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I don't pretend to "get" African American automotive culture. Replacing wheels and tires engineered for ride comfort and dynamic performance with double dubs wearing communion wafers makes about much sense to me as wearing shorts big enough for Siamese twins. By the same token, stunting and flossing strikes me something Joey Chitwood's agent should have sorted out with the American Dental Association. But hey, if the brothers love the artist formerly known as 'Sclade (currently known as "Slade"), I'm down with that. Love is a beautiful thing, even when it's completely misplaced.

The main mystery on my mind is what urban culture will make of the Slade's chromed side vents. Pistonheads will clock the Land Rover Range Rover Sport rip-off and immediately diss-miss the Caddy as an overpriced pretentious piece of crap, which is about as good a summary of Caddy's badge-engineered Tahoe/Yukon as you're gonna get. But will the street even recognize the porthole plagiarism? And if they do, will they give a shit? Lest we forget, there's Chrysler 300Cs with scissor doors out there, somewhere. In other words, does the new Slade get a free pass — props even — for a bit of chrome here and there and, well, just being a Caddy? Think of it this way...

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If potential buyers/taste makers focus their minds on just about anything other than snob value — ride quality (ladder-framed and truck-like), handling (understeer early and often), steering (assisted living never felt so numb), acceleration (the mileage seeking six-speed won't deliver thrust on demand, or kick down unless prodded), build quality (economy class vanity mirrors), packaging (a seventeen footer that seats four), fuel efficiency (single digits around town), cost ($64k for what?), competition (you name it), etc. — dealer gophers would spend a good part of their days wiping eleven-foot pole marks off 'Slade sheetmetal. But of course they don't, and probably won't, which saddens me.

When rap stars blessed the VW Phaeton parts bin engineering special called the Bentley Continental GT, they helped save a brand that deserved rescuing by buying a car that deserved buying. But the Escalade is a deeply cynical marketing exercise — a "value proposition" — that asks customers to pay through the nose for a half-hearted, corner-cutting, less genuine version of a relatively honest (and far more handsome) Chevrolet workhorse. Why would anyone want to reward that kind of corporate sarcasm?

Check it: if Caddy built a big, brand new, bling, bad-ass SUV stocked with every power function known to mankind (including power-up windows and steering wheel fer Chrissake), stocked with 12 TVs and a minibar, powered by a 7.0-liter V12 that sucked gas with Taylor Rainian abandon, I'd say bring it on! (Or something equally hip.) But they didn't. GM rushed their GMT-900 SUVs to market to try to mop-up enough easy money to keep the lights on. Only I can't help but think the easy money's gone. Fashion is fickle. And if it weren't for brand loyalists, this expensive, fuel-sucking truck would sink without a trace.

[by Robert Farago]

Related:
GM Reveals 2007 Cadillac Escalade [internal]