I didn't feel like Puff Daddy drivin' this Caddy. Didn't feel much like a pro athlete, either.
The top-dog Escalade ESV Premium Edition, glossier, pricier and more loaded up with excess than run-of-the-mill Escalades, didn't compel me to crank up the bass on the monster sound system or roll past da club on its 20-inch chrome rims.
No, slouched behind the wheel in a black leather jacket, I felt like a whole different piece of pop culture. I felt like Tony Soprano. Yo, I'm drivin' over here.
This looks a lot like the Escalade that the mob boss drove in the last season of The Sopranos. That's after he flipped his black Escalade while dodging a raccoon. So it goes.
New for 2005, the Premium has everything. And more. Based on the eight-seat Chevy Suburban-size Escalade ESV, which is 22 inches longer than the standard Escalade, the Premium edition adds a wealth of features. Those include such goodies as a Bose premium audio system with six-CD changer and nine speakers, XM satellite radio, an entertainment system with two video screens, DVD navigation system, upgraded luxury interior with burl walnut trim, heated and cooled cup holders and those 20-inch wheels, the largest factory rims installed on a sport utility vehicle.
All standard, all for about $70,000. Yeah, that's a lot.
Whatever, it was a classy ride for the holiday season, just the thing for loading up family and friends for a Christmas light cruise. There's much to be said for the lap of luxury.
What it is A rolling palace loaded with opulent trim and features, the popular Escalade continues its upward climb. It also is a nice-driving truck despite its considerable size and heft.
The Platinum Edition comes only one way, fully loaded. The list of standard equipment runs more than four typewritten pages.
Performance "The world's most powerful full-size sport utility," Cadillac boasts about Escalade, which is hard to dispute among the small cadre of competitors. A 6-liter, 345 horsepower V-8 with 380 pound-feet of torque provides the motivation, making even this 6,000-pound mammoth feel lively.
Gas mileage, naturally, is paltry, estimated by the EPA at 13 city and 17 highway. A 31-gallon tank helps, but the fuel consumption still comes around to excess and waste.
A four-speed automatic transmission comes standard, while many high-end brands offer five- and even six-speed automatics that improve performance and fuel mileage. The Cadillac transmission does shift with smooth competence.
Drivability The soft-riding suspension and drive system is strongly enhanced with electronic features, including full-time all-wheel drive; self-leveling air suspension; Stabilitrac, which is Cadillac's excellent anti-skid program; road-sensing suspension, which adjusts shock-absorber response to terrain; traction control; and four-wheel anti-lock brakes.
All put together, the electronics help Escalade drive and handle with remarkable finesse, although cornering this high-profile heavyweight stills feel ponderous. Overall, the engineers have done a great job in smoothing out the rough edges of Suburban for the gentry.
Naturally, highway performance is great, the big, cushy land yacht rolling with seamless grace with the coddled passengers insulated from the world rushing by.
Towing capacity is a hefty 7,300 pounds, about 400 pounds less than the standard Escalade ESV.
Styling You either love these things or hate them. Escalade scored an unexpected bull's eye with the youthful bling-bling crowd, along with the older generation of high rollers, which has enhanced Cadillac across the board and lowered the average age of its customers.
Along with Escalade's regular bold and brassy style, the Premium Edition adds a chrome grille, those huge chrome wheels and a slightly lowered stance.
Some will think it's classy, others will deem it gauche.
Interior New for 2005 on all Escalades is a revamped instrument cluster that looks brighter and fresher than the old one, which looked like a GM parts-bin refugee.
The interior of the Platinum is lavishly appointed with plenty of chrome trim and rich-looking burl walnut and a nicely designed center console that's a huge improvement over the regular Escalade's.
Leather, wood and a plethora of features, including a two-screen video system and an awesome Bose sound system. No disappoints here.
Some other features from the lengthy list: OnStar communications system; XM radio with 120 channels ranging from bluegrass to comedy; power sunroof; power adjustable pedals; tri-zone climate control, for each of three rows of seats; ultrasonic backup assist, which warns you if you're going hit something in reverse. Well, you get the picture.
Pricing This is simple: $69,535, plus a steep $850 for shipping, buys the whole shebang at a total of $70,385.
Actually, I'd be hard-pressed to think of a feature the Platinum Edition doesn't have already. Maybe a sauna.
The test truck was nearly $12,000 more than the fully equipped Escalade ESV (non-Platinum) that I drove last year.
Bottom line For people who think the regular Escalade is just not up to snuff, here's the total package of luxury and technology. Just the thing for the well-heeled mob boss or hip young urban millionaire.
Cadillac Escalade ESV Platinum Edition Vehicle type: Seven-passenger, four-door sport utility vehicle, all-front-wheel drive.
Base price: $69,535.
Price as tested: $70,385.
Engine: Six-liter V-8, 345 horsepower at 5,200 rpm, 380 pound-feet of torque at 4,000 rpm.
Transmission: Four-speed automatic.
Wheelbase: 130 inches.
Curb weight: 5,933 pounds.
Towing capacity: 7,300 pounds.
EPA mileage: 13 city, 17 highway.
Highs: _ Every feature imaginable _ Luxury interior _ Superior drivability
Lows: _ Pricey _ Paltry gas mileage _ Over-the-top image