RX vs. SRX—Has a New North Shore Cutie Emerged?

I can’t go anywhere on the North Shore without seeing at least one (OK, 20) Lexus RX SUVs.

In fact, at least five people in this very office own one. So, it’s no surprise that Cadillac put the RX in its crosshairs as they set out to redesign the wagon-like SRX.

And it’s really no surprise that when Cadillac held its regional media launch for the SRX, they held it smack dab in the middle of Lake Forest at South Gate Cafe.


Having recently had the chance to drive the vehicles back-to-back, I’ll pit the two vehicles against each other in a knockdown, drag-out fight of comfort, convenience and cruisability. Lexus just redid the RX for 2010, keeping the overall egglike façade while tweaking taillights and headlights. And I definitely like it more than the previous iterations.

The interior also got a makeover, and my favorite addition is the new touch controller that looks and works like a mouse and controls the navigation system. I really liked the way the new RX looked. Until I drove the SRX. Wowee-wow-wow-wow. Inside and out, Cadillac knocked this crossover out of the park.

From the gently rounded exterior shape to the jewel-like interior gauges and controls, everything is sparkly and gorgeous. In comparison, the RX looks bargain-basement cheap. Another fave bling feature in the SRX: A programmable rear hatch that can be set for tall or petite drivers.

If the seat fits
Sitting in car-pool lanes or crawling in Chicagoland traffic, we all spend a lot of time in our cars. So driving position and overall comfort is pretty important, and the choice between the SRX and RX is kind of like choosing between a firm mattress or a squishy one. It’s all about personal preference.

RX is the squishy, and SRX is the firm. One more item of note for the petite driver: The seat bottoms are a little big in the SRX, which might make it a little less comfortable.

Both the RX and SRX offer only V-6 engines, but the RX offers only one engine. The SRX gives you choices. The base engine is a little sluggish compared to the V-6 in the RX, but if you upgrade to the turbocharged V-6 in the SRX, you’ve got a little more go. You’ve also got a little less fuel economy. It drops fuel economy by 4 mpg on the highway, 3 in the city. Not huge, but enough to make a difference at the pump.

The green factor
This one’s easy: The RX has a hybrid; the SRX does not.  But … though nothing is confirmed, it should be noted that there’s a perfectly good two-mode hybrid engine out there that was supposed to go into the recently aborted Saturn Vue. Me thinks this would be a great addition to the SRX, and heaven knows it’s very important to the North Shore driver. Hint. Hint.

Overall winner?
That’s tough. I have to say my personal favorite is the SRX. It’s different, stunning and really well made. Oh, and it costs $4,000 less than the RX.  The comfort and cruisability could go either way depending on personal preference. But if green is your thing, there’s only one choice. Should be interesting this time next year to see if Cadillac makes its mark on the North Shore. I hope so

Thinking green but need something bigger than a Prius? There are five SUVs that are hybrids: Cadillac Escalade, Toyota Highlander, Ford Escape, Mercury Mariner and the above mentioned Lexus RX.