First Drive: 2012 Cadillac SRX Premium AWDCadillac has some hot new products coming in the next few years. There will be the 2013 ATS compact that comes as a sedan, and probably a coupe and convertible. Next year will also deliver the XTS full-size sedan to replace the DTS/STS. Soon after, expect a revised Escalade and full-size crossover based on the Buick Enclave. A full-size flagship sedan is supposedly in the works. But, you don’t have to wait that long for an excellent new Cadillac. The re-engineered SRX crossover is already here.New EngineHeating up the vehicle’s rubber is a new engine. Replacing two previously offered V6 engines, including one with a turbo, is a version of the direct-injected 3.6-liter V6 that rides under the Camaro’s shapely hood. In SRX tune, it generates 308 hp and 265 lb-ft of torque—routed to the ground through a 6-speed automatic transmission and optional all-wheel-drive. An ECO mode changes shift points and throttle response to increase fuel efficiency. The EPA rates the vehicle at 16/23 mpg city/hwy.Staying hot is the SRX’s neo-classical exterior styling. A huge angled egg-crate grille, stacked headlamps, body side slashes, and more-than-subtle tailfins with light tubes illuminating their verticalness plant a big Cadillac kiss right in your face. High-intensity discharge (HID) headlamps that swivel with the front wheels, 20-inch wheels, fog lamps, power liftgate, heated outside mirrors, chrome roof rails, and our vehicle’s Black Ice Metallic paint are a little more subtle.It is a very nice crossover that keeps the heat on vehicles like the Mercedes GLK, Lexus RX, Lincoln MKX, and Audi Q5. Cadillac designers went full-CTS on the interior of the SRX. Heated leather seats (front and rear), wood and leather steering wheel, power-adjustable pedals, and Bose 5.1 surround audio with USB input are only a start. Being a Premium-grade Cadillac, the SRX also comes with real sapele wood trim, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, rear-view camera, front parking sensors, keyless entry, lighted sill plates, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, automatic climate control, rain-sense windshield wipers, Bluetooth phone connectivity, and what might be the world’s largest power skylight. The audio and navigation system can be voice-controlled. The seat leather feels a little too much like an old Chrysler, but the rest of the interior is absolutely first-rate.State-of-the-Art WagonFrom that cabin, drivers will pilot a spirited crossover. Based on a modified version of the vehicle architecture that also underpins the Chevy Equinox, GMC Terrain, Saab 9-4X, and discontinued Saturn VUE, SRX is a state-of-the-art wagon. 2012 Cadillac SRX PremiumFive-passenger AWD CrossoverPowertrain: 308 hp 3.6-liter V66-spd. auto trans.Suspension f/r: Ind./Ind.Wheels: 20”/20” f/rBrakes: 4-wheel disc/ABSMust-have feature: Style, comfortManufacturing: Ramos Arizpe, Mex.Fuel economy: 16/23 mpg city/hwyAs tested price: $51,550A 4-wheel-independent suspension system, variable-effort speed-sensitive steering, and lightweight rear stabilizer bars give the car a comfortable ride, but also allow it to rumble over rough pavement or clip corners without too much drama. It doesn’t have the same heavy feeling of a CTS, but is on par with competitors. Four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, Stabilitrak electronic stability system, and rollover mitigation sensors give drivers a fighting chance should the worst happen.Overall, I like the SRX. Even in front-drive configurations, it handles well and provides plenty of interior space. The cabin is beautiful and is the equal of any model in its class. There’s also no questioning the smoothness and increased power from its 3.6-liter V6—very nice on the highway while the ECO mode optimizes economy in town. A hybrid version would make it even better. Some buyers may not care for the semi-hard seats, less-than-stellar leather, and light-in-the-loafers ride, but that’s all personal preference.Resonating with BuyersDefying personal preference is the Cadillac Shield warranty package. SRX comes standard with a 4-year/50,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, 5-year/100,000-mile courtesy transportation, 5-year/100,000-mile roadside assistance, and 5-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty. Buyers also get a 12-month trial run of GM’s OnStar system that includes turn-by-turn directions, automatic crash response, and concierge.“SRX is resonating with luxury buyers by offering the function of a crossover and the distinctive style of a Cadillac,” said Don Butler, vice president of Cadillac marketing. “Now, we’re raising the standards even higher by providing the SRX with enhanced performance. The new engine will make the SRX more responsive for passing on the highway, entering freeways from on-ramps, and climbing hills.”Somebody apparently likes the SRX. Retail sales increased 17.7 percent during the first six months of 2011. That comes after more than a 150 percent increase during 2010. It is a very nice crossover that keeps the heat on vehicles like the Mercedes GLK, Lexus RX, Lincoln MKX, and Audi Q5. Price as tested came to, ah-hem, $51,550!