2012 Cadillac SRX fwd Premium Collection review: At least 3.6 times better

2012 Cadillac SRX fwd Premium Collection

2012 Cadillac SRX fwd Premium Collection

We said something like this in our review of the 2012 Jeep Wrangler but, well, wow. What a difference an engine makes. While we were impressed with the 2010 Cadillac SRX with the 3.0-liter V-6 as used in the Cadillac CTS, the 2012 Cadillac SRX has the Cadillac 3.6-liter direct injected engine as standard equipment. And wow, does that 0.6 liters (and all that goes with it) make a colossal improvement.

The 3.6-liter direct-injection V-6 engine is the essentially the same as the optional engine in the 2012 Cadillac CTS Sport Sedan, though in the transfer from car to crossover ten horsepower and ten lb-ft of torque were lost. The 2012 Cadillac SRX is rated at 308 horsepower and 265 lb-ft of torque. Still, it’s a sizeable jump from the old SRX standard issue 3.0-liter and its less-than-wow 265 hp and 223 lb-ft of torque: Good…but not great.

2012 Cadillac SRX underhood view

All that can be seen of the 3.6-liter V-6 under the hood of the 2012 Cadillac SRX is a plastic cover.

(In 201o, Cadillac had on the books a 2.8-liter turbo V-6 that was pulled from production due to lack of sales).

So how does the 3.6-liter change the Cadillac SRX experience? Surprisingly more than just the numbers would suggest.

Like the last Cadillac SRX we drove, our test vehicle was a front-wheel drive Premium Collection model. Although they sound like option packages, the base, Luxury Collection, Performance Collection and top-of-the-line Premium Collection are trim levels. Oddly enough, the Performance Collection isn’t “off to the side” of the normal ascending equipment level with, say, special sport suspension but simply a way stop between Luxury and Premium.

Premium has it all, including heated and ventilated front seats and heated outside rear seats, rear seat audio controls and tri-zone climate control, Sapele wood trim, Bose 10-speaker surround-sound audio and  whole bunch of stuff that would better be provided as a list elsewhere than as, well, a list here. The price spread, however, ranges from the base 2012 Cadillac SRX front-wheel drive at $35,185 to $49,660 for the 2012 Cadillac SRX Premium with all-wheel drive.

2012 Cadillac SRX dash

The dash of the 2012 Cadillac SRX, shown here with the nav screen in the raised position, strongly resembles that of the Cadillac CTS.

Our road test vehicle was the 2012 Cadillac SRX FWD Premium Collection, and it’s a peculiarly seductive vehicle, or at least seductive only as a crossover can be. Unlike the first generation SRX, which was truck-chassis based and made a vain attempted at three-rows and seven seats, the second gen SRX shrinks to a more nimble size, based on the CTS platform, with only five seats. As a five-seater, the SRX maintains generous leg and headroom for the second row and keeps most of the luggage room of the seven-seater when set up for five passengers. When the original SRX had all seats in use, there was little cargo space behind the third row seat.

In access to the passenger compartment, the current generation SRX splits the difference between the original  SRX and a standard automobile, the former almost typical SUV height, while the SRX gets the higher seating point that a crossover driver desires.