Machine Design

2007 Cadillac Escalade EXT

The all-wheel-drive 2007 Cadillac Escalade EXT is two vehicles in one.

The all-wheel-drive is two vehicles in one. It's a full-size luxury SUV for nights out on the town. And it's a pickup truck for towing and hauling heavy loads. Weighing a hefty 5,838 lb, the mammoth EXT measures 79.1-in. wide, 222.4-in. long, and stands 74.5-in. high. The vehicle was even taller with its optional 22-in. chrome aluminum wheels shod with massive rubber. A wide stance, steeply raked windshield, and huge egg-crate grille give an imposing, regal look.

Our tester came in "Quicksilver," nicely accented by the glittering Cadillac logos adorning the grille and tailgate. A feature I particularly like: the headlights shine through a transparent logo inside them. It seems a cleverly subtle way to reinforce brand image. Unfortunately, the EXT's front and back ends are similar in shape and size, which makes the truck seem to be coming and going at the same time when viewed from the side.

Sitting in the driver's seat so far above the road made me feel like royalty surveying my kingdom. But the vehicle's size makes parking in town difficult. You have to search for extra-large parking spaces, or go to the outskirts of lots. Also, the truck is too tall to fit in many residential garages, mine included. Luckily, our tester came with an optional rearview camera that displays a color image on the center-console screen of what's behind the vehicle. This made backing down my narrow driveway much easier as I was less worried about crashing into the neighbor's fence.

On a trip to Pennsylvania, the SUV accelerated up and down hills surprisingly fast and easy, thanks to the 6.2-liter V8 Vortec all-aluminum engine, which cranks out 403 hp and 417 lb-ft of torque. And shifting is smooth. The engine mates to a Hydra-Matic 6L80 heavy-duty, six-speed automatic transmission with adaptive-shift controls. Preprogrammed shifts stored in the transmission's computer make adjustments for such factors as heavy loads. A five-link rear suspension and coil-over-shock front one work well, even on gravel roads.

We didn't tow anything, but a quick glance at the manual shows the EXT can tow up to 7,600 lb, enough to pull, say, a small cabin cruiser. And 45.5 ft 3 of cargo area provides plenty of room to haul golf bags, hiking shoes, boxes of DVDs, tennis rackets, and picnic coolers. For even more cargo space, turn the SUV into a pickup with an 8-ft bed by folding the rear seat down, stowing the back window and bed cover, and lowering the midgate.

The EXT's interior makes driving comfortable. The 14-way power driver's seat put me squarely behind the wheel. A sleek and well-thought-out instrument panel sports easy-to-read gages with white numerals on a black background.

My biggest gripe: gas mileage. There was no rating given, but I averaged only about 15 mpg.

The base price of the EXT starts at $53,335. Chrome wheels, heated/cooled front seats, and the Quicksilver color brought ours to a whopping $61,320.

TAGS: Technologies
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