- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 10, 2003

The Cadillac CTS has made its mark as a competent sport sedan. Its powertrain performance, ride and handling characteristics have made it a formidable competitor to many European and Japanese imports. But the management folks at Cadillac aren’t satisfied with just one major success — they want more — and more is just what we can expect in the next few years.

One of the new products that seems to be getting the most attention is the XLR roadster — a 2004 Corvette derivative that competes with the Mercedes-Benz SL and Lexus SC. But, right now, a more important new vehicle from Cadillac is the SRX, a midsize sport utility vehicle.

At first glance, the SRX is instantly recognizable as one of the “new” Cadillacs. The family resemblance to the CTS and Escalade is immediately evident. As the first of Cadillac’s S-series of models, SRX introduces some of the automotive DNA that will carry on in future models, like the 2005 STS sedan.

Just like the CTS, the SRX is built on GM’s highly regarded Sigma platform, so it has the right underpinnings for a driver’s car. A near 50-50 weight distribution, low center of gravity, rear- or all-wheel drive, and a host of the latest vehicle stability-control technology make the SRX one of those rare utility vehicles that is actually fun to drive.

Two engines are available for SRX, including the next-generation Northstar V-8 and the all-new 3.6-liter V-6. The new V-6 is a fine performer, but the real star of the engine lineup is the 4.6-liter, 32-valve Northstar V-8. It is a sophisticated, technically advanced powerplant that has been extensively re-engineered to be mounted longitudinally. Good for 320 horsepower, the engine incorporates many technical innovations including electronic throttle control, and phasers on all four camshafts to control valve timing throughout the entire operating range. SRX is the first AWD and second RWD application of the Northstar engine family. It makes its debut in the RWD Cadillac XLR luxury roadster.

The 3.6-liter, 260-horsepower, DOHC, 24-valve V-6 boasts a number of performance refinements including electronic throttle control, variable valve timing, multiport fuel injection, two-stage roller-chain cam drive, and aluminum block and cylinder heads.

It’s the same engine soon to be found in the CTS. Both engines are mated to five-speed automatic transmissions that have performance algorithm shifting — a feature that senses driving style and holds lower gears longer for spirited driving.

Chassis management and vehicle control systems include the latest four-channel StabiliTrak stability and magnetic ride controls, a system that senses suspension movement and instantly changes shock absorber damping for a smooth and stable ride over a variety of road surfaces. Speed-sensitive variable-effort steering, four-channel ABS, panic brake assist, and traction control are also included.

SRX uses all-aluminum suspension components to reduce unsprung weight and optimize suspension performance.

SRX is a utility vehicle that offers seating for up to seven, has a towing capacity of 3,500 pounds, drives like a sports sedan, and looks like nothing else on the road. With that, Cadillac makes another bold move — this time into the medium luxury-utility segment where it will compete with the likes of the Lexus RX 330 and Infiniti FX 45.

It should do well.


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