The 2010 Cadillac SRX and 2010 Lexus RX reside near opposite ends of the styling spectrum. The Cadillac is angular, even aggressive in its sharp-cut grille, and has a sharp body-side character line. The RX has softer, flowing forms, though Lexus took pains to add definition to some this crossover’s contours with the 2009 redesign, partly in an effort to make it look more masculine.The XC60 occupies a stylistic middle ground miles distant from the boxy Volvos of a few years ago. Its curvaceous body is topped by a coupe-like roofline. Up front, its big trapezoidal grille sports a large Volvo logo. The tail’s reminiscent of Volvo’s P1800 coupe from the 1960s -- the car Roger Moore drove in the “The Saint” TV series.
The SRX offers a choice of two V-6 engines. A 265-horsepower 3.0-liter V-6 is standard and a 300-horsepower 2.8-liter turbocharged V-6 is optional. Both use a six-speed automatic transmission. The turbo’s automatic includes an “eco” mode that tailors its shift points for maximum fuel economy. SRXs with the 3.0-liter V-6 are available with front- or all-wheel drive. AWD is standard on the turbo versions.
The 2010 Lexus RX350 model has a 275-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6 and a six-speed automatic whose shift lever can be toggled to mimic manual-type shifting. The RX350 is available with front- or all-wheel drive.
The hybrid version of the Lexus RX is called the RX450h. It has a net 295 horsepower though a combination of a slightly different 3.5-liter gasoline V-6 and an electric motor/generator; AWD versions have a separate motor to power the rear axle. The RX450h can move along on electric power solely in most low-speed situations and shuts down the gasoline engine while stopped to maximize fuel economy. The onboard nickel-metal-hydride battery system is self-charging; no plug in is necessary. The RX450h is available with front- or all-wheel drive.
The 2010 Volvo XC60 3.2 model has a 235-horsepower 3.2-liter inline-six-cylinder engine and come with front- or all-wheel drive. The uplevel XC60 T6 version has a livelier 281-horsepower turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six and comes only with AWD.
The Cadillac SRX and Lexus RX have eye-catching interior designs. The Lexus’s sweeping instrument panel has a more-organic look than the SRX’s technology-driven dashboard. The XC60 carries over the sweeping dashboard shapes and tall stack of center controls from myriad other Volvo models.
All have head-protecting curtain side airbags that cover both seating rows. The Lexus RX also includes dashboard-mounted knee airbags for the driver and front passenger and seat-mounted side-impact airbags for outboard rear passengers.
The Volvo XC60’s roster of optional safety features includes a blind spot warning system that alerts a driver when another vehicle is to the side or rear and may be difficult to see when changing lanes. Also offered is a collision warning system that activates if the XC60 is closing too quickly on an obstruction; it will activate the brakes if necessary to mitigate a collision.
An industry first is the XC60’s “City Safety” system that will automatically slam on the brakes to keep the Volvo from hitting a stationary object. It’s standard on both XC60 models and is active up to 19 mph. It works as advertised -- at least when we tested it with pylons.
The Volvo XC60 is the only model of the three to offer optional rear integrated child booster seats.
Cadillac takes a unique approach to packaging the SRX’s dashboard display screen. Rather than devote a significant part of the instrument panel to a large display surface, the SRX’s screen rises from the top of the dashboard only as necessary. When retracted, a sliver of the screen remains in sight to show pertinent information, such as climate-system temperature and the radio station.
The Lexus RX’s optional navigation/multimedia control system also shows some innovation. Its menu-driven commands are entered via a touch-screen display or a mouse/button array on the center console. The “mouse” falls naturally to hand and provides tactile feedback as its cursor hovers over infotainment and vehicle-function icons on the screen. The system can also be voice-activated using reasonably conversational commands. It’s one of the slickest multimedia setups so far.
The Volvo XC60’s available navigation system features a fairly simple interface and can be operated by either a small steering wheel-mounted joystick or a wireless remote control – a remote that’s just begging to be misplaced.
The SRX’s navigation system includes a 40GB hard drive for digital media storage. The XC60 is alone in this group with a USB iPod interface as a standard instead of optional feature.
Available features unique to the Lexus RX in this comparison include a power tilt/telescoping steering column; a head-up display in which vehicle speed and navigation directions project onto the windshield in the diver’s line of sight; adaptive front lighting that pivots the headlamps slightly to light the way through turns; and a pre-collision system that primes the brakes and cinches the front seat belts a crash is imminent.
The XC60 Volvo’s exclusive Personal Car Communicator that can remotely indicate if doors have been left unlocked, alert the owner if the vehicle’s alarm goes off, and warn -- with the aid of an onboard heartbeat monitor -- when there’s an intruder inside the vehicle so the owner can summon police.
Only the Cadillac and Lexus offer rear DVD entertainment systems. The XC60 and SRX offer heated front and rear seats. The Cadillac and Lexus also offer and heated and cooled front seats.
The SRX includes the latest edition of GM’s OnStar telematics system with such features as automatic crash response, stolen vehicle assistance, and turn-by-turn voice-command navigation.
The RX includes Lexus’ similar Safety Connect system that features Automatic Collision Notification, Stolen Vehicle Location, Emergency Assistance, and GPS-based Enhanced Roadside Assistance.
The 2010 Lexus RX450h hybrid is tops for fuel economy in this group. It’s rated at 32/28 mpg (city/highway) in its front-wheel drive version and 30/28 mpg with AWD.
The Lexus RX350 is rated at 18/25 mpg with front-drive, 18/24 mpg with AWD.
The 2010 Cadillac SRX with the base V-6 is rated 18/25 mpg with front-drive and 18/23 mpg with AWD. SRXs with the turbocharged engine come with AWD and are rated at 15/21 mpg.
The 2010 Volvo XC60 with the base 3.2-liter six is rated at 18/27 mpg with front-drive and 16/22 mpg with AWD. With the turbo 3.0 and AWD, the XC60 is rated at 16/21 mpg.
The Volvo XC60 is the least expensive of these luxury crossovers. Its base price range is roughly $33,000-$38,000. The Cadillac SRX posts the widest base price range at roughly $34,000-$52,000. The RX350’s base price range is $38,500-$40,000; the RX450h is priced from about $42,500-$45,000.
All these crossovers have bumper-to-bumper warranty coverage for 4 years/50,000 miles. Powertrain coverage is 4/50,000 on the Volvo XC60, 6/70,000 on the Lexus RX, and 5/100,000 on the Cadillac SRX.