Cadillac Escalade

Despite a rough start, the Cadillac Escalade proved to be one of the top rising stars in the luxury SUV market. Cadillac recovered from its initial Escalade shortcomings, and the vehicle remains a popular choice even amidst the recent automotive industry declines and trends toward fuel efficiency.

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Cadillac Escalade Origins

The Cadillac Escalade debuted in 1998 as General Motors' competitor to the Ford Lincoln Navigator. At the time, the full-size luxury SUV market was thriving and Cadillac rushed to enter the market commencing production only 10 months after approval for the 1999 model year. The 1990s was a slow decade for General Motors, and the brand was looking for a comeback car. It was betting on the Escalade to reclaim its declining sales and bring the brand back to life.

The first Escalade truck to roll off the assembly line featured a 5.7-liter V-8 engine with 255 horsepower. Though it housed a powerful engine and featured many luxury elements, it was smaller than the Navigator and suffered some backlash from car enthusiasts because it resembled other vehicles such as the Chevrolet Tahoe and the GMC Yukon Denali.

Due to the initial unpopularity, Cadillac spent the next three years re-designing the Escalade to manufacture a unique vehicle and instill originality into the design. In 2002, Cadillac launched the new Escalade to exemplify the brand. The vehicle became a true competitor in the luxury SUV market.

About the Cadillac Escalade

The Cadillac Escalade, though off to a rough start, quickly became one of the most popular SUVs in its class. It was also recognized as the first light truck to grace the Cadillac assembly line.

The Cadillac Escalade is known for broadening Cadillac's wide market to include the youth of the nation. Before the introduction of the Escalade, Cadillac appealed more to the baby boomer or traditional car enthusiast. The Escalade drew accolades from people of all ages with its bold, yet sporty appearance and its rugged good looks on the road.

After rebounding from low expectations with its initial launch, Cadillac upgraded the vehicle. The Escalade is now known for its supple leather seats, which comes standard, its three row seating, signature blue-needled electroluminescent gauges, and its 6.2-liter V-8, 403 horsepower engine. With this kind of power, this vehicle is not for the faint of heart.

Cadillac Escalade Features

The Cadillac Escalade is the granddaddy of Cadillac's lineup, and the 2012 model celebrates this sentiment. Though it shares a similar body to the Chevy Tahoe, the upgrades and performance place it a step above the rest.

The 2012 Escalade houses a 6.2-Liter 403 horsepower V-8 engine and offers standard features such as 18-inch wheels, a locking rear differential, rear parking sensors, automatic xenon headlights, heated mirrors, adaptive, and auto-leveling suspensions, remote ignition, heated second row seats, and much more. Luxury options include Bluetooth, OnStar, GPS navigation with real-time traffic updates, satellite radio, iPod/USB audio interface, and rear audio controls.

The 2012 Cadillac Escalade offers four trim levels: base, luxury, premium, and platinum edition. All trim levels come with seating for seven except the Platinum which includes the option for a second row bench seat. The Luxury model adds 22-inch chrome aluminum wheels with many other options such as a blind spot warning system and automatic high beams among many others. The Premium model adds body color options and dual exhaust outlets, while the Platinum Edition adds unique upgrades such as the LED headlamps, temperature controlled cup holders, upgraded leather and trim, and rear seating features.

The Escalade comes with many standard safety features including stability and traction control, full-length side curtain airbags, front side-impact airbags, and rear parking sensors. The Escalade performed poorly in Edmunds brake testing but scored high marks in government crash tests with an overall four star rating.

Cadillac Escalade Evolution

The 1999 Escalade was rushed in manufacturing and served as a likely "hold off" while Cadillac was designing its 2002 model to fully compete with Ford's Lincoln Navigator. The 1999 Escalade fell short of expectations since it was a copy of General Motors' existing SUVs with some additional bells and whistles. No Escalades were manufactured for the 2001 year.

In 2002, Cadillac redeemed itself restoring its brand identity as it appealed to a younger market. The model sported a 345-hp, 6.0-liter V-8 engine and offered superior handling for its massive size.

The third generation Escalade debuted in 2007 with minor additions to its features. In 2008, Cadillac introduced the Platinum Edition Escalade, a premium model with all the bells and whistles any car enthusiast would desire. Technology became even more important for the 2009 Escalade with the E85 fuel capacity and special additions such as the LED headlights, blind-spot warning system, Bluetooth, and rear-view camera.

In 2010, Cadillac stepped up the technology with some noteworthy features like new front side-impact airbags, a stronger design for its doors, and USB connection functionality. The 2012 Escalade received some minor changes to the navigation system, but no major re-designs.

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