The Cadillac Escalade EXT is considered a sport utility truck, but I chose to call it the pickup truck. Let me be frank here; I hate (oh it feels so good to say a naughty something in e-space without little ears overhearing) pickup trucks, much to the dismay of my hubby, who loves the darned things. I find them ugly, loud and obnoxious, and categorize them as gas-guzzling testosterone machines. I realize that ours hauls everything from the rock in our yard, to furniture, to tile, to trees, to ... yada, yada, yada, the list goes on. But for these very isolated instances, can't we just borrow a truck from some other pickup truck lover?
Well, if your husband is like mine and you are like me, and you have run out of all possible tactics to ditch his pickup, maybe the Cadillac Escalade EXT is for you (assuming you can bring yourself to fork over $50,000 - $60,000 for it). Even though the Escalade EXT looks pretty pretentious to me (I mean, a Cadillac pickup truck seems like such a paradox, which is why clever people get paid the big bucks to label it an SUT), this behemoth is rather tame and likeable. That's especially true when you're in vacation mode. Initially, when tasked with loading a mountain of backpacks, oversized duffel bags, coolers, skis, tele-skis, snowboards, poles, a sled and a stroller into the car, I immediately start scheming about what or who will have to be left behind. To my surprise, I effortlessly shoved a week and a half worth of winter vacation gear for four into the humongous covered truck bed of the Escalade EXT. And we even managed to make room for Granny and her toppling luggage.
I know this sounds crazy, but one of my favorite features in the Escalade EXT was the lockable truck bed cover. This three-section cover is so easy to remove my 5-year-old figured it out even before I had a chance to tinker with it. I am completely amazed by its simplicity; all it takes is the turn of two handles, which releases each one of three sections. I marveled at the ease of lifting these thin, lightweight panels out, and that I could store them just about anywhere (including inside the truck bed). Depending on what I'm hauling (or, more accurately, what my husband is hauling), I can remove one, two or all three segments in a jiffy. As an added bonus, I even have the ability to fold down the midgate if I need to extend the truck bed into the cab. The only gripe I have with the truck bed is the rubber liner. When trying to slide my stroller into the bed I had a tug-of-war between the grippy bedliner and the even grippier stroller wheels. Some of my grippy oversized duffel bags didn't fare much better.
As for installing car seats in the Escalade EXT, good luck getting at the top-tether anchors. I could see them labeled at the bottom of the seats, but had no shot at getting to them. There's no room behind the rear seat (which is right up against the midgate), so how am I supposed to feed the tether over and around the headrest and back down to the anchor? Can anyone clear this up for me? The owner's manual seems useless on this one. My advice is to stick to the Latches, which are usable (and see-able), albeit still somewhat cumbersome to get your fingers around.
Seeing as it takes the big bucks to buy this monster, I was happy to see the plethora of amenities the Escalade EXT offers. A pickup truck with a heated steering wheel, a DVD player, a navigation system, a backup camera, heated and cooled seats, remote start, automatic bright lights (intellibeam) and lots of leather? That's a pickup I can live with.
With some minor changes, that is. I found the analog clock in the dash impractical, as I had to stare and squint to figure out what hour it was. (Four lines and a blank face might work for an elegant wristwatch, but definitely not for a vehicle and most certainly not for a family of big and little people all on completely different, time-sensitive schedules.) And as cool as the automatic running boards were for seemingly endless kid entertainment, I just couldn't figure out how to clean off the mud that accumulated during my test drive. Each and every time I closed the door they disappeared, so I ended up hosing them off cautiously with the door slightly ajar (surely a recipe for impending wet-dog smell).
Cadillac's Escalade EXT truly is the Cadillac of pickup trucks. Even I could get used to this versatile, stylishly comfortable SUT. If you want to haul in style without giving up on comfort and luxury, this SUT will allow you to do so in an eye-catching, mac-daddy, bling-bling, C-A-D-I-to-the-double-L-A-C sort of way. *For more information on the Cadillac Escalade EXT and its safety features, visit www.cars.com.
LET'S TALK NUMBERS
LATCH Connectors: 2
Seating Capacity (includes driver): 5
IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT
Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample
Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Galore
SENSE AND STYLE
Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Great - Excellent
Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove On): Good Times