A New York minute with the 2007 Cadillac Escalade EXT

Anyone who knows me wouldn't ever think I would want climb into an Escalade, let alone the Cadillac truck that is the Escalade EXT. One look at me and you might pin me for the euro-import freak that I am. But deep down, somewhere inside my American psyche lies this desire for a White Diamond Cadillac Escalade EXT. There is no justification for it, although I could always spin it as a need for a tow vehicle to pull my toy box camper with an Ariel Atom 2 in the back. That's a blatant fantasy, but we can all aspire to something, right?

Anyway, in the world of the luxo-truck, Cadillac is head and shoulders above Lincoln and their badge engineered F-150 (sorry Ford, but you know it's true). This is exceedingly apparent when you pull the EXT's chrome wrapped door handle. As soon as you climb into the driver's seat of the Escalade, you feel instantaneously underdressed, and your wrist looks very naked, like it needs a diamond-encrusted watch. The interior is hands down the most elegantly designed interior that you will ever find in production pickup truck. It is all exclusive to the Cadillac line and is not shared with any other full-size GM SUV. The unique-to-Escalade instrument panel has a refined time-piece quality about it. It features white-LED illuminated dial and needles, with the latter featuring illuminated cobalt blue accent stripes.

Even the steering wheel gets special treatment with a wood rim on the outside edge facing the driver, to give your palms the luxury of a wood wheel without compromising the leather grip available to your finger tips. Don't let that rim fool you, or the Escalade's large and in charge presence, the wheel on this Caddy isn't a tiller for any large nautical vessel. The seating position might be high, and the rest of the truck might seem massive, but it is surprisingly maneuverable and any body motions are well controlled. You feel like you're driving the Escalade EXT and it's not driving you. And the 6.2L aluminum V8 provides a satisfying 403 horsepower and 417 ft-lb of torque. All that power is channeled through an all new 6-speed automatic transmission. Put the truck in drive and the back up camera will pop on warning you to watch for pedestrians who might be within firing range if you choose to toast the tires on the optional 22-inch wheels.

We did not get a chance to run our own test numbers, but by the seat of our pants, this Cadillac zigs. In fact, the entire package is deceptively fast. Eighty miles per hour comes up very fast at full tilt, and the only noise from the inside is the subdued roar of the General's latest generation truck V8. If you have a decent amount of self-control, it may be possible to get the 13/19 mpg EPA-rated fuel economy in the Escalade EXT. Those EPA numbers seem about right for a vehicle of this size. Whether you choose to cruise or romp around town, it's when you step out of the Escalade that you realize the vehicle feels a lot smaller behind the wheel than it is.

From the exterior, you would never mistake the Escalade EXT for anything other than a Cadillac. The new fascia is inspired by the Sixteen concept vehicle, as well as the chrome front fender vents. This truck oozes class and attitude in amounts that make you strangely proud to be an American, albeit with a touch of guilt over your own extravagance.

If this seems like your idea of a luxury truck, head over to Cadillac's website (http://www.cadillac.com/cadillacjsp/model/gallery.jsp?model=ext&year=2007) and build one for yourself (trust me, I have).

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