MIAMI — The competition for Cadillac’s upcoming SRX utility vehicle could swell to more than 18 vehicles by the time it reaches the market next year.
But Cadillac executives say they aim to distinguish the SRX with handling and performance characteristics and the angular styling shared by the new CTS sedan and the upcoming XLR roadster. Cadillac will pitch the SRX as a cross between a sport-utility and sports sedan when it debuts in the spring of 2003 as a 2004 model.
Cadillac calls the SRX a mid-luxury utility vehicle.
“This is the fastest growing segment in the luxury car business,” Cadillac General Manager Mark LaNeve said at a sneak preview for the SRX here last week. The SRX “has got to be a car that appeals to the guy whose family wants him to get an SUV, but he wants performance. It’s got to appeal to the homemaker in Greenwich, but she doesn’t want a minivan or traditional SUV.”
Having an entry in the category sooner would have been nice, La-Neve said, but getting the product right is more important.
Competitors include the BMW X5, Acura MDX, Lexus RX 300 and Mercedes M class, but many new nameplates are slated to reach the market in the next two years.
Automotive News classifies the X5, MDX, RX 300 and M-class vehicles as premium sport wagons.
Cadillac will price the SRX somewhere between the CTS ($30,000 to $35,000) and the Escalade ($50,000-plus), said Steve Rosenblum, SRX brand manager. Sales volume could be 30,000 to 40,000 vehicles annually, LaNeve said.
The vehicle, based on General Motors’ rear-wheel-drive Sigma architecture, will be built at the Grand River assembly plant in Lansing, Mich., along with the CTS. GM will add a second shift to produce the SRX, LaNeve said.
Options will include all-wheel drive and a third-row seat that holds two and folds flat with the push of a button. Both V-6 and V-8 engines will be available. Though Cadillac wouldn’t provide details, the preview vehicle had a Northstar badge.
SRX’s inspiration, the Cadillac Vizon concept, featured a 300-hp, 4.2-liter Northstar V-8. GM currently makes a 4.6-liter Northstar V-8. The V-6 engine for the SRX also will be added to the CTS, Rosenblum said.
The 195-inch long SRX features vertical headlamps and taillamps. The V shape of the front grille is echoed in other styling angles on the vehicle.
Cadillac wants eventually to market the SRX in Europe and Japan.