What's New for 2013
The 2013 Cadillac SRX receives a new electronics interface. Called CUE, this touchscreen system operates via voice command or smartphone-like hand gestures. The 2013 SRX also has new safety features, an active noise-cancellation system to reduce wind and road noise, and subtly restyled front and rear fascias.
You'll probably be surprised to learn that the best-selling model line under the Cadillac umbrella is the Cadillac SRX crossover. GM's luxury-vehicle division has worked diligently at making the formerly forgettable SRX utility into a serious player since its redesign a couple years ago, and the 2013 Cadillac SRX is unquestionably the best version yet.
For 2013 the Cadillac SRX receives a revised interior centered around the introduction of the brand's "Cadillac User Experience" (CUE) infotainment interface. The heart of the CUE system is an interactive screen with gesture controls similar to those that made Apple products so ubiquitous. If you're a fan of simpler controls and a minimalist aesthetic, it's all for the better. Probably no interface approach is ever going to be perfect for everyone, but CUE is quite effective for many tasks. Also, adopting CUE has definitely cleaned up what before was a virtual shotgun blast of buttons on the SRX's center stack.
Meanwhile, Cadillac isn't standing still with the SRX's safety profile, either. The new-for-2013 Driver Assist and Driver Awareness packages introduce automatic-braking technologies that help to reduce the chance of low-speed impacts. The 2013 SRX also joins Cadillac's XTS and ATS sedans in using the new, vibrating Safety Alert Seat to warn that the car's sensors have detected an impending dangerous situation. The optional wiggle-my-seat warning system might not appeal to everyone (it can be turned off), but it is a unique approach.
These upgrades for 2013 certainly make the SRX even more appealing. But this makeover can't totally eradicate a couple of this luxury crossover's basic shortcomings. The SRX is markedly heavier than just about any crossover, meaning performance and fuel economy aren't as competitive as they could be. Also the SRX's sharply creased styling makes for cramped headroom and some challenging sight lines.
Still, Cadillac's focus on upgrading the 2013 SRX's interior and slightly freshening its sheet metal has largely put the SRX on equal footing with other top compact luxury crossovers. We do suggest shopping around some, perhaps taking a look at the less expensive 2013 Acura RDX, the sportier 2013 BMW X3 or the roomier 2013 Volvo XC60. Even so, though it was once an also-ran to the best luxury crossovers, the 2013 Cadillac SRX now deserves serious consideration.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 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, premium vinyl upholstery, an eight-way power driver seat, a reclining and 60/40 split-folding rear seat, cruise control and a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel. The CUE infotainment-control system with an 8-inch display is also standard, as are OnStar, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and an eight-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite and HD radio, two USB ports and an auxiliary audio jack.
Move up to the SRX Luxury and you get front and rear parking sensors, blind-spot and cross-traffic alert, a rearview camera, rain-sensing wipers, a panoramic sunroof, keyless ignition/entry and a power liftgate with adjustable opening height. Inside the cabin there's leather upholstery, adjustable thigh support for the driver seat, 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 and a cargo management system. A voice-activated navigation system and a 10-speaker Bose surround-sound audio system are optional.
Optional on the Luxury trim level is the optional Driver Awareness package -- with forward-collision alert, lane departure warning and the safety alert driver seat. Also available is the Driver Assist package, which incorporates adaptive cruise control, automatic collision preparation and automatic braking.
The SRX Performance model adds 20-inch alloy wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, adaptive dampers (all-wheel drive only), variable-effort power steering, adaptive xenon headlights, foglamps, the navigation system and the Bose surround-sound audio system.
The top-of-the-line SRX Premium adds the Driver Awareness package plus a few extra goodies that include tri-zone climate control, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats and rear seat audio controls.
A towing package and a rear-seat entertainment system with dual seatback-mounted screens are available on all but the base model.
Powertrains and Performance
The engine choice for the 2013 Cadillac SRX is simple, since every model features a 3.6-liter V6 that generates 308 horsepower and 265 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic is the only transmission offered. Front-wheel drive is standard, but all-wheel drive is available for any SRX trim. When Edmunds tested a front-drive SRX Performance, it ran from zero to 60 mph in 7.1 seconds, an average time for compact luxury crossovers.
In terms of fuel economy, the SRX's heft helps put it slightly 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. There is a switchable Eco driving mode that Cadillac claims can improve fuel economy by up to 1 mpg.
The 2013 Cadillac SRX comes standard with antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front side airbags and side curtain airbags. The OnStar system includes automatic crash notification, on-demand roadside assistance, remote door unlocking, stolen vehicle assistance and turn-by-turn navigation. Standard on most SRXs are blind-spot monitoring and cross-traffic alert systems.
The optional Driver Awareness package (standard on the SRX Premium) adds forward-collision alert, lane departure warning and the safety alert driver seat. The latter vibrates on the left or right side of the seat, based on which direction a potential hazard looms. The optional Driver Assist package features automatic collision preparation and automatic low-speed braking, both when going forward and when in reverse.
In Edmunds brake testing, a front-drive SRX Performance came to a stop from 60 mph in 120 feet, a good 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
Fitting Cadillac's CUE infotainment-control system redefined the 2013 SRX interior to become one of the most interesting and enabling in any luxury crossover. Gone is the touchscreen that rose from the dash and always looked like something of an afterthought. Gone is the sea of buttons -- not all logically arranged -- spread out over the SRX's center stack. In their place is a crisp and clear LCD screen that offers mostly intuitive control over the audio, phone (and other electronic devices) and climate control functions.
Amazingly, there now are just four buttons: power, volume up/volume down and "home." Most of the functions can be voice-commanded, but the CUE screen responds to familiar touch commands such as swipes and pinches -- and includes tactile feedback to let you know when a command has been accepted. The effect of removing the center stack's button clutter is further enhanced by the ability to reconfigure the information in the instrument cluster to a variety of driver preferences. No longer are you locked into looking at the same speedometer, tachometer and ancillary gauges.
The visual impact from the CUE cleanup and the new instrument-cluster capabilities helps to impart a serious high-tech overtone for what already was one of the better luxury crossover interiors. Some new interior color combinations lend an airy vibe and the high-quality look and feel of the SRX's interior trim is highlighted by generally good fit and finish. We wish some of the wood accents didn't look quite so polished, but the overall impression is an excellent blend of technology-meets-luxury.
There's ample (if not overly generous) room for four adults, although the roof line -- particularly if the optional panoramic sunroof is in place -- definitely can pinch those in the rear. Cargo room is about average for the class: 30 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 61 cubic feet with both sections of the 60/40-split rear seatbacks folded down.
The driving dynamics of the 2013 Cadillac SRX are as all-around responsive as most would want, with the 3.6-liter V6 handling the job of moving the SRX with assurance in most situations, although this crossover's plumpness means acceleration is best described as satisfying rather than exhilarating. The six-speed automatic transmission is a good companion, though, and fairly unobtrusively keeps the V6 ready for response, although downshifts sometimes can be slower than you'd like.
You're likely to be surprised by the crispness of the 2013 SRX's handling and cornering demeanor. Many luxury crossovers tend to be oriented toward the soft side, sacrificing some nimbleness for a more comfortable ride, but the SRX doesn't really require such trade-offs. The standard suspension tuning allows for responsive cornering, while those seeking serious back-road ability will find the quicker steering and adaptive dampers that come with the all-wheel-drive model's sport suspension an almost perfect blend of sport-oriented cornering capability and acceptable ride comfort.