June 5, 2014
2014 Cadillac SRX Premium. Click image to enlarge
Review by Mark Stevenson. Photos by Mark Stevenson and courtesy General Motors
This isn’t my first time inside this generation of the Cadillac SRX.
While living in Houston, my significant other at the time drove one on a fairly regular basis, so I became quite familiar with Cadillac’s angular-but-swoopy crossover.
At the beginning of the second generation, the SRX was powered either by a 3.0L naturally aspirated V6 or a 2.8L turbocharged V6. The turbo unit only lasted one model year (2010), with the 3.0-litre V6 replaced by a 3.6-litre unit in 2012 as the sole engine of choice (or lack thereof).
Our tester, an all-wheel-drive model (earning the SRX4 designation) in Premium trim, has matured well since my time in the 2010 SRX in the Lone Star State.
After the addition of the 3.6L V6 engine in 2012, the SRX underwent a significant refresh in 2013, receiving a revised interior incorporating Cadillac’s new CUE infotainment, a slight exterior redesign, Driver Awareness and Driver Assist technology packages, and active noise cancellation. For 2014, the only notable addition has been Intellibeam headlamps in the Driver Awareness package.
During my week in the 2014 Cadillac SRX4 Premium, the upgraded 3.6L engine was certainly noticeable, as it should be with 308 hp and 265 lb-ft of torque. Power delivery from the six-pot V-oriented mill was smooth and silky thanks to the Hydramatic six-speed automatic. In all circumstances, other than full-throttle operation, the engine and transmission combo wafted me away without neck-snapping shifts or any of the annoyances found in some newer eight- and nine-speed autoboxes. Even with the transmission’s ECO mode engaged, which can be turned on and off by pressing a button next to the gear selector, shifts seemed just as smooth, even if the engine did groan ever so slightly.
Continuing the theme of comfort, the SRX’s suspension provided a gentle, supple ride, easily ironing out most road imperfections. Even larger potholes were dampened without the dreaded bump-stop thump and associated chassis crash as the SRX made sure not to exhaust its complete range of suspension travel.
With the 2013 interior redesign, Cadillac did away with their pop-up navigation screen and awkward interior for a more traditional approach. Putting the eight-inch CUE screen in the middle of the centre console, Cadillac engineers then designed around the new system. Unlike Lincoln’s efforts to remove as many buttons as possible, the SRX features capacitive ‘buttons’ with haptic feedback on the dash. The new switchless switchgear does take some of the tactile experience away from operation, but locating controls is quite easy within a day or two.
Speaking of CUE, the infotainment system has taken a lot of criticism since its introduction on the Cadillac XTS full-size sedan for being slow to respond, complicated, and poorly designed. However, during my week with the SRX, I didn’t find it as bad as other reviewers have made it out to be.
For comparison, CUE isn’t nearly as slow as the glacier-like responses from Land Rover’s infotainment solution. Nor is it as badly designed as Mercedes-Benz COMAND. But it’s far from the head of the pack.
2014 Cadillac SRX Premium dashboard & dual-play entertainment system. Click image to enlarge
BMW and Audi, which have both taken very different approaches to the infotainment need, deliver better solutions. BMW iDrive may have menus-upon-menus, but the system is gorgeous on their wide format screen and easily has the best features. On the other hand, Audi MMI is ultra-simplistic (to the end user) featuring an incredibly clean design.
As for CUE’s ‘interactive gesture control’, I didn’t even bother. The last thing I want to look like is an angry orchestra conductor behind the wheel having a bout of road rage.
On the safety front, General Motors has crammed as much technology into the SRX as they can. While the crossover doesn’t receive GM’s award-winning front-centre airbag, it does get almost everything else. From forward collision alert, side blind zone alert, and (my favourite) rear cross-traffic alert, the SRX definitely has its eyes open for you. Adaptive cruise control also makes highway driving a cinch, though it won’t bring you to a complete stop. (If it’s supposed to, I was unable to get it to work while following a Halifax Regional Police Service cruiser. And no, I didn’t hit it, but just.)