What's New for 2006
The Cadillac SRX has a new power-operated liftgate for 2006, and satellite radio is now standard. New wheel designs round out the changes.
Once dismissed as "soft trucks" that couldn't put in an honest day's work, crossover SUVs have proven to be an easy sell in the early years of the 21st century. These trendy vehicles that look something like traditional SUVs but don't drive like them speak to those fed up with the clumsy handling of truck-based SUVs and the parent-for-life image of minivans.
Although more sedate in appearance than Cadillac's first SUV, the SRX is one SUV that will never get lost in a parking lot. Like it or not, there's no escaping the company's current approach to exterior design, as the SRX bears a strong family resemblance to its CTS platform mate. Inside, the Cadillac SRX makes up for its so-so design and materials quality with a great deal more practicality than you typically get in a luxury SUV. A two-person third-row bench is optional on every SRX -- something you can't get at all on the X5, FX35/45 or the RX 330.
In addition, the SRX's sporty driving dynamics make it a desirable choice among midsize luxury SUVs. Cadillac gives buyers the choice of a 260-horsepower, 3.6-liter V6 or a 320-hp, 4.6-liter V8. With the optional Magnetic Ride Control adaptive suspension, handling is outstanding, as the body feels tight and responsive around turns, giving the Cadillac SRX a tossable feel on par with the X5 and FX35/45. At the same time, the highway ride is smooth and comfortable, just the way most crossover SUV buyers want.
The 2006 Cadillac SRX is one of the most refined sport-utility vehicles ever turned out by a domestic manufacturer. Its drivetrain and handling dynamics are sublime, its interior comfort and space lead the class for the most part, and its exterior design lends it a distinctiveness few modern vehicles can offer. If the interior were better sorted it would be hard to fault the SRX, but even as it stands, the vehicle is still one of the most compelling choices in the midsize luxury SUV segment.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
There are two Cadillac SRX models to choose from -- V6 and V8. Every V6 model includes leather seating, side airbags for front occupants, head curtain airbags for the first two rows and OnStar. The V8 model adds such features as wood trim pieces, seat heaters, power-adjustable pedals, a power front-passenger seat and a six-disc CD changer; this stuff is optional on the V6. Options for both models include all-wheel drive, Magnetic Ride Control, a third-row seat, the extra-large UltraView sunroof, a DVD rear entertainment system (with the screen mounted on the center console) and a DVD-based navigation system.
Powertrains and Performance
There are two available engines: a 3.6-liter V6 good for 255 horsepower and 254 pound-feet of torque, and a 4.6-liter Northstar V8 that generates 320 hp and 315 lb-ft of torque. Both engines feature variable valve timing and electronic throttle control. A five-speed automatic with regular and sport shift programs, as well as a separate automanual gate, comes standard with either engine. Buyers must decide whether they want rear-wheel drive (to maximize performance and economy) or all-wheel drive (for winter traction). One option to consider is Magnetic Ride Control, an adaptive damping system also available on the XLR and Corvette. Thusly equipped, the Cadillac SRX offers decidedly sporty handling characteristics.
Four-wheel antilock disc brakes (with a panic assist feature) and stability control are standard. Airbags include seat-mounted side bags for front occupants and head curtain airbags spanning the first and second rows. In tests conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Cadillac SRX earned four out of five stars for driver and front-passenger protection in frontal impacts. Side-impact tests resulted in a perfect five-star rating for front and rear passengers.
Interior Design and Special Features
Inside, the Cadillac SRX provides comfortable accommodations for its passengers, but both the design and the materials leave something to be desired. Available wood trim helps create a more luxurious ambience. There is plenty of room to go around in the second row, though occupants of the third-row seat may feel more cramped than in some competitors. The optional UltraView sunroof allows both front and rear passengers to experience open-air driving. The rearmost bench folds flat into the floor, yielding 32 cubic feet of capacity behind the second-row seats. Fold the second-row seats and you've got 70 cubes.
Handling is nothing short of exceptional, as the body feels tight and responsive, giving the 4,400-pound vehicle a tossable feel on par with only the X5 and FX35/45. We have also been impressed by the well-weighted steering and progressive brakes. Fortunately, this doesn't come at the expense of ride quality, which is smooth and comfortable. If you love to drive but need more space than competing SUVs can provide, the 2006 Cadillac SRX is probably the best alternative.