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Test Drive: Cadillac SRX

Three members of the U.S. News Best Cars team drove the 2012 Cadillac SRX Premium with optional navigation and DVD entertainment system from Monticello, N.Y. to Washington, D.C. Here’s what we think:

2012 Cadillac SRX

Rachel Smith says: I’m fond of the SRX’s bold exterior, but its priority of style over function bugged me because visibility is awful. I drove the SRX at night in the rain, and I couldn’t see behind me thanks to the SRX’s squat rear window. Even in daylight, I always felt like people were hugging my bumper, though that was just a visual illusion caused by the SRX’s odd proportions. The thick rear pillars didn’t help, and made it nearly impossible to double-check blind spots before changing lanes.

Forward visibility isn’t as bad, but the low roof reminded me of a furrowed brow: hovering overhead, casting shadows and blocking my view. Add a sun visor to the mix, and forward visibility decreased so much that I flipped it back and decided I’d rather put up with the sun.

There was enough space for a three-day trip for four girls (and their boots).

Katie LaBarre says: We drove the Cadillac SRX back from a few days spent test-driving cars at a racetrack in the Catskill mountains, so I was disappointed to switch from driving cars like the Ford Mustang Boss 302 and Audi S5 convertible to a luxury SUV. It turns out, I didn’t need to worry. The SRX’s 3.6-liter V6 engine made it surprisingly fun to drive. Even with four passengers and three days’ worth of luggage, this Caddy had plenty of get-up-and-go, and its steering was more direct than I expected.

The only part of the drive I didn’t enjoy (besides construction on the New Jersey Turnpike) were issues with the SRX’s brakes, a problem I’ve encountered on other Cadillacs like the Cadillac Escalade ESV. It takes a lot of effort to make them bite. That’s not a good feeling when you’re driving a three-ton SUV on a heavily-trafficked highway, and it definitely wasn’t a good feeling when I was driving the SRX.

The navigation rises out of the dash.

Liz Opsitnik says: Luxury features abound inside the SRX, and since I rode in the back seat for most of the trip, I was able to check out all its bells and whistles. A DVD entertainment system with rear dual headrest monitors and wireless headphones provided hours of entertainment while we watched “Coming to America” and “Office Space.” Unfortunately for our front seat passenger, the DVD wasn’t viewable on the front center stack monitor. That ensures that the driver doesn’t get distracted. Luckily, everyone can hear the audio, and we laughed hysterically every time a classic “Office Space” line played. We did have one complaint though. The DVD screens had a grainy texture, and look just like the ones in the GMC Terrain, which costs thousands less than the SRX.

Besides the DVD system, our test SRX had a 10-speaker Bose sound system, glide-up touch-screen navigation, rearview camera, satellite radio, Bluetooth, iPod connectivity, heated front and rear seats and tri-zone climate control. Whether you’re hauling kids or adults, your passengers will never be happier.

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