Exterior Design **
According to several Jalopnik commenters, the new Escalade's blingtasticness and Range Rover rip-off sportholes identify its drivers as secret (at least to them) members of LAMIA: Look At Me I'm an Asshole. I consider that analysis uncharitable, unhelpful and only partially accurate. Although I continue to admire the restrained elegance of the donor Tahoe/Yukon, Caddy's "new" SUV is indisputably tacky — literally tacking-on chrome bits that add nothing but profit and, presumably, bragging rights. Although I can see beauty in a hideous vehicle that performs well (e.g., the Porsche Cayenne Turbo), my 'Slade time had the reverse effect.
The Escalade holsters a 6.2-liter V8 good for 403 horses and 417 ft.-lbs. of twist. No wonder Car & Driver clocks the Slade's zero to sixty sprint at 6.3 seconds. So why did our tester feel like a Jamaican tourist horse? Only a genuinely cruel kick in the sides could convince the beast to get a friggin' move on. On the highway, the 'Slade's lack of low-end grunt was positively alarming; the SUV only kicked-down after several inches of pedal travel, and then couldn't decide whether it needed one more [gear] for the road. Perhaps the engine wasn't broken in, or GM's engineers programmed the six-speed to eek-out every last possible mpg from the gas-guzzling mill.
Although the 'Slade's stoppers lack initial bite (it feels more like a gentle nip), from thence forwards the big rig's powerful and progressive anchors will haul this lumbering leviathan down from speed in less time than it takes for a Soccer Mom to say "oh shit" into her cell. The final cosmic accolade is withheld because hard stops were followed by the acrid odor of brake pads.
The 'Slade rolls on nominally optional double dubs (southwestern buyers who skin-flint on the shoes should check the wheel arches for illegal immigrants on a regular basis). Despite the fashion victim footwear, the Caddy's ride is only marginally lousy, transmitting every lump and bump to the rump. Although computer-controlled shocks have eliminated the FDT's (Floaty-Drifties), we're still talking about a seventeen-foot, ladder-framed, rigid rear-axled Old School truck. And that makes the 'Slade an automotive pantomime horse: over the rough stuff, the front end seems to want to detach from the rear.
What we have here is a failure to authenticate. Car & Driver reckon the new Escalade exhibits "moderate understeer;" I'm only willing to accept that pronouncement if we re-classify Osama Bin Laden as a "moderate" Muslim. Throw this barge into a bend, and the front end plows like an ox. A very BIG ox. What's worse, the seats offer no more lateral support than a Frisbee. At least the Escalade's brand faithful over-assisted steering makes it easy to wend the chrome-laden giant through a supermarket parking lot.
Replacing the Tahoe's four-speed shifter with a six-speed was a damn fine idean— in theory. In practice, as described above, there's no appreciable benefit — save the extra mileage at highway cruising speeds. Shifts are slurred with grace and dignity, but then you'd kinda hope that would be the case.
If you shell out the requisite readies, the optional stereo pumps out enough bass to do the Jurassic Park shaking water here-comes-that-bad-ass-dinosaur thing. Our tester lacked both sat navery and rear-seat DVDitiude. A stripped down Escalade for 60 large? No deal.
There was everything to play for in this category, but nothing to play with. Even a Dodge Caliber comes with a refrigerated glove box these days. But no, there's no whizzery whatsoever — unless a power liftgate and remote start (both of which are available on the Tahoe) gets your Geek on. In fact, it's worse than that. The Slade's steering wheel isn't even motorized. There's no iPod or Bluetooth capability. Hell, there's not even a one-touch window-up function. GM should've hired a serious pimp; know what I'm sayin'?
Wanna schlep a little? Perform a chiropractic extraction on the "we don't do flat" third-row waybacks. You want to schlep a lot? The second row's gotta go. Poor packaging has a new poster child.
Overall ** 1/2
[by Robert Farago]
Jalopnik Reviews: 2007 Cadillac Escalade (AWD), Part 1 [internal]