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1999 Cadillac Escalade

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1999 Cadillac Escalade
Available in 1 styles:  Escalade shown
Asking Price Range
Estimated MPG

12 city / 16 hwy

Expert Reviews

    Expert Reviews 3 of 7
1999 Cadillac Escalade 4.5 2
$ 652-8,300
March 27, 1999

You may think a Cadillac truck is an oxymoron, but actually it's just a sign of the times.

Luxury sport-utility vehicles (SUVs) are growing faster than the stock market. Sales jumped from 35,258 in 1996 to 92,032 in 1997. The Lincoln Navigator, essentially a gussied-up version of the Ford Expedition, has been a big part of this boom, along with upscale models from brands such as Lexus, Mercedes-Benz and GMC.

Not wanting to stand idly by and watch sales go to competitors, and not having time to design a ground-up vehicle all its own, Cadillac turned to General Motors' existing inventory and created an SUV from the GMC Denali, a fancier version of the Yukon.

In went sumptuous leather seats, Zebrano wood trim, a Bose Acoustimass stereo, automatic four-wheel drive, a 5.7-liter V8 and General Motors' OnStar communications system.

Called the Escalade (pronounced es-kuh-laid), a Latin-derived word that means to climb or to scale, it took less than a year to come to fruition. The Escalade's exterior is nearly identical to the Denali, save for a large grille dominated by Cadillac's wreath and crest emblem. Clear-lens headlights give a jewel-like touch and the body-colored bumper has recessed tow hooks and fog lights. The roof luggage rack is painted body color, too.

Six-spoke, 16-inch chrome wheels carry large all-weather tires that are the perfect complement to a suspension tuned for the ultimate in plushness. The Escalade floats down the road, especially at high speeds, with a ride that is almost as cushy as a Cadillac sedan.

This vehicle is clearly not intended for serious off-road use, although it does have GM's Autotrac four-wheel-drive system. Autotrac is best described as a standby four-wheel-drive system that distributes power to the rear wheels until slippage occurs, at which time torque, or driving force, is transferred to the front wheels to balance traction needs.

This system is seamless in its operation and is especially useful in city driving in rain or snow. Of course, Four-Wheel High and Four-Wheel-Low can also be selected by buttons on the instrument panel as driving needs dictate.

The engine is a 5.7-liter V8 with 225 horsepower, but it is not the gem found in the Silverado or Sierra pickups. This engine makes decent power, but acceleration is fairly leisurely because of the vehicle's 5,527-pound curb weight. Sixty mph comes up in 10.5 seconds.

Brakes are disc in front and drum in back. Anti-lock is standard. Like the other GM vehicles built on this platform, they lack the kind of power and responsiveness needed for a vehicle of this weight.

Seats are the biggest difference between the Denali and the Escalade. Not only are these covered in glove-soft leather, they are wide, soft and heated, both front and rear.

The doors, center console and dash all have touches of Zebrano wood. Even the steering wheel has wooden sections.

The in-dash AM/FM/CD/cassette Bose stereo is excellent. A six -disc CD changer is mounted in the storage bin between the front seats. Rear-seat passengers can listen to their music. Separate controls are mounted on the back of the center console, while two sets of Sony earphones fit in the fold-down rear center armrest.

The storage bins flip-up lid has a clip on the underside for note taking. Around back, a split tailgate opens down for access to the luggage space. The top-hinged window allows loading small items without opening the whole tailgate.

The drawback to this kind of tailgate is that it forces you to lean across it to get things in and out of the back. The benefit is that it makes it possible to carry long items.

A window-shade cover keeps valuables covered. Folding down the back seat requires the removal of the headrests, which can be an aggravation. In time, Cadillac will surely develop an SUV that is unique to its division. Until that time, however, the Escalade gives it quick access to the rapidly growing luxury segm t of the market.

Price: The base price of our test vehicle was $45,875. All equipment was standard. With freight, the sticker price was $46,525. Warranty: Four years or 50,000 miles.

Point: Although the Escalade is essentially a GMC Denali, it has been outfitted with its own plush seats, soft leather and polished wood trim. Power everything is standard, as is OnStar, GM's cellular phone communications system.

Counterpoint: The 5.7-liter V8 could use more power, and the front-disc, rear-drum brakes need to be stronger.

ENGINE: 5.7-liter, V8
CONFIGURATION: Front-engine, four-wheel drive
WHEELBASE: 117.5 inches
CURB WEIGHT: 5,527 lbs.
BASE PRICE: $45,875
MPG RATING: 12 mpg city, 16 mpg hwy.

    Expert Reviews 3 of 7

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