picture post Possibly my favorite early execution of Art & Science

2004-09 Cadillac SRX


Cadillac’s Art & Science design philosophy has evolved nicely since it was first presented to the public, in concept form, as the 1999 Evoq. The look’s production implementation traces back to the edgy, second-generation Escalade. Having skipped a year, the eager 2002 model Escalade launched in January, of 2001, and quickly catapulted the badge to the head of the class. Its monumental headlights and oblique surfacing not only introduced the general public to Cadillac’s new look but also helped escalate sales (sorry, I had to). Then, looking chiseled and ingot-solid, the original CTS bowed for 2003; Cadillac’s first ground-up, production application of A&S. Next, A&S gained legitimate performance credentials, in 2004, via the all-new and outrageous XLR, and new brute V-Series option on the CTS.

Evoq CTS-V XLR

Cadillac Evoq concept from 1999 (left), first-generation CTS-V (center), 2004 XLR Neiman Marcus edition (right)

Through the radiance of Cadillac’s new-found brashness and athleticism, if you squinted, you could see the all-new SRX. No less a visual standout in its segment than those other Cadillacs but, being an SUV, its best merits related to practicality, instead of brashness or sport. Overall, it was practical, a little brash, and sporty. Though, maybe a bit compromised in each for the tastes of the segment’s buyers. Indeed, the players on the rugged yet manicured-turf field had grown in number by the time SRX arrived. It faced early adopters, such as the Lexus RX, Acura MDX, and BMW X5, and late bloomers, like the Lexus GX, Infiniti FX, and even Lincoln’s Aviator. CTS and XLR opponents were fewer in number and more clearly defined.

2004-09 Cadillac SRX

I never did find out what SRX stood for, if anything. Perhaps Sigma, Rear-wheel-drive, (X) utility? At CTS-V’s debut Bob Lutz said “V” stood for velocity. (Tongue-in-cheek?)

As were some of those potential competitors, the SRX was rear-wheel-drive-based, with full-time all-wheel-drive available. Marking a critical break from tradition, its platform didn’t originate from a truck or—more importantly—another brand’s model. It was based on Cadillac’s exclusive, exceptional, and expensive-to-build Sigma platform which also underpinned the CTS and subsequent STS. As a result, it has a wonderful (and increasingly rare) cab-rearward design that lends a touch of laid-back swagger to the profile and rear quarter angles.

2004-09 Cadillac SRX

The 2004-09 Cadillac SRX had a cab-rearward look that is difficult to mimic with front-wheel-drive. The yellow line indicates the rake I’m referring to.

I lament this generation not catching traction with the buying public because the first SRX is quite possibly my favorite of all the early A&S executions, including the XLR (oi, the names). To my eye, the SRX’s proportions allowed sufficient canvas, and the ground-up effort enough freedom, for the A&S theme to fully play out. It’s a rare case where everything makes sense and nothing really nags at me (apart from the depth of the front parking light assembly but it’s hardly worth the mention).

2007-09 Cadillac SRX Sport

Pricing started just under $39,000 (for the V6), and just over $45,000 (for the V8 model, newly hitched to a six-speed auto). The SRX Sport (shown), available between ’07 and ’09, included 20″ alloy wheels (up from 18″), and revised front and rear fascias.

You know, this all started the other day when a well-maintained model made a rather prolonged U-turn at the intersection in front of the house. The sun was positioned to beam light from just the right angle so contrasting lines were individually highlighted as it rotated. It couldn’t have been better displayed on a turn table. There were no blinding shimmers from the geometric panels because they are virtually void of brightwork. Since that day, I’ve been noticing them on the roads (funny how that happens) and, despite the age of the design, they still look fresh.

2004-09 Cadillac SRX

Still a crisp design after all these years. Art & Science with modesty.

Looking back, as a marketing campaign, A&S has come and gone, and come again (and possibly gone again, I’ve lost my place). However, in terms of product design, Cadillac has unflinchingly stayed the course, growing it into an ever richer language and, subsequently, building a stronger heritage for the brand.

Here are some more pictures of the first generation of SRX.

2004-09 Cadillac SRX

Many referred to the first-generation SRX as a tall CTS wagon which, technically speaking, wasn’t too far from the truth. Neither was it a bad thing.

2004-09 Cadillac SRX

Although the SRX had an available V8 engine, there was no V-Series edition, of any degree, for the first generation of SRX. Makes me wonder what could have been possible because of all the bits shared with the CTS.

2004-06 Cadillac SRX interior

This is the interior of the original Cadillac SRX. Unsurprisingly, it looks very much like the interior of the first-generation CTS.

2007-09 Cadillac SRX interior

Although the exterior didn’t receive any updates (apart from the Sport package and various accessories), the interior had a relatively significant refresh for 2007. It addressed probably the single greatest area of complaint and took another step toward setting standards for the world.

This piece is opinion based. Please feel free to express your own opinions below but, despite possible differences with me or other commenters, let’s keep it friendly.