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2007 Escalade Romps Along the Coast

Cadillac is hoping the 2007 Escalade is act two in the sales success the first Escalade enjoyed. We had a chance to take a brand-spanking-new GM Bling-Box up the coast and back down again to see how close to hitting the mark they might be.


At first glance, the new Escalade is indeed an improvement upon the previous iteration. The interior is gorgeous and the exterior stance is powerful, masculine, and very street-hip. There is no way to avoid noticing this SUV, on the road, in a parking space, wherever. It is a moving personality statement – and whereas the H2 is about brawn, the Cadillac seems to add “class” to the equation.

When you get into the Caddy, you are completely isolated from the outside world. Soft, supple leather, excellent sound isolation, a fabulous sound system – not to mention XM radio, made being inside this SUV a dream.
It is big. There’s a lot of interior room for passengers and the seats are very soft and reasonable in terms of comfort. But the third row seating does not fold flat – something nearly every GM competitor in this class seems to do. While it may have been costly to redesign the suspension to deal with fold-flat seating, I wonder what sales people in dealerships are hearing from prospects?


So, is the Escalade all bling and no bang? Twist the key and the personality crisis takes center stage.
First of all, the gauges are very nicely lit. But when you turn the starter over, they “bump” to their maximum a la racing car or Ferrari – but for no purpose other than to entertain you. “Hmmmm,” was my reaction upon seeing it for the first time.
At the same time, there is a far-away but distinct rumble as the 400 horsepower V8 monster engine comes to life. Okay! There’s a sound I could enjoy!
Pull out into traffic and the Escalade tells you it wants to party. A slight press against the go pedal and the Escalade is all action – whomp! We were passing 65-mph in no time. The engine sounds great! Running up Interstate 5 through the Grapevine was a no-issue deal. Passing in the fast lane was effortless in terms of power. One important note: When accelerating, you get to watch the average milage figure change in front of your eyes. I often saw it do the following count-down: 12, 11, 10, 9… as in miles per gallon. Overall, after a 700 mile trip. we got an average of 11.3 miles per gallon.
But,. with all that power comes another glitch in this “rugged” vehicle’s personality. The Escalade’s powertrain people and suspension people may never have met. At least not after this latest Caddilac was assembled. Gently put, the suspension is not ideally mated to the power of this vehicle. The steering is light. So light, in fact, that the ability to flip this SUV would be as easy as turning your head to pay attention to a crying baby or nagging back-seat passenger. However, I decided to give the Caddy a few hundred miles before making a more experienced decision.

The navigation system in the Escalade is the best, hands-down, that I’ve ever experienced. Brightly lit, easy to use, and filled with useful data, I found this aspect of driving the Escalade a joy. Need some fuel? (don’t worry, you will!) No worries – you get details on all local filling stations, complete with logos and a single “go” button to get there. The same is true for food, hotels, or any other stored destination. Adding your own is easier than in most other systems. By far, the NAV was the highlight for me.
Along the 17-mile drive in Carmel, the Escalade was very much at home. Cruising is a joy, actually. You can enjoy the rumble of the engine, the excellent view from the cabin, and the stares from kids as you pass them while looking for sea lions and dramatic sunsets.

Once on Highway One, headed south through Big Sur, the Caddy again shows its multiple personality disorder. It pushes through corners, moves up and down on its haunches with a bit of wind blowing from the sea, and in general requires 90-percent concentration to operate the vehicle at any type of speed.
On the road, the Caddy wants to go straight – but is does have a decent turning radius in parking lots, doesn’t seem to take up as much room as it looks like it will use, and is easy to find when coming out from dinner or a show – it’s taller than nearly anything else in the parking lot.

Considering the amount of detail, the excellent fit and finish, the NAV, and the materials used, this SUV seems to be worthy of its $60,000 + price tag. I just wish it came with a “gas for life” card and perhaps a few visits to the local shrink (or suspension shop).

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