The Cadillac Escalade has become a favorite of the hip-hop set and with high profile individuals everywhere since the full-size luxury SUV first debuted in 1999, essentially as an up-level GMC Yukon. Now in its third generation, the Escalade still shares underpinnings with the Yukon and Chevrolet Tahoe, but it features unique exterior styling, a more luxurious interior and a more powerful engine compared with its platform mates that allows it to compete with prestigious rivals.
The Escalade, which is also offered as the long-wheelbase ESV, the pickup EXT and in green Hybrid form, is powered by a 6.2-liter Vortec V8 with variable valve timing, good for 403 horsepower and 417 pound-feet of torque. This motor shifts through a 6-speed Hydra-Matic automatic transmission with driver shift control.
Rear-wheel-drive is standard, while all-wheel-drive can be selected as an option. Fuel economy is rated at 14/18 with RWD and 13/18 with AWD.
The Escalade comes standard with a full leather and wood trimmed interior, a Bose 5.1 surround sound system, and a road sensing suspension that features computer controlled real-time damping. The second row can be configured with either a bench or bucket seats.
An Ultra Luxury Collection package is optional, featuring extras such as heated and cooled seats, a heated steering wheel, and a DVD navigation system. Also included are niceties such as power folding second row seats, a rearview backup camera, and enormous 22-inch 7-spoke chromed aluminum wheels sure to satisfy customers looking for extra bling.
The Escalade's safety features include dual front impact airbags as well as side curtain airbags for the first, second, and third rows. To prevent collisions, the Escalade is equipped with a StabiliTrak electronic stability control system with rollover mitigation and traction control that applies brake pressure or cuts engine speed to regain traction.
The Escalade faces competition from a number of strong contenders in the full-size luxury SUV segment, including the Mercedes-Benz GL-Class, the Infiniti QX56 and the Audi Q7.