2013 Cadillac SRX road test: The best-seller just keeps getting better

2013 Cadillac SRX

2013 Cadillac SRX

You can’t tell much just by looking, but the 2013 Cadillac SRX crossover vehicle has changed a lot since it was introduced as a 2010 model.

The big changes for the 2013 model year are not so obvious, so let’s start with them.

On the outside, The front upper and lower grilles have been redesigned and the new front fender vents and taillights have LED lighting.

Inside, the changes are greater, highlighted by CUE, which is short for Cadillac User Experience. The system operates navigation, information, communication and entertainment functions and can be activated with voice commands or touch controls on an 8-inch color screen integrated into the center stack.

Cadllac SRX instrument panel

Cadllac SRX instrument panel

Its goal is to simplify the use of the various functions by eliminating the previous need for a myriad of different buttons. It is a big improvement over the previous system, but there is a learning curve that I suspect many owners will not take full advantage of.

In addition, using the touch-screen to operate the system while the SRX is moving requires drivers to take their eyes off the road. Manufacturers keep working hard to simplify use of these infotainment systems, but they have yet to arrive at the optimal method.

One cool feature of CUE is that the screen is motorized and can be moved to reveal a hidden storage space for iPhones and other valuable possessions.

In addition to CUE, the plush interior features a new instrument cluster and steering wheel.

There is another new feature which passengers might enjoy without even knowing it exists. Called active noise cancellation,it uses microphones to detect the in-car noise and a computer to send out counteracting sound waves. The result is improved sound quality.

Finally, there are available new safety features in the Driver Awareness and Driver Assist packages, all of which come standard on the top-of-the-line 2013 Cadillac SRX Premium Edition I drove.

They enhance driver awareness of hazards and can intervene to help avoid collisions. They apply a combination of radar, cameras and ultrasonic sensors. which offer blind spot, rear cross-traffic  and lane departure warnings.

Cadillac SRX cargo area with luggage restraining system

Cadillac SRX cargo area with luggage restraining system

A rear-vision camera allows a driver to make sure there is nothing unseen behind the vehicle when backing up. Front and rear automatic braking help to avoid low-speed accidents by activating audible alerts and, if necessary, complete braking.

Okay, okay, you may be thinking, but what about the actual driving experience? How does this Caddy perform? Short answer: very well.

Starting with the 2012 model year, Cadillac performed a one-for-two engine swap. Gone are the conventional 3-liter and turbocharged 2.8-liter V-6 powerplants.

In their place is a more satisfying 3.6-liter, direct-injected V-6 which generates 308 horsepower and 265 pound-feet of torque and is teamed with a six-speed automatic transmission.

Capable of propelling the 4,277-pound front-wheel-drive SRX (AWD is optional) from a stop to 60 mph in a satisfactory seven seconds, the engine returns an EPA-estimated 17 miles per gallon around town and 24 mpg on the open road.