Preview - 2004 Cadillac SRX, luxury and sport.

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, Mar 4, 2003.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    The wreath-and-cresters light out on their own.

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    BY JOHN PHILLIPS
    MARCH 2003

    Plenty of folks are still struggling with the notion of a Cadillac truck. Now comes a Cadillac wagon—well, a tall wagon—called the SRX. What's next, the Montreal Expos play 22 home games in Puerto Rico?

    American sensibilities being what they are, the SRX won't, of course, be marketed as a wagon but as a light-duty luxury SUV. When this program got under way, Cadillac fingered as its competition the Lexus RX300, the Acura MDX, and the BMW X5. Since then, other bogeys have coalesced: the Lexus GX470, the Lincoln Aviator, and now Infiniti's lightning-quick FX45.

    The SRX is proudly passenger-car based, with its unibody riding atop GM's Sigma platform, same as the Cadillac CTS. In this case, though, the wheelbase has been stretched to 116.4 inches—more than a foot longer than the RX300's and 9.5 inches longer than the upcoming RX330's. When it arrives in showrooms in September, the SRX will be offered with a 4.6-liter V-8. A twin-cam V-6—3.6 liters, 260 horses—comes three to six months later.

    This next generation Northstar V-8 is over 80 percent new, reworked principally so it could be mounted longitudinally. Now it boasts variable valve timing and a forged-steel crankshaft said to be 1.3 decibels quieter in the 3000-to-5000-rpm range. With 10.5:1 compression, it whips out 315 horses at 6400 rpm—15 more than the beefiest Northstar of yore. It is an engine the SRX shares with the upcoming XLR sports car—quite an honor. The V-8 is mated to an equally new five-speed automatic—made in France, no less—that includes sport and manumatic modes.

    Two SRX flavors are offered: full-time all-wheel drive—with a 50/50 torque split—or rear-drive only. Either way, you get anti-lock brakes, traction control, brake assist, and StabiliTrak as standard fare. Beyond GM's MagneRide active shocks, notable options include a third-row seat suitable for a pair of disciplined, malleable children—perhaps your neighbor's. At the push of a button, that seat folds flat in 19 seconds. You can even order an "UltraView" sunroof so large that it subjects second-row passengers to the elements. That middle seat, by the way, may be the best in its class—generous leg- and headroom, space for your feet under the front seats, firm thigh support, cushions two inches taller than in the front. You could spend all day back there.

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    On Virginia's smooth roads, we drove four hand-built SRX mules camouflaged in zebra stripes. They drew more civilian attention than if the cars had been left naked. What you notice first is that the SRX is easy to climb into. The front seats are 3.6 inches closer to the pavement than those in an X5, five inches lower than an Explorer's. You'll also notice that the windshield is the size of a passenger car's and is relatively close. It all imparts the sensation of sitting in a car, not an SUV.

    Our test mules demonstrated low-speed steering effort that was a tick high, though it lightened satisfactorily above 15 mph and remained progressive and linear thereafter. Tracking was great, turn-in good, though the latter didn't feel as sharp as the RX300's or MDX's. Plus, we wouldn't object if the steering telegraphed road textures a little more directly.

    Under wide-open throttle, the new Hydra-Matic 5L50-E transmission is a gem, shifting gently, almost serenely, at 6450 rpm. Such upper-register antics are accompanied by a sonorous exhaust wail, an animal-like aria of valves and cams that will never be mistaken for anything but a V-8. Below 4000 rpm, though, there's almost no exhaust note at all. Idle quality is superb—think Japanese V-6. Initial throttle tip-in is a trifle mushy, but beyond 2000 rpm the revs accumulate with astonishing snap. Cadillac says the SRX V-8 will nail 60 mph in 7.2 seconds. Judging by the SRX's stated power and weight, however, we expect to see times in the six-second range.

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    As with many modern transmissions, kickdowns are slightly lazy—fuel economy, you know—though gears can be summoned pronto via the manumatic: forward for upshifts, rearward for downshifts. It's a slick, intuitive shifter, and you can always find its dedicated gate without looking.

    Along Virginia's bent roads, the SRX was earnest about taking a set and holding its posture until we unwound the wheel. Body motions were nicely checked, and all four contact patches felt ever in touch, able to work the 18-inch rubber without taxing the tillerman. Truth is, you can dial up large cornering velocities—speeds few riders will countenance. Driven hard, the SRX is finely balanced for a 4450-pounder, thanks in part to its long wheelbase and in part to the AWD model's 52/48 weight bias.

    Throughout, the ride was terrific: firm but never harsh, no crash-through, no lateral head toss, no gratuitous damper rebound—even over a yump that got all four wheels airborne. What's more, our samples were luxury-sedan quiet, generating slim wind or road roar up to 70 mph.

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    Despite the near-perfect ride/handling trade-off, the SRX is no sports car. Around town, especially, it tends to feel hefty, substantial, and—perhaps contrary to what Cadillac intended—more SUVlike than wagonlike. Even with 315 horses on tap, it won't run rings around the current RX300 in traffic. On the other hand, it will carry more stuff, is more luxurious, will tow 3500 pounds, and evinces a Yankee persona that's perfect for this niche.

    Prices aren't firm but expect a fat range: just under $40K for the V-6 to just over $50K for a loaded AWD V-8.

    This is the first "SUV" that Cadillac has made for itself, by itself. Even now—short of its final tuning—the SRX is fetchingly refined, pleasantly able. More important, it feels expensive. Elegance is always a swell place to start.

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    Vehicle type: front-engine, rear- or 4-wheel-drive, 5-7-passenger, 5-door wagon
    Estimated base price: $40,000-$45,000
    Engines: DOHC 24-valve 3.6-liter V-6, 260 hp, 252 lb-ft
    DOHC 32-valve 4.6-liter V-8, 315 hp, 310 lb-ft
    Transmission: 5-speed automatic with lockup torque converter
    Wheelbase: 116.4 in
    Length: 194.9 in
    Width: 72.6 in
    Height: 65.8 in
    Curb weight: 4300-4450 lb
    C/D-estimated performance:
    Zero to 60 mph: 6.5-7.5 sec
    Standing 1/4-mile: 15.1-16.1 sec


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  2. Read more...

    Read more... SPQR

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    allroad > that
     
  3. mads.

    mads. OT Supporter

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    meh
    Pacifica>that
     
  4. SenenCito

    SenenCito OT Supporter

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    ummm yes?


    very pimp car id love it
     
  5. ZAQ786

    ZAQ786 BMW: The reason Lexus is still 'In the pursuit of

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  6. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    For one or two people who occasionally go off-roading, perhaps.

    For hauling the family, and enjoying the twisties in complete silence with room to spare, definitely not.

    We'll see, the Pacifica is a cool looking wagon so far. But it only has a V6 with 255 horses.
     
  7. Makita

    Makita OT Supporter

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    SRX = Sled
     
  8. BLoG

    BLoG Scented Meat

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    just when i'm starting to not mind the front of the new caddys, this thing comes along with a really fugly back half :o

    It's not a car that i have any interest in owning, but it's nice to think that maybe wagons will really come back and we'll have a lower percentage of minivans and suvs on the road.
     
  9. IEATPUPPIES

    IEATPUPPIES Guest

    allroads are problematic. Not only that but they have the S4 engine and still move like a slug. They deserve the 5v V8 for the price they get for them also, plus its a station wagon.


    SRX is pretty fucking nice!
     
  10. IEATPUPPIES

    IEATPUPPIES Guest

    pacifica = minivan
     
  11. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    All car based SUVs are simply tall wagons, shrewdly marketed as trucks.

    I wish they offered them all lowered, many of them would look better that way, but then they couldn't pass as trucks (and people probably wouldn't buy them).

    :o
     
  12. Aviv

    Aviv OT Supporter

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    it's based on the CTS. the rendezvous/aztec is GM minivan-based.

    im really impressed with the SRX. it's got power, room, and refinement
     
  13. jk

    jk Guest

    Another useless SUV in a super saturated market.
     

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