Full 2009 Cadillac SRX Review
What's New for 2009
Other than a few minor option package changes, the Cadillac SRX stands pat for 2009.
Essentially a tallish wagon with SUV-inspired styling, the 2009 Cadillac SRX has the road manners of a sport sedan. A four-wheeled example of having one's cake and eating it too, the SRX can seat seven and haul up to 70 cubic feet of cargo. Yet it's actually fun to drive, behaving more like the previous-generation CTS sedan (upon which it's based) than some sort of shrunken Escalade.
Introduced back in '04, the SRX has seen steady detail improvements, including an interior overhaul a few years back. Though a choice of a 255-horsepower V6 or a 320-hp V8 may seem more than ample, a scan of spec sheets shows the SRX lagging somewhat in the mighty hp race that's gone bonkers in the last few years. But considering that the SRX weighs considerably less than most rivals, this is a non-issue when you move away from the computer and get behind the wheel, as either engine provides strong performance.
Although sales of the SRX have been slow (anecdotal evidence is that many people find its styling too wagonlike), we're quite fond of Cadillac's midsize crossover. Based on our long-term test of a rear-wheel-drive V6 version, we think the SRX has no problem going tire-to-tire against its rivals from Germany and Japan in terms of overall performance, luxury, utility and upscale design. Indeed, should you cross-shop this crossover against the likes of the Acura MDX, BMW X5, Infiniti FX series, Mercedes-Benz ML-Class and Volvo XC90, you'll discover, as we did, that the 2009 Cadillac SRX makes a compelling case for itself.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2009 Cadillac SRX is a midsize luxury crossover SUV offered in two trim levels, named for what's under the hood: V6 or V8. The V6 includes 17-inch alloy wheels, rear parking assist, leather seating, a power driver seat, OnStar, dual-zone automatic climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and an eight-speaker Bose audio system with satellite radio and an auxiliary audio jack. 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-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 power-folding third-row seat, a separate rear air-conditioning system, an extra-large "UltraView" sunroof, a heated steering wheel, a DVD rear entertainment system, a surround-sound stereo and a navigation system. A Sport Package adds larger 18- or 20-inch wheels, unique fascias and the option for a limited-slip differential.
Powertrains and Performance
The SRX V6 comes with a 3.6-liter V6 that makes 255 hp and 254 pound-feet of torque; it's coupled to a five-speed automatic. The V8 version packs a 4.6-liter V8 with 320 horses and 315 lb-ft of torque, matched to a six-speed auto. Both transmissions come with manual shift control. The SRX is available with rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.
In performance testing of the SRX V6, we recorded a 0-60 time of 8.2 seconds, while the V8 is about a second quicker. Fuel economy for the rear-wheel-drive SRX V6 is 15 mpg city/22 mpg highway and 17 mpg combined. The V8 model rates 13/20/16. Opting for AWD has only a small effect on fuel mileage.
Antilock disc brakes with brake assist, stability control, front-seat side airbags and side curtain airbags for the first two rows are all standard. In National Highway Traffic Safety Administration crash tests, the 2009 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
The SRX's handsome cabin features tasteful wood and alloy trim, supple leather upholstery and classy touches like an analog clock. The dash design is attractive and decidedly upscale, with controls that are mostly logical and fall easily to hand. For the most part, fit, finish and materials quality are all excellent, though a few lower-grade plastic bits here and there remind us why past GM interiors drew criticism.
Although the driver seat is comfortable, with a good range of adjustment, the tilt-only steering wheel has only six widely spaced "steps" to it, making finding a "just right" position difficult for some drivers. Some staffers also feel that the brake and accelerator pedals are too disparate in height, requiring too much leg and ankle movement between them.
As with most midsize SUVs that offer three rows of seats, accommodations in the power-folding rearmost bench seat 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 smallish 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.
Those expecting Cadillac's midsize SUV to exhibit the sort of lazy handling and floaty ride that was once expected from the brand are in for a pleasant surprise. Especially with the optional Magnetic Ride Control adaptive suspension, the SRX's handling is simply outstanding. The Caddy feels tight and responsive around turns, giving it a tossable feel close to Infiniti's FX crossover. At the same time, the highway ride is smooth and comfortable, just as crossover SUV buyers want. The response and feel of both the steering and brakes are impressive as well.
A very well-rounded package, the 2009 Cadillac SRX is a top choice for those wanting a bit of extra on-road excitement from their SUVs.