When you’re Cadillac, you naturally build the “Cadillac” of SUVs, and the 2011 Cadillac Escalade continues to deliver the goods that built its fame: Distinctive styling, rugged mechanicals and a refined, luxury-filled cabin.
Buyers can choose between three body styles. There’s the seven- or eight-passenger Escalade (MSRP starting at $63,160) the world knows and loves, as well as the seven-passenger Escalade ESV, which offers extra length, and the five-passenger Escalade EXT, which offers a unique blend of luxury and utility with its sport utility truck body style. In addition to their standard trims, Escalade and Escalade ESV models come in Luxury, Premium and Platinum trim levels. The EXT offers standard, Luxury and Premium equipment levels.
At the core of all the style is a rugged, welded and fully-boxed ladder frame with a road-sensing suspension system that automatically levels the rear axle for consistent handling, even when fully loaded. Two-mode monotube shock absorbers keep things under control with real-time computer control for precise response. The available Luxury Collection Package includes Magnetic Ride Control, which uses the same technology as world-class supercars like the Chevrolet ZR-1 for even further enhanced suspension reflexes.
The suspension is only part of the Escalade’s underpinnings story. Its stout 6.2-liter V8 provides 403 hp and 417 lb/ft of torque. Variable Valve Timing is an industry first for a production engine utilizing a pushrod valvetrain, and the technology makes this well-proven engine design flexible and efficient. Equipped with Active Fuel Management, the engine is also capable of shutting off half its cylinders when conditions permit, as a way of saving fuel. A six-speed automatic transmission with Driver Shift Control, for manual gear selection, and a tow/haul mode sends power to either the rear wheels or through the available all-wheel drive system. Escalades with AWD use a full-time system that defaults to a 40/60 percent front to rear balance, and features locking rear differential that also aids in traction.
The Escalade is a bold expression of Cadillac’s trademark crisp-edged styling. Platinum trim Escalades wear unique front fascias with different grille designs, LED headlamps and multi-spoke 22-inch chrome wheels. All Escalades carry four-wheel antilock disc brakes, and xenon HID headlamps are also standard equipment.
Inside, the Escalade is fitted out for true luxury. Standard leather seating is sumptuous, and front seats are 14-way power adjustable with heating and memory settings for personalizing your setup. Bluetooth wirelessly integrates your mobile phone into the Escalade, and navigation is also standard, featuring an eight-inch touch-screen and a Bose 5.1 Cabin Surround audio system. The Escalade features adjustable pedals to ensure all drivers find comfort, and the Luxury Collection adds power-folding second-row seats and a heated steering wheel. All Escalades feature three-zone automatic climate control to keep driver, passenger and rear-seat occupants at their optimum comfort level.
The Platinum trim level brings further interior opulence to the Escalade with super-soft Tehama leather and contrasting French stitching. Cadillac insignias are also embroidered into the seats, and genuine olive ash and burled walnut wood trim adds to the richness of the Escalade Platinum’s interior environment. A rear-seat DVD entertainment system is also standard on Escalade Platinum models, integrating two seven-inch screens into the back of the front head restraints.
The solidity of the Escalade is underscored by its safety equipment. Standard StabiliTrak electronic stability control with Rollover Mitigation and Traction Control that’s active at all speeds helps to keep the Escalade on the road and upright, even when the going gets tough. Dual-stage front airbags are joined by side-impact and head-curtain airbags to protect occupants. Even slow-speed parking lot mishaps are avoided thanks to the standard rearview camera. Standard OnStar lends even more peace of mind and comes with a Directions and Connections function with Turn-by-Turn Navigation.
The 2011 Cadillac Escalade is a lot of vehicle for a price that brings an exceptional level of standard luxury. With the solid platform the Escalade rides on, it can also do a lot, and the available Escalade Hybrid broadens the appeal of the line even more. There’s a reason why the Escalade has achieved legendary status. It’s the perfect blend of performance, luxury, space and versatility in an easy-driving package.