What's New for 2012
For the 2012 Cadillac SRX, a new 3.6-liter V6 replaces both of the previous engine choices. The six-speed automatic transmission also gains a fuel-saving Eco mode. In terms of features, Bluetooth is now standard, while a heated steering wheel is standard on all trims except the base SRX. Cadillac says it also retuned the suspension and added more sound insulation for a more comfortable and quiet ride.
When it debuted two years ago, the Cadillac SRX was a bit of an underachiever. We described it as "competent but far from class-leading." Thankfully, Cadillac has made a number of changes this year to make the 2012 SRX a more appealing luxury crossover SUV.
As before, the compact SRX's styling is still a real head-turner and unmistakably Cadillac. The comfortable interior is equally attractive and filled with many desirable features, including some that aren't even offered on competing models. The SRX is also pleasant to drive, with confident handling and a composed and quiet ride.
There's more to like for the 2012 Cadillac SRX, too. In prior years, the SRX came with either an underwhelming base 3.0-liter V6 or a more satisfying but expensive turbocharged 2.8-liter V6 upgrade. Now both have been replaced by a 308-horsepower 3.8-liter V6. This is certainly good news, as you no longer have to pay top dollar to get the best engine. And as before, the SRX is offered in both front-drive and all-wheel-drive variants.
On the downside, though, Cadillac wasn't able to address one prior problem with the SRX: weight. A good candidate for The Biggest Loser, the SRX is about 200-300 pounds heavier than most competitors. That might not seem like much, but it does negatively impact everything from acceleration to handling. Other SRX drawbacks are still there, too, including tight rear-seat headroom and poor outward visibility.
All things considered, though, the SRX is a more competitive vehicle this year, and its inherent strengths of classy styling and abundant features shine more readily. We would still suggest checking out other top crossovers such as the Audi Q5, BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLK350 and Volvo XC60, as they aren't as compromised in terms of practicality and are superior to the Cadillac in a few other areas as well. But the 2012 Cadillac SRX is finally the vehicle it should have been two years ago.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2012 Cadillac SRX is a compact luxury crossover SUV available in four trim levels, including Base, Luxury, Performance and Premium.
The base model comes equipped with 18-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, roof rails, keyless entry, remote engine start, dual-zone automatic climate control, leatherette premium vinyl upholstery, an eight-way power driver seat, a reclining and 60/40 split-folding rear seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, cruise control, OnStar, Bluetooth and an eight-speaker Bose stereo with a CD player, satellite radio, an auxiliary audio input jack and an iPod/USB audio interface.
Move up to the SRX Luxury and you get front and rear parking sensors, power-folding outside mirrors with driver-side auto-dimming, automatic wipers, a panoramic sunroof, keyless ignition/entry and a power liftgate with adjustable maximum height. Inside there's leather upholstery, driver seat adjustable thigh support, an eight-way power passenger seat, heated front seats and steering wheel, driver memory functions, power-adjustable pedals, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, interior accent lighting, the U-Rail cargo management system and a rearview camera. Options include a voice-activated navigation system with real-time traffic and a 10-speaker Bose surround-sound audio system with iPod/USB interface and digital music storage.
The Performance model adds 20-inch alloy wheels, a sport-tuned suspension and adaptive dampers (all-wheel drive only), upgraded steering, adaptive xenon headlights, foglamps, the navigation system and the Bose surround-sound audio system.
The top-of-the-line SRX Premium brings a few extra goodies, including tri-zone climate control, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats and rear seat audio controls.
A rear-seat DVD entertainment system with dual seatback-mounted screens is available on all but the base model.
Powertrains and Performance
For 2012, the Cadillac SRX gets a 3.6-liter V6 engine that puts out 308 hp and 265 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic is the only transmission offered. Front-wheel drive is standard and all wheel drive is available as an option. At our test track, an SRX Performance FWD sprinted to 60 mph in 7.1 seconds, a fairly quick time for the segment.
In terms of fuel economy, the SRX is a little below average, with an EPA-estimated 17 mpg city/24 mpg highway and 19 mpg combined for front-drive models and 16/23/18 for AWD. Cadillac says using the new Eco mode can improve fuel economy by up to 1 mpg. Properly equipped, the SRX can tow up to 3,500 pounds.
The 2012 Cadillac SRX comes standard with antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front side airbags, side curtain airbags and OnStar. In Edmunds brake testing, An SRX Performance FWD came to a stop from 60 mph in 120 feet, a solid number in this class.
In crash testing by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the SRX received the top rating of "Good" in the frontal-offset, side-impact and roof strength tests.
Interior Design and Special Features
Perhaps the SRX's greatest strength is the styling and quality of its interior. The combination of high-end materials and striking design makes an immediate and very positive impression.
That view is further enhanced by the range of available bells and whistles, from the large touchscreen that rises out of the dash on models equipped with the navigation system to the rear-seat video system that can play two different program sources at once. All that technology does come with a plethora of buttons in the center stack that can be hard to sort out with a quick glance.
Speaking of neat features that have their downsides, the panoramic sunroof that's standard on all but the base model cuts into rear seat headroom quite substantially. The net effect is that even normal-sized adults will find their heads uncomfortably grazing the roof. Otherwise the cabin gets strong marks for legroom and seating comfort.
The power-operated rear liftgate is a thoughtful touch, with its two-position height setting that allows it to be raised even in garages with low ceilings. Once that liftgate is raised, there are 30 cubic feet of cargo room behind the rear seats and 61 cubic feet with both sections of the 60/40-split rear seatbacks folded down. Both are about average for the class.
The 2012 Cadillac SRX's new V6 accelerates more briskly and has a broader torque curve than last year's base V6. It also has more character, as it emits a pleasingly throaty, yet refined growl when you lean on it and stays smooth as the revs climb to the redline. The transmission willingly steps down for swift passing, and gearchanges under hard acceleration are seamless, if a bit slow for serious driving enthusiasts.
In other respects, the SRX is enjoyable from behind the wheel. Handling is better than you'd expect from a 2-ton-plus luxury crossover, especially with the available sport-turned suspension. The steering is fairly quick and there's minimal body lean in faster corners, making the SRX fairly athletic for its size. The ride quality is also plusher this year thanks to the revised suspension tuning. Even the Performance variant, with its big wheels and firmer suspension calibrations, delivers a compliant ride over all but the most severe pavement flaws.