2009 Escalade EXT New Car Test Drive
The Cadillac Escalade is big and powerful, capable of towing trailers of 7600 to 8300 pounds. In its most popular configuration, the Escalade seats seven. It's a stylish truck, with a bold yet smooth, integrated, sculpted look.
Built on GM's full-size truck platform and equipped with a 403-horsepower 6.2-liter V8, the Escalade, ESV, and EXT make good tow vehicles. They share their platforms with the Chevy Tahoe, 1500-series Suburban and Silverado, as well as the GMC versions.
The 2009 Escalade Hybrid is notably easier on fuel than the standard Escalade, with EPA ratings of about 20 mpg.
New for 2009 is the Platinum version with every amenity Cadillac offers, including color-contrast-stitched Tehama leather with French seams and embroidered logos, a heated steering wheel, heated and cooled cupholders, multiple DVD entertainment systems, and LED headlamps.
Also new for 2009 are a Side Blind Zone Alert system to warn of vehicles in potential blind spots, the latest 8.0 version of OnStar, XM NavTraffic with real-time traffic advisories, a light cashmere/cocoa interior color scheme, power-tilt steering wheel, automatic up/down front windows (very handy for toll-booths and drive-thrus), and rear seat audio jacks. Mechanically, the 6.2-liter V8 can now run on E85 (EPA 11 combined) and Escalades with 22-inch wheels get Magnetic Ride Control automatic suspension damping.
The Escalade offers comfort and convenience features of a luxury sedan, including automatic climate control, navigation, rear camera, a premium Bose sound system, ultrasonic parking assist, power adjustable pedals, and heated leather seats. DVD entertainment systems and a moonroof are optional.
Escalade comes in three body styles: Escalade, ESV, and EXT. The standard Escalade is a full-size sport utility sharing the same architecture and roughly the same dimensions as the Chevy Tahoe; it's the only one offered as a hybrid. The Escalade ESV is a long-wheelbase version, similar to the Chevy Suburban. The Escalade EXT is a combination five-passenger luxury SUV with a short bed; it is Cadillac's version of the Chevy Avalanche and was characterized by a leading truck magazine as better as a Cadillac than a pickup.
All Escalades are roomy and luxuriously appointed, letting them haul family or friends or business associates in real comfort. The engine supplies serious power for surprisingly quick acceleration. On the road, all Escalades are smooth and stable. They ride smoother than a standard Tahoe or Suburban; but are at the same time taut and well-controlled for surprisingly good handling by full-size SUV standards.
The Cadillac Escalade is a full-size sport utility vehicle. All models except the Hybrid are powered by a 403-hp 6.2-liter V8 engine. Also standard are a six-speed automatic transmission, 18-inch alloy wheels, and Autoride (Road Sensing) suspension.
The Escalade is available with rear-wheel drive ($61,595) or all-wheel drive ($64,145). Standard features include leather upholstery (all three rows); three-zone climate control; DVD navigation with rearview camera; Bose 5.1 surround sound, XM radio and NavTraffic; Bluetooth; rear park assist; power liftgate; 14-way power heated front seats; driver memory; adjustable pedals; 50/50 split removable third-row seats; power tilt wood-and-leather-wrapped steering wheel; HID headlamps; heated, power folding mirrors; rain-sensing wipers; roof rack; running boards; and trailer hitch and wiring.
Options include rear roof-mounted DVD entertainment ($1,295), 60/40 split-rear bench seat with heaters outboard (no charge), chrome wheels ($795), block heater ($75), moonroof ($995), and the Ultra Luxury Collection ($6,035) with heated/cooled front seats, heated steering wheel, power fold-tumble second row seats, moonroof, automatic high beams, Side Blind Zone Alert, power retractable running boards, 22-inch wheels, Magnetic Ride Control.
The Escalade ESV is available in 2WD ($64,200) and AWD ($66,700). The ESV is 20 inches longer than the regular Escalade on a 14-inch longer wheelbase, which aids ride, third-row room, and nearly triples the cargo space behind the third row seats. Middle passengers get windows that roll all the way down. ESV equipment and options are the same as the standard Escalade, except the rear entertainment system is $1,895 because it has two roof-mounted screens.
The Escalade EXT ($60,520) is a sister vehicle to the Chevrolet Avalanche, with a pickup profile and five-seat cabin using ESV rear side doors. A removable window and Midgate behind the rear seat make for versatile hauling options, including a pair of dirt bikes, 101 cubic feet of lockable space, or 4x8 building materials in a weather-tight enclosure. The EXT does not offer bucket rear seats, so the Ultra Luxury Collection is $5,100; otherwise EXT comes with or offers everything of the basic Escalade.
Escalade Hybrid (2WD $72,525; 4WD $75,075) shares technology with the Tahoe/Yukon two-mode Hybrids; the basic architecture is also used by BMW and Chrysler. They are equipped much like the standard Escalade with the Ultra Luxury Collection. The Hybrid uses a 60/40 split rear bench only since the battery pack is underneath it.
Atop the range are the Platinum editions (Escalade 2WD $80,725; Escalade AWD $83,225; ESV 2WD $83,280; ESV AWD $85,780, Hybrid 2WD $83,985, Hybrid 4WD $86,485). These include everything from the standard Escalade and Ultra Luxury Collection, plus upgraded aniline leather with French seams, color-contrast stitching and the Cadillac logo embroidered in the front seats. Additional leather is used for trim on the dash, center console, and doors, complemented by unique wood and aluminum trim, door sills and floor mats. Platinum models also include LED headlamps, heated and cooled cupholders, and an independent DVD entertainment screen in each front seat headrest in addition to the one overhead. A block heater for very cold climates is optional.
Safety features on all Escalade models include anti-lock four-wheel disc brakes with EBD and Brake Assist; 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 and OnStar 8.0 are also standard. Side airbags are not available.