Design Study: 2007 Cadillac Escalade

design study 2007 cadillac escalade

The first generation Escalade always conjured up the image of a cubist Joan Crawford with chrome lips. In fact, it was nothing more than a melted-nosed Suburban sprayed black (ditto the Denali). The second generation didn't fare much better, dubiously distinguishing itself as some incongruent amalgam of curvy and chiseled forms, chrome-plated into a creature from Mary Shelley's deepest somnambulatory nightmare. And now, for the sports stars finding themselves bored between criminal investigations, fines and/or sentencing; pop music glitterati caught in the interim between final music-video edits; and the rest (whose leases are up), we present to you the 2007 Cadillac Escalade.

Much has been written about Cadillac adding aesthetic audacity with each successive Escalade. Oddly enough, that statement doesn't apply to the new model's front end. Flying in the face of all things big, brash and American– literally– the 'Sclade's design team have displayed a stupefying level of taste and restraint. The 'stacked' headlamps which work to such truck-like effect on Cadillac's passenger cars seems perfectly suited here on – gasp! – a truck. The Caddy's grille, though marginally larger in size, actually uses less brightwork than the previous model. Yo bro'! Where's the fun in that?

This time around, the brute looks like most of the other pieces actually fit, not as if they were tortured to fit. Most, but not all. Caddy's blingmeisters attempted to disguise the Escalade's side mirrors Chevy parts-bin origins by chroming their lower portion. It's a clever (if obvious) touch– that still doesn't justify attaching a form as smooth as a river-rock onto a shape possessing not so much as a single curve (excepting the wheels and Cadillac crest). Besides, is this kind of thinly-disguised cost-saving measure really necessary at this price point? There's no good answer to that question…

Nor is there any logical reason for the Escalade's off-road equipment. Any idea that this urban whip's headed for four-wheeling– beyond accidentally jumping a moderately high curb in the snow– is immediately dispelled by the fog lights' placement in the basement. A titular SUV, this. Forgeddaboutit. Recline the Escalade's power seats, open the windows, blast the seismic bass, and get in tune with this truck's singularity of purpose. It's nothing more than lacquered and chromed coquetry on wheels. Ladies take note.

From the side, Cadillac owes a debt of shame to Land Rover's Range Rover Sport. The superfluous front quarter-panel vents are, at best, homage; at worst, they're intellectual thievery. Meanwhile, if the Escalade's sheer mass doesn't get your immediate attention, then the wheels will– and not in an entirely positive way. In other words, the person who devises a way to make a 13.6' disc brake NOT look like tic-tacs in the mouth of 22' chrome-plated seven-spokers deserves a job over at Caddy– and a prime spot in pimp heaven.

From the 'Sclade's side and the rear, one gets an unflattering view up the big Caddy's skirt, as it begins to betray its lesser genetics. The bone-straight glass area throws the look of the whole some favors, though platform sharing militates compromise. This thing comes at you like a bull and leaves with a meow. Where's the bold design statement from the rear? Did the interns handle that end? Granted, it's a tough line to tow. Let's say the overall image has matured…

The Escalade finally merits a truly distinct interior. The cabin is a bespoke, well-arranged affair that blends a stout dash design (that Mercedes foolishly abandoned at the end of the last century) with a bit of Lexus' minimalist chic. The fake wood accents are convincingly handsome (Zebrano anyone?). But the design stumbles badly with its razzle-dazzle, flavor-of-the-week electric blue indicator needles. And the chancre of platform sharing rears its puss-filled head in a major gaffe: a manually-tilting, NON-telescoping wheel. Power liftgate and manual-tilt wheel? It's unforgivably antediluvian at the thick end of $60-large.

The 'Sclade's a steal at dollars per inch. So why is such a potentially voluminous interior put to such poor use? Why the intrusive padding, moldings and roof pillars? Noise, vibration and harshness be damned; Caddy buyers rightly expect a cavernous interior. (If it sounds like one, so be it.) Third row legroom is strictly nominal. In fact, Cadillac might want to consider ditching the rear chairs entirely and take the Range Rover high-road (metaphorically, of course): accepting that four people travel in style. Anyone else is just… luggage. If Louis Vuitton ain't stitched across your rear, you DON'T want to be in the rear.

All in all, the new Cadillac Escalade is, without a doubt, the most visually forceful, convincing and desirable product from Cadillac in decades– which either says a great deal about GM's ability to build a good springboard sport/ute platform, or Cadillac's wholehearted abandonment of what made it famous in the first place.

Join the conversation
  • Islander800 That is the best 20-year-on update of the Honda Element that I've ever seen. Strip out the extraneous modern electronic crap that adds tens of thousands to the price and the completely unnecessary 400 pd/ft torque and horse power, and you have a 2022 Honda Element - right down to the neoprene interior "elements" of the Element - minus the very useful rear-hinged rear doors. The proportions and dimensions are identical.Call me biased, but I still drive my west coast 2004 Element, at 65K miles. Properly maintained, it will last another 20 years....Great job, Range Rover!
  • Dennis Howerton Nice article, Corey. Makes me wish I had bought Festivas when they were being produced. Kia made them until the line was discontinued, but Kia evidently used some of the technology to make the Rio. Pictures of the interior look a lot like my Rio's interior, and the 1.5 liter engine is from Mazda while Ford made the automatic transmission in the used 2002 Rio I've been driving since 2006. I might add the Rio is also an excellent subcompact people mover.
  • Sgeffe Bronco looks with JLR “reliability!”What’s not to like?!
  • FreedMike Back in the '70s, the one thing keeping consumers from buying more Datsuns was styling - these guys were bringing over some of the ugliest product imaginable. Remember the F10? As hard as I try to blot that rolling aberration from my memory, it comes back. So the name change to Nissan made sense, and happened right as they started bringing over good-looking product (like the Maxima that will be featured in this series). They made a pretty clean break.
  • Flowerplough Liability - Autonomous vehicles must be programmed to make life-ending decisions, and who wants to risk that? Hit the moose or dive into the steep grassy ditch? Ram the sudden pile up that is occurring mere feet in front of the bumper or scan the oncoming lane and swing left? Ram the rogue machine that suddenly swung into my lane, head on, or hop up onto the sidewalk and maybe bump a pedestrian? With no driver involved, Ford/Volkswagen or GM or whomever will bear full responsibility and, in America, be ambulance-chaser sued into bankruptcy and extinction in well under a decade. Or maybe the yuge corporations will get special, good-faith, immunity laws, nation-wide? Yeah, that's the ticket.