We've heard the advertising slogan, "The Shape Of Things To Come." It's been applied to car, toasters, and maybe even diapers. Seldom is it true.

However, in the case of the 2010 Cadillac SRX, the line could have been used genuinely. Compared to the model it is replacing, the incoming SRX (on sale this spring) is the shape of things to come. The new Cadillac SUV/Crossover is shorter and lower. With times being like they are, smaller is in vogue.

Adding to the 2010 SRX's appeal (besides its trim size), the design is genuinely handsome: a huge improvement over the outgoing model. The original SRX (2004-2009) looked too tall and long for its narrow width. Importantly, there's also less front and rear overhang. This combination tightens up the crossover's proportions that ride on all-new crossover architecture that is a step up in size from the Saturn Vue but smaller than the full-size Lambda used for the Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse, etc.

Vertically stacked headlights and trapezoidal chrome grille give the SRX a Cadillac family look without it looking exactly like every other Cadillac in the showroom. The dramatic side sections out-RX's Lexus's popular RX crossover in terms of style. A powerful character line beginning at the trailing edge of the front wheel well culminates at the taillight lens.

These lens looks to be vestigial tailfins, but unlike the fins of the 1950s, this design actually helps aerodynamically by breaking the airflow from the body. An integrated spoiler on the rearward edge of the roof extends the sleek lines and improves aerodynamics. Eighteen-inch wheels are standard and 20-inch wheels are offered. The stylish roof rack is optional, and we prefer the look of the vehicle without it.

Look inside the new SRX and you'll find rich, hand-cut-and-sewn coverings on the instrument panel. Riding on its shortened wheelbase, the 2010 Cadillac SRX gives up its optional seven-passenger seating, but provides plenty of room for five and cargo. Ambient lighting helps make for a rich environment. The center control area houses the climate and audio systems, while the navigation system rises from the center of the instrument panel just like it does on the current CTS. As is becoming a required bling feature, an illuminated logo glows through the front door sill plates when the doors open.

The 2010 SRX features plenty of high-tech features. Highlights include adaptive forward lighting that swivels the headlamps in synch with vehicle steering; power liftgate with adjustable height setting (so it doesn't hit your garage door if opened while parked inside); integrated hard disc drive for audio storage and a dual-screen video system for rear entertainment. Bluetooth compatibility is standard, as is OnStar’s turn-by-turn navigation service for buyers who do not opt the car’s navigation system option.

When it comes to power, the 2010 SRX is doing more with less in the performance department. The outgoing SRX offered a 3.6-liter V-6 and a 4.6-liter V-8. The 2010 SRX comes standard with a new, 260-horsepower 3.0-liter direct injected V-6 engine. This smaller engine is a de-stroked and de-bored version of the well-liked 3.6-liter direct-injection V-6 used by GM in many vehicles. Fuel economy figures haven't been released, but highway mpg for the 3.0-liter is expected to be in the mid-20s.

GM's 2.8-liter turbocharged V-6 (used in the Saab 9-3) is optional. Horsepower for the 2.8-liter in this application is expected to be approximately 300. The engine performs beautifully in the Saab applications, and should provide plenty of thrust for the SRX.

Both engines utilize a six-speed automatic that powers the front wheels. The new SRX includes a driver-selectable “eco mode” that alters transmission shift points to maximize fuel economy. All-wheel drive is optional, and includes an electronic limited-slip rear differential. The powertrain package provides a towing rating of 3,500 pounds. A new suspension includes a real-time damping system in conjunction with AWD that adjusts shock damping rates in response to road conditions.

The 2010 Cadillac SRX carries all of the safety equipment one expects in a premium crossover; standard head curtain side air bags, front seat-mounted side air bags, safety belts with dual pretensioners and load limiters, trailer stability assist, and OnStar. The SRX also introduces the use of Martensitic steel, one of the strongest available. Its use in the rockers helps protect against intrusion during a side-impact, while also maintaining the structure during front and rear crashes.

For 2010, Cadillac looks like it's on a good track with their new SRX. Lexus with its RX (the vehicle that sparked the luxury crossover market to life) may finally have a genuine competitor from a domestic manufacturer.

Rex Roy is an automotive writer based in Detroit. He can be reached through his web site at www.RexRoy.net.

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