This article is part of the GM Authority Mailbag series, where the GM Authority Crew features and replies to your questions, comments, and observations.
The following comes to us from Jackson in Nashville, Tennessee:
With my youngest finally out of college, I decided it was time to get rid of my trusty Avalanche and get a luxury car. So after nearly a year of researching and test driving, I finally bought myself my first luxury car. A 2015 Cadillac CTS. It’s a fully-loaded Premium in the Phantom Grey Metallic with the 3.6 liter V6, and I couldn’t be happier with it.
Truth be told, I was a bit cautious, with all of my friends and neighbors tried to steer me away from Cadillac and into a BMW, Mercedes, Lexus or Audi. One acquaintance even works for one of those and offered to get me employee pricing on a comparable car to the CTS. But all of their efforts were feeble… after a 24-hour test drive of the CTS, I was sold. Sold beyond any doubt. A month later, I must say that I’m truly in love with this car through and through. I even nicknamed mine Milezilla for her ability to dispose of miles like nothing I’ve driven before.
So there I was with my new Caddy. Life couldn’t be better. But as I was backing my CTS into the garage two weeks ago, I thought to myself: wouldn’t it look so much better next to another Cadillac, instead of my wife’s trusty BMW X3? Sure, sure it would. And that was the start to my quest to get my wife into the SRX.
My wife is… lets just say she only drives crossovers and SUVs. Apparently she likes the higher driving position they provide. I don’t care for it that much but she sure does. So we went to the same dealership where I bought my CTS and got an SRX for an overnight (ok, over-the-weekend) test drive. And man were we disappointed.
The interior is nice but the car drives like a rental car. The first thing we noticed: it’s not nearly as sharp or agile as my CTS. Quite the opposite, really: it’s floaty and lethargic-feeling. My wife liked the acceleration, but hated everything else, especially how the SRX felt turning and going over bumps. She didn’t really like the knob-less controls either, but that came second to her being disappointed with the way it drove. We gave it back after the test drive and walked away in grave disappointment. She asked to drive my CTS back home that day and loved everything about it, except for the fact that it wasn’t a crossover (again, she wants the higher ride and the trunk space).
A few days later, I come home to see a brand new BMW X5 sitting in our driveway. Probably a friend, I thought. Then I walk in and my wife tells me that she borrowed it from the BMW dealership for a test drive. As a recent Cadillac convert, I have to admit that stung a bit. We went to the grocery store that evening in the X5 and all I could think of is how nice the X5 was to drive. The interior wasn’t as nice as in my CTS, but the thing drove like a crossover version of my CTS and was way better than the SRX, as much as I hate to admit it. She ended up buying a 2015 X3 since she didn’t need the X5’s additional room or features. I’ve been driving it this week while my wife is away on a trip and let me tell you, the X3 drives like a smaller X5. It’s probably how an ATS crossover would ride… if it existed.
The point of my long winded story is this: Cadillac seriously needs to step up its crossover game. Stop with the nose-heavy, front wheel drive Chevy derivatives (Equinox-SRX). Give us a crossover of the CTS instead. And give us crossover on the ATS too, while they’re at it.
Every time I drive my CTS, I keep thinking about how many new Cadillac believers I have created in my neighborhood since taking my CTS home with me. It’s an instant conversation starter. But every time I talk to someone who wants a crossover/SUV/CUV instead of a sedan or a coupe, I honestly can not recommend Cadillac because the SRX sucks so very much. And I don’t think the next generation that I’ve been reading about will be better since it sounds like it will be on an unbalanced front wheel drive-derived platform as well, just like the current one.
Cadillac, please do better… so then I don’t have to have a BMW parked next to my CTS… and you can sell more cars and crossovers. That said, thanks for making such an awesome car that is the CTS.
PS: my neighbor got an ATS Turbo on my recommendation and her husband drives a Mercedes SUV. Don’t think he’ll be looking at an SRX… not the way it is now.
Thanks for the letter!
First off, congrats on your CTS. It’s a beautiful car that’s also an amazing performer. What a great choice!
Regarding the matter of Caddy crossovers altogether: we completely agree with you. Let’s just say that the SRX leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to cornering, handling, and general driving dynamics. The problem is, as you alluded to in your letter, the way the SRX is set up: a transversely-positioned engine with front-wheel drive makes for a nose-heavy car with a messed-up weight distribution. Some will say it doesn’t matter when it comes to crossovers, but we truly believe that it does.
The proof lies in rising sales of the BMW X1, X3, X5, as well as the Mercedes-Benz GLK, ML, and GL — all of which are front-engined, and have rear-wheel drive-based all-wheel drive. And their engines sit longitudinally, instead of transversely — like it does in the SRX.
A vehicle that’s rear-drive and has a longitudinally-mounted engine is simply better-balanced — something that should be standard when it comes to luxury vehicles. Sure, there are some exceptions to that formula, like the Lexus RX and Acura MDX. But the Lexus and Acura (and even the SRX) are popular from a sales standpoint not because they’re respected, class-leading products, but rather because they deliver good value (features) for the money. In the case of all three, the value proposition is a mid-size crossover for the price of a compact German crossover. And with the more expensive German offerings outselling the Lexus and the Acura, the tide has officially turned.
Let’s hope Cadillac and Mr. de Nysschen are listening.