The 2010 Cadillac SRX doesn't look like the old SRX, it doesn't feel like the old SRX and it's a much different form factor than the old SRX. That's good, because that means the new SRX is seriously appealing.
Where the old car skewed more towards tall wagon, this new SRX is more SUV. That's thanks to the forthcoming 2010 Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon, which covers the wagon bases, leaving the SRX free to focus on competing more directly with established SUVs while still giving Cadillac an offering in both segments.
The 2008 Cadillac CTS was the first product to bear the fruits of Cadillac's renewed focus on good product. The new SRX picks up where it left off, raising the bar on both luxury and technology while carrying much of the CTS driving dynamics to an SUV.
The SRX greets you not with the new car smell of off-gassing plastics, but instead smells more like an old Jaguar with a nose full of leather and wood, a subtle reminder that this car is part of a return to proper Cadillacs, a return to that whole "standard of the world" business that Cadillac hasn't been able to claim in at least three decades.
The interior fit and finish in the SRX is seriously luxurious, using GM's "cut and sew" hand-stitched leather throughout. The instrument panel borrows heavily from the CTS's design, including the slick popup navigation screen housed in a satin-finish housing. The buttons are laid out in a similar fashion to the CTS too, which places them readily at hand without smothering you with tech like an Audi. The info screen on the dashboard's still pretty trick with a customizable circular LCD screen in the center that's bright and colorful.
The styling inside and out is the latest and probably the most successful interpretation of Caddy's "Art & Science" theme. The combination of curves and creases, the art and science, makes the SRX much louder than its crossover competition, while doing a good job of building some dynamism into the two-box shape.
The one element of the SRX that's hard to pinpoint is the performance. Like its crossover-as-appliance competition, the shifter is used to put the car in gear, but in the SRX it also serves to transform the driving experience from sedate cruiser to tossable anti-SUV. The difference between "Drive" and "Sport" is striking. The former is characterized by sluggish shifts, controlled-but-noticeable body roll, slightly over boosted power steering and a tendency towards understeer. Sport changes things completely with Crisp shifting, high revs, near-neutral handling thanks to the Haldex AWD system, taut suspension through variable-orifice dampers and well-weighted, communicative steering. The ability to switch between the comfort of an American crossover and driving dynamics close to those of a German sedan is a neat one, but we'd just keep it in Sport all the time.
Standard equipment for the SRX includes the 3.0-liter, 260 HP V6 in our tester with a 300 HP turbo V6 coming soon. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard, though there are two examples for the different power levels. FWD is standard, though the Haldex AWD system with electronic limited-slip is definitely recommended. The basic suspension is competent, but the upgraded variable-orifice shocks turn the car into an entirely different animal.
Combining the luxury and refinement of Cadillacs of yore with the quality and driving experience of the CTS makes the new SRX a very appealing vehicle. Most impressive, however, is its ability to translate that appeal into what is traditionally the most unappealing of segments. The 2010 Cadillac SRX isn't just a competitive luxury crossover vehicle; it makes a luxury crossover vehicle worth considering.