Cadillac first announced its new crossover “medium luxury” utility vehicle, named SRX, in January 2002. At the time, it was one of five new Cadillac products intended for production between that date and the end of 2003.
Joining the busy luxury sport wagon/compact SUV segment, Cadillac will go against the league-leading Lexus RX 300 — which has been transformed into the more powerful RX 330 for 2004 — and the Acura MDX. Bridging a gap between luxury sedans and powerful SUVs, it’s the first luxury crossover model from Cadillac.
Built on GM’s new Sigma platform, which is also being used for the company’s CTS sedan, the SRX promises a lower center of gravity than most competitors. The automaker says this improves ride and handling “without compromising [the] driver’s command view of the road.” Two engines will be available, with either a rear-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive (AWD) configuration.
Cadillac will be promoting the driving dynamics of the SRX, as it did for the CTS sedan. Magnetic Ride Control (MRC), Cadillac’s active suspension system, will be an option. The MRC system applies electrical current to a coil in the damper’s piston, which varies the viscosity of fluid that holds iron particles in suspension. The amount of current controls suspension firmness, which can change up to 1,000 times per second.
Sales are scheduled to begin in the second quarter of 2003, and it will be considered an early 2004 model.
The automaker says the SRX’s styling is inspired by the 2001 Vizon concept car, and its design cues are shared with the Cadillac CTS, Escalade, EXT and XLR. Cadillac claims that the SRX stands out from the crowd, at the same time that it “blends with the Cadillac family.” The design is intended to communicate the Cadillac heritage, which stretches back a full century.
The SRX’s wheelbase is about 10 inches longer than that of the Lexus RX 330, and Cadillac’s version is 9 inches longer overall. Front/rear weight distribution is near 50/50.
Up to seven occupants will fit into the SRX if an optional, powered, flip-folding third-row seat is installed. Otherwise, the passenger capacity is five. Each passenger will sit higher than in a luxury sedan but lower than in a typical SUV. An optional UltraView roof offers 5 square feet of open space above the first and second rows. The available UltraView Plus setup adds a second glass roof over the third row.
Cargo capacity totals 70 cubic feet, vs. nearly 85 cubic feet for the Lexus RX 330. Side storage bins go into the cargo area. Five-passenger models can have an optional cargo management system that includes covered, divided compartments in the floor.
Options include GM’s OnStar communication system, a navigation system and an XM Satellite Radio. The optional backseat DVD video system has a video screen in the back of the center console rather than in the customary location in the ceiling.
Either a V-6 or V-8 engine will be available for the SRX, and each will feature variable valve timing. The new 3.6-liter V-6 will produce 260 horsepower and 252 pounds-feet of torque. Cadillac’s 4.6-liter Northstar V-8 will generate approximately 320 hp and 315 pounds-feet of torque.
A five-speed-automatic transmission offers Driver Shift Control, which is a manual gear-change provision. Cadillac claims that the V-8’s transmission adjusts its shift patterns to correspond to the driver’s style.
Cadillac’s AWD system uses open front, rear and center differentials and relies on the traction-control system to shift torque from wheels that are slipping to those that still have grip on the pavement. In normal driving, the torque split is 50/50.
Four-channel antilock brakes with Panic Brake Assist and Cadillac’s StabiliTrak electronic stability system are standard. Side-impact airbags mounted in the backrests of the front seats provide torso protection, while side curtain-type airbags protect the heads of outboard occupants in the first two rows.