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2012 Cadillac SRX Road Test Review by Martha Hindes

2012 Cadillac SRX Road Test Review

by Martha Hindes

2012 CUV Buyer's Guide -Top 10 Picks


Kia Soul

Cadillac SRX

Mazda CX-9

Honda Crosstour

Hyundai Tucson

If there's ever a "ta da" moment when starting the ignition of a luxury crossover vehicle, it would have to be in the 2012 Cadillac SRX. Drivers are greeted with a blossoming Cadillac crest in center gauge that tells you immediately you’re not driving someone else's car. Next it's the navi system screen that rises from a crest-shaped element in the instrument panel with up-periscope precision ready for the travels ahead. And in inanimate, but sparkling quiet, there's a pair of unexplained diamond-looking trim elements at the top center of the gauges -- at least on our test version -- that are just curious to behold. We get the impression Cadillac wants us to know the newest SRX has arrived.

Even without the drama, the 2012 Cadillac SRX would be much more than eye candy. The main event is under the hood. This secret weapon on Caddy's part is its new 308 horsepower, V-6 engine in all trim levels. It harmonizes with an improved six-speed automatic trans that can transform into manual mode but won't force you up a gear if you're driving for low end grunt power. And that scenario should settle a three-year complaint by some road warriors that the SRX was underpowered compared with other mid-sized luxury CUVs.

Of course we had to prove that perception for ourselves as we put the SRX through its paces and found it solid, controlled, exciting and commanding to drive. Some of that comes from a bit of a diet the SRX was put on for this year that made it lighter on its feet. The new largely aluminum engine, that trimmed some excess weight, is responsible for some of that. For the driving ranges we all feel at different times, there's also "sport" and "manual" mode when peeling rubber, or "eco" when saving fuel. On the road, variable speed assist steering makes it easy to maneuver into tight parking spots without an arm-wrestling exhaustion when it's done. But kick up the speed, and steering grows firmer to add more control

Outside, the SRX has edges not curves, a part of the current Cadillac family appearance. Even headlamps and turn indicators on the SRX echo that sharp-cornered, jewel-faceted look. Straight lines carved into the exterior and high-mounted rear spoiler add definition. As one of the first to peel away the roof with a large sunroof that nearly blankets the ceiling, Caddy keeps that expansive feature for 2012. Twenty-inch wheels, standard on upscale Performance and Premium Collection models, get a new finish.

Inside, changes include standard Bluetooth connectivity for 2012. All but base models get heated steering wheels. And a knockout ebony interior trim, available on all trim levels, raises the fashion bar.

Mileage numbers are comparable to vehicles the SRX is targeting as competitors, earning 17/24 with front-drive or 16/23 with all-wheel-drive. Both drink regular fuel. After making huge gains in popularity since it first came on scene in 2009, Cadillac makes no bones about the competition it intends to trump: Lexus RX, Acura MDX, and BMW X3e and X5 models. After all, if you're going to pay some $35K to $45K base for a luxury marquee sporty crossover, you should want to play in the sandbox with the big boys. SRX does it well.

Visit the Cadillac website, click here.