The full-size Cadillac Escalade SUV has appealed to celebrities and affluent 20-somethings since its 2001 debut. Its competitors include the Lincoln Navigator, Lexus LX 470, Infiniti QX56 and other luxury sport utility vehicles. The Escalade underwent an extensive redesign for 2007, so changes for 2008 are minimal.
In the spirit of excess, the 2008 Escalade boasts available 22-inch wheels and a 6.2-liter V-8 with more than 400 horsepower. It can be configured to seat eight people and is available with two- or all-wheel drive.
Up front, three-tier headlights and a large crisscrossed grille give the Escalade resemblance to Cadillac's other vehicles. The front-end elements also differentiate the Escalade from the Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon, whose platform it shares. Chrome applications throughout emphasize the vehicle's luxury status.
Upscale touches include xenon high-intensity-discharge headlights etched with Cadillac logos, rain-sensing windshield wipers and side mirrors with integrated turn signals. Eighteen-inch wheels are standard, and 22-inch wheels are optional. A power liftgate is standard.
The 2008 Escalade will be available with a Platinum appearance package later in the model year. Details were not available at publication.
Inside, the Escalade further differentiates itself from its GM platform-mates with unique climate controls, an LED-backlit instrument panel and a center stack that flows into the floor console rather than being a separate unit.
Standard seating configurations include two rows of captain's chairs and a three-seat bench in back; an optional second-row bench ups seating capacity to eight. Other standard items include tri-zone automatic climate control and leather seats with power adjustments in front and seat heaters in the first two rows. Air-conditioned seats are an option, as are a heated steering wheel, a navigation system and a rear-seat DVD entertainment system.
Removing the third-row seat and flipping the second row forward, either manually or with an optional power-operated mechanism, allows a maximum cargo capacity of 108.9 cubic feet, which is smaller than the 2006 Escalade's 121 cubic feet.
Under the Hood
An all-aluminum 6.2-liter V-8 is the sole power plant. It's tuned for 403 hp and 417 pounds-feet of torque. It works through a six-speed automatic transmission. Maximum towing capacity is 7,700 pounds. Permanent all-wheel drive is available.
Standard safety equipment includes four-wheel-disc antilock brakes and an electronic stability system that includes new rollover mitigation technology, which can sense impending rollovers and selectively apply individual brakes.
Standard side curtain airbags cover all three rows of seats. Side-impact airbags for the front seats are not available.