By Len Ingrassia
CNHI News Service
— Little wonder that the 2013 Cadillac SRX is leading its brand in sales, accounting for nearly 70 percent of SUVs moving off showroom floors this year. Its prestigious stance, luxurious ride and wealth of amenities catapults GM into the highly competitive luxury market that imports have been dominating.
Add the government's five-star crash ratings, the best possible, and the SRX becomes even more of a choice for consumers looking at safety for the entire family.
While minor front-end sheet metal changes keep the exterior similar to its model introduction in 2009, the big change this year is on the inside.
For those familiar with Smartphone swipes and slides, the Cadillac User Experience -- CUE -- offers control of most functions through voice activation or touch. The infotainment interface, like many systems on the market, takes some getting used to.
After a week of test driving the top-of-the-line SRX AWD Premium, I found myself looking for excuses to swipe and slide audio and climate controls, navigation destinations and a variety of apps.
View the change this way: Before CUE, there were buttons and dials all over the center stack, and now there are just four -- volume up and down, on, off and home.
Everything else can be adjusted by voice or hand movement approaching the screen as the system anticipates your command and displays controls you probably want to adjust.
One useful tool on a recent interstate trip crossing four states was the navigation map overlaid with live weather and road construction maps, each providing advance information for the journey.
Digital screen technology is also available to change the look of driver controls for speedometer, tachometer, fuel and engine vitals. Four different digital dashboard layouts are available to fit your need for visual appearance.
Once set, three mini-screens can be further adjusted for the discriminating driver that cannot leave well enough alone.
There is still more technology to drive consumers to the Cadillac experience in the form of a driver assist package. It applies automatic braking with front, rear and side sensors that determine impact and apply appropriate response.
Another safety feature is the driver seat "wiggle" that, well, wiggles on the left or right side warning of impending collision, front or rear.
For highway travel there is an available adaptive cruise control feature that keeps the Cadillac a pre-set distance from traffic ahead. It emits laser beams that monitor traffic ahead and applies braking to a dead stop if needed or acceleration to a pre-set speed. I found it to be a terrific safety feature that should be standard equipment for all cars.
There is a downside to all of this creature comfort, in the form of what can be a hefty price tag for all the additional electronics. Another consideration is fuel economy with the sole engine available, a V6 with 308 horsepower. It delivers a smooth and quiet ride with ample power in most driving conditions.
In sustained highway travel, the SRX delivered 23 miles per gallon, one of the few cars to match EPA estimates. The zero to 60 mile per hour sprint is accomplished in 8.1 seconds, about average for its class.
The SRX is available in Base, Luxury, Performance and Premium trim levels ranging in base price from $37,330 to $47,920.
If you are shopping in this segment, you may want to also consider the BMW X3, Acura RDX or Audi Q5 for comparison.
Sales the past two years have been steady with the SRX moving 57,485 during 2012 and 56,905 the previous year.
Len Ingrassia is an automotive columnist for CNHI News Service. Contact him at email@example.com.