Brand new in 2002, the Cadillac Escalade sold like hotcakes. The first generation, like the first Lexus LX, wore the thinnest disguise imaginable. It essentially was a Tahoe/Yukon with better leather and Caddy badges. The second generation though, was something else and pointed the way to Cadillac styling for the foreseeable future.
The Escalade inspired either love or hate, but could not be ignored. With a massive, slanting chrome grill, stacked headlamps and rear Cadillac crest that was only a bit smaller than a Domino’s extra large, it was powered by the most powerful engine in it’s class and an interior that left its Tahoe origins far behind.
Real Zebrano wood, supple leather and even an analogue Bulgari clock on the dash distinguish the Escalade from its lesser brethren. That engine I mentioned is a huge 6.2 liter, 403 horsepower V8 mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. In short, it is one big mama.
OK, solid platform, courtesy of GM’s half-ton trucks, lovely trimmings, almost nuclear power, and a shape unlike any other on the road, but how does it all work? Very nicely, thank you. GM has taken the same basic platform as the Silverado, Tahoe, Sierra and Yukon and made it feel entirely different. The truck is smooth and effortless. With the 6.2-liter churning away, you don’t notice the 3-ton curb weight.
It has the power-adjustable pedals, better all-disc braking, passenger-sensing airbags, high-intensity-discharge headlamps, XM radio, redesigned instrument cluster, a much more attractive steering wheel, and a less clumsy-looking OnStar antenna.
Getting all this to the ground involves a full-time all-wheel-drive system in some models,with no low range. The two-wheel-drive model, we drove here does just fine. In fact, the notion that this thing will ever go off road is just silly. So 2-wheel-drive just makes more sense and gets you 14 miles per gallon in the city, 18 highway.
OK, that’s miserable but look at this thing for crying out loud. If you can pay $74K for a giant toy, it could burn chanel perfume and you wouldn’t care.
Nimble isn’t exactly the word I would use for the Escalade, but compared to some other behemoths that are as maneuverable as the QE2, it is a revelation. It frankly feels more solid and tight than a lot of the foreign competition, and if you have $74 large burning a hole in your Gucci wallet, then by all means, indulge. In our Collection Edition, pretty much everything including a dvd player is standard.
So, is it worth $74,000? Ask the actors, rappers and athletes who have made the ‘Slade the ride of choice when you’re out with your posse. Now, I don’t have a posse. I don’t even have a deputy. So I guess Prince can have mine…if he can reach the pedals.