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  • 2012 Cadillac SRX Premium

    Posted on December 21st, 2011 ninarussin

    New V-6 engine gives mid-sized crossover extra punch

    By Nina Russin

    2012 Cadillac SRX

    The SRX is the smaller sibling to the full-sized Escalade sport-utility vehicle. While the SRX can’t match the Escalade’s cargo and towing capability, the smaller package has a lot of appeal for buyers who want a more nimble chassis with a passenger car-like ride.

    This year, the engineers at GM have added some pizzazz to an already appealing package with a new direct injection V-6 engine rated at 308 horsepower. Peak torque, 265 lbs-ft, is available at 2400 rpm, so the driver can easily accelerate without sacrificing gas mileage. An eco feature alters shift points on the six-speed automatic transmission to further enhance fuel economy. Using the feature on my 150-mile test drive, I averaged 21 miles-per-gallon: two mpg better than the EPA estimate.

    The upscale premium grade priced from $45,975 comes loaded with every conceivable convenience option except the DVD entertainment system, which adds $1395. That, plus an $875 destination charge brings the price as tested to $48,245.

    As luxurious as the SRX is, the crossover vehicle is also practical, with up to 3500 pound towing capacity, standard roof rails, a bicycle-friendly cargo area and a storage area under the cargo floor. Standard adaptive xenon headlamps swivel according to steering input to light the way on dark suburban streets. Navigation is also standard, as is a rearview camera. Camera images and navigation maps appear on an eight-inch screen which rises from the dash when the driver turns on the ignition. The large graphics are heaven to my less-than perfect eyes.

    A digital display in the gauge cluster tells the driver the speed limit of the road he’s traveling on, as well as giving driving range, fuel consumption, instant and average fuel economy and trip meter readings.

    Keyless entry and start saves the driver from digging into his pocket for a fob, adding a measure of safety for those who drive alone after dark.

    Test drive in Phoenix

    2012 Cadillac SRX

    Rains passing through the Phoenix metro area this week enabled me to experience the SRX performance in a variety of driving conditions. Having driven an earlier version of the current-generation model through the canyons of Malibu, I knew that the SRX could handle challenging roads. I was more interested in seeing how it performed in traffic, as a typical owner who commutes for work might use the car.

    My routes included several days driving in and out of downtown Phoenix, an airport run during the evening rush hour, and some drives on a higher-speed loop road that runs the length of the east valley. With the exception of some concerns about rear visibility, I found the SRX to be an exceptionally pleasurable vehicle to live with on a daily basis.

    The performance of the V-6 engine is seamless. It’s quiet, and has ample power for a vehicle weighing over two tons. The six-speed automatic transmission transitions smoothly between the gears with no shift shock under normal driving conditions. I found traction to be quite good driving through a hard rain. Buyers in all-season climates might opt for the all-wheel drive platform as opposed to the front-wheel drive (tested).

    The four-wheel independent suspension is extremely refined, combining the plush ride buyers expect from a Cadillac with some excellent chassis control in the turns. Taking the car at speed through some decreasing radius turns, the chassis remained pancake flat. A variable effort power steering system increases steering effort with speed, to combine maneuverability at low speeds with good on-center response on the highway.

    The premium grade comes with twenty-inch wheels, an upgrade from the 18-inch rims on the base model. The bigger wheels dress up the exterior and offer a wider footprint for aggressive driving. There’s enough sidewall on the tires so the ride from the larger wheels doesn’t feel harsh.

    Large four-wheel discs stop the car on a dime. The difference between the brakes on the current generation of GM vehicles and those a decade ago is night and day. Gone is the mushy response which plagued former models. Drivers can feel comfortable in the safety and performance of the SRX’s four-channel antilock braking system.

    Visibility to the sides and rear of the SRX is its only drawback. Thick B pillars limit over-the-shoulder visibility to the left, while the large D pillars create some significant blind spots in back. The rearview camera eliminates the visibility problem when the driver shifts into reverse, but one does have to be more careful monitoring vehicles in adjacent lanes on the highway.

    Versatile interior

    Cadillac SRX Center Stack

    Designers did an excellent job making the most of the SRX interior space. Not only does the crossover have ample room in the cargo area for larger items; there are plenty of smaller cubbies in the passenger compartment for smaller items. A locking glovebox contains two shelves, so it can hold more than an owner’s manual. The center console bin includes a deep bin and a shallow shelf for portable electronic devices.

    Planners also considered the needs of smaller drivers, with a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel which enables them to maintain a safe distance from the front airbag, and adjustable pedals. Tri-zone climate control enables both rows of passengers to stay comfortable in temperature extremes. The premium grade SRX comes with heated and ventilated front seats and heated rear seats.

    Passengers in the outboard second-row seats have plenty of leg, hip and headroom. The location of the center console limits legroom in the center position. Second-row seats also recline to be more comfortable on long road trips. Both rows of passengers have access to 12-volt power points for recharging electronic devices.

    A panoramic sunroof adds ambient light over both rows of seating. Screens for the optional entertainment system stow in the front-row seatbacks.

    A power liftgate enables the driver to load up the back more easily. A button on the door adjusts the height of the liftgate, so it can open safely in a garage. A low lift-over height makes it easier to put large items in the cargo area. Levers on the seatbacks fold the second-row seats flat to extend the cargo floor.

    Standard safety

    The Cadillac SRX comes with front, side and side curtain airbags, four-channel antilock brakes, traction and stability control, and a tire pressure monitoring system. The GM factory warranty includes complimentary maintenance up to 50,000 miles, courtesy transportation and roadside assistance up to 100,000 miles and a one-year subscription to OnStar directions and connections with automatic crash notification.

    The 2012 SRX is on display at Cadillac dealerships nationwide.

    Likes: A luxurious yet versatile crossover vehicle with available all-wheel drive. The new engine has excellent power in all bands. The eco feature enables drivers to extend fuel economy by up to two miles-per-gallon.

    Dislike: thick B and D pillars limit over-the-shoulder and rear visibility.

    Quick facts:

    Make: Cadillac
    Model: SRX Premium
    Year: 2012
    Base price: $45,975
    As tested: $48,245
    Horsepower: 308 Hp @ 6800 rpm
    Torque: 265 lbs.-ft. @ 2400 rpm
    Zero-to-sixty: N/A
    Antilock brakes: Standard
    Side curtain airbags: Standard
    First aid kit: N/A
    Bicycle friendly: Yes
    Off-road: No
    Towing: Yes, if equipped with optional towing prep package.
    Fuel economy: 17/24 mpg city/highway

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