2004 Cadillac SRX Road Test

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Cadillac’s SRX is hard to define. Is it a car or an SUV? It looks like a station wagon drives like a sedan and hauls like a sport-utility. That makes it a terrific all-around vehicle capable of meeting a wide variety of needs, and to me, that is what daily transportation is all about.

The SRX looks like a tall version of Cadillac’s CTS, and while it shares the same basic chassis platform, it is a unique vehicle in its own right. The styling has the creased edges and angular shapes that are becoming Cadillac’s unique vocabulary. Its unibody construction is considerably different from the truck-based, body-on-frame Escalade.

The SRX is available in rear-wheel or all-wheel drive, with either a V-6 or a V-8. Prices start at $37,995 for the V-6 and $46,300 for the V-8. Freight adds an additional $695. The test vehicle was an all-wheel-drive V-8 loaded with nearly every option and its sticker price was a whopping $58,140.

The aluminum 3.6-liter V-6 sports variable valve timing, electronic throttle control and cranks out 260 horsepower.


The 4.6-liter Northstar V-8 is the showcase engine, and it is a dandy. It is also used in the XLR sports car. The Northstar V-8 was originally used in front-wheel-drive Cadillacs, but it was re-engineered for the longitudinal mounting required for rear-wheel drive. This engine features electronic throttle control and variable valve timing and puts out 320 horsepower. It is extremely smooth and produces a nice amount of power over a broad range. Acceleration is effortless at moderate speeds, and there’s enough reserve power for romping up an on-ramp when the need arises.

The five-speed automatic transmission has electronic controls to help slow the vehicle when braking or descending a hill. The transmission can also be shifted manually when desired.

The SRX is a luxury utility, yet it drives with the agility one expects to find in a smaller sedan. It doesn’t feel top-heavy or bulky in turns, and the Magnetic Ride Control gives it an uncommon combination of sport and comfort. The shock absorbers contain a magnetic fluid whose viscosity can be changed electronically in milliseconds. This system is plush when you need it, yet it firms up instantaneously to cope with the demands of high speeds or rough pavement. The fully-independent suspension is a wishbone-type in front and a multi-link in the back. Components are made from aluminum to save weight and improve responsiveness.

Inside, the SRX looks much like a CTS. The instrument panel is covered with a nubby black texture, while the center stack is shaped like a computer tower. The gauges are black with white numerals. The steering wheel has fingertip controls for many audio functions.

Category:$40,000 to $50,000 Sport Utility Vehicle
Who should buy this car:A person looking for a comfortable car-based SUV that has style and class. 
Comparable models in this class:BMW X5, Infiniti FX35 & FX45, Lexus RX330 & GX470,  Lincoln Aviator & Navigator, Mercedes M-Class, Volkswagen Touareg

The DVD-based navigation system has a clever 3D viewing option. The ease of use is about average. Most navigation systems do a good job of showing you where you are, but programming a destination can be overly tedious.

The car I drove was equipped with more than $11,000 in options. The Ultraview power sunroof is about twice as large as a standard sunroof, so back-seat passengers can enjoy the view as well. The Bose stereo is awesome. A rear-seat DVD entertainment system is mounted on the back of the console rather than on the ceiling because of the sunroof. The fold-up LCD screen is actually easier to see than one mounted up high.

The SRX also has a power third seat option. While this seat is quite small, it is large enough for children, or small adults who are limber enough to climb back there. Cars without the third-row seat can have a cargo system integrated into the rear floor.

The split-folding second-row seats have tons of legroom and fold flat when you need to carry a large or long load. The tailgate is hinged at the top. No power option is offered.

The SRX points a new direction for Cadillac and puts it on even footing with competitors from abroad. In many ways, it is the best Cadillac yet. Who would have expected that?


Engine Type3.6L DOHC V64.6L DOHC V8
Horsepower260 @ 6500 RPM320 @ 6400 RPM
Torque252 @ 2800 RPM315 @ 4400 RPM
Fuel RecommendedRegular Unleaded.
Transmission5-speed shiftable automatic
Drive TypeRear-wheel drive or optional All-Wheel Drive
Tires – StandardP235/65HR17 front

P255/60HR17 rear

P235/60VR18 front

P255/55VR18 rear

Overall Length194.9″
Turning Diameter39.7 ft Curb to Curb
Curb Weight4,164 lbs.4,442 lbs.
Fuel Tank20 Gals.
Miles Per GallonEPA city 16, hwy 23.EPA city 15, hwy 21.
As-Tested Sticker Price$58,140

2004 Cadillac SRX Rear Wheel Drive or All-Wheel Drive SUV

Standard Equipment

Major Available Options (Some options are only available as part of option packages. See your Cadillac dealer for details)


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Tom Strongman

Automotive Expert

Tom Strongman began writing about automobiles for The Kansas City Star 20 years ago. He was the full-time Automotive Editor from 1991 to 2001. Now he is a Contributing Editor who works on contract for the paper. His syndicated column also appears in The St. Louis Suburban Journals and The Columbus Dispatch. He writes a bi-monthly column for AAA's Home and Away Magazine. Strongman's "Behind the Wheel" segment airs weekly on KSHB Channel 41 in Kansas City.

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