General Motors has to have the most underrated navigation system in the business. We have other automakers advertising various touch pads, voice recognition systems, and scrolling wheels that are supposed to make finding a destination on the fly easier - assuming the vehicle doesn't lock out the nav screen altogether when you're moving. But in this Cadillac, all I had to do was press the blue OnStar button. That called up this innovative device called a "human being," who found my destination for me and sent turn-by-turn directions to my vehicle. I never had to look away from the road and didn't need to read the owners manual to find the correct voice commands. This feature is available, by the way, even if you don't have a nav system (the directions come through your radio display). In case I'm not being clear enough, this is a HUGE step up from most competitors' telematics, and yet I'll bet very few consumers know about all its features. GM's new marketing chief - whoever that happens to be this week - must make a more concerted effort to share OnStar's virtues with customers.
Though I'm clearly smitten with OnStar (it helped, I'll admit, that the operator sounded young and female), I'm still not sold on the new SRX overall. The main issue is the power, or lack thereof. This 2.8-liter turbo V-6 is better than the painfully slow 3.0-liter in the base SRX, but it still feels like it's working too hard, and with a 0-to-60-mph time of 7.6 seconds, is about a second slower than the Lexus RX350, according to the test numbers of our sister publication, Motor Trend. For all this small-displacement huffing and puffing, fuel economy is only marginally better (2 mpg in the city and on the highway) than that of the old V-8-powered SRX and, again, lags well behind the Lexus that is supposedly in its crosshairs.
Too bad about the engines, because otherwise, the SRX does a lot of things very well. It goes down the road with the same buttoned-down confidence that defines the RX350, and yet it has more in common with the athletic Audi Q5 when it comes to steering precision and body control. It's also taken a leap in terms of interior quality to the point that it's hard to point to any specific fault.
My big hope for the SRX is that it inherits the two-mode powertrain from the stillborn Saturn Vue plug-in hybrid. That would address both the efficiency and horsepower issues, as the hybrid would have paired GM's excellent 3.6-liter V-6 with two 75-hp electric motors.
David Zenlea, Assistant Editor