Cadillac gave European sport luxury brands a real run for their money with the CTS, even going so far as to release the CTS-V, a tuned up model competitive with BMW's M and Mercedes-Benz's AMG brands. Now America's premier luxury automaker throws down the gauntlet in the crossover segment, with the 2010 Cadillac SRX.
The 2010 SRX retains Cadillac's angular design language, most notably at the grille and front fenders. Things become a little more homogeneous when you follow the roofline back to the rear spoiler, at which point it becomes difficult to tell the SRX apart from an Acura RDX or a Lexus RX. But the head and tail lights emphasize the Cadillac look, down to the vertical light pipes in the headlight casings.
Call it a crossover or small SUV, the SRX has seating for five and a high riding position offering a good view of the road. Ample cargo space includes a smuggler's compartment under the rear floorboard.
Inside the cabin, expect to find modern Cadillac luxury, which means wood trim, leather, and soft surfaces over the dashboard. In our high-trim turbo Premium edition, a smart key allowed easy access, front and rear seat climate control was individually adjustable, and the front seats got cooling and heating.
The cabin tech in the SRX is very similar to what you get in the CTS sedan, a car that won our Tech Car of the Year award for 2007. That means a responsive navigation system with maps stored on an internal hard drive, accessible through an interface that combines hardware and touch-screen elements.
When it comes to route guidance, this navigation system reads out street names, shows rich graphics for complex interchanges, and gives lane guidance, putting it on equal terms with the competition. The system also shows weather forecasts and traffic information. Along with adjusting routes around traffic jams, this system also proactively alerts you to bad traffic on the road ahead when no destination is programmed, a feature we find quite useful and that hasn't caught on with the competition.
Although it shows maps in 2D and 3D, this system lacks the rich, rendered buildings now appearing on BMW and Audi systems. Of course, the need for these detailed downtown renderings is debatable.
Sound comes from a solid Bose 10-speaker system with 5.1 channel surround. We found the quality of this system very satisfying, although not elevating. It reproduces music with a nice punch, and balances lows and highs well. We found ourselves turning up the volume to really enjoy our music. But this system didn't have that really high level of clarity we've heard in a few other systems that gets us tingling.
When we plugged in an iPhone to the car's USB port, the interface proved perfectly usable as we selected music using the touch screen. But after each button push we had to wait a moment as a message saying Building List appeared on the screen. Satellite radio comes with the SRX, which also serves as the conduit for traffic and weather data.
The SRX's biggest failing for cabin tech is the Bluetooth phone system. This system handles the most basic functions, letting you enter phone numbers by touch-screen or voice command, but there is no phone book. To make an outgoing call, you will need to know the actual number.