James Riswick, New and Used Car Editor
You might only get one chance to make a first impression, but subsequent impressions have certainly been known to make up for any rocky introductions. (Remember when Harry met Sally?) When the 2010 Cadillac SRX first arrived in the Edmunds garage, we were unimpressed. Most of the blame was placed on the engine, which was underpowered given the SRX's hefty curb weight, and thus significantly slower than its European competitors. We knew, however, there would be a second chance for the SRX: the 2010 Cadillac SRX Turbo.
The difference is noticed immediately. A turbocharged 2.8-liter V6 delivers a whopping increase of 72 pound-feet of torque, so the power delivery is punchy down low where you need it, whether you're passing on the highway or pulling away from a traffic light. The SRX's six-speed automatic transmission seems better sorted as well. While this crossover utility vehicle still struggles against its portly mass to keep up with other compact luxury crossovers off the line, it no longer feels slow.
As such, this isn't the engine for enthusiasts or horsepower junkies; this is the engine that simply makes the SRX competitive. The problem is, you have to pay nearly $50,000 for a nearly loaded model to get this turbo V6. That's OK if you're interested in getting every item Cadillac offers, but if you'd like something a little more modest in price, you'll have to settle for an overmatched normally aspirated V6. You don't have to do that with an Audi Q5, BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLK350 or Volvo XC60, which are all quicker than the SRX Turbo and offer a few other notable advantages as well.
So we liked the SRX a lot more the second time around, but until the turbo is available on a cheaper trim level, we can't see ourselves falling in love. We'll keep an open mind for third or fourth impressions, though. After all, it took Harry and Sally more than a decade.
Take a look at the specifications sheet for the 2010 Cadillac SRX Turbo and you'll see the all-wheel-drive crossover's 2.8-liter V6 produces 300 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, best-in-class output. Take a closer look and you'll also note the 4,619-pound SRX Turbo weighs between 300 and 400 pounds more than its competition. As a result, this SRX goes from zero to 60 mph in 8.0 seconds, or at least 0.7 second slower than its rivals. With this much torque, though, the SRX feels quicker in normal driving. By comparison, the front-wheel-drive base-model SRX with its 265-hp 3.0-liter V6 does the same sprint in 8.3 seconds and feels even pokier around town and on the freeway.
The SRX Turbo's six-speed automatic is more responsive to throttle inputs than the six-speed matched with the V6 of the standard SRX, which is prone to early upshifts and delayed downshifts in the name of fuel economy. Our guess is that the addition of a driver-selected "Eco" mode for the transmission allows the SRX Turbo to be a fuel sipper if so desired, but otherwise the six-speed behaves as a proper transmission should. Sport mode increases the transmission's responsiveness even further (including the addition of rev-matched downshifts), though the shifts are naturally more abrupt as a result. In total, we prefer the calibration of the SRX Turbo's transmission.
We also like the way this SRX Turbo Premium handles, thanks to standard 20-inch wheels, all-wheel drive, an electronic limited-slip differential and a sport-tuned suspension complete with continuously variable damping. A Porsche Cayenne this Cadillac is not, but with balanced body motions and precise, informative steering, the SRX Turbo is one of the more responsive and confidence-inspiring vehicles in its class. The same can be said for the feedback from its firm brake pedal, but unfortunately, the SRX Turbo's mediocre stopping distance of 129 feet from 60 mph doesn't bear that out.
The 2010 Cadillac SRX Turbo's estimated fuel economy of 15 city/22 highway mpg and 18 mpg combined is comparable with most in the class, while the base engine with all-wheel drive is only 1 mpg better combined. We averaged 18.5 mpg during our testing cycle.
With those heavy 20-inch wheels and its taut sport suspension, the SRX Turbo unsurprisingly exhibits impact harshness over rough patches of pavement. But if your state or municipality has a sufficient road repair budget, you'll discover that the SRX Turbo offers a balance between a comfortable ride and responsive handling akin to that delivered by its German rivals. Its ability to keep untoward road and wind noise out of the cabin is similarly excellent.
Inside the cabin, the driver will find a seat that offers more adjustments than most vehicles in its class thanks to a pull-out thigh extender, a feature normally found only in BMWs. This is also the only vehicle in its class to offer cooled seats, another nice touch. In fact, we found the SRX's seats and driving position to provide more comfort than the Cadillac CTS sport sedan.
The backseat is a different story. While legroom is about even with that of the Audi Q5 (meaning just sufficient), headroom is compromised by the panoramic sunroof (which is standard on all SRX trim levels but the base model). Average-height adults will find their heads perilously close to the roof even with the seat reclined, while tall folks will have to slouch.
Outward visibility is another issue when you're driving the 2010 Cadillac SRX Turbo. While the Turbo Premium's standard parking sensors and back-up camera help the situation, the view out back is compromised by a small rear window and large D-pillars. Front visibility is also hampered by enormous A-pillars that can make pedestrians and Pontiacs disappear.
When you opt for the Turbo Premium model, the SRX comes packed with a class-leading amount of entertainment, information and convenience options, most of which are controlled by the well-designed center control stack. There are perhaps too many flush-mounted buttons that look alike, but the dual-zone climate controls are well differentiated and the large, pop-up touchscreen offers crisp graphics and a logical menu structure. It certainly makes a case for itself against knob-and-screen systems like Audi's MMI.
With the backseats raised, there is enough space for a golf bag widthwise and three or four carry-on roller bags lengthwise. This compares favorably to the Volvo XC60, which nevertheless offers more maximum cargo space than the 2010 Cadillac SRX when the seats are lowered. Of course, if you really want more space (for passengers and cargo) and are already paying $50,000, the significantly bigger Lexus RX 350 should be considered.
Although a rear-facing child seat technically fits in the rear passenger seat, the front seat passenger will find him or herself uncomfortably close to the dashboard. Parents of early school-age children would be smart to check out the Volvo XC60, which features integrated child booster seats.
Design/Fit and Finish
The SRX Turbo shows how far Cadillac has come in terms of interior quality and design. The soft-touch dash with contrast stitching and subtle mood lighting is quite classy, while wood, alloy and chrome trim are tastefully applied. This could be the most visually appealing cabin in the class, and it seems well screwed together as well, with none of the creaking and squeaking we experienced with the CTS sedan.
The SRX's exterior isn't quite as successful, with a front end that clearly puts an emphasis on aerodynamics rather than aesthetics. It looks like a cross between a Cadillac and either Jay Leno or a locomotive's cow-catcher. The rear end is quite handsome, though, tastefully applying Cadillac's sharp creases and subtle tailfins.
Who should consider this vehicle
If you desire a compact luxury crossover with every option available, the 2010 Cadillac SRX Turbo makes a compelling case for itself against its European competition. Should you want to spend less money, however, the base SRX with its overmatched engine just doesn't have the same appeal.
The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.
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