2012 Cadillac SRX FWD
$38,600 Listed MSRP is for a 2015 Cadillac SRX FWD 4dr Base base trim with no options. Includes destination fee. Does not include sales tax.
Cadillac’s SRX is an avant-garde alternative in a segment founded by the more unadventurous Lexus RX350. Buyers can choose from front or all-wheel-drive as well as two different suspension options with varying levels of rigidity. The six-speed automatic is a little coarse and the 3.6-liter V-6 is noisy during acceleration, but the luxurious interior is quiet once up to cruising speeds. The SRX has proven itself a popular choice for crossover buyers despite back-of-the-pack performance.Instrumented Test – 2012 Cadillac SRX 3.6 AWD
It took Goldilocks considerably less time than Cadillac to settle on option three. When the current SRX launched for 2010, it came with a pair of V-6 engines, neither of which was to our liking. The base model had a 265-hp 3.0-liter, the optional engine was a Saab-sourced turbocharged 2.8-liter making 300 hp. Both of those are history for 2012, replaced by a single naturally aspirated 3.6-liter V-6. We’ve now tested SRX take three, here equipped with all-wheel drive.
To prove it can’t leave well enough alone when it comes to its hot-selling crossover, Cadillac announced changes for the 2013 SRX just after we tested this 2012; next year’s model will get the mildest of exterior aesthetic adjustments, a revised interior with Cadillac’s new CUE infotainment system, and a host of new nanny tech, including a driver’s seat that vibrates to get your attention when you’re doing your job wrong. But the mechanicals stand pat for a year, which means this 2012 drives the same as will the 2013. Just don’t forget to drive.
Which Bear is Best?
Whereas the 3.0-liter was too cold as far as output went and the 2.8-liter was too hot in the way it delivered power, this new 3.6 is just (about) right. Plenty of GM vehicles use this engine—it will be standard in the Cadillac XTS, for example—and here it makes a healthy 308 hp and 265 lb-ft of torque.
The 3.6 accelerates to 60 mph in the same time it took the all-wheel-drive turbo V-6 SRX (7.2 seconds) but that’s about all that matches up in straight-line testing. This new engine does a better job getting up and going, beating the 2.8 to 30 mph by 0.4 second. Beyond 60, however, the 2.8 had stronger pull, arriving at 120 mph 3.1 seconds quicker than the 3.6. Consider that most SRX drivers will spend more time between rest and 60 mph than they will banging into the speed governor and you’ll agree that the new setup is preferable. And anything is better than the surge-y turbo six’s odd and sometimes unpredictable power delivery. Plus, the lack of a turbo and its attendant lag yields a half-second-better 5-to-60 time in the 2012. We’ll miss Saab’s cars more than the lumpy 2.8 it provided.
Stop, Hey, What’s that Sound?
The 3.6’s ubiquity across GM’s various brands makes one quirk all the more surprising: It sounds really weird in the SRX. Like, more leaf blower than luxury crossover. The sucking sound from the intake creates an unpleasant drone with heavy applications of the right pedal; at wide-open throttle, the 3.6 is a not-insignificant four decibels louder than the 2.8 and the 3.0. Cadillacs generally have good sound deadening, but noise will keep you from exploring the more-powerful engine’s abilities.
Acoustic oddness aside, the new V-6 is more livable thanks to its smoothness. The six-speed automatic handles the grunt about as well as it did with the other engines, though, which is to say acceptably but not gracefully. Upshifts are occasionally jerky when you mat the throttle; again, that should be avoided in light of the above-stated noise complaints. An Eco mode dulls throttle response and has a predilection for higher gears, keeping the engine note in a low-drone area at the same time. In mixed driving, we saw 19 mpg, well within the 16-mpg city and 23 highway EPA ratings.
This latest SRX is still heavy. We contend that this not-huge crossover could use a diet to clean up its manners and generally make it more pleasurable to drive. Unfortunately, the additional safety and infotainment tech for next year are likely to add pounds, not shave them. Our test car’s 20-inch wheels made for a somewhat harsh ride—we’d go with smaller rollers— and the tires added their own dose of noise to the mix. The big wheels are standard on the Premium model we tested.
The Price of Porridge
A base, front-wheel-drive 2012 SRX starts at $36,860. All-wheel drive is a $2495 option on Luxury models and adds $2810 to the tab on the Performance and Premium trims. The vehicle tested here is a Premium model to which a rear-seat entertainment package ($1395) was added. That and the $495 black metallic paint brought the total to $52,350, for which you get a fully loaded SRX, with a feature-packed interior. The cabin is starting to feel dated, which will of course be fixed as part of next year’s updates.
So while it’s not the rear-drive-based first-gen SRX we liked so much—no amount of engine refinement could make this version its equal—the 2012 model is the best iteration yet of the current SRX. If you can wait, you might hold out for the interior revamp, although we’re not sure what Goldilocks would make of that vibrating seat.
front-engine, 4-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 5-door wagon
PRICE AS TESTED:
$52,350 (base price: $43,885)
DOHC 24-valve V-6, aluminum block and heads, direct fuel injection
DISPLACEMENT:218 cu in, 3654 cc
Power: 308 hp @ 6800 rpm
Torque: 265 lb-ft @ 2400 rpm
TRANSMISSION:6-speed automatic with manual shifting mode
Wheelbase: 110.5 in
Length: 190.3 in
Width: 75.3 in Height:65.7 in
Curb weight (C/D est):4600 lb
C/D TEST RESULTS:
Zero to 60 mph: 7.2 sec
Zero to 100 mph: 20.1 sec
Rolling start, 5-60 mph: 7.2 sec
Top gear, 30-50 mph: 3.6 sec
Top gear, 50-70 mph: 5.1 sec
Standing ¼-mile: 15.9 sec @ 89 mph
Top speed (governor limited): 131 mph
Braking, 70-0 mph: 172 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.81 g
EPA city/highway: 16/23 mpg
C/D observed: 19 mpg