2005 Cadillac SRX Four Seasons Test

Charlie Magee Tim Andrew

We had already named the Cadillac SRX an Automobile Magazine All-Star before we decided to live with one for a year. Then, halfway through our Four Seasons test, we named the SRX an All-Star for a second time. That should give you a clue about what we think of Cadillac's popular crossover.

Based on the highly regarded rear-wheel-drive Sigma platform that also underpins the CTS and STS sedans, the SRX is significant because it is uniquely a Cadillac and signals a more modern approach to the sport-utility-vehicle segment. Cadillac's other SUV, the seemingly ubiquitous truck-based Escalade, has been an undeniable sales success, but underneath its skin, the somewhat overstuffed and deeply decorated rap-mobile is simply a rebadged Chevrolet Tahoe.

From our very first test drives of the SRX, we were smitten by its ride-and-handling profile: here was an American SUV that drove like a car, not a truck. Our Four Seasons SRX prompted similar praise. "This vehicle handles brilliantly. The SRX has plenty of grip and a lovely neutral attitude," penned online editor Mike Dushane. Executive editor Mark Gillies added: "The sport-utility equation is heavily biased toward sport. The vehicle drives really well, with none of the truck ride and head toss you get with a classic SUV."

Still, we never deluded ourselves that the SRX was a sports car. It is, after all, an SUV and, as such, comes with dynamic compromises. "Out on an afternoon cruise, the SRX isn't as entertaining as it is useful at other times. It's built for luxury and comfort more than for speed," said editor-in-chief Jean Jennings. Contributor Ronald Ahrens wrote: "Generally, compliance is very good, and the car rides and handles fine, but the rear suspension is a little soft-of course, it's meant to haul cargo."

And haul cargo it did. During its tenure in our fleet, the SRX was used no fewer than four times to help various staffers and their friends and families move. With a flip of a switch, the electric third-row seat folds into the floor, creating a flat load surface. Second-row seats can be folded easily using only one hand. The "very sensible" handle on the liftgate "deserves to be widely emulated" and is a clever feature. Because the SRX's body is not as boxy as a traditional SUV, the rear opening isn't as tall or as wide, making it difficult to haul bulky items. There is still, however, 69.5 cubic feet of usable storage space behind the front seats, which was enough to allow Jennings to haul "one tall, narrow, five-drawer dresser, two taxidermy deer heads with big racks, rifles, hunting gear, four soft suitcases, two ice chests, and a few Christmas presents." The only thing it lacked was a practical roof rack. Because cross rails would have interfered with the Ultraview sunroof, our roof rack came with side rails only, foiling art director Molly Jean's attempt to affix a week's worth of camping gear to the top of the SRX.

When it wasn't being used as a rolling cargo hold, the interior worked equally well for hauling passengers in comfort. The rear-seat entertainment system was called "the best DVD player ever, crystal clear, and the wireless headphones are awesome" by the nineteen- and twenty-three-year-old offspring of copy chief Wendy Keebler. The optional Bose sound system was "exemplary," and, unlike BMW's much-denigrated iDrive, the SRX's touch-screen navigation system was "as straightforward as Nebraska and dead simple to use."

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