FERNANDINA BEACH, Fla. -- At Fernandina Beach on the palm-fringed South Fletcher Avenue, Florida route A1A, we're using this broad beach-bordered boulevard to feel the luxurious ride quality and frisky attitude of the SRX, edgy crossover utility vehicle bearing the round wreath and crest badge of Cadillac.
Sleek and stylish in a brash design featuring angular forms and crisp edgework, the SRX of 2016 packs a forceful V6 powertrain and mounts exacting mechanical hardware on a stiffly braced front-wheel-drive unibody platform to deliver impressive performance and handling traits.
Within the spacious passenger compartment there's ample room for five riders with deluxe accommodations plus the full complement of Cadillac's high-tech electronic controls.
Cadillac offers the 2016 SRX CUV with traction choices of standard FWD (front-wheel-drive) or on-demand AWD (all-wheel-drive) for four trim levels: Base, Luxury, Performance, Premium.
Sole engine is an aluminum 3.6-liter V6 rigged with dual overhead cams, direct injection and variable valve timing. With direct injection, the fuel goes directly into the engine's combustion chamber and fosters a thorough burn of the mix of air and fuel. The V6 produces 308 hp at 6800 rpm, with torque peaking to 265 lb-ft at 2400 rpm.
Stock transaxle on SRX is a smooth-to-shift electronically controlled 6-speed automatic, the Hydra-Matic 6T70 from General Motors, which adds a push-button Eco mode that conserves up to 1 mpg of fuel burn when driving at speeds below 50 mph.
SRX 2016 earns EPA fuel economy scores of 17/24 mpg city/highway in the FWD edition, or 16/23 mpg city/highway with the AWD equipment.
The on-demand AWD system encompasses an electronic limited-slip differential that splits torque between the rear wheels and provides side-to-side torque transfer along the rear axle to increase tire grip during hard cornering maneuvers.
Suspension elements with pliable independent components consist of front MacPherson struts with tuned coil springs plus direct-acting stabilizer bar and in the rear a linked H-arm arrangement with lightweight hollow stabilizer bar.
Steering, through a rack and pinion device, is hydraulic. The two top trims (Performance and Premium) earn a different variable-ratio power steering system which delivers keener steering action.
The 4-wheel disc brakes use big brake calipers and link electronically to an anti-lock brake system (ABS) and traction control system (TCS) plus GM's StabiliTrak vehicle skid controls.
Styling for SRX appears crisp and distinctive with taut lines and sharp edges everywhere. The aggressive prow shows an egg-crate grille with piercing optics from round projector-type headlamps mounted vertically on corners above a racy spoiler with gaping air intake and round foglamps. The iconic vertical headlamps incorporate LED light pipes with optional adaptive forward lighting to turn the lamps in sync with the front wheels.
Flanks are multi-dimensional, tipping slightly inward below knife-edge shoulders with fenders flaring only minutely around big wheelwells. Note the front fender vents which include LED light pipes. The roofline remains low at the 65.7-inch peak, sloping down in back above forward-tipped D-pillars. Tail treatment reveals a slick slab bumper in monochrome flanked by vertical light pipes for taillamps, with twin round exhaust tubes in chrome protruding from a blackout bumper.
Inside the SRX cabin, the exterior theme of chiseled forms and angular features is expressed in a monochromatic treatment. The interior houses a vivid instrument cluster and center stack that incorporating Cadillac's electronics interface -- CUE, which brings a touch-sensitive 8-inch display in the center stack and steering wheel tabs to control climate, audio, phone and navigation functions. Also aboard is a noise cancellation system which reduces wind and road noise inside the cabin by sending counteracting sound waves through the vehicle's audio system.
The optional Driver Awareness and Driver Assist technology packages add such safety features as a Safety Alert Seat, Forward Collision Alert and Lane Departure Warning. Other optional safety tools include Full Speed Range Adaptive Cruise Control, Front and Rear Automatic Brakes and a Rear Vision Camera.
Cadillac's MSRPs for 2016 SRX begin at $37,605 for SRX/FWD Base, while SRX Premium AWD caps at $51,730.