The Escalade is offered in three distinct models; the standard Escalade is a full-size sport utility sharing the same architecture (and roughly the same dimensions) as the Chevy Tahoe. The Escalade ESV is the Suburban-sized model, sharing the latter's architecture. Finally, the Escalade EXT is a sport utility/pickup combination that quickly converts from a pickup with an enclosable eight-foot bed to a five-passenger luxury vehicle, basically, Cadillac's interpretation of the Chevy Avalanche. All three feature a high-performance, 403-hp 6.2-liter V8 mated to a six-speed automatic transmission that includes manual shift control (a rarity in this class). The standard Escalade comes with rear-wheel drive or optional all-wheel drive while the ESV and EXT come only with all-wheel drive.
Built on GM's robust new full-size truck platform, the Escalade, ESV and EXT make excellent tow vehicles. At the same time, they're roomy and luxuriously appointed, letting them haul family or friends or business associates in real comfort. The 6.2-liter V8 supplies serious power for surprisingly quick acceleration, along with strong torque for towing. On the road, all three Escalades are smooth and stable, nicer in ride than base Tahoe or Suburban models but taut and well-controlled (by full-size SUV standards) for surprisingly good handling.
The standard Cadillac Escalade is available with two-wheel drive and all-wheel drive. The high-output 6.2-liter V8 engine comes standard on all models, including the rear-wheel drive Escalade (53,850) and the all-wheel drive Escalade ($56,405). They come standard with a six-speed automatic transmission with manual shift control, 18-inch alloy wheels, and the Autoride suspension.
Standard features include leather upholstery, leather-wrapped steering wheel with genuine wood trim, aluminum and faux wood interior trim, Bose 5.1 Digital Surround Sound audio with AM/FM/6CD/SAT, power adjustable pedals, power windows, power locks, fog lamps, remote vehicle starting, rear climate control, six-passenger seating configuration, third-row bench seat, heated first and second row seats, XM Satellite Radio, Ultrasonic rear park assist and heated windshield washer fluid.
Escalade ESV ($57,935) and Escalade EXT ($52,815) feature all of the above and come standard with the all-wheel drive. ESV features an additional 14 inches of wheelbase and 19.5 inches of additional length, greatly enhancing third-row seat legroom and rear cargo space. The Escalade EXT deletes the third-row seat in favor of a lined, lockable and enclosable pickup bed with manually folding midgate and removable rear window.
Options on Escalade models include the Climate Package ($625), which includes heated steering wheel, heated and cooled front seats; the Information Package ($2,495), which includes IntelliBeam automatic headlights, the navigation system with rearview camera; the rear-seat entertainment system ($1,295); a second-row bench seat (n/c); engine block heater ($50); power folding second-row bucket seats ($425); power sunroof ($995); 22-inch wheels ($2,995); 18-inch chrome wheels ($795); White Diamond exterior color ($995).
Safety features on all Escalade models include anti-lock four-wheel disc brakes and an electronic stability control system called Stabilitrak with rollover sensing. Passive safety features include front seat belts with pretensioners and load-limiters, dual front air bags and side curtain air bags that span all three rows of seats. Tire pressure monitors are also standard.
All models also come with the Generation 6 OnStar system (with a one-year Directions and Connections service plan). The system includes the General Motors Advanced Automatic Crash Notification system, making crash data available to emergency services to potentially dispatch the appropriate life-saving personnel and equipment to crash scenes faster. If the vehicle is in a crash that activates an air bag, the OnStar system automatically notifies an OnStar Advisor, who will check on the occupants or summon emergency help if necessary. OnStar also can assist authorities in locating a vehicle if it is reported stolen (though its ability to locate stolen vehicles varies with conditions).
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