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Quite a Day at the Mall

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I've mentioned this before, but I recently moved to Washington DC to start work. Today I decided to go to the Pentagon City Fashion Centre, which is a gigantic mall next to the Pentagon (duh). As I was about to turn into the parking garage, I noticed a black sign propped up in the median saying "Cadillac Event" with an arrow pointing straight. Obviously, I had to check out what it was.

I drove to the other side of the block to discover 3 big Cadillac tents and a bunch of SRXs and competing cars parked on the side of the road. I discover that GM is hosting a "drive the SRX against the X5, RX, and GLK" day, and as long as you have a license you're free to drive each one as many times as you want around the mall complex. Luckily for me, the weather was awful and there weren't too many people there, and there were basically no lines.

Before I got in line to drive the cars, I wanted to check out the SRX and CTS wagon they had parked autoshow style among the tents. I was cornered by a Cadillac rep and she sat in the SRX with me and explained its many features. She was much more knowledgeable than the average dolt at the stand at an autoshow; she even talked about the differential in the AWD system. Anyhow, the SRX has some really neat features. The Nav screen is huge and very clear, and the weather and traffic info are useful. The TiVo like function of the radio rocked. The LCD dial in the instrument cluster was also cool. Overall I found the interior to be very good; nice materials and good design. The only real problem I had was that the A-pillars are enormous, which I'll mention again the road test part. The headroom was ample, the back seat was roomy enough, and the trunk was nice and big. The styling is very strong, but I like it; I'm not sure how it will age, though.

They also had a CTS wagon sitting out. I was less impressed with the CTS to be honest. The trunk is far too small, the headroom in the back is woeful, and the interior just wasn't as nice as the SRX. Same basic design, but the materials were cheaper and less will put together. The plastic around the climate controls was especially flimsy; I was expecting better. However, the road test redeemed it somewhat

Onto the road tests. I decided to jump in the first car that came back, which turned out to be a 3.0L X5. The BMW is a nice car, no doubt about that. Great seats, nice meaty steering wheel, and good interior design. I was a bit confused by the shifter at first, but it's a very smart innovation and saves a lot of space on the console. On the move, the steering is nicely weighted and very responsive. The throttle peddle has very short travel; I floored it unintentionally a few times, but it was so underpowered it didn't make much difference. This car really needs the V8. The only thing I really didn't like were the brakes, which stopped on a dime when you put the mildest force on the pedal. The shock came when the Caddy rep said this particular car was $62,000! What a ripoff.

Next up I got to go in a blue SRX. Right away you can tell that it's not quite the driver's car of the BMW. The seats aren't really bolstered and the steering is very light, almost too light. However, the ride was very composed; firm, yet compliant without crashing through potholes. Like the BMW, this was a heavy car with a small engine. The 2.8T can't come soon enough. As I mentioned before, the A-pillars are huge. Much bigger than I noticed in the other cars; the Caddy rep said they got complaints about it all day. Also, whole car felt higher up than the others, with a high window line, high dash, and high hood. But the acoustic work they did paid dividends, as the Caddy was a library during my jaunt.

I then jumped into the CTS wagon. It felt nice to get into a real car again. While pulling away from the curb, I noticed that the CTS also has enormous pillars, but in the back. The D-pillars basically span from the rear of the car to the rear doors. However, this care drove very nicely. Even though it was rainy, this RWD model stuck to the road where the SRX understeered.

The next car to come around was the RX. The styling on this thing isn't my favorite, but the interior is excellent. It's not sporty in the least (the seats are basically flat), but it's a very nice place to be, with excellent materials. The computer mouse controls are actually pretty neat; the little "mouse" in the console knows when the pointer reaches a button you can click and it vibrates to let you know, so you really can use it without looking at the screen, in the same way you memorize the layout of buttons on your dash. Surprisingly, the RX was the most powerful of the cars there, which was immediately apparent when I pulled away from the curb and lost traction. A very competent car--I can see why they're so popular.

Last up was the Mercedes GLK. I think this car is pretty ugly and will age especially badly. The interior is even worse, with huge slap of metal across the entire dash with a black pit where all the buttons sit. The materials were fine, but the design was not for me. Otherwise this car was fine; nothing really wrong with it, but no real compelling reason to get it unless you really like the butch looks.

Overall, a much more fun trip to the mall than I was expecting. Sorry I don't have any pictures, but I don't normally take the camera to Macy's. I think the SRX is a great car and should do well, especially once they get the turbo engine out there. I'm a bit hesitant about recommending it to my dad just because the styling is a bit over the top.

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Aye, THAT'S the event I missed this weekend...I knew I was forgetting something good, over in DC. Nice overview & reviews :AH-HA_wink:

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