Test Drive: 2015 Cadillac SRX Platinum AWD

I hate weddings.

Because of stress levels, elevated anxiety resulting from my being depended upon, and excessive discomfort and sweatiness triggered by the use of a suit, I’d typically rather lick the business-end of a road-flare than be involved in setting up a wedding. So, thankfully, a few of the Cadillac SRX’s handy touches helped reduce the unpleasantness of my involvement in a friend’s wedding a few weeks back.

The SRX is neat, tidy, casually organized, crisp and trimmed with a just-right amount of stitching, metal, gloss and wood.

Rear Moving Object Detection. It jams on the brakes, hard and fast, if something or someone moves suddenly behind your SRX as you reverse. Someone, say, like one of my fellow groomsmen, trying to avoid detection by a fuming Bridezilla, irate that I hadn’t yet arrived with the centrepieces I could have sworn someone else was picking up. Over a dozen of these tall, fragile glass receptacles full of frilly glitter were in the SRX’s cargo hold as I backed up to the doors of the wedding hall.

“BEEP BEEP!” I just caught the pair of legs crossing the backup camera screen. There was full auto-braking, the sound of glass clinking behind me, and me hoping I had a new pair of shorts somewhere nearby.

Luckily, and thanks to a clever organizer rail gizmo that’s easily adjusted to keep items intact and upright while you move about, the centerpieces stayed in position.

Plus, the powerful air-conditioned seats had prevented excessive sweatiness, and Cheryl, my OnStar advisor, sent directions to the SRX for me, so I didn’t have to pull over and search for, then enter the coordinates to the wedding hall. The result? I was 3 minutes late, not 10. Centrepieces intact. Bridezilla? Placated. Pritchard? Cool, calm, and still far from sweating through his tux.

The SRX is getting old. A new Caddy crossover called the XT5 will soon replace the current SRX, which itself began its second tour of duty for model year 2010, and has become a prominent part of the luxury crossover scenery on Canadian roadways ever since.

Since then, numerous competitors of note have joined the market, while others have been re-released in their latest all-new generation models. Though numerous updates and facelifts have been applied to the SRX to help keep things fresh via injections of new Cadillac design and tech, the SRX is now entering its twilight years.

But the old gal should still represent good value, depending on shopper priorities, and it has numerous admirable attributes on offer to help set it apart in a churning sea of luxury crossover utes.

A second opinion: Test Drive: 2015 Cadillac SRX

One standout attribute is the cabin. The one in the SRX hits you before you’re even seated: first, right smack in the schnozz with the smell of gorgeous, quality leather as if you’ve walked into a high-end furniture store. Then, the design of the cabin strikes the senses. It’s not super-formal like some of the German stuff, nor does it flaunt numerous big display screens and advanced-looking consoles like some of the Japanese stuff. Instead, SRX is neat, tidy, casually organized, crisp and trimmed with a just-right amount of stitching, metal, gloss and wood. It’s unique, discreet, does its own thing, and uses a just-right palette of contrasting colors to pull off a finely honed look that’s upscale and techy, without being overwhelming.

Space and functionality fall into the just-right-sizing ballpark, too. Like numerous competitors, entry and exit for most will require only a sideways shift, not a climb up or plunk down, and I noted no issues with space around the driver’s seat. Rear seat quarters are sufficiently sized for comfortable lounging by full-sized adults, the cargo area boasts a flat floor, and that blessed rail-mounted organizer and divider unit keeps all your stuff where you left it. It’s all accessed by a high-rising power tailgate, accessed via a clever dial that vertically challenged operators can use to select the desired opening height.

A slick, top-secret storage compartment behind the centre stack control pad, complete with wireless Smartphone recharging capability, and multi-tier door storage compartments help round out the SRX’s ability to keep drivers and passengers organized and uncluttered on the go. Even when they’re rushing around, doing wedding-day things that they’d rather not.

Numerous standout technologies are on offer, too. The Cadillac CUE system is a love it or hate it bit of tech, with your writer in the ‘love it’ camp. If you’re familiar with swipe, slide and pinch gestures from a smartphone or tablet, or if you’re not a thousand, you’ll probably like it, too. Though the central command system lacks the visual processing horsepower for fast and liquid smooth responses, the interfaces are simple to navigate and manipulate once learned, and proximity sensors remove unneeded buttons from the screen until your hand reaches for them, which is neato.

OnStar adds big confidence, since it’s always connected via integrated GPS and cellular signals to a network of advisors who can dispatch help, provide directions, answer questions and provide assistance should an issue be encountered on the move. If you or yours frequently travel out of town, remotely and after dark, having real-life help at the touch of a button is a big confidence booster. My mom and sister both drive OnStar-equipped vehicles and love the added peace of mind. I loved Cheryl’s advice that Bridezilla probably wouldn’t actually kill me, and that her directions would get me to the hall in 3 minutes, with the centrepieces.

Further confidence for the tester came from a networked array of hazard detection sensors, with the ability to alert drivers of an approaching vehicle in a laneway while reversing, accidental lane departures, possibly-unseen vehicles loitering in blind spots, or the increased likelihood of a frontal collision.

And, when you’re hurrying, the powerplant is there to help. GM’s go-to 3.6L V6 is on duty here, massaged and lightened over recent years to deliver 308 hp with an eye for smoothness and refinement and good fuel mileage. Mission accomplished.

Mostly.

Full throttle or light, the engine itself operates without a shred of vibration or feedback into the cabin, other than a muted and meaty howl when heavy-footed driving calls for full power. Driven gently around town, power delivery is smooth, low in noise output, and virtually effortless.

At full throttle, the sound and acceleration at high revs are admirable, though a slow-to-react transmission, which often shifts down once and then again at full throttle, spoils slightly. And though the numbed throttle calibration works to enhance gentle driving smoothness and fuel efficiency, it does mean you’ll need a good stomp to get the SRX moving in any sort of hurry. It’ll scoot when given the boots (or, in this case, uncomfortable plastic rental wedding shoes), but it’s during gentle driving where the powertrain shines brightest.

The brake pedal is hinged a little awkwardly and the top inch of travel is just for decoration, but the brakes are powerful and easily modulated when worked hard, the ABS action is smooth at the pedal and virtually noiseless, and advanced braking control strategies work with effectiveness to keep the SRX’s back wheels closely following the fronts during emergency brake-and-evade maneuvers. In fact, the SRX handled my pretend, 80 km/h “holy-crap-a-bear-totally-just-ran-right-in-front-of-me” test with minimal drama.

Ride and handling are a nice blend of sporty and comfortable on well-maintained roads, with slightly heavy-set steering helping contribute to a locked-in feel. Still, ride quality is largely at the mercy of the surface passing beneath: as it tends to go in the segment, SRX rides smooth highways and well maintained roads beautifully, with noise levels kept down nicely, and body motions presenting as soft and gentle undulations over the wheels. On rougher in-town roads, noise levels increase and ride quality degrades in relation to what’s passing beneath. Though SRX’s suspension has been revised and handles rougher stuff notably better than earlier models, it’s still middle-of-the-line, and not the segment’s best-riding machine when the going gets rough. Visit a rough road on your test drive to see for yourself.

Mileage on my watch was also middle-of-the-line, landing at 11 L/100 km. That’s within limits for this type of machine, but a touch on the thirsty side.

All said, standout reasons to consider an SRX will be the advanced array of confidence-boosting technologies, the lavish but not overdone cabin, and clever, thoughtful touches like the centre stack storage bin, cargo divider rail system, height adjustable tailgate opener and so on. Though a lazy transmission and thirstier-than-expected fuel consumption take away from the package, SRX’s ability to keep stressed-out drivers cool and collected when they’re rushing around will help compensate.

Warranty:
4 years/100,000 km; 6 years/110,000 km powertrain; 7 years/unlimited distance corrosion perforation; 4 years/100,000 km roadside assistance

Competitors:
Acura RDX
Audi Q5
BMW X3
Infiniti QX50
Lexus RX
Mercedes GLK
Volvo XC60

2015 Cadillac SRX Platinum AWD
2015 Cadillac SRX Platinum AWD
Base Price $56,305
Optional Equipment Driver Assist Package ($2,495), Rear DVD Entertainment ($1,995), Trailering package ($655), 20-inch wheels ($645), Plum Metallic Paint ($520)
A/C Tax $100
Destination Fee $1,800
Price as Tested $64,515
Optional Equipment
10 0
Scoring breakdowns 6.8
6 Exterior Styling
6 Performance
8 Interior
8 Comfort
6 Fuel Economy