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Cadillac crosses over with the new SRX

October 27, 2003|by KEN CHESTER, JR./Motor News Media Corporation

Since the giant automaker awakened several years ago with the elevation of Rick Waggoner as CEO and the hiring of product guru Bob Lutz from Chrysler, General Motors has been in the midst of a product revival. Beginning with the move to trucks that began with former product czar Ron Zarella, GM has been strengthening its portfolio of vehicles.

With the heavy lifting largely completed on the truck side, the company has turned its attention to developing unique products for its specific brands.

Nowhere has this revival been as drastic as Cadillac. A storied marque with a rich history, Cadillac has gone from zero to three truck models (Escalade, Escalade ESV and Escalade EXT), a new retractable hardtop (XLR) and now a crossover wagon - the SRX.

Built on the company's Sigma platform architecture along with the CTS sedan, the SRX is identified by Cadillac as an all-new medium luxury utility vehicle.

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SRX is built in the corporation's new Grand River manufacturing plant in Lansing, Mich., and the automaker did not resort to badge engineering - that is, slapping a Cadillac label on something else and passing it off as a premium vehicle. Nope, this is the real McCoy, with the commitment to invest in the right hardware to make it worthy of wearing the Cadillac emblem.

Available in rear- and all-wheel-drive configurations, the SRX is powered by a choice of two engines - an all-new 3.6-liter V-6 with variable valve timing and a next-generation 4.6-liter Northstar V-8 with variable valve timing.

In a first for the Cadillac brand, two Hydra-Matic five-speed automatics transfer power to the pavement. The Hydra-Matic 5L40-E is mated to the six-cylinder and the Hydra-Matic 5L50-E is bolted to the V-8 engine.

With a roster of technology befitting GM's flagship brand, the Cadillac SRX wagon also features four-channel StabiliTrak active suspension control, and an optional "UltraView" sunroof, the largest sunroof system available with 5.6 square feet of open air (and integrating a retractable power shade), and an optional rear cargo management system.

On the road, the SRX delivers strong, seamless, confident power in legendary Cadillac style. The vehicle turns in a powerful, quiet and balanced performance at speed or in town. A 50/50 vehicle weight distribution, low center of gravity and a host of the latest vehicle stability technologies contribute to make SRX a utility vehicle that is fun to drive.

Starting with GM's Body Frame Integral chassis construction as the foundation, the SRX features a four-wheel independent suspension system. The front suspension hardware includes an independent short/long arm with aluminum upper and lower control arms, hydraulic control arm front bushings, solid mounted front frame, pressurized monotube front shock absorbers and a 36-mm stabilizer bar.

The rear suspension components include a fully independent multi-link design with fully isolated sub frame, aluminum upper control arms, knuckles and rear differential, Nivomat load-leveling rear shocks and 22-mm stabilizer bar. Uplevel models receive Magnetic Ride Control shocks front and rear along with an electronic auto-leveling compressor.

Inside the cabin, the SRX can be configured to carry seven with the optional third-row seat. Cadillac engineers placed intense focus on providing usable and convenient passenger and storage space. The second-row seat has lots of leg room and folds virtually flat into the cargo floor. The optional third seat power-folds into the floor at the push of a button.

Storage is the keyword in the SRX, with additional storage areas located in the covered front door compartments, front map pockets, front seat-back pockets, front center console with two compartments, a bin behind the front console, glovebox with shelf, covered cupholders in the front seat and center console, and a second-seat fold-down armrest with cupholders.

Displays and controls are clean, modern and easy to understand and use. Interior fabrics and materials are tasteful and nicely upscale. The one-piece rear hatch reveals a big opening designed to facilitate cargo hauling. The driver enjoys good outward visibility.

QUICK VEHICLE STATS

Wheelbase: 116.0; overall length: 195; width: 72.6; height: 67.8 - measurements in inches.

Engine: 3.6-liter V-6 - 260 hp at 6,500 rpm and 252 lbs-ft of torque at 2,500 rpm; 4.6-liter Northstar V-8 - 320 hp at 6,400 rpm and 315 lbs-ft of torque at 4,400 rpm

Transmissions: Hydra-Matic 5L40-E five-speed automatic (V-6), Hydra-Matic 5L50-E five-speed automatic (V-8).

EPA fuel economy: RWD - 3.6-liter, 18 city/23 hwy.; 4.6-liter, 16 city/21 hwy.; AWD - 3.6-liter, 17 city/ 22 hwy.; 4.6L - 16 city/20 hwy. Both engines can run on regular unleaded although the manufacturer recommends premium unleaded for best performance.

Maximum cargo volume: 69.5 cubic feet

Towing capacity: 3,500 pounds

SAFETY FEATURES

Dual front air bags, front seat mounted side-impact air bags, head curtain front-to-rear head curtain air bags, battery rundown protection, four-wheel disc brakes with anti-lock, daytime running lights, fog lamps, wiper-activated headlamps with Twilight Sentinel, OnStar one year Directions and Connections service, PASS-Key III audible theft-deterrent system, remote keyless entry, side-door guard beams, StabiliTrak vehicle stabilizing enhancement system, all-speed traction control and Ultrasonic rear parking assist. V-8 models add power adjustable pedals with memory and tire pressure monitor.

WARRANTY

Basic: 4 year/50,000 mile, bumper-to-bumper

Roadside assistance: 4 year/50,000 mile, 24-hour

PRICING

The base Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the 2004 Cadillac SRX starts from $37,995 for the V-6 equipped model, up to $46,300 for the V-8. Destination charge adds $695.

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