Cadillac will be raising the bar higher in the crowded luxury crossover segment with its facelift of the 2013 SRX.
Unveiled at the New York Auto Show in April, the changes to the exterior are subtle, but are more dramatic in the interior.
The new model won’t arrive until the fall, but the outgoing 2012 version is still a best seller.
The 2013 model has a revamped steering wheel and shifter and a funky, redesigned centre stack with all-new electronics. That will be welcome as the current centre stack is busy, littered with dozens of buttons below the pop-up navigation screen – the buttons are too small and similar in size, making it confusing and hard to find functions fast.
The engines were revamped for 2012 so don’t expect too many changes for 2013. Cadillac ditched its two lacklustre engines in the second-generation SRX – Saab’s 2.8-litre turbocharged V-6 and a 265-horsepower 3.0-litre V6 – and replaced them with a single, more powerful engine, a direct-injected, naturally aspirated 3.6-litre V-6 that delivers 308 hp and 265 lb-ft of torque.
Mated to the engine is a six-speed automatic, which shifts smoothly on my tester, a 2012 SRX AWD. It’s powerful and accelerates quickly to get up to speed with faster-moving vehicles. The ride is taut, yet supple; the handling is agile with restrained body lean when cornering. The SRX absorbs bumps in the road nicely and the cabin remains quiet at all speeds. The all-wheel drive system offers excellent grip and control on rain-slicked roads.
Visibility out the back isn’t the greatest – thick rear pillars and a small rear window hampers the view. But a rear-view camera helps with parallel parking or reversing into a tight parking spot at a crowded mall.
The SRX seats five; the front bucket leather seats are supportive – the driver’s seat is eight-way power adjustable with a manual thigh adjustment; while the front passenger seat is six-way power adjustable. The front seats are also heated and cooled for extra comfort.
The rear seats recline and the outboard positions are also heated. But the rear seats are a little snug for three people. They’re short on leg and shoulder room, although headroom is adequate.
Behind the seats, the cargo space is vast and functional. There’s 839 litres of space and a configurable U-rail cargo system with a fence you can move forward or backward to keep items of all sizes securely in place. You can also fold down the 60/40-split rear seats to reveal a huge cargo area with 1,733 litres of storage capacity.
Accessing the cargo area is simple thanks to a power lift-gate. Just touch a button on the key fob and it automatically opens. It can also be programmed to lift to a pre-set height, which is handy if you’re parking in an underground garage with low ceilings.
The SRX’s styling is sophisticated and elegant – it stands out from other crossovers on the road. It’s no surprise Cadillac designers didn’t make many drastic changes to the sheet metal on the 2013 version – after all why mess with a good thing?
The SRX’s profile is contemporary with crisp lines, glittering oversized headlights and muscular 20-inch tech aluminum wheels, which look stunning, but cost an extra $1,190.
Cadillac’s crest is displayed prominently on the front grille. A long wheelbase, short overhangs, dual exhaust with chrome tips, chrome roof rails and a rear spoiler at the edge of the roof are also attractive stylistic cues.
Xenon high intensity discharge headlamps swivel as you steer for a better view around corners and bends; while LED tail lights offer better illumination and last up to 10 times longer than regular bulbs.
Inside, with the exception of the busy console, it is elegant and sophisticated with gorgeous round backlit gauges and a number of useful items included in my Premium Collection package such as power-adjustable pedals, rain-sensing wipers, a heated steering wheel, sapele wood trim on the doors, centre console, steering wheel and shift knob, and a massive sunroof, nearly twice the size of a conventional sunroof, that keeps the cabin feeling fresh and airy.
If it gets too bright, there’s also a power shade to block out the sun’s rays.
The 2012 SRX front-wheel-drive starts at $42,160. But my tester, an all-wheel-drive with the Premium Collection package costs a lot more: $54,580. However, you’ll likely get a better deal as the refreshed 2013 model gets closer to hitting showrooms.
2012 Cadillac SRX Premium Collection AWD
Type: Four-door, all-wheel-drive mid-size luxury crossover
Base Price: $54,580; as tested, $58,120
Engine: 3.6-litre, DOHC, V-6
Horsepower/torque: 308 hp/265 lb-ft
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 13.2 city/8.8 highway; premium gas
Alternatives: Lexus RX350, Acura MDX, BWW X3, Audi Q5, Lincoln MKX, Mercedes-Benz GLK, Range Rover Evoque, Volvo XC60