Cadillac makes no bones about attempting to set a new design standard for every segment it competes in, and the 2010 Cadillac SRX aims to up Caddy's style game in the all-important luxury crossover business. Its sights are set squarely on the Lexus RX350 this time around, and the proportioning has been altered toward that end. Gone is the third-row seating option that gives the current-gen SRX a slightly stretched look. Also gone is the rear-drive architecture.

Underpinning this reinterpreted SRX is a mixture of Theta (Chevy Equinox) and new Epsilon (Buick LaCrosse) transverse-engine front-drive hardware, so there goes the long dash-to-axle look. You may not miss it. The styling is dramatic, with all the trimmings we're coming to expect: a dihedral grille with jumbo wreath and crest flanked by jewellike Xenon projector-beam headlamps in front, body creases flowing back from a vertical faux air exhauster just aft of the front wheel, a coupelike side-window opening shape, tall vertical taillamps, and a sharp trouser crease running up the hood, down the dash, and right back to the tailgate. The sleek shape also improves SRX's drag coefficient from above 0.40 to 0.36.

It may even be dramatic enough styling to make you forgive losing 9.5 cu ft of useful seating room (most notably an inch of front and 4.7 in. of rear legroom), and 8.3 cubes of overall cargo space (3.2 cu ft when the rear seat's up). It's to be expected, since the vehicle loses 4.8 in. of length, 2.2 in. of height, and 5.5 in. of wheelbase. Overall body and track widths are up roughly two inches. Of course, striving for global five-star crash ratings and providing the creature comforts demanded in this class conspire to inflate curb weights slightly (60-70 lb relative to the '09 V-6 SRX).

Speaking of engines, the new world order demands frugality, so two sixes are offered: a direct-injected 3.0L (basically a debored and destroked 3.6) producing 260 hp and 221 lb-ft of torque, and a 2.8L turbocharged unit (Caddy's first domestic turbo) borrowed from Saab/Opel, producing 300 hp and 295 lb-ft. The former boasts variable valve timing on both cams and burns either regular or E85 fuel, while the latter drinks premium and injects it at the intake ports. Both are mated to a six-speed automatic paddle-shifted transmission that helps boost base V-6 fuel economy by 10-15%, and highway fuel economy "in the mid-20s," for all, which would be a step up from the current model's 20-23 highway figures. The 3.0L can tow 2500 lb, the turbo 3500.

Optional all-wheel drive is provided via a Haldex electronically controlled power-takeoff that distributes torque fore and aft according to driver inputs and driving conditions, and an electronic clutch-pack in the rear differential apportions torque left and right to the wheel with the best grip. Chassis control is further enhanced with a real-time damping system on AWD models that reacts to smooth the ride while eliminating float or bouncing. Base SRXs will roll on 18-in. wheels, with 20s optional.

Interior style and craftsmanship continues GM's march upscale, with hand-cut and sewn material covering the dash and ambient lighting that mimics that in high-end hotel rooms. The CTS's popular pop-up nav screen is employed here and displays directional lines on the rearview camera screen. A dual-screen rear entertainment system, adaptive front lighting, and a sound system with USB MP3-player interface are offered. An electric parking brake frees up valuable center-console real estate and saves mass.

Based on our early static preview, we'd say its potential to dent RX350 sales is pretty good, providing credit is flowing by mid-2009 when SRXs hit dealerships. And we hope Cadillac wastes no time adapting the Vue's two-mode hybrid system to the SRX so it can challenge the RX 400h's stranglehold on the Smug Utility Vehicle crossover class (it fits just fine).


2010 CADILLAC SRX
Body style Front-engine, FWD/AWD, five-passenger, five-door SUV
Engine 3.0L/260-hp/221-lb-ft DOHC 24-valve V-6; 2.8L/300-hp/295-lb-ft DOHC 24-valve turbocharged V-6
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Curb weight 4300-4600 lb (mfr)
Wheelbase 110.5 in
Length x width x height 190.2 x 75.1 x 65.6 in
Headroom, f/r 39.7/38.4 in
Legroom, f/r 41.2/36.3 in
Shoulder room, f/r 58.3/56.2 in in
Cargo volume, behind f/r 61.2/29.2 cu ft
EPA city/hwy econ N/A
CO2 emissions N/A
On sale in U.S. Summer 2009

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