I don't know if Cadillac is satisfied with the sales of its SRX sport ute -- the company moved 18,415 of them in the first 10 months of 2006, down more than 1,000 from the same period in 2005 -- but I've always been surprised the SRX isn't more popular. It's one of my favorite luxury SUVs, and it has been since it hit the market in 2003 as an '04 model.
The SRX is a true "crossover," which is an SUV that is based on a car, not a truck. We have been struggling for a better term to describe these light-duty SUVs, which are closer to a station wagon than to a true truck-based SUV, such as the Cadillac Escalade. Crossover doesn't mean much, but it's all we have.
With a crossover, you can expect a carlike ride, and minimal off-road ability, and that certainly describes the SRX. Based on the same platform as the CTS sedan, the SRX is one of the most-comfortable, best-handling sport utes available at any price.
The test model had a 255-horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6 engine with a five-speed automatic transmission. Though all-wheel drive is an option, the test model was rear-wheel drive. The SRX is reasonably heavy, but the V-6 worked well enough with the transmission to make acceleration more than acceptable. Regular gas is fine with this engine, too.
The SRX also is offered with Cadillac's Northstar, a 4.6-liter, 320-horsepower V-8 that comes with a new six-speed automatic transmission. It's a great engine, but it costs an extra $6,205 -- you get additional equipment with that, sure, but it's a pretty big premium to pay. Base price on the test SRX was $37,110, and with shipping and some options, list price was $42,105.
Some of those options were nice -- heated seats, bigger tires and wheels, an enormous power sunroof -- but the base-model SRX is nicely equipped, and at less than $38,000 with shipping, it's a bargain: You get, after all, a power liftgate, rear parking assist, a Bose stereo with XM satellite radio; front, side and side-curtain air bags, stability control and leather upholstery -- all features that often cost extra.
Outside, the SRX looks pretty much as it did when it was introduced, but inside, the interior has been redesigned for 2007. Fine, but there was nothing wrong with the old interior -- that's something every Cadillac has been getting right for at least five years. Front seats were extremely comfortable, and the rear seats were fine, but taller passengers riding in back might wish for more legroom if the front passengers are tall, as well. There's an optional third-row seat, but the test model didn't have it. On the road, the SRX is exceptionally quiet, and the ride is smooth on even rough pavement. Handling is excellent for an SUV.
In October 2003, I wrote that the SRX, "for what it is, may be the best Cadillac in decades." That still applies.