I have never liked traveling to Monterey, CA. The picturesque coastal city is about 300 miles from my home in Los Angeles, which means cramped and uncomfortable regional aircraft are part of the equation when the turnaround is only one night. Over the years, I have cursed the LA Basin's bumper-to-bumper traffic en route to the airport, argued with TSA personnel over carry-on baggage and waited countless hours for the fog to lift just for the anguish of being packed into a small regional jet for the flight. Of course, the process repeats on the trip home with equal misery. Yet this time I am not suffering. Cadillac has dropped its all-new 2015 Escalade in my driveway. Instead of battling city congestion, attempting to reason with misinformed government agents, snacking on a too-small bag of pretzels and physically rubbing shoulders with a dubious stranger for 90-plus minutes within the confines of a bumpy aircraft, I have chosen to forgo air travel and drive myself door-to-door in a fullsize luxury sport utility vehicle. The trip should be less expensive, less stressful and it may even be quicker. Most importantly, if what Cadillac is saying about its all-new Escalade holds true, my drive will be more comfortable and unquestionably more enjoyable. Truth is, I have never been a big fan of the Escalade. Last year, if someone were to have asked me to drive an Escalade from Los Angeles to the Bay Area and back within 36 hours, I would have politely declined. Truth is, I have never been a big fan of the big luxury SUV. To me, it has always been an expensive, gussied-up Chevrolet Tahoe/Suburban or GMC Yukon – in my mind all are nothing more than light trucks with passenger bodies bolted on their frames. Their driving dynamics have always mirrored that architecture, too, meaning each felt big, heavy and isolated. To be more concise, none offered an enjoyable way for this driving enthusiast to pass the time. Yet the debut of the all-new 2015 Cadillac Escalade late last year piqued my interest. For the very first time, its attractive physical appearance captured my attention. Plus, I was curious about the automaker's claim that it was vastly different from its standard GM siblings in terms of cabin appointments and driving dynamics. When a planned trip to Monterey coincided with the new Escalade in my driveway, I hatched a quick plan; cancel the Bombardier CRJ-200, I would drive the Cadillac. My chariot arrived as a Dark Granite Metallic standard-wheelbase Escalade 4WD Luxury model, absent of factory-installed options. No worries, as its standard equipment list includes nearly every imaginable luxury appointment known to the automotive industry, with the exception of rear seat entertainment and a few electronic driving aids (e.g., radar-based cruise control), features offered on premium trims. A glance at the Monroney reveals an as-tested price of $79,290 including destination (costly, but a genuine bargain compared to the $23-million list price of the small jet that was scheduled …
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|MPG||15 City / 21 Hwy|
|Transmission||8-spd auto w/OD|
|Power||420 @ 5600 rpm|
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