By Joe Wiesenfelder on April 6, 2012
We've never been enthusiastic about the Cadillac SRX, in part because we didn't think its interior was up to snuff. The SRX's biggest problem, actually, was the Chevrolet Equinox with which it shares a platform. Simply put, the Equinox's quality was high enough that the SRX's higher price was hard to justify. The 2013 SRX refresh should help with that.
You'd need a tour guide to recognize the exterior changes, but the interior is a different story. Cadillac's new CUE user interface, which will appear first on the new XTS flagship sedan, will be standard for 2013. In the SRX, it's represented by the same gloss-black center control panel that's complete with touch-sensitive "capacitive" buttons in lieu of regular buttons.
While I'm an ardent critic of this technology in general, I do appreciate Cadillac's use of a haptic-feedback pulse you feel when you tap one of these buttons or the touch-screen. And in the 2013 SRX, it happens to replace an uninspired center control panel with a scattershot layout of buttons that wasn't intuitive. As in the XTS, tapping a rib low on the panel makes it motor upward, revealing a nifty storage cubby with an illuminated USB port inside.
The SRX's CUE implementation doesn't go quite as far as the XTS system, which has a fully configurable and customizable color LCD screen for an instrument panel. In the SRX, the instrument panel is a broad, brightly backlit set of conventional mechanical gauges with a less ambitious color display incorporated. A new steering wheel adds the buttons needed for navigating through the display's menus. Once again, this new element fixes one of the earlier flaws: The old gauges are gone, and they took with them the weird Fortress of Solitude-inspired ice crystal turn-signal lights. (Editor's note: Those were Cars.com Managing Editor David Thomas' favorite feature in the old SRX; he also liked the TV series "Smallville.")
These changes plus a new shift lever and upgraded trim pieces give the SRX a higher-quality feel. I can't give the all-clear until I see a couple of the production models, though. In earlier versions, the door materials seemed to diminish in quality below armrest level, and it varied with color. The show car's dark interior didn't reveal what flaws might lurk there.
Executive Editor Joe Wiesenfelder, a Cars.com launch veteran, leads the car evaluation effort. He owns a 1984 Mercedes 300D and a 2002 Mazda Miata SE. Email Joe