Of all the nonsensical opinions held by enthusiast writers, none is more pervasive or wrong headed than the proposition that luxury vehicles have to be rear-wheel drive. The Lexus RX series, built from the Camry no less, demolished that assertion a decade ago. Not only did the RX300 catapult Lexus to the number one sales spot in the U.S. luxury segment, where it still resides, but it ended the reign of body-on-frame, rear-drive trucks as the basis for luxury vehicles. And Lexus had customer satisfaction and quality levels that embarrassed German and American makers. It still does.
Cadillac, once the uncontested U.S. luxury vehicle leader, is coming off a disastrous rear-drive SRX model built from an aging platform. It’s finally seeing things the way Lexus envisioned. The next-generation 2010 SRX crossover is built from a GM front-wheel-drive architecture that promises relative efficiency in a mid-size package for five adults.
Two V6 engine choices, and front- or all-wheel-drive, allow customers to decide what is best for them. And if previous experience on changing from a rear-drive to a front-drive platform holds, significant fuel economy increases are possible.
Unfortunately, this is still an overweight vehicle at more than 4200 pounds and higher, depending on equipment. My experience in this class says that 18 mpg is as good as it gets. And this requires driving finesse. Still, in the oft misunderstood area of fuel economy, replacing 12-14 mpg vehicles with 20 mpg ones provides a significant benefit for all of us.