Road Test - Cadillac SRX V-8

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, Sep 2, 2003.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2001
    Messages:
    132,722
    Likes Received:
    1,560
    Location:
    PRESIDENTIAL TOWER, GREAT AGAIN, NY
    Cadillac works the angles again and produces a likable tall wagon.

    [​IMG]

    BY AARON ROBINSON
    September 2003

    Love it or not, Cadillac has pretty much established its new styling shtick.

    The vertical headlamps and knife-slash taillamps, the outsize wreath-and-crests, and the bodylines sharp enough to cut salami are now familiar. The brand has also swept into the dustbin its legacy of being good for just hearses and blue-hair sedans. The world is now blessed with a Cadillac sport-utility, a Cadillac pickup truck, a Cadillac roadster, a Cadillac M5 eater, and now a Cadillac tall station wagon. For all we know, Cadillac's drawing board has backhoes and garbage disposals on it.

    The one question about Cadillac still parked on everyone's mind is, "Would I enjoy owning one?" First, will you enjoy paying for one? No. Although the SRX with its new 3.6-liter V-6 starts at $38,690, our V-8 test mule with rear-wheel drive and few options ran $48,520. The SRX lands over $59,000 with all-wheel drive and all the options boxes checked. That's deep into territory patrolled by the BMW X5, Porsche Cayenne S, and other blue-chip choices.

    Although the SRX may be expensive, your personal bar has to be set at a stratospheric height not to like this newest Cadillac. Our personal bars are over the moon, thanks to SRX competitors such as the Infiniti FX45, the Lexus RX330, and the X5, and yet we thoroughly dug the preproduction, rear-drive example Cadillac delivered to us, with only a few caveats.

    The SRX looks like a CTS but shares not a single piece of exterior sheetmetal and needs quite a bit more street
    . Compared with the CTS, the SRX has an extra three inches at the wheelbase and about two inches in track width. The SRX is also substantially taller and longer than the CTS and dimensionally closer, chief engineer Jim Federico adds, to the upcoming Seville, due in 2004, which will be known only as the STS.

    The upsizing does great things for the SRX's hog-hauling capacity. Thanks in part to the squared-off rear glass, there are 32 cubic feet behind the middle row and 70 with the middle row folded not flat but to a slight angle. An Acura MDX, a Lexus RX330, and a Volvo XC90 can all accept a bit more freight than can the SRX, due partly to the Cadillac's narrow wheelhouses. A few in the stylish wagonoid class are significantly tighter in back, namely, the X5 and the FX45.

    The SRX's front seats are proficiently sculpted with the appropriate splashes of lateral and lower thigh support. Room is ample, and the hip height is lower than that of most body-on-frame sport-utes, so scrambling in and out isn't an adventure in mountaineering. Sorry, no lumbar adjustments, even at this price.

    However, unless your legs are longer than Wilt the Stilt's, your pants will regularly brush clean the plastic rocker cladding that juts outward from the body below the doors. From the outboard edge of the SRX driver's seat down to the tip of the cladding, we measured 17.0 inches of thigh-stretching distance. A quick survey of our parking lot revealed that an FX45, with the driver's seat set to the writer's same comfort level, has just 15.2 inches between seat and sill, and a Volvo XC90 has 14.8 inches. Those scant couple inches make the difference between clean and dirty pants.

    [​IMG]

    At least the Cadillac's electrically adjustable pedals and manually tilting wheel, standard on V-8 models, ensure that most body types will get comfort for their money. The dashboard, with its waffle-iron vents, is essentially a CTS transplant. When you start the car, the navigation touch screen reads, "The joy of SRX." Cheeky.

    Otherwise, the nav system (it can't be ordered on base rear-drive V-8s such as ours) is fairly conventional, although like all touch screens with no tactile feel, it fogs up with fingerprints and demands that eyes divert from the road to find the switchgear. Pleasingly, you don't hit an "I accept" roadblock until you go into the navigation or car-configuration menus. Some competitors, namely, BMW, won't even allow you to tune the radio until you've heard from their lawyers.

    Overhead hat area is in the 10-gallon class, and the middle row perches high off the floor with lots of space for long legs and their knees. Toes can nestle up under the front buckets. Cadillac even managed to squeeze in an optional, electrically raised third-row bench that was not in our V-8 rear-drive test mule but sampled elsewhere. Anyone over the age of 10 using that seat will feel a bit like a pretzel still in the bag, but it's nice to have the choice even if it's "no thanks."

    [​IMG]

    One option you may want to spring for is the DOHC 32-valve 4.6-liter V-8. This is our old pal the Northstar, thoroughly juiced up to 320 horsepower and 315 pound-feet of torque with variable valve timing on the intake and exhaust cams and a zillion other smaller changes to modify it for rear-drive duty. If the world is chasing BMW and its ultra-refined engines, Cadillac seems to be catching it with this sweetie.

    At idle the Northstar can barely be heard whispering to itself. Drop the hammer, and the SRX lunges with rapid shifts from the GM Hydra-Matic five-speed automatic and snorts from the twin tailpipes. The variable cam timing plumps up the V-8's low-end grunt and throttle response so there's power stuffed in every corner of the SRX's tach. Traffic-light tears and on-ramp launches are effortless.

    Indeed, the SRX's needle swishes by 60 mph in a glib 6.6 seconds. The all-wheel-drive FX45 is fleeter in the class at 6.3 seconds, but the SRX catches it again at the quarter-mile for a 15-flat tie. The X5 4.4i and the VW Touareg, with its 310-hp V-8, will be trailing the SRX to 60 mph by 0.1 and 0.9 second, respectively.

    Of course, our rear-drive Caddy had a weight and drivetrain advantage. At 4429 pounds, this "lightly" optioned SRX undercuts a nearly loaded FX45 by just 68 pounds. Stuff the SRX with all-wheel drive, a third row of seats, and the 100-pound glass UltraView sunroof, and expect the Cadillac's curb weight to compress our scales at something closer to the X5 4.4i's 4900 pounds.

    Our expert analysis of how such a full-figured SRX likes the road will have to wait for a forthcoming comparison test. Meanwhile, the tangle of links and control arms under our rear-drive example never hinted at the mass above, which is split almost evenly between the axles.

    [​IMG]

    The wagon flits through corners with sports-sedan stability, the roll and pogo motions thoroughly suppressed by the stiff springs and dampers and stout anti-roll bars. The trees are blurring by at a good clip when the weight begins pushing the front Michelins into understeer.

    With a 20.0:1 ratio, the steering isn't speedy, but the rack has been expertly weighted with generally light effort and seamless increases in resistance as the nose tucks into a corner. Some tire grip and bump data manage to work their way up the machinery to your palms. Sport-utility? Don't tell the SRX—it still thinks it's a CTS with a garden shed on its back.

    The trade-off is that the SRX, for a family cruiser, shudders and clomps over the worst pavement. The structure absorbs most of the energy, but we did detect some sympathetic shivers in the column and seats. With its extensive seam welding, an X5 feels more milled from billet.

    The SRX's available magnetorheological shocks, the same optional self-adjusting shocks that smooth over the ride of a Corvette would help fix the overcooked ride in a jiffy. Problem is the shocks come folded into a $7145 Luxury Performance package that includes all-wheel drive and high-intensity-discharge headlamps. If you only want power to go aft, you accept the rigid ride.

    Cadillac has convinced us that it ain't the operation it used to be. Heck, even GM's top men, such as chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner, now acknowledge the corporation has flushed more than its share of heaps onto the road. That was a mighty tough admission, for sure. Building cars such as the SRX that people may actually want to buy. Now that's the real achievement.

    -----

    THE VERDICT

    [​IMG]

    Highs: Must-be-a-Caddy styling, sharp steering and suspension, tons of motor.

    Lows: Sills decorate your pants with dirt, pricey before inevitable discounts.

    The Verdict: Cadillac builds yet another vehicle we want to drive.

    -----

    COUNTERPOINT

    [​IMG]

    JOHN PHILLIPS
    The last Mercedes-Benz that made sense to me—my idea of the perfect country gentleman's SUV—was the 1998 E320 4MATIC wagon. That's why I like the SRX. For one thing, its front seats are five inches closer to the pavement than a Ford Explorer's, making it easy to climb into. Its rear bench features vast legroom and a firm cushion that holds your knees at a natural angle—a GM rarity. Its engine—from idle to 6000 rpm—is smoother, silkier, and more refined than any Detroit-built V-8 I can recall. Hang a three-pointed star on the SRX's nose and, hey, you've got a fetchingly Americanized Benz wagon.

    RON KIINO
    While Dodge is currently putting the final touches on the rear-drive, Hemi-powered Magnum SRT-8 sports tourer, Cadillac has delivered a knockout hauler of its own. The SRX is not an SUV—just look at it in profile—but rather a CTS wagon with some balls. Under the hood, the robust Northstar V-8 transfers all of its 320 ponies to the Michelins in back, pushing the Caddy to 60 in just 6.6 seconds. That makes it more than a second quicker than an Audi Allroad. Add in a nicely trimmed interior with excellent ergonomics, three rows if you want them, and 70 maximum cubic feet of cargo room, and Dodge has its hands full. Especially when the SRX-V debuts.

    CSABA CSERE
    Cadillac's entry into the V-8-powered, car-based luxury-SUV segment is late, but the SRX does arrive with a unique combination of virtues. The Caddy's performance is just a few ticks behind that of the class-leading Infiniti FX45, and the SRX has excellent road manners without beating its occupants with a harsh ride. It's also a bit longer than most of its competitors, providing additional space for luggage or the only optional third-row seat in the class. And although I would prefer a richer-looking interior, the SRX's creased sheetmetal motivated one driver in a Porsche 911 cabrio to pull alongside and deliver an enthusiastic thumbs up. Any practical wagon that elicits that response gets my okay.

    -----

    Smilla's Sense of Sideways - We create an SRX-sicle.

    [​IMG]

    Cadillac engineers were in the final weeks of tuning the SRX sport-utility wagon last winter. One of the trickiest tweaks was determining how aggressively its stability-control system should intervene during the spins and spills a driver experiences while driving on snow and ice. Cadillac spent hundreds of hours calibrating the SRX at the old Kincheloe Air Force Base—a former Strategic Air Command post during the Cold War. Kincheloe is an attractive cold-weather test site. It's near Sault Ste. Marie, in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, a locale famous for daily lake-effect snow squalls that blacken the sky in minutes. And one of its runways measures 12,000 feet, long enough to qualify as one of 17 emergency-landing sites for the space shuttle. GM has tested here since 1986.

    Kincheloe's runways, taxiways, and ramps are fastidiously groomed to pose a diabolical mix of glare ice, inch-deep snow, hard-packed snow, deeply rutted snow, medium drifts, snow-clogged off-road courses, and even a skidpad with an 800-foot radius whose sheer glassiness would satisfy Michelle Kwan. The surfaces are touched up, plowed, re-iced, and swept to ensure they're "repeatable." In fact, cars that have turned wheels on public roads—thus contaminated with salt and grime—are banned here, lest their pollutants artificially raise the coefficients of friction.

    At Kincheloe, the SRX tall wagon was daily pitted against vehicles whose traction-control and electronic-stability systems Cadillac most admires—notably, those in the Lexus RX300, Volvo XC90, BMW X5, and Mercedes ML500, all on original-equipment tires. Cadillac handed us the keys to the whole works—including three SRXs, one just back from the Nürburgring—and encouraged us to go nuts. Well, with one proviso: Any car so deeply stuffed as to require professional towing would earn its driver a Golden Reindeer award. There were many names on this trophy, none belonging to C/D editors. Yet.

    Here's what we recorded:

    Lexus RX300: What's with the warning bell that dings and dongs to announce even the briefest stability-control event? Mid-crisis, extraneous noise is exactly what you don't need. Engine spark is reduced too abruptly, brake-pedal pressure seems to vary distractingly during yaw. Anti-lock pulses are needlessly exaggerated, burping and pounding like marbles in a coffee grinder. Why all this racket? The system is forever telling the driver, "Stop, conditions are unmanageable!" An un-Toyota-like experience.

    Mercedes-Benz ML500: A peculiar mapping strategy in which engine spark is suddenly and drastically withdrawn should the driver mix wheelspin, steering lock, and yaw. Way too aggressive, especially since it allows early-in oversteer—tail hung out nicely, serenely, then—hold on, the engine has died! Forward momentum canceled. Fun canceled, too. Is this Benz's response to an SUV with a short wheelbase and a natural tendency to rotate?

    Volvo XC90: Best straight-line launch in all conditions. Terrific grip, best tracking in rutted snow. Stability control comes in smoothly and silently; most drivers won't know it's activated. Understeers too much on ice, though, and once you surpass 180 degrees of steering, the engine spark is yanked in an instant. Feels like the softest-compound, stickiest tires in this group. An enthusiast's system, as if Volvo said, "Swedes know how to handle snow—let's let them have fun."

    BMW X5: Mediocre grip on all surfaces. Biased toward dry-weather handling. Slow to launch, slow to recover, slow to hang out its tail. Just as well, because once it gets rolling, all that mass keeps rolling—long panic stops on ice. Only vehicle here to spin 540 degrees during emergency lane change. Only vehicle here to turn left by itself under accel. Not a winter wonder.

    Cadillac SRX: Stability control eases on gently and at higher speeds than anything else here save the Volvo. Refined, silky, never intrusive. Subtle ABS pulsing, too. Smooth during snow-to-dry-pavement transitions—no head toss. Four-wheel-driftable longer than any other vehicle here, and when the stability control kicks in, it first tries tugging only one rear brake to straighten things out, preserving forward momentum. Lacks the Volvo's straight-line launch but in all other respects is as sure-footed. Long wheelbase helps resist rotation. Not a vehicle in which you could easily earn a Golden Reindeer award.

    -----

    C/D TEST RESULTS

    [​IMG]

    ACCELERATION (Seconds)
    Zero to 30 mph: 2.4
    40 mph: 3.5
    50 mph: 4.9
    60 mph: 6.6
    70 mph: 8.4
    80 mph: 10.9
    90 mph: 13.7
    100 mph: 17.0
    110 mph: 23.6
    120 mph: 31.9
    Street start, 5-60 mph: 7.0
    Top-gear acceleration, 30-50 mph: 3.5 50-70 mph: 4.4
    Standing 1/4-mile: 15.0 sec @ 94 mph
    Top speed (drag limited): 144 mph


    BRAKING
    70-0 mph @ impending lockup: 176 ft

    HANDLING
    Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.81 g
    Understeer: moderate


    FUEL ECONOMY
    EPA city driving: 16 mpg
    EPA highway driving: 21 mpg
    C/D-observed: 15 mpg

    INTERIOR SOUND LEVEL
    Idle: 46 dBA
    Full-throttle acceleration: 72 dBA
    70-mph cruising: 67 dBA

    Vehicle type: front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 5-door wagon
    Price as tested: $48,520

    [​IMG]

    ENGINE
    Type: V-8, aluminum block and heads
    Bore x stroke: 3.66 x 3.31 in, 93.0 x 84.0 mm
    Displacement: 279 cu in, 4565cc
    Compression ratio: 10.5:1
    Fuel-delivery system: port injection
    Valve gear: chain-driven double overhead cams, 4 valves per cylinder, hydraulic lifters, variable intake-and exhaust-valve timing
    Power (SAE net): 320 bhp @ 6000 rpm
    Torque (SAE net): 315 lb-ft @ 4400 rpm
    Redline: 6500 rpm


    DRIVETRAIN
    Transmission: 5-speed automatic with manumatic shift control
    Final-drive ratio: 3.23:1
    Gear ... Ratio ... Mph/1000 rpm ... Max. test speed
    I ... 3.42 ... 7.6 ... 49 mph (6500 rpm)
    II ... 2.22 ... 11.7 ... 76 mph (6500 rpm)
    III ... 1.60 ... 16.2 ... 105 mph (6500 rpm)
    IV ... 1.00 ... 25.9 ... 144 mph (5550 rpm)
    V ... 0.75 ... 34.6 ... 144 mph (4150 rpm)

    DIMENSIONS
    Wheelbase: 116.4 in
    Track, front/rear: 61.9/62.2 in
    Length/width/height: 194.9/72.6/67.8 in
    Ground clearance: 8.2 in
    Drag area, Cd (0.37) x frontal area (28.5 sq ft): 10.5 sq ft
    Curb weight: 4429 lb
    Weight distribution, front/rear: 51.4/48.6%
    Curb weight per horsepower: 13.8 lb
    Fuel capacity: 20.0 gal

    CHASSIS/BODY
    Type: unit construction
    Body material: welded steel stampings

    [​IMG]

    INTERIOR SAE
    volume, front seat: 58 cu ft
    rear seat: 52 cu ft
    cargo volume, seats up/down: 32/70 cu ft
    Practical cargo room, length of pipe: 140.5 in
    largest sheet of plywood: 36.0 x 75.0 in
    no. of 10 x 10 x 16-in boxes, seats up/down: 16/32
    Front-seat adjustments: fore and aft, seatback angle, front height, rear height Restraint systems, front: manual 3-point belts; driver and passenger front, side, and curtain airbags
    rear: manual 3-point belts, outboard curtain airbags

    SUSPENSION
    Front: ind, unequal-length control arms, coil springs, anti-roll bar
    Rear: ind; 1 control arm, 1 lateral link, 1 trailing link, and 1 toe-control link per side; coil springs; automatically leveling shock absorbers; anti-roll bar

    STEERING
    Type: rack-and-pinion with variable power assist
    Steering ratio: 20.0:1
    Turns lock-to-lock: 3.5
    Turning circle curb-to-curb: 39.7 ft

    BRAKES
    Type: hydraulic with anti-lock control and panic brake assist
    Front/rear: 12.7 x 1.3-in vented disc/12.6 x 1.0-in vented disc

    WHEELS AND TIRES
    Wheel size/type: 8.0 x 18 in/cast aluminum
    Tires: Michelin Pilot HX MXM4 XSE; F: P235/60VR-18, R: P255/55VR-18
    Test inflation pressures, front/rear: 30/32 psi
    Spare: high-pressure compact

    [​IMG]
     
  2. mucky

    mucky .

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2001
    Messages:
    44,972
    Likes Received:
    0
    IBFX45>SRX V8


    :fawk:
     
  3. kaldurak

    kaldurak Gimme some sugar baby.

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2002
    Messages:
    36,802
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Vancouver, WA
    i cry when SUV's get made faster than my car.
     
  4. mucky

    mucky .

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2001
    Messages:
    44,972
    Likes Received:
    0
    Damn that sunroof is uber-:cool:
     
  5. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2001
    Messages:
    132,722
    Likes Received:
    1,560
    Location:
    PRESIDENTIAL TOWER, GREAT AGAIN, NY
    I happen to like both of them. :fawk:
     
  6. hondaluva

    hondaluva likes free hugs...

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2001
    Messages:
    76,210
    Likes Received:
    1
    holy shit, a SUV caddy w/ an reasonably nice dash!!! :eek3:
     
  7. It's faster than mine too. :wtc:
     
  8. eurocarracer

    eurocarracer New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2001
    Messages:
    56,485
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    will this be the new SUV in music videos now :eek3:
     
  9. Tommy

    Tommy Long Member Standing

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2001
    Messages:
    65,883
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    NYC
    They need to get a new theme song. They killed Led Zepplin - Rock and Roll. :uh:
     
  10. mucky

    mucky .

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2001
    Messages:
    44,972
    Likes Received:
    0
    :werd:
     
  11. BLoG

    BLoG Scented Meat

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2001
    Messages:
    293,886
    Likes Received:
    2,948
    Location:
    Austin, Texas
    It's ok, except for the very back quarter of the car. I don't like the way the rear side window doesn't go down as far as the others.

    Looks good from the front.
     
  12. Seifer

    Seifer Abort your Babies!

    Joined:
    May 8, 2002
    Messages:
    23,093
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Texas State, San Marcos
    srx > *
     
  13. Red Hunter

    Red Hunter Guest

  14. nucl3ar

    nucl3ar Guest

    Don't like the rear styling.
     
  15. M5_Elite

    M5_Elite New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2003
    Messages:
    4,906
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    SRX looks better than the CTS. I like it.
     
  16. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2001
    Messages:
    132,722
    Likes Received:
    1,560
    Location:
    PRESIDENTIAL TOWER, GREAT AGAIN, NY
    I believe I read somewhere that Lincoln is developing their own AWD sport wagon to play with the SRX, FX, X5, Cayenne, etc.
     
  17. jinushaun

    jinushaun New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2002
    Messages:
    60,739
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Capitol Hill, Seattle, WA, USA
    Looks nice. But still an SUV. :greddy:
     

Share This Page