Archive for the ‘Cadillac’ Category

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Rolling and Profiling In the Cadillac SRX

March 13, 2012


By Roger Witherspoon

 

            For much of the last decade, there seemed to be a rule in Detroit that all one needed to have a successful, popular SUV was to make it big. It could be ugly, uncomfortable, and drink gas like an alcoholic robot and, the belief was, it would sell if it was BIG, ugly and uncomfortable.

But times changed, and the folks who wrote the old rules at General Motors took a long overdue hike when the government stepped in to finance a structured reorganization. The result was a new look, style, and feel in the GM fleet. That change was particularly noticeable in the Cadillac line, which no longer resembles the “hogs” of olden days and relies on style rather than just a venerated name to lure buyers. And in the SUV department, the new look is particularly evident in the five-passenger, mid-sized SUV, the Cadillac SRX.

Cadillac had to put quite a lot of thought into the SRX, as it entered a tough division anchored by the Lexus RX, Audi Q-5, Acura MDX, and the high-powered BMW X-5 and Porsche Cayenne.

            On the outside, the SRX has a profile closest to the Lexus RX, with a low roofline sloping to the rear.  But that’s as far as the resemblance goes. This generation of Cadillacs takes its styling cues from the angular lines of stealth aircraft, with intersecting triangles and sharp edges.  There is nothing soft about its appearance, though it is defiantly sleek and windswept. The front is angular and no nonsense, slanting downwards over the 20-inch wheels towards the street, as opposed to the sharply rising front of the Porsche Cayenne and BMW X-5.

Powering the SRX is a 3.6-liter, aluminum V-6 engine producing 308 horsepower and 265 pound-feet of torque. The car is not built for racing a Porsche, and takes time to get up to speed. But once it is moving, there is more than enough power to propel the SRX towards the triple digit mark on the speedometer.  And if you really want to spent part of your vacation in a fast car, the SRX can tow 3,500 pounds – which  means you can bring your Porsche or Dodge Charger along with you.

The SRX’ power plant is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with a smooth-shifting, electronic manual mode and all wheel drive. The SRX’ never quite feels like a car when you are driving it particularly on sharp, hairpin turns. But it hugs the roads and even at high speeds, with its wide stance and traction control, you don’t have the fearful sensation of being at the mercy of a runaway truck.

Ed Welburn, the artist in charge of GM’s crayons, put a lot of thought into the riding experience. Upon entering, the first thing you notice is the wide, double sun roof which opens the interior to the sky and adds both light and a feeling of spaciousness that makes the SRX feel larger than it actually is. There is a power sunscreen which can cover the rear or both skylights. The front skylight is also powered and can be tilted for more air or completely opened.

The interior décor is primarily two-toned, double-stitched leather with wood accents on the doors.  Each door has thick, leather, padded armrests and two, long  trays: a shallow one just under the arm rest to hold cell phones or other small items, and a deeper, wider one near the floor which runs the full length of the door and can hold a 12-ounce water bottle and enough maps for a cross-country drive.

For comfort, the front set of thickly padded seats are wide, power adjustable and can be heated or air cooled.  In the front section of the driver’s seat can extend up to six inches for great support of long-legged drivers. In the rear, there is enough leg room for three average sized adults or a pair of basketball players pushing the seven foot mark. These seats can be heated and either laid flat to enlarge the cargo area, or laid back for a comfortable snooze.

In the entertainment sector, the SRX covers the lot. There is an easy to use navigation system with an eight-inch touch screen. The SRX’ electronic offerings include XM radio – which also provides traffic and weather updates – as well as a CD and MP3 player, USB and iPod ports. There is a 40-gigabyte hard drive to install your personal collection of a few thousand songs or movies; and a 10-speaker Bose sound system. The back of the front seats have built-in screens for watching movies or playing video games, using wireless headsets so as not to interfere with the music emanating in the front of the car. Or, if the car is sitting still, the front occupants can also watch the videos.

As with most GM vehicles, there are two cell phone communications systems on the SRX: Bluetooth and OnStar. The Bluetooth system is easy to set up and if you have a smartphone can be used for voice communications as well as playing your stored music through the car’s sound system. OnStar, GM’s satellite driven communications and service network, can handle calls in areas where there are no cell towers, and can provide turn-by-turn navigation instructions. There is also live concierge service, which can connect to emergency police and medical responders, or make reservations at a restaurant in the next town.

For a top level SUV, GM has offered a lot for $51,000. But given the quality of the other luxury, mid-sized SUVs on the market, Cadillac had to step up to a demanding marketplace, or stay out of it. The market has yet to determine the winner in this four-wheeled competition. But the 2012 SRX is likely to be a competitor.


2012 Cadillac SRX

 

MSRP:                                                                        $51,055

EPA Mileage:                        16 MPG City                          23 MPG Highway

Towing Capacity:                                                      3,500 Pounds

 

Performance / Safety:

 

3.6-Liter cast aluminum DOHC V-6 engine producing 308 horsepower and 265 pound/feet of torque; all wheel drive; 6-speed automatic transmission; 4-wheel power assisted disc brakes; independent strut front suspension; linked H-arm rear suspension; 20-inch aluminum wheels; stability and traction control; heated outside mirrors; fog lamps; back-up camera; adaptive xenon headlights; driver and front passenger front & side impact airbags; rear side head curtain airbags.

Interior / Comfort:

 

AM/FM/XM satellite radio; 10-speaker Bose surround sound system with 40 gigabyte hard drive; CD and  DVD player with wireless headsets and 2 rear seat screens;  MP3, USB and iPod connections; Bluetooth; OnStar; tilt and telescope, leather and wood, heated steering wheel with fingertip audio, phone and cruise controls;  heated and air cooled, front leather seats; heated rear leather seats; front and rear climate controls; powered sunroof and sunshade; satellite navigation system with 8-inch touch screen.

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Dodging Arrows and Raising Dust: Revving the Horses in a CTS-V

October 15, 2011


 

By Roger Witherspoon

 

The hawk sat motionless, like death on a holiday, in the arms of the elm tree, its brown wings blending in to the yellow and brown fall canopy billowing over the Taconic highway rolling through the Hudson River Highlands.

It was easy to tell it was a teenage predator, by the color of its tail feathers, and the unmistakably cocky attitude as it cocked its head and slowly surveyed the Cadillac CTS-V Coupe on the grassy knoll below it. There was a grudging sense of approval as it gazed at the sharply angular face, with the short open-mouthed grill over an aggressive, low scoop with the Cadillac emblem resting in the middle. As a bird of prey, the hawk’s nose has a center mounted pillar which produces a more even air flow as it dives at speeds exceeding 100 miles an hour.

            The emblem on the face of the CTS-V doesn’t serve quite that function. Its eight-cylinder, 556-horsepower, supercharged V-8 engine replaces the wings and propels the car from 0-60 in just 3.9 seconds, en route to a top speed of  196 miles per hour. The coupe’s windshield slopes sharply back, melding into a side expanse of glass on the sides. That provides a wide field of vision which the hawk can only emulate by swiveling its head 180 degrees.

The sides of the CTS-V are heavy and smooth, with a slight airfoil at the bottom seemingly designed to help it glide through the air. In reality, the CTS-V is decidedly earth bound, with angular shapes modeled after those old stealth fighters to minimize air interference and keep noise to a minimum. In fact, even at speeds approaching 200 miles an hour, the interior of the coupe is surprisingly quiet, the result of a blend of heavy padding and smooth design. Its airfoil is such that the car is quieter at speeds over 80 MPH than under it.

The rear is pointed, with wide red tail lights flanking the corners – a touch the juvenile hawk could respect since its tail feathers turn redder with age and experience. The young hawk cocked its heard in that universal, teenage arrogant gesture meaning “I could take you if I wanted to.” And then it flew off.

Actually, it couldn’t.

If one were to believe the latest round of Cadillac commercials the CTS-V, one of the world’s fastest production cars, was designed to emulate the aerodynamics of a high performance bow and arrow (  http://bit.ly/p8fCsd  ). And as if to prove the point, the car takes off over the straight desert course just as a small army of archers loose their black-shafted arrows. Not surprisingly, they never catch up with their streaking target.

While the imagery of the black hunting arrows chasing the streaking black Cadillac – whose paint is infused with soft gold flecks which make sunlight dance off its skin – is captivating, in reality the origins of the design are grounded in the modern Air Force. For Ed Welburn, General Motors’ design chief, the latest incarnation of the Cadillac is an evolutionary knockoff of fighter jet technology. The huge tailfins on the Cadillacs of the 1950s emulated the technology of the huge, lumbering, Korean War-era bombers that ruled the period’s skies. They were known more for their size than speed – hence the common nickname of Hogs.

The new edition, however, takes its design cues from the angular stealth fighters, capable of racing half way around the globe and attacking before anyone knows they are there.

This new edition Cadillac comes in three flavors: the standard, $50,000  CTS Coupe, powered by a 304-horsepower V-6 engine; the supercharged, $71,000 CTS-V Coupe; and the slightly slower, 191-mile per hour, CTS-V Station Wagon whose sticker price is about $71,500. All of them roll on 19-inch wheels. The latter was introduced at the 2010 New York Auto Show and when asked why he would design a racing station wagon Welburn replied, grinning, “Because we can. Besides, does that look like a station wagon to you?”

   The station wagon bears no resemblance whatsoever to the surfboard-toting family wagons popularized by Hollywood beach movies of a bygone era. In fact, the functional station wagon did not look like one at all. The rear was more tapered, the windows were trapezoids under a sloping roof reminiscent of Acura’s crossover, the ZDX, and the front was the aggressive grill of the Cadillac cat.

“Who wouldn’t want one?” asked Welburn, rhetorically.

It can be a family car. There was more than enough room in the back to take three grandchildren – two of them still in children seats – and assorted toys and presents on a day trip through Virginia’s scenic Blue Ridge Mountains. Two tall adults would also enjoy the ride in the rear seats. And when the kids were gone, the rumble of the big V-8 engine became a smooth, baritone vibration as the speedometer hit 120 along the sparsely traveled mountain highway.

The interior of the Cadillac triplets are what you might expect from a premium car line.  The interior décor is leather with a generous amount of wood accent on the steering wheel, doors and dash.  The steering wheel, with fingertip audio, Bluetooth, and cruise controls, tilts and retracts. The CTS features a pop up, seven-inch, touch information screen which makes the satellite-augmented navigation system extremely easy to use. It also provides crystal clear viewing from the backup camera.

            For entertainment, there is a single disc CD player, iPod, USB and MP3 connections, as well as AM/FM and XM Satellite radio. The system contains a massive 40-gigabyte hard drive to hold a few thousand of your personal favorite tunes, and the sound comes clearly through a Bose system.

If there is a down side, it’s that the huge engine with the CTS-V drinks gasoline like kids go through soda. The CTS-V wagon, with an EPA rating of 14 miles per gallon in city driving and 19 miles per gallon on the highway, carries a $1,300 gas guzzler tax while the Coupe, with a 12 mile per gallon rating in the city and 18 miles per gallon on the highway, has a $2,600 gas guzzling penalty. That’s not surprising. The actual mileage for the wagon, for example, was slightly less than its EPA billing, at 12.5 MPG in city driving and 18 MPG on the open road. The stats for the Coupe were just 10 MPG in the city and 17 MPG on the highway. The standard CTS with the V-6 engine avoids the tax and has an EPA rating of 18 MPG in the city and 27 MPG on the highway.

But you don’t get a Cadillac – particularly one with GM’s most powerful engine – if saving gas is your primary concern. You get it for the comfort and the joy of driving.

And if low flying in style is what you crave, the Cadillac CTS-V provides a good place to start.

 

2012 Cadillac CTS-V Wagon

 

MSRP:                                                                                               $71,485

EPA Mileage:                        14 MPG City                          19 MPG Highway

As Tested Mileage:           12.5 MPG City                       18 MPG Highway

 

Performance / Safety:

           

                                    0 – 60 MPH                            3.9 Seconds

                                    Top Speed                              191 MPH

 

2012 Cadillac CTS-V Black Diamond Edition Coupe

 

MSRP:                                                                                    $70,790

EPA Mileage              12 MPG City                          18 MPG Highway

As Tested Mileage:   10 MPG City                          17 MPG Highway

 

Performance / Safety:

 

                                    0 – 60 MPH                            3.9 seconds

                                    Top Speed                              196 MPH

6.2-Liter, supercharged, aluminum alloy V-8 engine producing 556 horsepower and 551 pound-feet of torque; 6-speed automatic transmission with electronic manual mode and paddle shifts; magnetic ride shocks; Bembro brakes; 4-wheel independent suspension; 19-inch aluminum wheels and Michelin performance tires; stability and traction control; fog lights; high definition headlamps with adaptive lighting; backup camera; front & side impact airbags; head curtain side airbags.

Interior / Comfort:

 

AM/FM/XM Satellite radio; Bose sound system; iPod, USB and MP3 connections; single disc CD Player; 40 GB hard drive; Bluetooth; tilt & telescope, leather wrapped steering wheel with fingertip audio, phone and cruise controls; OnStar; satellite navigation system with 7-inch pop-up screen; heated front seats; leather seating; split, folding rear seats.

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