EXPERT REVIEW

The Detroit Newspapers's view

The Cadillac SRX holds a reputation as one of the more macho crossover vehicles, with a “machined” cabin that proved to be a turnoff to many female buyers.

But the Detroit luxury brand makes some major improvements to its ’07 SRX, with lots of attention lavished on the interior and a new six-speed automatic transmission on V-8 models.

We tested an amply equipped model with a long list of options, including $1,900 all-wheel drive and a $4,050 premium luxury package that includes an “ultraview” sunroof and a Bose 5.1 Surround Sound audio system.

Our test car had a sticker price of $51,170, including a $745 destination charge.

SHE: Wow. Talk about a slam-dunk for Cadillac. It now makes a serious run at the women who’ve always preferred the Lexus RX. I think the SRX is better than the Lexus. You get the total package with the Cadillac, especially if you get the all-wheel-drive V-8 model that we had. The interior of the SRX is designed to look custom-made, and I just couldn’t keep from running my hands along that instrument panel. What a dramatic change from the unappealing interior of the old SRX.

HE: I hope you’re not trying to say that Cadillac’s gone all girlie.

SHE: No. I’ve got to believe men will love it, too. After all, a huge trend across the automotive and the fashion industries is a move toward unique, hand-crafted things. People want something that looks like it was made properly and feels like someone designed it — whether they’re buying a designer T-shirt or an SUV. The more detail work, the better. And the SRX really delivers with things like hand-wrapped trim, softer surfaces and the greater use of chrome and wood grain.

HE: The cabin in the SRX is pretty luxurious. But I’m also impressed with the new six-speed automatic transmission that was first introduced on the Cadillac STS-V and XLR-V. It’s a standard feature on our all-wheel-drive V-8 SRX. It’s a sweet powertrain combination. The 4.6-liter V-8 churns out 320 horses and 315 pounds-feet of torque, which is ample power for passing and merging on the freeway. However, the fuel economy numbers are still disappointing. Our test vehicle returned 15 miles per gallon in city driving and 22 mpg on the highway, according to the EPA. That’s not much better than the big Escalade.

SHE: But there are other things that make the SRX irresistible — and sensible. I love the fact that you get the OnStar communications system as a standard feature. And the SRX is loaded with lots of standard safety features, too, including side curtain air bags that protect all outboard passengers, antilock brakes and stability control.

HE: The ’07 SRX definitely veers more toward the luxury end of the scale, and that’s a good thing. I never thought the original cockpit looked like it belonged in a premium crossover. But that’s all changed with this lovely new cabin, which is full of rich materials, including some lovely wood. I noticed that our test vehicle also came bundled with a premium luxury collection package, which nudged the sticker above 50 grand. That’s also encroaching on Escalade territory.

SHE: But because of its smaller size, the SRX is a lot easier to park and drive than an Escalade. And Cadillac made other tweaks, including reworking the door sill area to make the SRX easier to get in and out of. I think we both liked the firmer ride in the SRX, which feels a lot sportier than the one in the Lexus. I had almost no complaints about the Cadillac, except for minor things like the fact that the control for the rear wiper was located on the overhead console and not on the stalk with the front wiper controls. Oh, and the visibility is a little impaired because of those thick rear pillars.

HE: I’m still impressed with the upgrades. From our perch in Detroit, it’s nice to see Cadillac consolidating its position as a world-beater with products like the SRX.

Anita and Paul Lienert are partners in Lienert & Lienert, a Detroit-based automotive information services company.

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