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A MID-SIZE SUV WITH THE BEST OF IT ALL

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Sun, Apr 11, 2004

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

All New 2004 Cadillac SRX AWD V8

THIS MID-SIZE SPORT UTILITY HAS THE BEST OF IT ALL By HARVEY SCHWARTZ

The upscale, high-performing, mid-size SUV niche is getting more crowded this year as BMW brings out a new updated X5, Volkswagen introduces the all-new Touareg, with Mercedes continuing with the ML and Lincoln championing it's all-new Aviator.

© All photos by Harvey Schwartz

These are all terrific mid-size luxury SUVs with lots of power, performance, comfort, convenience, luxury and safety. They all have it, but after testing the all-new Cadillac SRX, I have to say that the SRX has the best of it all. Just the name, Cadillac, congers up luxury and quality. Cadillac is on a mission to bring its nameplate back to world-class status after it was lost in the 1950's and 1960's. This all-new Cadillac SRX brings a heightened level of performance and flexibility to the medium luxury utility segment. It's a vehicle able to handle whatever path you put in front of it - a utility vehicle with a towing capacity of up to 3,500 lbs., that drives like a sport sedan and looks like nothing else on the road with its crisp, clean lines and low, sleek, sexy profile. The family resemblance to CTS and Escalade is immediately evident; the SRX visually bridges the gap between performance sedan and full-size SUV. Its Cadillac bloodline shows through in its chiseled, LED-lighted vertical tail lamps, vertical HID headlamps with washers, and V-shaped grille. This Art & Science exterior style is bold and instantly announces Cadillac's arrival in the segment. I've already noticed some Cadillac design cues on several new cars and trucks from other manufacturers.

Many attributes set SRX apart, but at the top of that list is performance. The all-new Cadillac CTS proved the Sigma architecture has the right underpinnings for a driver's car. Now this flexible architecture has been modified for SRX, featuring the longest wheelbase in its class and helping to provide superior ride quality and dynamic stability. A near 50-50 percent weight distribution, a low center of gravity, outstanding powertrain combinations and a host of the latest vehicle stability technologies contribute to make SRX a rare utility vehicle that is, at its core, fun to drive. New engine combinations are available for SRX, including the next-generation 4.6 liter Northstar V-8 VVT or the all-new 3.6 liter VVT. The 4.6 liter, 32-valve V8 Northstar engine, extensively re-engineered and mounted longitudinally, is a sophisticated, technically advanced powerplant that generates 320 hp at 6,400 rpm and 315 lb.ft. of torque at 4,400 rpm. The engine incorporates a host of technical innovations, including electronic throttle control and phasers on all four camshafts to control valve timing throughout the entire operating range. SRX will mark the first AWD and RWD applications of the new, advanced Northstar V8. The 3.6 liter VVT makes 260 hp at 6,500 rpm and 252 lb.ft. of torque at 2,800 rpm. The 60-degree DOHC 24-valve powerplant boasts a number of performance refinements including electronic throttle control, variable valve timing, multi-port fuel injection, two-stage roller chain cam drive, aluminum block and cylinder heads, plus a forged steel crankshaft.

Both engines are mated to 5-speed automatic transmission - the Hydra-Matic 5L50-E with the V8, and the Hydra-Matic 5L40-E with the V6. The 5L50-E, with 25 percent more torque capacity than the 5L40-E, features Performance Algorithm Shifting (PAS), an innovative new dual-plate torque converter and a separate, highly refined transmission control module (TCM) with expanded power and memory. Both transmissions feature Driver Shift Control, which offers the thrill of clutchless manual shifting, electronically controlled engine braking, and downgrade detection with brake assist, and performance Algorithm Liftfoot. Chassis management and vehicle control systems on the SRX offer a high level of sophistication and help the vehicle respond accordingly t virtually all types of driving conditions. The latest four-channel StabiliTrak active suspension control and available segment-first Magnetic Ride Control, just like on the all-new Cadillac XLR and C5 and new C6 Corvette. The electronically controlled magnetic-fluid based real-time damping is the world's fastest-reacting suspension control system in the industry. All-speed, 4-wheel traction control also keeps unwanted wheel spin to a minimum. Speed sensitive, variable effort, power-assisted rack & pinion steering gives you the right amount of boost when needed, and a great feel for the road on your journey, on or off-road. Big, power-assisted, vented, 4-wheel disc brakes feature ABS, dynamic rear proportioning and panic brake assist to safely and quickly slow the SRX down from speed. SRX incorporates all-aluminum suspension components to reduce unsprung mass and optimize suspension performance. SRX suspension uses an independent short/long arm (SLS) front and fully independent multi-link rear for superior ride and handling. You feel as if you are glued to the pavement at triple digit speed, and when navigating around curving roads.

There was an intense focus in SRX development on providing usable passenger and storage space. SRX seats up to seven passengers with the optional third-row seat engaged. The second row seat, with the most legroom in its class at 41 inches, folds virtually flat, and the third row seat power-folds into the floor at the push of a button located in the rear sideboard. Third row seats also feature cupholders. Vehicles not equipped with the optional third row seat can have a cargo management system integrated into the rear floor and offers three cargo compartments and includes a removable storage bin. For still more interior cargo packing, two large side storage bins are found along the rear cargo area and are standard. The standard roof rails extend the vehicle's outside storage capacity. Additional storage areas include covered front door compartments, front door map pockets, front seatback pockets, front center console with two compartments, a bin behind the front console, glove box with shelf, covered cupholders in the front seat center console and second seat fold-down arm rest with cupholders. SRX also has rear coat hooks accessible from the rear passenger doors or liftgate. The electric powered sunroof is the largest in the industry at 5.6 cu. ft. and really lets the light and fresh air in when wanted. Cadillac interior designers did not overlook comfort, convenience, luxury and safety. All four doors swing open wide for easy entry and exit, and there are grab handles above all passenger doors. The leather trimmed, front bucket seats are 12-way powered, heated, very comfortable and supportive. All controls, buttons, switches and levers are within easy reach and illuminated for safe nighttime driving. The beefy steering wheel is leather and wood trimmed and feels great in your hands. I would like to have seen a power tilting and telescoping wheel for the perfect fit. The SRX does come with power-pedals to help the short and tall driver's get the right distance for the feet. The ignition switch is located on the steering column, its time for it to be re-located to the dashboard. Beautiful, dark burled walnut graces the center console, canted center stack, and door pulls. The instrument cluster is straight-ahead and easy to see. You get a 160 mph speedometer and 8,000 rpm tachometer. Two smaller gauges for fuel and engine coolant temperature are surrounded by bright LED readouts to warn of system or safety failure. Power remote and heated sideview mirrors and an inside electro-chromic self-dimming rearview mirror give you clear rearward visibility. The SRX comes with standard 'parking-assist' that makes a beeping sound when backing close to objects. Options include the DVD navigation system, a rear passenger entertainment system featuring a DVD player and 7in. DVD screen, and 8-speaker Bose audio system with in-dash 6-cd changer. Standard interior features include power windows/door locks, thick pile carpeting and thick pile floor mats, theater lighting, variable-speed washers/wipers, electronic cruise-control, remote keyless entry, engine immobilizer, and dual zone electronic climate control.

The SRX is one of the safest vehicles to be driving with front and rear crush zones, use of ultra strength steel in the frame and door cross members, three-point safety belts for all seats with the front belts having pretensioners and load limiters, front and side airbags for driver and front passenger, side-curtain airbags for all three rows, Daytime Running Lights so other drivers can see you all the time, anchors for a child seat behind the seat backs in the second row, child-proof locking second row doors, plus OnStar. Cadillac has gotten it all together with the new SRX. It has what upscale buyers are looking for-a powerful V8 engine mated to a 5-speed auto/manual for easy merging and passing power; an AWD system to get you safely through rain, snow, sand and mud; an independent suspension that gives a smooth, quiet ride at speed and call let your heart beat quicken when you see some curving road up ahead, plus big, 4-wheel discs to keep your speed in check, styling that is fresh and unique, the latest in comfort, luxury, convenience, and safety features to make your trip more enjoyable and memorable. This Caddy has the best of it all, and prices start at just $37,000.00 all the up to $57,445.00 for the model that I tested, and didn't want to give back. With the success of the full-size Cadillac Escalade, it looks like Cadillac will soon capture the hearts of upscale mid-size sport utility buyers.

© Copyright 2004 by Harvey Subscriptions

For more information on Cadillac products, go to www.cadillac.com.

SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2004 Cadillac SRX Price: starting at $38,000.00, $57,445.00 loaded, as tested Engine type: 4.6 liter Northstar V8 VVT with aluminum alloy block and heads, DOHC Horsepower: 320 at 6,400 rpm Torque: 315 lb.ft. of torque at 4,400 rpm Drive configuration: AWD Transmission type: Hydra-Matic 5L50-E 5-speed electronically controlled automatic overdrive with manual shift mode Front suspension: independent short/long arm with aluminum upper and lower control arms, hydraulic control arm front bushings, solid mounted front frame, MR pressurized monotube front shock absorbers, transverse-mounted composite leaf spring, and a 36 mm stabilizer bar Rear suspension: fully independent multi-link design with fully isolated sub frame, aluminum upper control arms, knuckles and rear differential, MR air life shocks with an electronic auto-leveling compressor, transverse-mounted composite leaf spring, and a 22 mm stabilizer bar Brakes: Front: 12.7 in. power assisted vented disc Rear: 12.6 in. power assisted vented disc with dynamic rear brake proportioning, panic brake assist and 4-channel ABS Overall length: 195 in. Overall width: 72.6 in. Overall height: 67.8 in. Curb weight: 4,442 lbs. EPA mileage estimates: 18 mpg/city, 23 mpg/highway 0-60 mph: 7.1 sec. 60-0 mph: 128 ft. © Harvey Schwartz

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