- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 29, 2004

Want to travel in comfort, style and luxury to anywhere and everywhere? In the all-new 2004 Cadillac SRX, any trip would be a delight.

The SRX is a midsize sport utility that offers all the amenities of a luxury sedan, yet comfortably seats seven persons while towing up to 3,500 pounds. With all-wheel drive, it can climb mountains, wade through streams or drive where no roads exist. But that might be taking it too far; this vehicle is more ideal for driving up to the front of the country club where you’d be the envy of everyone.

There are two engines to choose from: A V-6 with 260 horsepower, or the Northstar V-8 with 320 horsepower. I was fortunate to test-drive the more powerful engine and was amazed at how quiet it is. But give a gentle nudge on the accelerator pedal and this SUV reacts quickly. Very quickly.

I have nothing but praise for this beauty, but I’d be remiss not to mention one downside. It has a base price of $46,300, and my test SRX,with the options of all-wheel drive, UltraView, and an eight-speaker Bose audio system, costs $51,795. That said, let’s get on to more pleasant things.

The SRX reflects Cadillac’s bold, chiseled, crisp design. I’m told this very distinctive appearance is a forerunner to what Cadillac’s future vehicles, such as the 2005 STS sedan, will look like. Some SUVs are so big they feel like a hard-riding truck. That is not the case with the SRX. This SUV felt more like a midsize sedan — with the ride comfort of a full-size car. One reason is that its wheelbase is extra long as compared to other midsize SUVs.

Aiding its stability is traction control and the latest version of four-channel StabiliTrak. It also has speed-sensitive variable steering, an independent suspension, and Magnetic Ride Control — an incredibly fast way to change the suspension system as the SRX is driven.

All those components add up to an exceptionally comfortable ride in a very safe vehicle because, naturally, this sport utility has all the latest safety equipment in case of an accident. It has front and side air bags, safety belt pretensioners, a rear-window defogger, and daytime running lights. Of course, in the event of an accident, OnStar will respond immediately.

The interior is plush throughout with high-quality leather seats and burled walnut wood trim. Adding to its comfort are dual climate controls, power adjustable pedals and plenty of legroom — even for those seated in the third row. Yet that third-row space can easily transfer into storage space — with emphasis on the word “easily.” Just one touch of a button and the rear seats fold into the floor.

This vehicle contains an unusually large number of storage compartments throughout, including map pockets, seatback pockets and cup holders in the fold-down armrest. It is obvious that the designers and engineers went to great lengths to load the SRX with numerous thoughtful features, one of which is the optional UltraView.

Instead of the usual sunroof with a 20-inch opening, this sunroof opens 5.5 feet to extend an open sky to the second-row passengers.The Cadillac SRX is not just another SUV on the market. This one is an exceptional high-quality vehicle that is a delight to drive.

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