has put the 2010 Cadillac SRX at the front of its competition.

The Cadillac SRX highlights a dramatic redesign. The improvements aren't merely restricted to the exterior; there's an impressive dash inside, too.
The Cadillac SRX highlights a dramatic redesign. The improvements aren't merely restricted to the exterior; there's an impressive dash inside, too.

It may sound a little unlikely; it's almost certainly surprising, but the best thing about the Cadillac's new SRX is its interior styling. Long a weakness of even the latest-generation of "new and improved" Caddys, the SRX's cabin vaults the crossover vehicle into pole position - at least in this regard - when the previous version was the worst the segment had to offer.

The gauge set, for instance, once a feature that Cadillac seem to dismiss as insignificant, now stands for a truly original design. Not only do the gauges feature trendy black numerals on a bright white background, but the centre of the speedometer is occupied by a little round full-colour TFT screen that displays all manner of vehicle, engine and trip functions in a bright and cheery manner. Imagine that: idiot lights as a design element. It even displays a short video rendition of Caddy's new emblem upon start-up.

Nor are those the only interesting new touches. All but the base SRX has a power liftgate that offers, finally, an adjustable height limiter (via driver's door mounted rotary switch) so that those shorter of stature can reach the door close button. The SRX also gets the CTS's pop-up LCD screen for the navigation system that stows away when not in use. The improvement of the SRX's interior is not limited to the gimmicky. The centre console, for instance, has been cleaned up. There's some well-crafted aluminium-finished trim around the air conditioning controls as well as some fresh new "Sapele" (real) wood trim tastefully distributed throughout the door, lower console and steering wheel. The highlights, however, are the neat little door latches, an ordinarily minor detail that becomes a stylistic highlight thanks to their dramatically sculpted design, ergonomic correctness and satiny finish.

The new SRX is also roomier - at least for five passengers - than the previous version. That's because Cadillac has abandoned the "minivan-alternative" Jack-of-all-trades positioning of the first SRX and is no longer offering seven-passenger seating even as an option. The result is a shorter crossover that, according to Max Wolf, Cadillac's exterior design director, led to the SRX's aggressive exterior silhouette with a more dramatically sloped rear roofline and shorter overhangs. And despite its shorter wheelbase, the new SRX's boot is expansively roomy.

The downsizing also results in a more nimble SRX. Though it's no BMW X5 - not surprising since Cadillac is targeting the Lexus RX as its direct competition - the new Caddy is far more at home on twisty roads than the old. The all-new TE platform is admirably rigid, its track is wider and the suspension just a little on the firm side of plush resulting in minimal body roll without shaking the fillings out of the passengers. Even the steering, long a GM weakness, is communicative and direct. Only the brakes can be cited as wanting in driver feel. As for the switch to a front-wheel-drive rather than RWD platform, it affects on-road handling very little and aids packaging the smaller SRX immensely, says GM.

In a surprising twist, the SRX's top-of-the-line engine is not the 3.6L double-overhead camshaft unit now used so universally through GM's model line-up, but the 2.8L turbocharged version of that same engine architecture. Originally used in the Saab 9-5, the 2.8T was destined for a new Saab 9-4X when GM decided to sell the brand. Though it is still possible that GM will produce a version of this vehicle for Saab, right now this engine is orphaned within The General's line-up.

That's too bad, because the little six is a stonker. There's a creditable 300hp on tap and a significant 400Nm of torque available as well. Most importantly, all this torque is available as low as 2,000rpm, meaning that the 2.8T does not have to spin too hard to motivate the all-wheel-drive SRX's moderately lardy 1,854kg. Even with the throttle floored for maximum warp factor, however, the 2.8T remains smooth and sophisticated. The power is seamless, the noise, vibration and harshness well contained and the 2.8T always seems, well, relaxed no matter how hard you're pushing it.

Unfortunately, Cadillac in the UAE will only offer the base naturally-aspirated 3.0L V6 version. Designed for superior fuel consumption, the 3.0 boasts a "not-bad" 265hp, but just 302Nm of torque. Worse, that torque doesn't arrive until a heady 5,100rpm, meaning the 3.0L has to be spun pretty hard for even moderate advancement. It also means that engine noise is a bit more intrusive and, in a complete anomaly considering that both engines are based on the same block, the 3.0 does not feel either as smooth or as quiet as the 2.8T, even at the same revs.

Considering that GM currently estimates the 2.8T will demand about a $3,000 (Dh11,019) premium over the 3.0L, it's well worth the advantage. That, of course, is mitigated by the fact that the more powerful engine is not available on the entry-level front-wheel-drive model and is only available with the more expensive all-wheel-drive system. On the other hand, GM promises the SRX, even equipped with the turbocharged engine, will enjoy about a $3,000 advantage over the Lexus RX350 in the US.

The Cadillac SRX will appear in UAE showrooms in December in two trim levels, both with the 3.0L V6. No prices here have yet been released. motoring@thenational.ae