If you’re looking for any old fullsize SUV to haul people or cargo, there are a number of options on the market. But if you want to make a statement — “I’m king of the world!” — then nothing will meet your expectations like the 2012 Cadillac Escalade. This icon of lavish luxury accommodates up to eight adults comfortably and tows well over 8,000 pounds without breaking a sweat. With four trim levels on offer, you’re sure to find the right balance of muscle, space, and features for your needs. And with a starting price ranging from $63,170 up to $79,945, you’re entitled to show off as much as you like.
Upon turning on your new plush wheels, that purring you hear is the 6.2-liter V8 flex-fuel engine. It produces 403 horsepower and 417 pound-feet of torque for your hauling pleasure. You’ll enjoy the smooth shifting from your six-speed automatic transmission, and if you’re the adventurous off-roading type — or if you live in snowy winter climates — you’ll select all-wheel drive and leave the standard rear-wheel drive for the more timid among us. Unfortunately, such a workhorse is bound to get thirsty: it drinks 13 mpg in the city and 18 mpg on the highway.
Depending on which trim level you choose, your eye-catching ride may sport 18- or 22-inch aluminum wheels, a “Look at me!” exterior appearance package, and luggage rack. Since the fine folks at Cadillac wouldn’t want you to lift a finger unnecessarily, you can have a power liftgate, power sunroof, and power-retractable steps as well. Oh, and you’ll get an adaptive remote starter too so you’re always ready to go.
On the inside, you get heated and cooled front seats, power-adjustable pedals, a power-tilt heated steering wheel, and tri-zone automatic climate control. You’ll always know what’s behind your mammoth people-mover with the rearview camera, rear parking assist, and Side Blind Zone Alert. You can pamper your second-row passengers with bucket seats, or you could make everyone except your co-pilot sit on split folding bench seats. That third row might feel a bit cramped though. Heck, when you drive a Cadillac, even your drinks are coddled with heated and cooled cup holders!
Of course, a top-of-the-line ride needs a top-of-the-line entertainment system. The Escalade provides just that with a Bose 5.1 surround sound audio system with 10 speakers, rear-seat controls, and satellite radio. And don’t forget the in-dash DVD player for the rear seat entertainment system with remote control; the screens are built into the headrests of the front seats.
At these prices, you better believe you’re getting the best safety devices that GM can offer: a full set of airbags, OnStar, StabiliTrak, and traction control. Safety ratings are average on NHTSA rollover tests and high on their other crash tests. Perhaps not surprisingly for such a heavy vehicle, the braking distance stretches on the long side.
With its distinctive style, confident handling, supple ride, and strong engine, the Escalade is a great vehicle for anyone with large hauling needs. So is the Escalade the right SUV for you? Depends on what you value most: style, luxury, and attention or fuel economy, value, and spaciousness? If it’s the latter you seek, then you’d best look elsewhere. But if you enjoy having all eyes on you without sacrificing utility, then you’re in the right place.