MODEL: Cadillac Escalade
VEHICLE TYPE: Four-door SUV
PRICE-AS-TESTED: $47,990 2WD
PRICE-AS-TESTED: $49,990 4WD
MILEAGE: 12 city, 16 highway
Even with the rising fuel costs, the insatiable thirst for luxurious sport utility vehicles continues. There seems to be little or no decline in this desire in buyers wanting the biggest and the most luxurious, now or in the near future.
Cadillac has looked very closely at its place in the market and based on the overwhelming success of the present version Escalade, has redesigned and refined the Escalade for 2002. While the new Escalade resembles the basic form of the previous model, it receives an all-new body design that hints at what is to come from Cadillac.
The chiseled, angular body alludes to what future products that wear the Cadillac wreath and crest badge will look like. This cutting-edge design of the front-end signals a new beginning for Cadillac starting with this new and luxurious Escalade.
Hard angles, chiseled highlight lines on hood and fenders, combine with large front lighting systems, to give the Escalade an aggressively modern appearance. The large lighting system combines all front lighting into two single bezels anchoring the massive grille, which is the mounting point for the new modern-looking Cadillac wreath and crest emblem. This new badge symbolizes the progression of Cadillac as it moves into the new century.
Looks alone, so we are taught to believe, are not enough to sustain a relationship, and so it is with the Escalade. We must look deeper into the soul of the vehicle to see what beats beneath. Under the bold crest of this new Cadillac sits an engine that is a quiet rage waiting to burst into action. The optional redesigned V-8 engine is the most powerful available, at this writing, in a production sport utility.
Cadillac’s 6-liter engine produces a mammoth 345 horsepower and 350 foot-pounds of torque. Coaxing this kind of horsepower from an engine takes considerable finesse and patience. But, this persistence from engineers has produced an engine that is powerful, smooth and quiet. Refining, reworking and coddling the development of this big V-8 has helped Cadillac jump into the lead with the most powerful SUV.
Ford may have the largest, and BMW may have the fastest, but Cadillac has the most horsepower. For decades, Cadillac automobiles have represented the pinnacle of American luxury and the Escalade continues this legacy. The dashboard and instrument panel offer up a complement of gauges and controls, all in a manner that makes them easy to read and manipulate, while pleasing to look at.
Using the same basic design found on the General Motors truck lineup, promises that the business end of the Escalade is functional and capable, yet here projects a certain sophistication that makes an elegant statement. A large center console provides plenty of storage space, including versatile cup holders that really do hold a multitude of cup sizes.
The rich inlaid Zebrano wood trim accents the classic look of the analog clock added to remind you of the classic history Cadillac represents. High-tech gizmos are not here for advertising hype, but are incorporated to make the vehicle safer and more passenger friendly.
The Escalade has its share of beneficial high-tech advances, including Cadillac’s StabiliTrak electronic control system and GM’s OnStar communications system, where helpful information is just a touch of a button away. The new Escalade also comes equipped with Ultrasonic Rear Parking Aid, which signals with a progressively rapid repeating beep that indicates the closeness of an object or person behind the vehicle when shifted into reverse gear.
Early on, when I got a sneak peek of the new styling Cadillac was going to incorporate into its vehicle design, I had reservations. However, as I get to see the real, road-going vehicles, and more importantly get a chance to drive the first of the new crowd, I find myself with a much more positive attitude about the direction Cadillac designers are headed. I just hope they don’t make a wrong turn along the way.