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2004 Crossover Buyer's Guide
by Martha Hindes

Cadillac SRX
2004 Cadillac SRX

When is a convertible not a convertible? When it's the world's largest crossover vehicle sunroof in the top of a Cadillac SRX luxury utility, perhaps?

The optional system, called UltraView, is worth mentioning up high because it is truly spectacular, adding 5.6 square feet of open air space over the first two rows of seats for driving under the sky, for feeling a part of the outdoors, for smelling Spring air without being blown apart in the process. It's a feeling of freedom in a snazzy, punchy, rear-drive vehicle, or all-wheel-drive when needed.

For those who remember the rear-drive heyday, it's the fun element that for years has mostly been missing behind the wheel. Aficionados call it a "driver's car." When translated into sport utility territory on this new Caddy, it retains handling and attitude, and doesn't lose that same punch.

With its new SRX, Cadillac has crafted a standout design, patterned in spirit after its sibling performance CTS sedan that shares GM's new "Sigma" architecture, with crisp, no-apologies edgy styling. Cadillac calls the look distinctive and "chiseled." We won't disagree.

In fact, Cadillac's term "a luxury utility with the heart and soul of a sport sedan," makes sense when you consider the optional, next generation 4.6 liter Northstar V-8 (VVT) engine that headlines the horsepower group. GM's "segment first" magnetic ride control and "StabiliTrak" active suspension system underlay its performance, adding millisecond adjustments. Speed sensitive steering enhances that control.

Sandwiched as a medium weight between the CTS sedan and larger Escalade full-size sport utility, this is exactly the vehicle Cadillac needed, and those wanting the "Cadillac of sport utilities" have waited for.

In the mid-40s price range, putting it solidly in the lux column, this is a vehicle that can outrun its rivals, despite being larger than some. That translates into plenty of leg room, plus cargo space, plus room for seven with an optional third row. That performance quotient was built in by design, and has brought honors as well as "aaahs."