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Expert Reviews 1 of 2
By Jim Flammang
August 27, 2003
Vehicle Overview Cadillac expanded its sport utility vehicle lineup to three models when it added the Escalade ESV, which was introduced during the 2003 model year. Not only is this the largest full-size luxury SUV on the market, but its also the biggest Cadillac ever produced. Measuring 22.5 inches longer than the regular Escalade, the ESV provides more than 20 additional inches of interior length.
According to Cadillac General Manager Mark LaNeve, the ESV is aimed at successful, status-driven, forward-thinking individuals and is made for buyers who appreciate bold styling and ingenious technology. The Escalade ESV is built in Mexico, and it competes against such vehicles as the Land Rover Range Rover, Lexus LX 470, Lincoln Navigator and Mercedes-Benz G-Class. But the ESVs dimensions put it in a class by itself.
An ESV Platinum Edition joins the lineup for 2004; it features 20-inch chrome-aluminum wheels and a premium interior that includes an ebony and shale dashboard, shale leather upholstery and pleated door panel bolsters. A dual-screen DVD entertainment system and a navigation system are installed.
In addition to a 345-horsepower V-8 engine, the ESV has full-time all-wheel drive and GMs StabiliTrak electronic stability system. Technical features include a Road Sensing Suspension System, Ultrasonic Rear Parking Assist and GMs OnStar communication system. XM Satellite Radio, a trailering package and a tire-pressure monitor become standard in the 2004 model year.
Cadillac notes that the ESV shares the same bold exterior design and commanding road presence as the regular Escalade. High-intensity-discharge headlights flank an eggcrate grille. The front fascia incorporates recessed tow hooks and rectangular fog lamps.
Chrome badging features the Cadillac wreath-and-crest insignia. Signature seven-spoke chrome-aluminum wheels hold 17-inch tires. Power folding and heated mirrors are equipped with turn-signal indicators. A functional step bumper at the rear shrouds a Class VII trailer hitch. The Escalade ESV rides a 130-inch wheelbase, measures 221.4 inches long overall, stands 75.7 inches tall and has a ground clearance of 10.7 inches.
Depending on the ESVs seating configuration, either seven or eight people will luxuriate on soft, aromatic Nuance leather seating surfaces. The front bucket seats have 10-way power adjustment, power-adjustable side bolsters, power lumbar and seatback recliner controls, and independently heated seatbacks and cushions. The second-row bucket seats have heated cushions, and customers may choose a bench seat for this row. The third-row bench seat folds down and may be removed to increase cargo capacity.
Power-adjustable brake and accelerator pedals include a memory feature. The premium Bose audio system includes a six-CD changer. A Bulgari-designed analog clock adds a luxurious touch.
Under the Hood
The Escalade ESVs 6.0-liter V-8 engine generates 345 hp and 380 pounds-feet of torque; it mates with a four-speed-automatic transmission. Full-time all-wheel drive is standard.
Dual-stage front airbags, a passenger-sensing system and side-impact airbags for the front seats are installed. Daytime running lights are standard.
Despite the ESVs massive dimensions, engine response is quite vigorous and the automatic transmission is well behaved. The suspension is on the soft side, but the ESV handles with a reasonable degree of confidence. Visibility is terrific because of the massive glass area. The second-row seats are especially comfortable and grant ready access to the back row.