2004 Cadillac SRX
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Story and photos by Greg Wilson

Like the Chrysler Pacifica, Audi Allroad and Volvo XC90, the new Cadillac SRX is one of those luxury “crossover” wagons that’s not quite a sport utility vehicle and not quite a wagon. While more practical than a luxury sedan, the SRX is not as big and bulky as an SUV and offers better ride and handling than an SUV – so it’s a nice “in-betweener” kind of luxury utility vehicle.

It’s no cheaper than an SUV though – starting at $52,250 for the V6-powered rear-wheel-drive model, and $61,340 for the V8-powered all-wheel-drive model. With options, that price can rise to almost $80,000. We’re not talking a family wagon here – this is a luxury car/wagon with all the bells and whistles.

Still, it’s comparably priced with other luxury utility wagons. The six cylinder Chrysler Pacifica starts at $45,995 (a V8 is not offered); the turbocharged V6 Audi Allroad starts at $58,800; and the Volvo XC90 2.5T starts at $54,995 while the turbocharged Volvo XC 90 T6 is priced at $61,995. Notably, the SRX is the only one to offer a V8. The VW Touareg, which is offered with a V8 ($60,550) and a V6 ($52,100), is another possible competitor, although I think of it as more of an SUV than a wagon.

2004 Cadillac SRX
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Luxury wagons are a bit of a risk for carmakers – they’ve never sold as well as sedans or SUVs in North America. Luxury buyers don’t mind shelling out $60,000 to $80,000 for a luxury sedan or a high-end SUV, but tend to balk at spending that amount on a wagon. A lot will depend whether buyers perceive of the SRX as a “sport-utility wagon” or a “luxury crossover” vehicle rather than a wagon.

The SRX’s hard-edged, chunky styling leaves no doubt that this is a Cadillac. I’m not a fan of Cadillac’s angular styling, but the SRX’s wagon bodystyle tends to accomodate the straight lines more effectively – and station wagon’s tend to be angular anyway because this is the most practical way of maximizing interior space.

2004 SRX’s are available with rear-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive, and come with Cadillac’s 260 horsepower 3.6 litre SOHC V6 with variable valve timing; or the 320 horsepower Northstar 4.6 litre DOHC V8 also with variable valve timing. A five-speed automatic transmission with a manual shift gate is standard with both engines.

Driving impressions

The SRX has four large doors for easier entry, but a fairly high step-in height (19.2 inches). As well, passengers have to step over a wide lower body sill. I found it difficult to get out of the car without rubbing my pant leg on the wide sill, which inevitably left a dirty mark on my pants.

2004 Cadillac SRX

2004 Cadillac SRX
Click image to enlarge

The driver has excellent outward visibility with some hindrance from the three second row head restraints and the two third-row head restraints. If there’s no one in the middle rear seat, I’d recommend removing that middle head restraint to improve visibility. With a power driver’s seat, power adjustable pedals, and tilt steering wheel, there’s no problem finding a comfortable driving position. But though the driver’s seat has excellent lateral and lower support, it doesn’t offer an adjustable lumbar feature – apparently this feature will be coming later.

Squeeze the accelerator pedal, and you’ll notice the immediate response from the powerful 320 horsepower 4.6 litre V8 – this engine is wonderfully flexible and extremely smooth and quiet. Under hard acceleration, I experienced no torque-steer in the all-wheel-drive model, and of course, there wouldn’t be any in the rear-wheel-drive model. The standard 5-speed automatic transmission is very smooth and features a manual shift gate, just to the right of the regular gate. Accelerating from 0 to 100 km/h takes just 7.4 seconds according to independent track tests conducted by the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada – this is impressive considering the SRX’s hefty 2015 kg (4442 lb.) curb weight. Braking from 100 to 0 is accomplished in just 131 feet, about the same as it competitors. The SRX comes with standard four-wheel vented discs with 4-wheel ABS, dynamic rear proportioning, and Panic Brake Assist.

On the freeway, the engine does just 1900 rpm at 100 km/h, and can barely be heard. Fuel consumption of 16.2 l/100 km (17 mpg) in the city and 10.8 l/100 km (26 mpg) on the highway is pretty thirsty, particularly on the highway.

The SRX’s optional full-time four-wheel-drive system needs no intervention from the driver and is invisible on dry roads except when making a full lock turn – then the steering “binds” a bit. It snowed during my week with the SRX, which gave me a chance to test its traction and stability with AWD. I found it offered excellent grip and had no problem handling unploughed side streets, and slippery hills. Aided by standard traction control and stability control, meaty Michelin Pilot HX MXM4 all-season tires (front 235/60R-18; rear 255/55R-18), and a generous 8.2 inch ground clearance, the SRX makes a great winter car.

2004 Cadillac SRX
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From a performance point of view, my only complaint was a slight ‘thunk’ in the drivetrain that occurs under light acceleration after coasting. It feels like the driveline is slightly loose, but is so subtle that I expect many drivers won’t even notice it.

My test vehicle was equipped with the optional back-up sensors – in the SRX, this consists of three small lights on the roof near the rear window – two yellow and one red – that light up in sequence as you get closer to an object behind the SRX. Audible tones increase in frequency as you approach an object such as a fire hydrant, curb or wall. I found this a very useful option.

Though the SRX is taller than a typical wagon, I didn’t find the handling “tippy”. There was minimal head-bobbing and the ride was quite comfortable. The SRX AWD has a 52%/48% front/rear weight distribution which helps reduce brake dive, and a fully independent suspension for supple handling over uneven surfaces. The car’s turning circle of 12.1 metres (39.7 feet) is fairly wide, but not unreasonable for a fairly long vehicle. The SRX is available with optional rear air shocks and automatic load-leveling, useful if you’re towing – it will tow up to 3500 lbs. Overall, I found the SRX a comfortable, easy car to drive in everyday city and highway use in all kinds of weather conditions.

Interior impressions

2004 Cadillac SRX

2004 Cadillac SRX

2004 Cadillac SRX

2004 Cadillac SRX

2004 Cadillac SRX

2004 Cadillac SRX

2004 Cadillac SRX
Click image to enlarge

The SRX’s interior is roomy – it has a fairly long 116 inch wheelbase, and second row legroom is claimed to be the best in its class. Front and rear passengers have generous headroom and legroom but the optional third row seat has very little legroom.

The dash and console are nicely finished, however the mixture of coarse dark plastic, dark wood trim on dash and steering wheel, and black leather seats in my test car gave it a rather sombre appearance. The leather and wood steering wheel is attractive, but I found the lacquered wood kind of slippery to grip.

Base SRX models come well-equipped, including a dual zone automatic climate control system, rear fan control, front, side and curtain airbags, leather seats (heated in front), 8-way power driver and passenger front seats with memory, heated outside mirrors, power windows and locks and remote entry, 6-disc CD changer, and cruise control.

My fully loaded SRX AWD V8 model had over $16,000 worth of options. The most expensive option is the Preferred Equipment Group package ($7,325) which includes all-wheel-drive, burl walnut trim, Bose 8-speaker audio system, HID headlamps, power pedals, and magnetic ride control. In addition, my test vehicle had the optional DVD navigation system ($3,205); power folding 3rd row seat ($2,000); super large “Ultraview” sunroof ($2,000); and DVD rear entertainment system $1,660).

The optional navigation system includes a 6.5 inch centre colour touch screen, with a map that always points north rather than turning in the direction the car is going. Both text and audible message guide the driver to their destination, and the DVD covers Canada and the U.S. The touch screen can be used to change various functions, such as English/Metric readouts, on/off delayed lighting and so forth. At the top of the screen is a readout for radio station, clock and outside temperature. Traditional controls for the radio are on located just to the left of the screen.

I found most controls easy to use, but unusually, the rear wiper control and rear fan speed control are located on the overhead console. The huge (optional) “ultraview” moonroof, which extends over the second row seating positions, allows plenty of daylight in and features a power sliding sunshade. When the moonroof opens, it slides up and over the top of the roof – it doesn’t look odd because it’s hidden behind the side roof rails.

My car also had the optional rear entertainment systems which consists of a 7 inch LCD colour monitor at the rear of the centre console, a DVD player, 2 sets of wireless headphones and audio controls, and inputs for video camera and video games. The screen is positioned low so it doesn’t interfere with vision through the rearview mirror, like some roof-mounted screens do. Rear video systems are very useful if you have children under 18.

As I mentioned, the second row seats are very comfortable with generous legroom and headroom. To access the third row seat, the right-side 2nd row passenger seat flips over. The third row seat has adequate headroom, but there is no floor well and legroom is cramped. I found it quite uncomfortable. This seat is best used for small children.

The third row seatback can be folded down when not in use by simply pressing a button in the cargo area, however the two rear head restraints must be removed first. As a safety feature, the driver must press the remote unlock button three times before the seat will fold over. This is to prevent young children from pressing the button when they shouldn’t be doing it – as we all know, young kids just love to press buttons to see what happens. The third row seat also features a power reclining seatback, a unique feature.

Luggage space behind the third row seat is minimal, so you won’t be going on any long trips with seven passengers on board. Note that the third row seatback is not a split seatback, so it’s not possible to fold half down and seat someone on the other side.

With the power third row seatback folded flat, there is a roomy cargo area (918 litres/32.4 cu. ft.) or about twice what you would find in a typical mid-size sedan trunk. As well, the second row 60/40 split folding seatbacks can be folded down which more than doubles the cargo area.

If you don’t order the third row seat, the SRX comes with a rear storage tray integrated into the rear floor with a detachable storage bin. The rear cargo door is a hatch which lifts up over your head but there is no separately opening rear window glass.


The Cadillac SRX V8 with all-wheel-drive has a nice combination of power, refinement, practicality, and all-weather capability. Complaints? The third row seat is too small for adults, fuel consumption is thirsty, and the as-tested price is high when fully loaded.

The SRX is manufactured in Lansing, Michigan where the CTS is also built.

Technical Data: 2004 Cadillac SRX V8 AWD

Base price (V6) $52,250
Base price (V8) $61,340
Options $16,190 (Preferred Equipment Package 1SC $7,325; DVD navigation system $3,205; 3rd row seat $2,000; Ultraview sunroof $2,000; DVD rear entertainment system $1,660)
Freight $1,050
A/C tax $100
Price as tested $78,680
Type 4-door, 5-passenger mid-size utility wagon
Layout longitudinal front engine/RWD or AWD
Engine 4.6 litre V8, DOHC, 4 valves per cylinder, variable valve timing
Horsepower 320 @ 6400
Torque 315 lb-ft @ 4400
Transmission 5-speed auto
Tires Front: Michelin all-season P235/60R-18; rear, P255/55R-18
Curb weight 2015 kg (4442 lb.)
Max. towing capacity 1588 kg (3500 lb) w/towing package
Wheelbase 2957 mm (116.0 in.)
Length 4950 mm (195.0 in.)
Width 1854 mm (72.6 in.)
Height 1722 mm (67.8 in.)
Ground clearance 208 mm (8.2 in.)
Cargo area 238 litres (8.4 cu. ft.) (2nd and 3rd row up)
  918 litres (32.4 cu. ft.) (2nd row up, 3rd row down)
  1968 litres (69.5 cu. ft.) (2nd and 3rd row down)
Fuel consumption City: 16.2 l/100 km (17 mpg)
  Hwy: 10.8 l/100 km (26 mpg)
Fuel Premium recommended but not required
Warranty 4 yrs/80,000 km

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