By on March 4, 2011

A large luxury SUV can’t be expected to make rational sense. As readers pointed out when commenting on Wednesday’s Lincoln Navigator review, anyone who needs the combination of interior space and towing capability the Navigator  and its arch-rival, the Cadillac Escalade, have on offer, could obtain the same functionality in a Ford Expedition or Chevrolet Tahoe / Suburban for a lot less money. For the Lincoln and Cadillac to be worth their loftier prices, they’d better deliver something above and beyond mere functionality. The Lincoln fell short in this regard, coming across as little more than a bechromed Ford. Might the Cadillac Escalade fare better?

Like the Navigator, the current Escalade is now in its fifth model year. So it’s not fresh. But the Cadillac’s more chiseled lines have aged better and it gets by with a more restrained application of chrome trim.

The grille is huge, but artfully shaped. It is not out of proportion given the size of the vehicle and faithfully advertises the power lurking within. The 22-inch-alloys (with center caps awaiting PDI) are out of proportion to the size of the vehicle, at least the regular wheelbase variant I tested. The double dubs better suit the extended wheelbase Escalade ESV. From the rear there’s little to distinguish the Escalade from the closely related Chevrolet and GMC SUVs. It could be worse: Cadillac’s designers could have drawn inspiration from the Family Truckster the way the designers of the first-generation Navigator did.

This generation of Escalade received a bespoke instrument panel. The styling is sufficiently premium and the switchgear, if not quite up to the $75,000 MSRP, comes closer than that in the Navigator. The Cadillac isn’t embarrassingly pedestrian inside.

The front seats could be better. Though blessed with power four-way lumbar adjustments, their convex contour provides no lateral support. They also feel a little undersized and unworthy of the vehicle they occupy. The Lincoln’s thrones are much larger and cushier. Visibility also isn’t quite as good in the Cadillac, as the base of the windshield is higher. But we are talking about the difference between very good and outstanding. As in the Lincoln there’s nowhere for the driver to properly rest a left foot. The only solution: rest it flat on the floor. While this might seem natural at the dinner table, it takes some getting used when driving a vehicle. The shifter is on the column rather than on the console, which makes operating the “tap up, tap down” rocker somewhat awkward. Since the rocker will be of most use in mountain driving, and even there only occasionally, this isn’t a deal breaker.

The second row is, like the first, undersized compared to that in the Lincoln. The third row, well, it’s simply ridiculous. The Escalade continues to employ a live rear axle, and this forces a high rear floor. So the third-row seat cushion is pretty much right on the floor. Adults sitting back might have enough headroom (if they’re under six feet), but they’ll find their knees above their elbows. The Navigator has a huge advantage here. Stepping up to the ESV only partially addresses the shortfall.

Cargo room is similarly impacted. There’s little of it behind the third-row seat. Adding injury to insult, the third row doesn’t fold to form a flat floor and must be removed to provide a competitive amount of cargo room. The Navigator is a much more functional vehicle. So are GM’s large “Lambda” crossovers, for that matter. (Rumor has it that the next Escalade will be Lambda-based.)

But, remember, this class of vehicle isn’t about functionality. Dip into the throttle, and the Escalade starts to make sense. The 6.2-liter V8 kicks out 403 horsepower at 5,700 rpm and 417 pound-feet of torque at 4,300 rpm. And these numbers aren’t the half of it. Even with so much power the Escalade isn’t a rocket ship—there’s too much mass for that. Where it really redeems itself is in how it sounds and feels. Even if acceleration isn’t shockingly quick, it is effortless. Unlike the Lincoln’s V8 this one never seems like its straining. It never had to jump down two or three ratios and then issue forth an unseemly roar. Not that the Escalade’s V8 is quiet; far from it. The big small block roars at full throttle, and audibly burbles much of the rest of the time. Some people might find this noise tiresome, but they won’t be interested in an Escalade anyway. The V8’s burble recalls fine watercraft more than anything on wheels, and in the process makes driving the Escalade a distinctive, and distinctively American, experience. For something to be a guilty pleasure it must be pleasurable, and prodding this powerplant is pleasurable.

On center the Escalade’s steering feels far too light and a touch loose. But helm the ute into a curve and effort builds naturally. Feedback through the seat of the pants is reassuring; the big SUV willingly goes where it’s pointed. Though certainly not predisposed to hoonery, give the Escalade your spurs and it responds “sure, why not?” In this mode a more conveniently located transmission control would be welcome. Compared to the Lincoln, the Cadillac flows with the road rather than fighting it. Even with its lower profile 285/45R22 tires the Escalade rides much more smoothly than its closest competitor. There’s no sense of the body shimmying atop its mounts. The standard “magnetic ride control” shocks that alter their firmness up to 1,000 times a second no doubt deserve some of the credit. But trick shocks can only do so much. GM seems to have put far more effort than Ford into suspension and body tuning. Despite its live rear axle and overboosted steering, the Escalade both rides and handles much better than the Navigator.

Cadillac, apparently aware of its vehicle’s more premium feel, charges heftily for it. Though the two vehicles I drove were comparably equipped, with an MSRP of $75,000 the Escalade listed for $12,000 more than the Navigator. Add another $3,200 for the extended wheelbase ESV (recommended). Running the pair through TrueDelta’s car price comparison tool finds that features account for only a few hundred dollars of this price difference. After this adjustment the Lincoln’s price advantage remains over $11,000. Oddly enough, the Chevrolet Tahoe LTZ (with a 5.3-liter V8 and 20s) also checks in about $11,000 below the Cadillac.

I’m not about to attempt a rational defense of the Cadillac Escalade. Cadillac has never marketed itself as a sensible purchase. Instead, it has always been an aspirational purchase, and an experience. With its size, its brash yet tastefully handsome styling, and its stonkin V8, the Escalade delivers what buyers in this segment are looking for. Driving it is a much different experience than driving a sports car or a high-end sedan, but it’s a rewarding experience nonetheless. Though not a place I’d care to live, I thoroughly enjoyed the visit.

Eric Breda at Cadillac of Novi provided the test vehicle. Eric can be reached at 248-476-4466.

Michael Karesh operates TrueDelta, an online source of car pricing and reliability data.

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78 Comments on “Review: 2011 Cadillac Escalade...”


  • avatar
    Dimwit

    Strange that they revised the LED light cluster in the rear. It looks way more like a Suburban now. Not exactly a premium look. Have they fixed the (non) locking steering wheel yet?

  • avatar

    The Navigator makes more sense than the Escalade.
    #1 more interior space.
    #2 regular unleaded fuel.
    #3 3rd row folds flat
    #4 independent rear suspension allows more roll control.
    #5 about  $8000 less than Escalade.
    I did this comparison a long time ago when I used to only drive SUV’s.  Now I can’t stand to look at them.   http://www.epinions.com/content_258470416004

    • 0 avatar
      aspade

      If it’s practical you want a Sienna makes more sense than either.
       
      The Escalade is everything a $75,000 luxury car in a country without Autobahns ought to be.  Big and unapologetically over the top.

    • 0 avatar
      LectroByte

       
      The Escalade makes a statement… and that engine is pretty sweet.
       
      And, folks who are spending this kind of money on this class of vehicle don’t really care if it takes premium or regular.

    • 0 avatar
      philadlj

      The Escalade out-sold the Navigator in 2010, 26,874-to-8,245, a margin of more than 3-to-1. Clearly, the Caddy offers something to its potential customers the Navi lacks, and “sense” ain’t it!

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      The Escalade is the wife’s kid-hauler to complement the husband’s Corvette.

      It’s not supposed to be the most practical, which is why it’s not an Odyssey.

      It’s a huge American wagon which makes a statement, not the least of which is that the owner can afford a $70+k wagon.

      BTW, how big are the crest & wreath logos? Dinner plates?

    • 0 avatar

      While at the Cadillac dealers to get my mom an STS, I saw at least 6 Escalades sold to other buyers. The escalade is arguably the best looking full sized SUV there is. And yes, it is for super moms. I saw at least 3 buyers picking one up for their wives.

    • 0 avatar

      The Escalade is the logical successor to the 60s and 70s Cadillac sedans, with just a pinch more usability, just as pickup trucks and SUVs took over the duties of muscle cars, full-sized RWD BOF sedans and station wagons, in that order.  Seems like Americans WILL have their big, brash and bold rides, no matter what form they morph into.

    • 0 avatar

      Escalade is the “flagship” of Cadillac.  Too bad most Americans can’t even afford its gas and maintenance.

  • avatar
    OldandSlow

    Many of our politicians have these at their disposal.  I hope that the state government didn’t pay for them.  A black Chevy Tahoe LT would suffice, if taxpayer dollars are involved.
     
    Depreciation on these is atrocious.   While heading into the recession, there were a good many sub-prime Escalade owners deeply upside down on their loans.

  • avatar
    Coyote64

    I drive a Silverado LTZ.  For me it’s damn near close for 1/2 price.
    I have the same comment about where to put your left foot.

    Funny, I thought Lincoln was joking with those Family Truckster tail lights.

  • avatar
    findude

    Or one could buy a slightly used Suburban, loaded to the gills with every option, for 30-50 grand less.
     
    “Luxury” SUVs” do not answer any question I would ever ask.  The image penalty alone–that one was stupid enough to pay a huge premium for chrome and a badge–will keep me far away from this genre. Not that I care that much about image, but a guy’s got to have some standards.

  • avatar
    GarbageMotorsCo.

    “Bling Bling yo” says all the gangbangers and rap artists who read this article.

    Nothing says gangsta like an Escalade.

    • 0 avatar
      brettc

      A guy down the street from me owns a white Escalade (the previous gen model). I refer to it as the Blingscalade because it’s just so ridiculous. And the guy that owns it is an old white dude which makes it even more ridiculous.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Honestly though the Escalade is still the closest thing to a real Cadillac that Cadillac sells.  And if GM had invested some of the profits from these behemouths into a real honest to god flagship worthy sedan, I wouldn’t be so pissed off at GM. 

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Here’s your sedan: take the Escalade EXT, drop it a few inches and replace the “bed” with a trunk.  And there, but for a mild restyling, is what the XTS should have been.
       
      I believe it’s also pretty similar to what President Obama rolls in.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      A real “Fleetwood” or “Sedan DeVille” would indeed be sweet, even if I would never buy one, and right several wrongs.

    • 0 avatar
      86er

      You said it Dan. 

      Too bad this loveable lump of an engine isn’t powering a Zeta platform Cadillac Fleetwood.

      My dad’s 3/4 ton GMC has the 6.0L and even it is a strong puller in a 7000 lb vehicle like his.

      Edit: wow, three simulposts by Psar, Zackman and I! Great minds think alike! ;)

    • 0 avatar
      86er

      Psar, the caption under the youtube video (take from that what you will) indicates the Presidential Limo is “based on” the GM Medium Duty (Topkick/Kodiak) chassis.

      Once again, using my dad as an example, he happens to have a Topkick as a work vehicle and by god is it a rough ride.  They’ve probably got that sorted out on the Presidential Limo, lest a Secret Service agent spills his coffee and there’s a “situation”. :)

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      the caption under the youtube video (take from that what you will) indicates the Presidential Limo is “based on” the GM Medium Duty (Topkick/Kodiak) chassis.

      Yup, that’s correct.  Now, I think a TopKick-based sedan would be a little over the top, but doesn’t Cadillac warrant a little more “over the top”-ness?  What would be more American than a sedan based on a medium-duty, or even a half-ton or one-ton truck?

      I’d never own one, even if I had the money (because I’m a latte-sipping, iPhone-owning pinko urban yuppie metrosexual) but there’s a certain amount of baked-in bad-ass-ism in the very concept.  I mean, yes, a Rolls is very nice, but come on, a medium-duty truck-based sedan?  Yes.

    • 0 avatar
      86er

      because I’m a latte-sipping, iPhone-owning pinko urban yuppie metrosexual

      You’re also from Toronto, if we’re talking about things to recommend you.

    • 0 avatar
      aspade

      I’ve never understood GM’s reasoning that put a LS V8 in a Pontiac Probe look-alike, a SSR that nobody asked for, even in a Saab rebadge Trailblazer for crying out loud, and yet except for the CTS-V their best brand soldiered on with a Northstar little changed since 1993.
       
      I’ve always thought that if an Escalade with an L92 is good then an Escalade-V with a LS7 would be great.  At least when gas and credit were still cheap.
       

    • 0 avatar
      brandloyalty

      “Here’s your sedan: take the Escalade EXT, drop it a few inches and replace the “bed” with a trunk.  And there, but for a mild restyling, is what the XTS should have been.

      I believe it’s also pretty similar to what President Obama rolls in.”
       
      I may be wrong, but I don’t think Obama’s “Beast” is based on any Cadillac.  I think it’s a larger commercial chassis with a fully custom body that superficially resembles a Cadillac.  If you look at the size of people next to it, it’s a VERY large vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      You’re also from Toronto, if we’re talking about things to recommend you.
       
      Technically, I didn’t grow up there, I just did my undergrad at UofT and worked there for six years.  But yes, it kinds of sticks to me, doesn’t it?

    • 0 avatar
      86er

      But yes, it kinds of sticks to me, doesn’t it?

      Like Jack Layton to a kitchen table.

    • 0 avatar
      doctor olds

      Escalade demonstrates General Motors competence to completely dominate the full size SUV segment, typically enjoying an 80% share. It is the most profitable segment on a per unit basis, with closely related full size trucks adding immense volumes with still strong profit. I have found it discouraging and fascinating that GM has not been recognized for this success. They are more often criticized as stupid for selling so many of these profit makers!  Not only does the Cadillac sell over three times the number of Lincolns while commanding $13,000 more, Chevrolet sells far more Tahoes for as much as the Lincoln can get! We still haven’t counted the Yukons and Denalis!

      Educator Dan- Ya oughta be pissed at congress! GM could as easily dominate large cars as they once did, but they can’t sell them due to CAFE. I will be very surprised if you have driven an STS or CTS and don’t appreciate what refined, wonderful cars they are. The 3.6L DI engine is a jewel. For that matter, the DTS is actually quite nice, though dated. We used to call them “deep” rides! What attributes do you want in a flagship?

      BTW-Larger cars were planned, even with tougher CAFE required in Bush era. You would have loved the Ultra V8, Northstar successor! It would have been in the Lambdas and at least two of a trio of zeta platform cars to be added for Cadillac, Buick and Chevy alongside Pontiac G8,but, alas, the GFC came and the rest is history. Shortly before I retired, I spotted a Caprice- a Chevy face on the bigger Holden - with an Ultra V8. You can see the car at GM Bahrain Chevrolet website, though the engine was shelved, probably forever, due to capital constraints arising from the $4 gas spike’s impact on the car market in early ’08. They also sell a Buick Park Avenue version in China, but it isn’t cheap. The Holden Commodore is the most popular car in Australia, despite their $5 gas. You can rest assured that GM would be building and selling larger cars here if not for the challenge of CAFE.

       

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    How ironic is it that in the 4th picture in the article…that of the IP cluster…..the words “Fuel Level Low” appear in the message center.  Given this pig’s likely ratef dino-juice consumption, I’d expect this will be a fairly common sight for the driver….

    Nothing says, “more money than sense”, like the ‘Sclade and the ‘Gator.

    • 0 avatar
      prattworks

      Exactly.  What does the decision tree look like that arrives at buying this thing?  Horrible mileage? Check.  Rapid depreciation?  Check.  Reliablity issues?  Check?
      Dinosaurs at birth  Obsolete on day-one.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Cadillac…  Restrained? Really?!

  • avatar
    twotone

    If I ever needed a big honking SUV, I’d get the Toyota Landcrusher.

  • avatar
    Truckducken

    Michael,
    The evocation of ‘fine watercraft’ slayed me. Well put.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    One of the last REAL Cadillacs left!

  • avatar
    oboylepr

    “……it has always been an aspirational purchase”
     
    Yes, for people with more money than sense!

    • 0 avatar
      ellomdian

      To be fair, no. This is not for people with more money than sense, they would likely not be CAUGHT DEAD in a ‘Lade. They drive Cayennes, Lexi, and BIG Mercedes.
      The Caddy is aspirational – that is, sold largely to people who can’t afford to buy one. The used market on these things is RIDICULOUS, when we made our last towing purchase, we cross shopped these against Suburbans. While we ended up with an older Excursion (was not my choice…) I was routinely finding low mileage EXT Caddys with aftermarket wheels for less than a 10% markup on it’s donor brother.
      TBH, the sensible luxury choice back then (if you can even call it that) was always a Yukon or Denali in high trim. No reason then to pay for the quite ridiculously sized badge. Now a days, I don’t know a single nice person who owns one. Would much rather have lunch with the A8 and S-class owners at the club – the Escalade people sit at their own table, and go through overpriced white wine like it was good water…

  • avatar
    dusterdude

    philadlj:

    +1

    People are voting with there wallets. If you can afford to be in this “snack bracket”, and want this sort of luxury truck, the Escalade is the way to go… I haven’t checked truedelta, but, knowing a # of people that own (or have owned ) them , they have been  very reliable for them..

  • avatar

    I have one of these, the long ESV version from 2007 which was the first year for this generation.

    I purchased it new for substantially off MSRP during the last fuel crunch (which is an ideal time to buy big vehicles like this) from leftover dealer stock I found online.  The only option it has is a sunroof.  No navigation, no rear DVD junk, no 22″ wheels… just the way I wanted one and they come standard with everything else.

    In a word, it is phenomnal vehicle.  Whenever I drive it I always have a smile on my face.  From the muscle car exhaust note to it’s surprisingly good gas mileage to it’s quiet and confident American comfort to it’s styling I don’t think there are many cars American cars left that emulate traditional American luxury cars.

    I drove new Lincoln Navigators a few times before buying the Escalade.  There is no comparison whatsoever.  The Lincoln is horrid looking inside and out.  The ride is stiff and jarring, completely out of character for a Lincoln and luxury vehicle.  The engine is also limp and weak.  It’s no wonder everyone who wants one of these buys an Escalade. 

    When fuel prices, GM’s money problems or whatever else finally kill the Escalade it will be the end of the traditional, classic Cadillac and one last traditional American luxury vehicle on the road.  The 300C being the single one left.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      +1 – THIS is the spiritual successor to a 60′s-70′s Sedan deVille. Huge, blingy, over-the-top. VERY American.

      I have no use for something like this, but I certainly can see the appeal. And having had an STS for a rental a couple weeks ago, I definitely can see the appeal of the SPACE in the thing. My Saab 9-3 is more spacious in the front than the STS.

    • 0 avatar
      doctor olds

      @twotone- Why would you be interested in an also ran?? Are they even still trying to sell them? Couldn’t you get an Escalade Hybrid for the price of the Land Cruiser and match the 4 cyl Camry’s city fuel mileage at the same time?

      @trishield- CAFE will do it in. Lutz once said the largest SUV that could be sold in California would be the size of the Saturn Vue. It is no coincidence that the new SRX is about that size, and the national CAFE standard is now as tough as California’s proposal at that time. Worse yet, they are no proposing 60MPG fleet average! It is just going to keep getting worse for anyone who wants a large vehicle. Weak minds think it is just a matter of manufacturers choosing to get more mileage. It actually reduces customer choice and raise costs dramatically.

    • 0 avatar

      FYI mine manages 16mpg overall.  I have a friend with a GMC Acadia which has a six cylinder, he averages the same.

      Driving across the city in free flowing traffic the Escalade returned 21mpg.  Say what you will about it but it is amazingly efficient for what it is and what it does. 

    • 0 avatar
      doctor olds

      @TriShield-
      It is nice to see a comment from some one who actually owns one of these!
      It’s clear most commenters have never been in one, or even a Tahoe or its GM siblings either.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    While this kind of thing isn’t my cup of meat, I love the sound of the exhaust system. They really do sound like a motorboat.

  • avatar
    genuineleather

    Were I to buy a pointless luxury SUV (because really, what percentage are actually used for towing or off-roading?) I would choose a Geländewagen. Or, if in need of three rows, a GL550, if only because it is gratuitously overpriced.

    • 0 avatar
      WaftableTorque

      For a 30+ year old design, you’d think Mercedes would have made it reliable by now. Apparently, the G-Wagen was one of the most unreliable cars they made in the last decade, bringing their reputation further down compared to their more reliable (!) S, E, and ML classes.

  • avatar
    jpcavanaugh

    It’s still true.  Just as nobody has built a better minivan than Chrysler, nobody has built a better Suburban than GM.  This one is just more expensive, more luxurious, is faster and has more bling.  So it’s a Cadillac.
    It is also true that a great 3rd row will never sell a vehicle, because the people who sit in the third row are NOT the ones who make either the purchase decision or the payments.  These people sit in the front.  These are the people GM has chosen to reward.  Good for GM.  Ford needs to re-learn this lesson if it is going to compete in this market. (Or bring back the Excursion as the new Navigator)

    • 0 avatar
      genuineleather

      That’s perhaps a poor comparison considering the general consensus is that the Chrysler twins still lag behind the Odyssey, Sienna, and Quest.

    • 0 avatar
      jpcavanaugh

      That’s perhaps a poor comparison considering the general consensus is that the Chrysler twins still lag behind the Odyssey, Sienna, and Quest.

      genuineleather:  if this really were general concensus, why are the ChryCo vans STILL outselling each of them in spite of Chrysler’s quality reputation.  Some of your competitors have beaten the Chryslers in an area or two, but none has provided a better all-around minivan (features and value).  The new Honda, Toyota and Quest appear ready for a fight, and I think that the 2011 Chryslers will give it to them and still come out still ahead.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      @genuineleather

      The problem is that the price delta to the Japanese vans is ridiculous. They are better than the Chrysler vans, but not enough better when you look at the bottom line price difference. My Mom has a loaded ’09 Chrysler van (though with a VW on the nose) and my Great Aunt next door just bought a new ’10 Odyessy. The Honda is nicer, but it was litterally 2X the price! And it is nowhere near 2X as nice. And these days, I think there is nothing in it in overall reliability.

    • 0 avatar
      aspade

      why are the ChryCo vans STILL outselling each of them in spite of Chrysler’s quality reputation.
       
      The same reason the Avenger outsells the Mazda 6.
       
      Fleets, domestic badge only homers – where Chrysler now claims 100% of minivan sales by default, and the inherent higher volumes of the downscale end of the market.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      and the inherent higher volumes of the downscale end of the market

      That’s probably the big reason.  The base Caravan has, for a long time, been the best way to transport seven people cheaply.  For while GM did make some inroads selling U-Bodies (which suck) and Kia and Mazda have had limited success (because they’re offerings are small) but Chrysler is really the only player here.

      From what I recall, you could get a 3.3L Caravan with a second-row bench for CA$16K, and possibly lower if you tried.  You know what else costs CA$16K?  A Honda Fit or Nissan Versa.  It’s also a figure that barely nets you a Matrix, Rondo or Mazda5.  It won’t get you a Camry or Accord, that’s for sure.   A Sienna?  A Sienna is almost twice that figure.  So is just about every three-row crossover or SUV.

      When you consider what that price tag does to used-car values, and when you consider that the current economy has done to the income levels, equity and stability of families with kids, you can see why these cars sell.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    “The third row, well, it’s simply ridiculous. The Escalade continues to employ a live rear axle, and this forces a high rear floor. So the third-row seat cushion is pretty much right on the floor”

    Agreed. But because I use my Tahoe(same vehicle, much better loooking) to tow up to 8K and generally keep my vehicles a long time I’ll put up w/the less than stellar 3rd row to have a solid axle vesus IFS. Besides my 6 year old has no complaints so far about riding back there and the dog likes it ok too!….LOL.

  • avatar

    I still own a 1995 GMC Yukon. I loved the design when it came out because it came with two rows of seats. This made the second row much roomier and just a great place for three adults to sit. On top of that, without the third row, you can actually carry luggage for the same five people without giving up anything.

    Now, they all have three rows of seating which really defeats the whole purpose of the shorter Yukons and Tahoes. Now there is no room for the second or third row passengers or their cargo. GM, I will give you a hint. “If we wanted a Suburban, we would go out and buy a Suburban.”

    GM has lost its way again and it is in every segment. Everything is done half ass and the lack of thought going into designs is their demise.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      But you can just remove the 3rd row seats and leave them in the garage. I actually prefer the removable option if you are not going to use them all the time – why cart around all that extra wieght? And on occasion, it is a nice option to have. My folks have had a succession of minivans, other than the current one (VW Routan) with fold into the floor third row seats, the third seat was in the garage 95% of the time. But mighty nice to have the other 5%.

      But as someone else pointed out – really, who cares how comfortable the third row is in these things? They are for children and dogs. If you need to haul 7-8 adults, you need a minivan, or better yet a Sprinter mini-bus.

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      Exactly so. You take out the 3rd row, and leave it in the garage until you need it.

      Tho one hopes the extra seats aren’t like the big rear bench in the Ford Aerostar. I think that big seat weighed well over 100 lbs.

  • avatar
    Diesel Fuel Only

    Premium instruments and switchgear?  So they still use the ancient “reach around or  through the steering wheel” style hazard flasher button on top of the steering column, my mom’s chevette had one of those.
     
    And for a vehicle that’s supposed to be able to tow 7,900 lbs., a gear shift lever that was more than merely adequate would be nice.
     
    If towing, power, and interior comfort are your goals and you don’t need the cramped third row of seating, why not get a Touareg V6-TDI.  Weighs 900 lbs less, has just as much torque, just as much towing capacity, better fuel economy (better even than they Hybrid Escalade) and a slightly larger fuel tank to boot, is better off road, has an actual ergonomic instrument cluster and a manumatic gearshift lever you can actually use and seats actually made for a car…  The Caddie seems to pay a very high price for that very flat extra seat.
     
    But VW has bad reliability, you say.  Try googling “Escalade Transmission” and see how often “Problems/Failures/Expensive” pops up.
     
    On the positive side, the Caddie’s turning circle, while not small, is impressive for such a gigantic vehicle.

    • 0 avatar

      I have 35k on mine since 2008, no issues whatsover.  It also averages 16mpg overall and gets over 21mpg on the open road here in Phoenix or going out of state.  The third row in the ESV is pretty commodious as is the cargo room and all around interior room.  No complaints from anyone on trips – plus, it’s a Cadillac.  The VW is well, a VW and won’t have the X factor that American vehicles like the Escalade have.  Those are probably just some of the reasons there aren’t too many Touraegs around.

    • 0 avatar

      “No complaints from anyone on trips – plus, it’s a Cadillac.”

      I know what you think you mean by that, but Caddy doesn’t have quite the cachet you think it does anymore. Particularly when that “Cadillac” is nothing more than a gilded Tahoe, and even non-enthusiasts recognize that…

      “The VW is well, a VW and won’t have the X factor that American vehicles like the Escalade have…”

      And among more sophisticated crowds, the VW actually has far more badge-presence than a rebadged GM clone. (What’s a rebadged Touareg called, again? Oh that’s right — a Porsche Cayenne.)

      But hey, some people just gotta have a ride that 50 Cent approves of, and I guess that’s fine…

    • 0 avatar
      Diesel Fuel Only

      Forgot that the Audi Q7 was reviewed on this site.  From the article:
       
      “One of the enduring lessons of the car game is that good vehicles don’t always sell well”.
       
      While faulting the Audi’s in-town pickup, Ed. had this to say… “Munching miles on arrow-straight desert highways is where the TDI starts to feel properly at home. The engine’s computers seem to keep a thick wave of torque just below your right foot; and a muffled, gusty whoosh accompanies any surrender to the torque’s temptation”
       
      He then went  on to complain that the 3rd row seating wasn’t any good and that a Touareg was $8k less with the same engine.
       
      So here’s the thing, if the vehicle’s performance were good, then the same thing could be said of the Escalade Vs. Tahoe.  The fact that it isn’t compared tells me that the vehicle isn’t a nicer version of a good car, it’s a more expensive version of a very poor car.
       
      The fact that a vehicle this large, powerful and heavy doesn’t look as good, as magnificent, as imposing, as a 1930′s senior Packard, btw, tells you everything you need to know about Cadillac, well just about since the real domestic competition went away.  It doesn’t look as sophisticated as a VW, for crying out loud, not to mention an Audi or a Porsche.
       
      The way the bumper flows (or doesn’t flow) into the sheet metal, the stuck-on looking wing mirrors, the pointless little chrome vents on the quarter panels, performance aside, the unifying feature of the vehicle’s exterior styling is mediocrity on par with the interior.
       
      BTW has the Mercedes Sprinter been reviewed here?  I see them often enough.  Seats are supposed to be awesome comfortable on long hauls, good mileage, all right tow rating (not quite as much as the Escalade)…I know, looks like a van and not a blingmobile, but the creases in the sheetmetal are at least coherent.

  • avatar
    ajla

    So what does the Escalade bring to the table versus the Denali?

  • avatar
    panzerfaust

    Wouldn’t own one, but like H1 Hummers, 1959 Cadillacs, ’68 Charger Daytona’s, Ford GT’s, Vipers and Cobras I’m glad it exists, even for a while.

  • avatar

    I feel like the newest (patrol-based not Armada-based) Infiniti QX56 would be a more apt comparison to the Escalade than the hopelessly out-of-date, painful-to-look at Navigator.  I live in North Raleigh which is a pretty affluent area filled with brainless overfunded suburban house-trophy-wives, and i almost NEVER see new Navigators.  I DO see a ton of Escalades, much to my chagrin.
     
    -James at http://www.carthrottle.com

    • 0 avatar

      The new QX56 has an extremely nice interior. Despite an IRS its third row seat is nearly as bad as the Cadillac’s, though. I tried to drive one the same day I drove the Escalade, but the only one the dealer had was a “sold car.” Need to drop by again and see if they now have one available.

  • avatar
    segfault

    No keyless ignition for $75 grand?

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    The lack of new models for a half decade is a clear sign that the next Navigators and Escalades are going to be unibodies. Enjoy them now, their replacements will be competing with hemi-powered Grand Cherokees and/or a future Wagoneer.  Jeep was actually a player in that class once upon a time, and they may become one again, judging by new GC sales.

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      A super-stretched Lambda II would make a fine Escalade, I think.

    • 0 avatar
      MrRams27

      Nope. GM confirmed they will be renewing all of their GMT900 platform mates for at least one more life cycle. And besides, full-size SUVS and pick-ups usually soldier on for 6-7 year cycles. GM is on track with their usual SUV cycle. The GMT800s were around from ’00-’06, seven model years. GM stated the next-gen pickups and full-size SUVs would be released in 2013 which would end the GMT900 platform after seven model years. This is nothing new so just wait.

  • avatar
    anchke

    Is it my imagination, or are buyers of Escalades and Navigators required to be morbidly obese?

  • avatar
    Buckshot

    Look, a dinosaur.
    It will soon be extinct.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    This is an OK car.  Its kinda bouncy when not loaded up.  The engine sounds GREAT, like a cabin cruiser.  Deep and rumbly outside, silent inside.  The third row is really funny to watch adults get into – try and record it if u can, plenty of yucks!  I actually prefer the chevy one.  Its cooler looking and had most of the goodies this one has for alot less money. 

    I prefer driving small cars cause they are generally more fun.  Howeverr, if u got a lot of people and stuff to carry – especially if the road gets rough – you cant do much better.   So I rent one occasionally. Perfectt.

  • avatar
    MattPete

    Here is a picture of the cargo area of a Mazda5 with the third row up. It looks like it’s almost the same size as the Escalade’s cargo area:
     
    http://cars.about.com/od/mazda/ig/2008-Mazda5-photo-gallery/2008-Mazda5-cargo-bay.htm

    • 0 avatar
      prattworks

      Good point.  People who buy these things because they ‘need’ the cargo area never really measure the usable cargo area.  Nor do the interior dimensions live up to the exterior size.  With the giant, thick la-z-boy seats and thick door panels, the interior dimensions are quite modest.

  • avatar
    prattworks

    Reality check: 14 mpg EPA combined mileage.  At $4.00 a gallon, it would cost $120 to fill the tank.  Historically, driving a premium luxury car was an expression of wealth, style, sophistication.  Somewhere along the line it’s become an act of aggression.  Extreme weight, size, thirst and intimidation is now the order of the day.  How long can this ridiculous trend last?

  • avatar
    amca

    No, no.  Cadillac did at one time – I’m recalling this in ads for the nearly insane ’59 – market itself as “surprisingly economical”. It was clever marketing: emphasize that the basic car, the Series 62, was a sensible, well-engineered and economical machine.  It only added to the allure of the lavish de Ville cars.

  • avatar
    litespeed65

    There’s a sucker born every minute.
    Only toolbags with small wieners need apply. All it needs is a nice, large set of brass testicles hanging off its rearend!


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