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Expert Reviews 3 of 15
By Jason Stein
June 3, 2002
Shine up your cowboy boots. Polish off your construction worker vest. And pull the black-tie over the off-road gear.You've got a new ride to the ranch. And we'll bet the ranch workers have never seen this before.Just when we thought we saw it
all in carpeted flatbeds, neon track lighting and leather bucket truck seats, along comes the ultimate excuse for excess.What do you get when you cross a Lincoln Blackwood and a Chevy Avalanche?A Cadillac SUT (sport utility truck), of
course.Long gone are the simple days when a Cadillac meant one thing: luxury boat.Add luxury boat hauler to the list. And luxury truck. And luxury SUV.The 2002 Cadillac Escalade EXT is the perfect vehicle for that burning desire in all of us:
the need to round up the cattle, and serve them caviar after.The flatbed has a brand-new badge. Will the world ever be the same? Will we ever get used to these crossover vehicles crossing over, and crossing over, and crossing over?The new Escalade
EXT is a two-in-one vehicle that can carry the family, or carry the lumber.My only question: Why?General Motors does a wonderful job building trucks. They also do a wonderful job building Cadillacs. Our humble advice: Don't let the two get
together.We thought the Avalanche took care of that very well - which is exactly where the idea of the Escalade rolled in. And where GM thought it had a great idea after Lincoln rolled out its ultra-luxury Blackwood a couple of years back.The
Blackwood was Lincoln's creation. Cadillac went one giant leap farther, turning the Avalanche into a five-star rolling restaurant/drive-through /hardware store. Cadillac claims those who drive a five-star car during the daily commute also own a heavy-duty
truck on weekends.The obvious answer? Give them both in one package.In the Escalade EXT, GM has proven that maybe there is a niche for everything. We're not so sure. But if there is, this might be the closest answer.Want 6-liter,
345-horsepower Vortec V-8 (45 more ponies than the Blackwood)? The EXT's got it.Want full-time all-wheel-drive (unavailable on the Blackwood), as well as a StabiliTrak control system, road-sensing suspension and Park Assist (warning beeps that tell
you whether you're going to back into the cattle)? The EXT shapes up fine.And want to add nearly three feet onto the 5-foot-3 bed by using a midgate that folds down the truck's second row of seats and removes the rear window to extend the pickup? See
the Cadillac.In its finest form, the Escalade EXT is all the above and more, including GM's GMT800 platform, one of the best chassis in the business, as well as all the appointments you would normally uncover in a vehicle that teeters ever so close to
very expensive.At its worst, the EXT is a $50,000 (a $1,550 sunroof is the only option) vehicle with most of the trappings of what you would expect in a Cadillac sedan
. That means steering resistance that is more of a one-finger-on-the-wheel approach than two hands griping and grinning.It also means more luxury than any cowboy would want or need (things like wood trim, fold-away mirrors and automatic lights). And
it means it's a gas hog. We're talking about 12 miles per gallon in the city and a whopping 15 on the highway. (Better own an oil company, partner.)Not to mention the fact this thing is huge.We're talking 5,750 pounds - or about two Honda Civics -
and 221 inches long. That's 18 feet, friend. Or about two feet longer than a Honda Odyssey minivan.But towing capacity is 8,000 pounds. Braking, with four-wheel discs and antilock, is some of the best GM has ever produced. Handling is better than
average for a beast this size and ride quality is top notch. Not too mushy. Not too lumbar.Bottom line: From the crest badge on the giant chrome grille to broad shoulders and the wide stance, this is a car meant to be
looked at. That's why NBA players are buying this ride. That's why rich off-roaders, cowboys and casual drivers who love a mix of everything will dig it.Got a need for something like this? Go for it.Want to keep the BMW for the weekday and the
Silverado on the weekend?Why switch?2002 CADILLAC ESCALADE EXT -- SPECSRating: 2.5High Gear: The luxury, the utility and the midgate that folds down all make the luxo-truck thing a unique proposition. Excellent braking, standard all-wheel
drive and outstanding safety features give it an edge in a class with few competitors.Low Gear: Noise on the freeway is a bit excessive, as is the overall size of the vehicle, making it hard to park and hard to keep in the correct lane. Then there's
the whole idea of why.Vehicle type: All-wheel drive, front-engine, four-door, five-passenger full-size sport-utility truck.Standard equipment: Four-speed automatic transmission; traction control; dual front airbags; front side airbags; anti-lock
four-wheel disc brakes; rear obstacle detection system; daytime running lights; OnStar system; air conditioning with dual climate control; rear climate controls; variable-assist power steering; tilt leather steering wheel; cruise control; 10-way power
front bucket seats; theft-deterrent system; full-size spare tire; fog lights; automatic headlights; steering wheel radio controls; Bose AM/FM radio with in-dash 6-disc changer; remote keyless entry; power door locks; power windows; heated power mirrors;
stowable split-folding second seat; split-folding rear seat.Competition: Lincoln Blackwood, Lincoln Navigator, Chevrolet AvalancheEngine: 345 horsepower, 6.0-liter V-8Torque: 380 foot-lbs. @ 4,000 rpmWheelbase: 130 inchesLength: 221.4
inchesMPG rating: 12 mpg city/15 mpg highwayManufactured: MexicoWarranty: Basic warranty is three years/36,000 miles; powertrain warranty is three years/36,000 miles; rust perforation warranty is six years/100,000 miles.Base price:
$49,990Price as tested (includes options, destination and delivery charges): $49,990