2012 Cadillac SRX Review

Cadillac gives its little lion a new heart

By Imthishan Giado

2012 Cadillac SRX

The old Cadillac SRX was a solid effort let down badly by its anaemic V6 engine. Can a new powerplant improve its appeal?

The Cadillac SRX was one of the first crossovers to cash in the ‘downsizing’ trend currently sweeping the industry. The first car was resolutely rear-wheel drive and packed a honking great Northstar V8 under the hood  – which earned it kudos from the autojourno crowd, but little in the way of sales success.

Come 2010 however, and Cadillac had learnt its lesson. The second generation SRX dropped nearly everything crowd-pleasing about the old car in favour of a more svelte toned body, all wheel drive and a new direct-injected 3.0litre V6 engine that pumped out a mean 265bhp. Goodbye drifting, hello record sales – in the US, the SRX is outsold only by the Lexus RX which is no mean feat.

2012 Cadillac SRX

But there’s a problem. I drove the SRX two years ago and while it was a pleasant enough agile little trucklet with tons of standard features and a huge sunroof, the engine was a terrible disappointment. With just 223lb ft of torque to move more than 2000kg, the SRX struggled to get out its own way. Fill it up with five passengers and you and your ears would soon become very acquainted with the upper range of the tachometer and the sounds of a desperately revving six, respectively. In short, it was an adequate engine, but no more.

2012 Cadillac SRX

Fast forward to 2012 and Cadillac has taken some drastic steps to correct the power imbalance. How drastic? The new standard engine for the SRX is the 308bhp V6 that’s also found in the Camaro.

2012 Cadillac SRX

This LFX or ‘High Feature V6’ as GM calls it, is the family motor that powers everything from Malibus in the US to Commodores in Australia and frankly should have been in the SRX from the beginning.  Thanks to some clever re-engineering of parts like the exhaust manifolds, this 3.6-litre unit weights almost exactly the same as the outgoing V6.

2012 Cadillac SRX
You won’t mistake it for that car when you put your foot down. Now with an eye-opening 308bhp and 260lb ft of torque available from 2400rpm, driving this SRX is entirely different experience. The once sluggish SUV leaps off the line thanks to its clever Haldex AWD drivetrain and keeps pulling smoothly all the way to the 6800rpm redline with an surprisingly unmuted snarl. The automatic is a great match as well, delivering quick shifts on demand.

2012 Cadillac SRX

Much like the Grand Cherokee and the Pentastar, this engine absolutely transforms the character of the SRX. In fact, aside from Chrysler’s aforementioned mill, there isn’t a better small-displacement V6 out there. Volvo turbo V6? Thirsty. Nissan 4.0-litre? Thirsty and unrefined. Toyota V6? Not as powerful. The list goes on.

2012 Cadillac SRX

Plenty of room in the back

Other improvements include slight stiffer suspension – which cuts down body roll without appreciably affecting ride quality – but for the most part, this is the same SRX as before. In some respects, this is not necessarily a good thing. The CTS-based interior feels slightly dated, with touches like the automatically-raising screen for the navigation system a pointless diversion. The leather seats are a touch too firm, the console is a mess of similarly-shaped buttons and rear seat room is only average for the class.

2012 Cadillac SRX

Verdict

Even though the SRX only came out two years ago, it and all its rivals in the crossover category face one big problem: the new Range Rover Evoque, which has rewritten customer expectations in the class for handling, materials and style. In a segment driven by style, the Evoque is now the hottest car on the block.

2012 Cadillac SRX

Fortunately for Cadillac, it’s also the most expensive car on the block, leaving the SRX and all its rivals in the lucrative sub AED-200k segment all to themselves. And frankly with this new engine and great new suspension setup, the SRX deserves to be on your shopping list.

Specs

Price:
 AED198,000 ($53,910)
Engine: 3600cc V6 308bhp @ 6800rpm, 265lb ft @ 2400rpm
Performance: 0-100kph 7.0 seconds, 212kph, 12.3L/100km
Transmission: six-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
Weight: 2018kg

Imthishan’s verdict From back of the pack to front of the contenders

 

 

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