Looking for a cheap and simple used family crossover?

I’ll do you a favour and tell you to sign off here. This week’s used vehicle review will focus on the first-generation Cadillac SRX, which is a machine that takes the higher-end approach to family hauling.

Like many of its competitors, the SRX existed somewhere between a wagon, minivan and SUV. It was available with six- or eight-cylinder power, two or all-wheel drive and plenty of goodies. It was on sale in Canada from 2004 to 2009 inclusive, and has now been replaced by an all-new model that launched for the 2010 model year.


Standard for the flexible SRX was a 3.6-litre V6 with around 280 horsepower, a five- or six-speed automatic and rear-wheel drive.

Shoppers after more performance could check out the available 4.6-litre Northstar V8 and its 320 horsepower.

All Wheel Drive (AWD) was available with either engine, designating the model carrying it as an ‘SRX4’.

Features and equipment included wood trim, heated leather seating, an oversized sunroof, xenon lighting, premium audio and a motorized lift-gate. Note that like most premium brands, Cadillac didn’t designate the SRX with any obvious trim level system — so a bit of research may be required to track down the options you’re after.

What Owners Like
Feature content, relative value, V8 performance and all-weather driving confidence are all highly rated by SRX owners.

Many report agile and sporty handling dynamics and a dynamic steering feel, too. The SRX was based on the same platform as the CTS sport sedan, and it seems to show where driving dynamics are concerned.

What Owners Hate
Owner gripes tend to deal with complicated interior control interfaces, a clutzy navigation system, poor rearward visibility and the lack of a dedicated cell phone holder and power outlet.

Squeaks and rattles tend to become apparent as the SRX ages, and owners opting for the V8 engine tend to wish for better fuel economy.

Common Issues
When test-driving, listen to the rear differential for signs of noise — including a clicking, grinding or ‘ratcheting’ sound during tight, low-speed corners. Any such sounds could indicate a worn rear differential. This was a well documented problem with the SRX, and changing a rear differential out of warranty will prove a pricey endeavour.

Shoppers are also advised to double and triple check all accessories and electronics for proper operation — including the windows, motorized seats and stereo system. Note any ‘check engine’ lights as well. Dig around for signs of water or moisture in the carpeting in the front footwells, as well as the cargo area in the back. Lift the carpeting away and remove the panel that covers the jack in the rear of the vehicle, looking for signs of mildew or rust caused by a potential water leak.

Finally, avoid models with the massive ‘ultra-view’ sunroof, which seems somewhat prone to motor failure, breakage and possible leaks.

The Verdict
A well-maintained and healthy last-gen SRX should provide a unique luxury crossover experience at a lower-than-average price.

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