- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 13, 2005

If I were rich and wanted a top-of-the-line sport utility vehicle, I’d buy a Cadillac Escalade ESV. And for showmanship, I’d get the Platinum model.

The test vehicle, the 2005 Platinum, cost $70,675. It had everything anyone could ever want. Anyone who is rich, that is, for the Escalade gets only 13 miles per gallon city, 17 mpg highway.

This full-size SUV seats seven (or eight) people very comfortably as it contains all the amenities expected of an expensive vehicle. For example, not only are the two front bucket seats heated and air-cooled, the second-row bucket seats also have that feature. In addition, the front seats have 14-way power, making it impossible not to find a personal comfort zone.

Cadillac boasts that this vehicle is the roomiest, most powerful full-size luxury SUV in the world. I have to agree, because I’ve never seen anything like it. The 20 extra inches of interior length means there is more than ample seating room — and cargo space. Usually vehicles with third-row seating haven’t enough room to carry everyone’s luggage. That is not the case with the Escalade. Or if there is need to haul cargo, there is more than 63 cubic feet with the second row seats folded down, and the third row removed.

This SUV is also capable of hauling a heavy load for it has a V-8, 345 horsepower engine. The ESV model can tow 7,700 pounds, the Platinum 7,300 pounds.

But using the Escalade for a workhorse is wrong. This beauty has such a luxurious interior, that it commands more respect. The ebony-and-shale dash panel, the shale leather seats and pleated door panel bolsters, burled walnut on the steering wheel seem to demand the soft glove treatment. These appointments are set off with bright chrome trim on the steering wheel, speaker covers and gauge cluster.

The Escalade has numerous thoughtful features. I don’t recall any vehicle that had heated and cooled cup holders. There are dual screens for rear entertainment with wireless headphones. Or, there’s a Bose premium sound system with a six-disc CD changer and nine speakers.

But I stayed tuned to my favorite XM Satellite radio station and didn’t make much use of the audio controls on the steering wheel.

I was exceptionally comfortable behind the wheel. The reasons: power adjustable pedals and the 14-way power seat controls. It was easy to climb aboard, and I never felt that I was driving a huge vehicle. Even though it was large, the Platinum was very easy to maneuver.

This SUV has all-wheel drive, and if I made a sudden swerve, Stabilitrak would have taken over and straightened me out. The ride was comfortable and with a road-sensing suspension, it always provided the best ride quality possible.

Nor does it have a noisy engine. Cadillac engineers have practically sound proofed the interior from unwanted road and wind noise. It even has a rear leveling control that works automatically. Had there been need, I could have used the DVD-based navigational system that operates with ease by using a touch screen rather than manipulating a toggle stick.

As expected of any high-priced vehicle, the Escalade has all the latest in the way of safety features with driver and front passenger side-impact airbags, plus advanced dual stage frontal airbags. But I didn’t get into any crash situations to test them. And the back-up monitor is very useful.

If I had been in an accident, it was reassuring to know OnStar could bring immediate aid if were injured. All things considered I’d definitely buy the Platinum — except I’m not rich.


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