2012 Cadillac Escalade

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2007 Cadillac Escalade Review

This 2007 review is representative of model years 2007 to 2014.
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
Rating: 8

Bottom Line:

The new-generation Cadillac Escalade is much improved in most respects.
Pros:
  • Nicely redesigned
  • Powerful
  • Comfortable
Cons:
  • Front seats need more support
  • Low fuel economy
  • Little cargo room with third seat in upright position

Cadillac never sold cars with as many features as its redesigned 2007 Escalade SUV, even during the decades when it dominated the luxury-car market after World War II.

The Escalade has gotten lots of star-studded exposure on such outlets as MTV since it arrived in 1999 and received continual refinements since then. But the early 2007 model is a big improvement over its predecessors.

Advances include fresh, attention-getting styling, more power, added features and a hugely improved interior.

Evolutionary styling makes this new Cadillac immediately recognizable as an Escalade. But it features a larger chrome grille and looks more elegant. It's about 4 inches longer and a bit wider and taller, with a wider track and improved body panel fittings. The leather-upholstered interior is far more opulent than the old one, which never was all that good.

More Competition
The Escalade may do better than its predecessors in money-no-object celebrity circles, although it has more competition from upscale SUVs such as the Range Rover and Mercedes-Benz GL450.

You can sell only so many Escalades to image-conscious rappers, athletes, music industry icons, movie stars and what once were called "jet setters."

However, with more going for it, the new Escalade promises to have wider appeal in the mass affluent market. Many are bought by folks who want its roominess and towing abilities, besides its prestige—although high gasoline prices and a move to smaller SUVs and crossover vehicles might hurt it in the long run.

Estimated city fuel economy remains a dismal 13 mpg and premium fuel is recommended, but highway fuel economy has inched up to 19 mpg. That's nothing to phone home about, but it compares to 17 mpg highway for the 2006 Escalade. Nearly 20 mpg on highways isn't bad for such a big, powerful SUV.

Impressive Power
And such power! The Escalade's 6.2-liter V8 kicks out 403 horsepower in the all-wheel-drive version I tested and replaces a smaller 345-horsepower V8. (The 2007 rear-wheel-drive trim level reportedly has 380 horsepower.)

The Escalade weighs 5,665 pounds, but all that horsepower and 417 pound-feet of torque make it smooth and swift (0-60 mph in 6.5 seconds.)

Modern Transmission
The V8 has new variable-valve timing for better responsiveness and works with a slick new 6-speed heavy-duty automatic transmission that's a big improvement over the old-style 4-speed automatic in the 2006 version.

This new Caddy starts in a Base trim level with rear-wheel drive or an all-wheel-drive system that lacks low-range gearing but is competent during off-road driving that's not too rugged. There also are higher-line EXT and ESV versions with only all-wheel drive. (The EXT is a plush 4-door pickup truck.) List prices range from $53,850 to $58,805.

Loaded With Equipment
There's a seemingly endless amount of standard comfort, convenience and safety equipment. Consequently, there isn't a boatload of options. But a navigation and rearview camera package costs $2,495 and a rear-seat DVD entertainment system is $1,295.

A power sunroof will set buyers back $995, and a $625 Climate package has heated/cooled front seats with a heated steering wheel.

Standard safety features include side-curtain airbags with rollover deployment and an anti-skid system.

Roomy
The Base and ESV have three rows of seats and can handle seven adults—or eight with a optional second-row bench seat. The third-row seat is too low and flat to be as comfortable as the first two rows of seats, but can handle two to three fairly tall adults.

Cargo room behind the third-row seat has been improved, but there still isn't much of it unless you flip the seat forward or remove it.

It helps to be a little athletic when entering or leaving the tall Escalade. There's no entry assist handle for the driver, so he or she often must grab the steering wheel to help get aboard—a move that's not easy on that wheel.

Large chrome door handles and the running boards are helpful—if rather narrow. Reaching the third-row seat is fairly easy if the Escalade has second-row twin bucket seats because there is a fairly wide aisle between them. Otherwise, the second-row split-folding bench seat, offered for $425 with power assist, can easily be tumbled entirely forward for third-row access.

Big, Flashy Wheels
My test $56,405 all-wheel-drive version of the base Escalade came with optional 22-inch chrome wheels. They cost $2,995 and are the largest on any production test vehicle I recall ever driving.

Eighteen-inch wheels are standard. But, the larger the wheels, the better for style reasons with today's SUVS and some cars. Cadillac knows that if it doesn't offer flashy 22-inch wheels, many aftermarket suppliers will be happy to do so. Caddy thus is staying right the curve here.

Better Ride and Handling
The Escalade's frame is nearly 50 percent stiffer for better ride and handling, and there's a new front suspension and reworked rear suspension. Also, brakes are larger and have a linear pedal action for smooth stops.

Steering is greatly improved, and the new Escalade delivers a very smooth ride with its sophisticated Road Sensing Suspension, although the best ride is without the 22-inch wheels.

General handling and maneuverability in traffic are very good. The Escalade is easy to handle, although a first-time driver might initially be intimidated by its size. Power adjustable pedals and a manual tilt (but not powered or telescopic) steering wheel help allow a comfortable driving position for motorists of various sizes.

Posh Interior
The backlit gauges can be quickly read, although their blue needles seem more stylish than functional. There are soft-touch, low-gloss materials in the quiet, luxurious interior, besides aluminum, leather and wood-like materials.

The front bucket seats are large and comfortable, but offer little support in curves. Some controls are rather low, and there are no express-up front power windows. On the plus side, the covered front console bin can swallow fairly heavy objects and front door pockets are roomy.

Facilitating loading is a power two-piece tailgate, which has a hefty pull-down strap if you're rushed and want to beat the power-assist feature when closing it.

The new Escalade has plenty of features to allow it to remain a solid impact player, and its added glitz should help. But it's entering a much tougher game than it did in 1999. Only time will tell if it remains a top scorer.

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BB06 - 9/21/2014 7:43:33 AM