Interiors should be seen, not heard
Of course, luxury crossovers trade more on the design of their interiors. Traditionally, this would have been an easy, decisive advantage for Audi. And yet, glancing about the cabins of each vehicle, it's hard to declare a winner straightaway. To be sure, the Q5 is laid out and executed to the brand's typically high standards, but the SRX, for its part, will look familiar to anyone who's sat in a CTS, and that's a good thing. Cadillac's materials are hard to fault, also. Both of our test vehicles came equipped with all manner of electronic conveniences, along with panoramic sunroofs, and the pricier Cadillac adds a rear-seat entertainment system. The array of buttons and a displays that make up Audi's latest Man-Machine Interface [MMI] look impressive, but if your ego can handle asking for directions, Cadillac's OnStar-backed system will at the press of one button connect you with a representative who can find just about any point of interest and beam them to your nav screen. (OnStar is free for the first year, and then costs $299 annually).
Which vehicle is more comfortable depends entirely on how many passengers you intend on bringing along. Though the Q5 is the smaller vehicle, it's actually more comfortable for one or two adults in back thanks to the deeply sculpted front seatbacks. It's only when loaded with five passengers that the Cadillac asserts its size advantage, and its flat rear floor makes the middle rear seat far more livable than the kids-only middle seat in the Q5. Loading goods into either vehicle is a synch, thanks to their similar power liftgates and underfloor storage compartments. The SRX has an ultimate cargo carrying advantage of nearly four cubic feet when the second-row seats are folded.
So, the SRX interior looks about as nice, has a more intuitive nav system, and, in the real world, can cart around more people and goods. And yet, everyone who spent time in both vehicles agreed the Audi had far and away the better interior. Before you leave a comment accusing us of being German-loving sycophants, consider one word or, more specifically, one onomatopoeia: "squeak." Pitch the SRX over a rough stretch of pavement and all manner of odd noises will tell you that this Cadillac, assembled in Ramos Arizpe, Mexico, could use some more attention in the fit and finish department. The Q5, on the other hand, delivers the perfection we've come to expect from Audis when it comes to the precision of every gap and the utter silence in which it shrugs off even the most teeth chattering of potholes. The SRX's cabin might make just as good a first impression with its attractive design and terrific telematics, but given a choice of which interior we'd prefer to live with over the long haul, especially on rutted Midwestern roads, there's no question - Audi wins.