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2006 Cadillac SRX

Martha Hindes

Cadillac SRX
Cadillac SRX Interior

Cadillac's award-winning SRX midsize crossover has been on the market long enough now to have taken the edge off the surprise factor that earlier had aficionados flagging us down on the road for a better look. But that's not suggesting a problem. This sporty utility vehicle based on GM's rear-drive Sigma architecture still has all the sassy panache that sets it above many competitors in the midsized luxury running. And running is an operative word here. Think in terms of road performance, handling and comfort by a roomy, yet surprisingly agile utility-use vehicle (thanks in part to front-rear balance and a low center of gravity).

Check out its chiseled good looks, supple interior, wide expanse of rear glass that wraps beyond the lift gate borders, the flat-floored stowage, and that amazing open-wide ceiling that makes most sunroofs pale by comparison. Despite its trailering capability, when you add in the creature comforts of a luxury auto you might not want to muddy its tires trenching through slushy bogs, or across washboard outwashes.

For 2006, Caddy added some nice appearance and amenity touches. Lift gate power is now standard. Door step-overs are reduced for easier exit. A lush "cashmere" interior color is new, plus four new exterior shades dubbed Stealth Grey, Radiant Bronze, Blackberry and Infrared. Redesigned 17- or 18-inch sporty wheels feature Caddy's signature wreath and crest.

SRX was designed as a road-tamer meant to fill the sport utility needs of seven without being trucky. Stability is enhanced by GM's high-tech Magnetic Ride Control option that instantly adapts to road surfaces and adds firm control for such maneuvers as sudden cornering. Power comes from a 260-HP 3.6-liter V-6 with variable valve timing or 320-HP 4.6-liter Northstar V-8 (VVT). A clutchless manual mode, engine braking and downgrade detection with brake assist, plus available all-wheel-drive are high-tech amenities. Priced from the mid-$30 to mid-$40 K range, we give it a podium ranking in a showdown with some much pricier competitors.