Asking Carbuzzard.com to drive the Cadillac Escalade is sort of like asking an Eskimo over to an Italian dinner. It’s not something he usually has but he’s able to appreciate it for what it is.
And what it is is the world’s favorite luxury sport-utility vehicle. That’s something of an oxymoron—the utility part, not the favorite—but if the concept of the Cadillac Escalade doesn’t resonate with you, well, you and Al Gore will be happy speeding along in your Prius. In the Escalade’s defense, however, we will point out that it has a maximum trailer towing capacity of 7,700 pounds, which is a lot of kayaks no matter how you measure it. And it does seat seven, more or less, and luxury, well, let’s talk about that.
If the 2007 Cadillac Escalade is any measure, General Motors could easily become known for its quality interiors. You may take for granted the “Nuance” leather seating and leather on central armrest and door panels, and that the woodgrain accents are genuine tree.
And never mind that the Escalade has distinctive interior design, including a dash with a different contour than its blue collar cousins, the Chevrolet and GMC Suburbans. Put aside for the moment that someone—i.e., Cadillac—has finally done the wood-trimmed steering wheel as it should be: the wood is only on the outside of the rim while the inside has leather and stitching for a good grip.
Furthermore, don’t consider either the Escalade’s obligatory analog clock with the art deco “9” and “3”—although why, please, don’t they use the same font on the instrument panel? And let’s not talk about the cool blue needles that sweep their full range on startup.
What impressed us was the quality in terms of how well everything fits, lines up properly and looks terrific. Which obviously it should in a car with a base price of $56,775 for our test 2007 Cadillac Escalade AWD which, spec’d as ours was, at $66,380.
It should also look darn good as well, and our test Escalade, painted “Quicksilver,” looked like a wedding cake, except with wheels and no bride and groom on top. It defined the word—we have to use it—“bling” in its previous iteration and now refines that, which is great for those who keep the aforementioned wedding cake in their garage.
Dynamically the 2007 Cadillac Escalade has a pleasant ride if a somewhat ponderous response to corners. Newton rules. The Escalade is powered by a 6.2-liter version of the 6.0-liter V-8 used in the full-size Chevrolet and GMC sport utes, and with 403 horsepower and 417 lb-ft of torque, it’s capable of angry bull launches despite its considerable heft: 5,665 All-American pounds.
Fortunately Cadillac engineers (with the permission of the suits, no doubt) distilled a burbling V-8 throb at idle, with a hollow ring of a powerboat’s exhaust. If there’s a good reason for the (standard equipment) remote vehicle starter, that’s it. There’s no reason the driver shouldn’t be able to share in the big V-8 clearing its throat and rumbling awake. Just stand behind it and push the button.
The V-8 sings great with the throttle pedal down too. If only one could hear oneself go by. We recommend finding a tunnel or a long underpass and driving through with the windows down. It’s covered by the cost of admission. Get your money’s worth.
The shifter is unique. Mounted on the steering column, freeing space on the console, the quadrant of the Escalade’s shifter is “PRNDM.” The PRND—park, reverse neutral and drive—works like a normal automatic shifter. Move the lever to M, for “manual”, and the six speed automatic transmission can be shifted, well, manually, but by using a +/- rocker switch on the handle. Neatly covered in leather, by the way. And yes, we used it a lot, down shifting when slowing just to hear the pipes bubbling on the overrun.
There are no really bad seats but the front pair are best from a bum cosseting standpoint. The second row captain’s chairs are still comfy but business class instead of first. The third row, however, is well-upholstered steerage. The second row tilts and tumbles for access—not a joy even with the optional fold-out step. The cushion is only about six inches from the floor. Adults will assume the fetal position. But convince the kids it’s the cool place to ride and they’ll go back there just to get away from the adults.
With all seats up and available, however, the Cadillac Escalade’s cargo area is only 16.9 cubic feet. That’s “only” not that 16.9 cubic feet is small, it’s an “only” because 16.9 cubic feet is adequate for seven passengers only if all seven travel very very light. Of course, one could always mount a luggage carrier on the roof, but somehow “luggage carrier on the roof rack” and “Cadillac Escalade” don’t fit in the same sentence unless “redneck” is also in there somewhere. Drop the third row, however, and available cargo space measures 60.3 cubic feet and with both second and third row folded, cargo capacity jumps to108.9 cubic feet. Rated payload is 1,435 pounds.