Cadillac SRX — Fastest Growing Luxe Brand

After posting the largest gain of any luxury automaker last year, Cadillac has announced itself as the “fastest-growing major luxury brand” in America.

Helping Cadillac lead the sales charge and roll over other carmakers is the SRX crossover sport utility vehicle. The Cadillac SRX is a leader in the luxury-crossover segment with sales that rose 153 percent for 2010.

And are you really surprised? Just look at it. A distinguished, dramatic design presence is the positive momentum that Cadillac has needed in the SUV category.

Designers were the ones who went full throttle, ripping up the curves, taking the edges hard, and carving the highways with the kind of hardware that, obviously, drivers have wanted to get behind.

It starts up front. Like a bejeweled king arising from his throne, the 2011 Cadillac SRX asserts commanding luxury royalty on the road. The Cadillac crest floats in the middle of the bold, in-your-face multiplex grille anchored by the Cadillac family’s vertical diving headlamps.

This big Caddy has a base curb weight of 4,200- to 4,300 pounds, depending on the drive configuration. Although the SRX looks the part of being able to haul some serious metal, as a unibody crossover its maximum towing capacity is only 3,500 pounds.

Seating capacity is five and the SRX is available in front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive models starting at $34,655. At this price buyers get Cadillac’s standard engine for the SRX: the 24-valve, 3.0-liter V-6 that is coupled to General Motors’ six-speed Hydra-Matic automatic transmission.

The SRX V-6 runs on regular unleaded gasoline and returns EPA estimated fuel economy of 18 miles per gallon city, 25 mpg highway (FWD); and 17/23 mpg (AWD). This V-6 produces 265 horsepower and 223 lb.-ft. of torque.

As an optional choice for luxury shoppers, GM offers for its Cadillac buyers the SRX performance model — a turbocharged V-6. This is the optional engine that was equipped in our tester, the 2011 SRX Turbo AWD Premium base-priced at $52,360. The out-the-door price was $56,050 due to options, including among the list, roof cross rails ($255); Black Ice Metallic paint ($495); trailering provisions ($445); and an upgraded front/rear seat entertainment system ($1,395).

The SRX Turbo is equipped with a 24-valve, 2.8-liter V-6 linked to an Aisin Warner six-speed automatic transmission and runs on premium unleaded fuel. The EPA projects gas mileage at 15/22 mpg.

The SRX Turbo output ratings are 300 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 295 lb.-ft. of torque at 2,000 rpm. The Aisin transmission features a driver selectable “Eco Mode” that helps achieve the maximum fuel economy by altering the gears shift points.

The SRX Turbo also can be optioned with a variable effort speed-sensitive steering system that is designed with a strong on-center feel through the steering wheel for sport sedan style driving. The standard system built in the SRX is rack-and-pinion hydraulic steering.

Though all SRX models have electronic stability control, the SRX with AWD helps drivers bolster driving dynamics for a more stable sport sedan drive due to its “eLSD” advanced design. This means the SRX AWD features an electronic limited-slip differential not only from front-to-rear, but also side-to-side across its rear axle. And of course, the AWD system is an excellent provision for winter ice traction and improved mobility in slippery conditions.

This is Cadillac’s second-generation SRX. And by the numbers it looks like buyers have gone in big time for this luxury crossover. — Connie Keane, Motor Matters

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