2012 Cadillac SRX – First Drive Review

The Cadillac SRX’s lead development engineer, Steve Kline, kicked off the debut of the 2012 Cadillac SRX by telling us, “If we’d told you back in 2009 that the SRX would move from number nine in the segment to number two behind the Lexus RX, you probably would have laughed.” Kline is right. C/D loved the previous, CTS-based SRX. Its rear-drive dynamics and interior packaging allowed it to win a comparison test and multiple 5Best Truck trophies but failed to endear it to customers. We would not have believed that a front-drive-based SRX would rocket up the sales charts, but that’s exactly what has happened.

For 2012, the SRX gets a major powertrain upgrade that might grow sales even further. The standard 265-hp, 3.0-liter V-6 is dead. New customers should be relieved that they won’t have to spin their engine all the way to 5100 rpm just to access a limp 223 lb-ft of torque. Likewise, the 3.0-liter will be relieved that it has been relieved of the SRX’s 4500-pound curb weight. Cadillac stopped offering the SRX’s previously optional engine, a turbocharged 2.8-liter V-6, earlier this year. Few mourned the loss of the 300-hp, single-turbo six. Its eulogy was probably filled with references to turbo lag, nonlinear power delivery, and the engine’s Saab origins.

When Two Become One

Replacing those two engines is a single 3.6-liter V-6. “This is the engine the SRX should have had all along,” said an engineer who didn’t wish to be named. The engine is similar to the 3.6-liter V-6 found in the CTS, but it’s adapted and tweaked for the SRX’s transverse arrangement. A few of the changes—like the clever exhaust manifolds integrated into the heads, the plastic intake manifold, and lighter connecting rods—help shave 20 pounds off the 3.6-liter V-6. Lightening the connecting rods allows the engine to rev a bit higher, and the higher revs lead to 308 hp at 6800 rpm. Other changes, like additional sound deadening in the firewall and a clever rubber-isolated high-pressure fuel line, keep engine noises out of the cabin. Putting rubber between the fuel line and engine nearly eliminates the injector ticking sound we’ve come to expect from direct-injection engines at idle.

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