What's New for 2008
A new three-spoke steering wheel is the only noteworthy change made for the 2008 Cadillac SRX.
Like FCC indecency laws, the term "crossover" is so vague that it can be interpreted in many different ways. Lately, it has been thrown on just about anything by marketing folks to improve the perception of uncool vehicles like minivans and station wagons. But if the definition of crossover was ever clarified, we hope it would start taking the shape of something like the 2008 Cadillac SRX, an SUV-styled wagon that's derived from and closely emulates the driving experience of a sport sedan. Despite its ability to seat seven or consume 70 cubic feet of cargo, the SRX is actually fun to drive, behaving more like the previous-generation CTS sedan it's based on rather than some sort of shrunken Escalade.
After last year's interior overhaul, the 2008 SRX now has a quality cabin befitting the Cadillac name and the luxury segment it inhabits. The dash design is attractive and decidedly upscale, with controls that are mostly logical and fall easily to hand. Although the driver seat is comfortable with a good range of motion, the tilt-only steering wheel has only six widely spaced "steps" to it, making finding a "just right" position difficult. The brake and accelerator pedals are also too offset in height, requiring an uncomfortable amount of leg and ankle movement when moving between them. These are two factors that unfortunately take away from the SRX's otherwise excellent driving experience.
A rear-wheel-drive SRX V6 has been in our long-term test fleet, and throughout its stay, the Caddy has remained a sought-after commodity with its great mixture of athleticism, luxury and utility that is hard to beat. While we wait for the SRX to be graced by the more powerful and efficient V6 found in the 2008 CTS and STS, the Caddy crossover manages to make do with a 255-horspower V6 and 320-hp V8. This choice of engines keeps the SRX on par with other sporty midsize SUVs like the BMW X5 and Infiniti FX series, as well as less sporting choices like the Mercedes-Benz ML-Class and Volvo XC90. The V6-only Acura MDX is also very worthy of consideration, but against any of these crossovers, the 2008 Cadillac SRX makes a compelling case for itself.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2008 Cadillac SRX is a midsize luxury crossover SUV offered in two trim levels. Those trims are defined by what's under the hood: V6 or V8. The V6 includes 17-inch alloy wheels, leather seating, a power driver seat, a Bose audio system with CD player and satellite radio, OnStar, dual-zone automatic climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, full power accessories and rear park assist. Step up to the V8 and in addition to the bigger engine you'll get 18-inch alloys, xenon headlamps, heated front seats, power-adjustable pedals, driver memory presets, real wood accents, a power front passenger seat and a six-disc CD changer. Most of the V8's features are optional on the V6. Major options for both models include a Magnetic Ride Control suspension, a third-row seat, a separate rear air-conditioning system, an extra-large "UltraView" sunroof, a heated steering wheel, a DVD rear entertainment system, surround-sound audio and a navigation system. A Sport Package adds larger 18- or 20-inch wheels, unique fascias and a limited-slip differential.
Powertrains and Performance
SRX shoppers have the choice of two engines. The base engine is a 3.6-liter V6 that makes 255 hp and 254 pound-feet of torque; it's coupled to a five-speed automatic. Those who step up to the 4.6-liter V8 will find 320 horses and 315 lb-ft lurking under the hood with a six-speed auto. Both transmissions come with a sport mode and automanual control. The SRX is available with rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. In performance testing of the V6 we achieved a 0-60 time of 8.2 seconds, while the V8 is about a second quicker. Fuel economy for the rear-drive 2008 SRX V6 is 15 mpg city/22 mpg highway; V8 models are a couple mpg less. Both are middling ratings for this segment.
Antilock disc brakes with brake assist, stability control and a full complement of airbags (including front-seat side as well as side curtain for the first two rows) are all standard. In National Highway Traffic Safety Administration crash tests, the 2008 Cadillac SRX scored 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. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety frontal-offset crash tests, the Caddy scored "Good," the highest rating possible.
Interior Design and Special Features
After being dramatically redesigned last year, the SRX's handsome cabin adds the same sporty, higher-quality three-spoke steering wheel found in the new 2008 CTS. Tasteful wood and alloy trim, supple leather upholstery and classy touches like an analog clock live up to the Cadillac name, although there are a few plastic bits here and there that are reminiscent of the low-budget quality of GM's recent past. Like most midsize SUVs that offer three rows of seats, accommodations of the power-folding rearmost bench are tight. Second-row occupants will be happier, though, with plenty of sprawl room. Adding to the airy feel is the huge optional UltraView sunroof that provides an uninterrupted view of the heavens. With the third row folded (or not selected), there are 32 cubic feet of cargo space, while a maximum of 70 cubes is available when both rear rows are dropped.
For those expecting Cadillac's midsize SUV to evoke the sort of sloppy handling and floaty ride that was once expected from the brand, they're in for a pleasant surprise. Especially with the optional Magnetic Ride Control adaptive suspension, the SRX's handling is outstanding, as the body feels tight and responsive around turns, giving it a tossable feel on par with Infiniti's smaller FX crossover. At the same time, the highway ride is smooth and comfortable, just the way most crossover SUV buyers want. The response and feel of both the steering and brakes are impressive as well. A very well-rounded package, the 2008 Cadillac SRX is a top choice for those wanting a bit of extra on-road excitement from their SUV.
Read our Cadillac SRX Long-Term 20,000-Mile Test