Test Drive: 2012 Cadillac SRX AWD car test drives reviews luxury cars cadillac
2012 Cadillac SRX AWD. Click image to enlarge

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Review and photos by Michael Schlee

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2012 Cadillac SRX

When GM moved the Cadillac SRX downmarket in 2010, people gasped in disbelief.  Was Cadillac really taking an award-winning SUV based on exclusive Cadillac architecture and transforming it into a cute-ute, kissing cousin to a Chevrolet?  “What was the General smoking?” many thought (and exclaimed in online forums).  Well, the answer would be: sales.  Although the SRX won several awards and was well regarded in the industry as a fun-to-drive crossover, customers never really responded.  In seven years on the market, the SRX managed to sell only 116,503 units in the United States.  Even with choices of V6 or V8 power, rear- or all-wheel dive and optional seating for up to seven, the vehicle never caught on with consumers.

As a result, the 2010 model was completely overhauled and based on a new Theta Premium platform shared with the stillborn Saab 9-4x.  The “Theta Premium” is a larger version of the Chevrolet Equinox Theta platform intended for, you guessed it, premium models.  The biggest change for the SRX with these underpinnings affects two-wheel drive models:  Skip all-wheel drive option on the older SRX and you got a rear-wheel drive vehicle, but as of 2010 the front wheels have become the standard motivators.

Test Drive: 2012 Cadillac SRX AWD car test drives reviews luxury cars cadillac
2012 Cadillac SRX AWD. Click image to enlarge

That meant the new SRX with its choice of V6 engines could be equipped with either front-wheel or all-wheel drive.  Although now smaller and lighter, GM dulled down the driving experience and upped the luxury content.  Gone was the agile CUV that could hold its own on back-road jaunts.  Cadillac felt this packaging better reflected what buyers wanted in the mid-size crossover utility class. So did it work?  In just two years on the market, the second-generation SRX has already racked up 107,999 sales and may have already eclipsed the total sales figures the first-generation SRX achieved by the time you read this.

As sad as this all sounds to an enthusiast like me, it’s the cold hard truth.  Enthusiasts like me (and many of you) make up a small minority of new vehicle consumers.  My wife, who spends nearly as much time in these test vehicles as I do, was very impressed by the Cadillac SRX, but had nothing but disdain for the following week’s similarly-priced test vehicle, a BMW X3.  In a small and completely unscientific survey of four “non-car” people, three were more impressed with the Cadillac. Me, on the other hand – well, there is no question in my mind, give me the BMW.  But as the saying goes, “the proof is in the pudding.”  Last year in the States, BMW moved 27,793 X3s off dealer lots, while Cadillac moved an impressive 56,905 SRXs.

Test Drive: 2012 Cadillac SRX AWD car test drives reviews luxury cars cadillac
2012 Cadillac SRX AWD. Click image to enlarge

To build on the positive sales trend, Cadillac has made a few changes for 2012.  All SRX models now come standard with a 3.6-litre V6 engine, developing 308 hp and 265 lb.-ft. of torque.  Although those are impressive numbers on their own, once saddled with 2,105 kg of Cadillac, the engine feels as though 40 of the horses are enjoying the heated rear seats and forgot to show up for work.  Other changes for 2012 include interior door lock switches added to the door panels (and retained on centre console) and a reduction to just two trim levels: FWD and AWD.  Those who wish to add a little flair to their Cadillac, fear not, as there are still several option packages to choose from.

Our test vehicle arrived as the top-of-the-line Cadillac SRX ‘Premium Collection’ AWD.  Starting at $54,580, our SRX had additional options like trailering provisions and 20-inch chrome wheels that brought the as-tested price to $56,525.  That is a lot of money for a five-seat crossover vehicle, but let’s be honest, what mid-size luxury CUV isn’t a lot of money? Charging a lot is a prerequisite for “luxury” status; keeping up with the Joneses isn’t cheap.

About Mike

Mike Schlee is the former Social Editor at Autos.ca and autoTRADER.ca. He began his professional automotive writing career in 2011 and has always had a passion for all things automotive, working in the industry since 2000.