PRO’s: Great ride, wonderful handling, massive amounts of room for the entire family and or entourage.
CON’s: Cramped drivers cabin, only partially adjusting steering wheel, high price.
FINAL THOUGHT: A full size American built luxury SUV, that can hang tough with the world’s best.
It’s over 18 feet long, has up to 137 cubic feet of cargo space and with an interior that rivals most high end luxury sedans, it’s one of the nicest SUV’s on the planet. Meet the 2011 Cadillac Escalade ESV Platinum, the Big Dog of American SUV luxury. When I first picked this baby up from GM’s Manhattan storage facility my first thought was – Dear God is this sucker big, but as you’ll see, its size can be very deceiving. The Cadillac Escalade ESV Platinum makes no bones about its in-your-face styling and the fact that it dwarfs everything else in the SUV world. It’s a favorite amongst celebrities, athletes and or anyone who wants to make a statement. As for me, I was just amazed at how good it actually was for its size.
Make no mistake, the Cadillac Escalade is a truck in every sense of the word, as not only can it tow up to 7800 lbs, but it can do so while carrying 7 passengers in total comfort. Want to tow that race car to the track on the weekend? No problem. How about skiing for a week in Vail or Aspen – hell, with its AWD capabilities, just load up the family and go. The beauty of this machine is that it can wear many different hats on its basketball sized head and still come out looking like a rock star.
Entering the Escalade is a snap due to its power retractable running boards that deploy as soon as you open the door. They’re silent and provide you with a nice additional step when you enter the vehicle. This is something that is especially useful for those of a shorter stature. Once planted in the drivers seat you’ll notice just how many features are in place to coddle you once you’re under way. Just about everything, including the seats, instrument panel, door panels and center console are covered in hand-stitched leather. Seriously, there are probably 20 cows in here… thankfully though it’s big enough to accommodate them all.
4 DVD screens with full auxiliary inputs are in place just in case your passengers get bored and need some movie or game time. The front cup holders can even be set on hot or cold to keep your drink at its desired temperature (NICE!). There is also built in navigation with turn-by-turn OnStar directions, a heated steering wheel, blind spot detection system, as well as a full vehicle information center.
Head towards the dash and you’ll notice a tastefully done center stack complete with wood trim and aluminum accents. Dash and console controls, as with all new GM cars and trucks are intuitive and easy to use. However it still urks me that I can’t adjust the navigation unit when I’m driving. I know the legal weenies say it’s a safety thing, but I would think it’s got to be more dangerous when one pulls off the road to the shoulder to adjust the damn thing. Another issue was that driver space was actually somewhat confining for such a large vehicle. You see the center console is very wide, which means big guys (like me) need to put their seats far back in order to keep our legs from being pinned up against the console. Combine that with the fact that the steering wheel has only a tilt, not telescoping option and you’ll notice that you’ll be reaching to grab it.
I found the front seats of the Escalade to be quite comfortable, but they offer little in the way of lateral support. Now normally I wouldn’t care, as one would think that the big Caddy wouldn’t handle well. However thanks to the Escalade’s Magnetic Ride Control suspension, you’d be amazed at how well this thing goes around corners for a 6000 lb vehicle. Seriously, I found myself hitting exit and on ramps without a care in the world and pushing this thing harder than I would’ve ever thought possible. It was a nice surprise to see that the Escalade handled as well as it did.
Climb into the rear and your greeted to seating for 5 additional passengers. Two heated and reclining captains chairs, as well as a third row bench seat help provide seating room for seven passengers. The captains chairs are pretty comfy, as is the rear bench, but leg room back there is somewhat limited. The beauty of the Escalade is that even when the third row seats are up, there is still 45.8 cu-feet of cargo space which is more than many smaller SUV’s have in total.
It doesn’t matter if you’re going to the supermarket or the opera, if you pull up in the 2011 Cadillac Escalade ESV Platinum you’re making a statement. With big 22-inch multi-spoke chromed aluminum wheels, a huge chrome grill and stacked LED headlamps there is simply no missing this behemoth of an SUV. Not only did the Escalade handle well, but it also delivered a wonderfully compliant ride that was free of bumps and shutters when the road got rough.
I bounced through the potholed riddled streets of Queens and Manhattan and never once did the Escalade balk. Powered by a 6.2-liter V8 that pumps out 403 hp and 417 lb-ft of torque, means the Caddy gets up and moves along just fine. I wouldn’t go drag racing Porsche’s with this thing, but make no mistake, when your foot is planted, the Escalade moves.
Another feature that I liked was the blind-spot detection system that lets you know if a car is someplace where you can’t see it. A small yellow light in the side view mirrors alerts you if there is another automobile in your blind spot. Honestly, I think this feature should be standard equipment on all full size SUV’s.
Before I mention the price, keep in mind that the 2011 Cadillac Escalade ESV Platinum’s competitors include the Mercedes-Benz GL, Range Rover and the Infiniti QX56. The Mercedes-Benz GL for instance, with similar options comes in at over $91,000. The Range Rover hits over $87,000 and the big Infiniti goes for almost $76,000. This places the Escalade and its $87,345 price tag right on par with the competition.
So, based on everything I’ve said, would I buy one instead of its competitors? The answer… yes. First off I like the fact that GM is building a world class SUV that trumps the competition in terms of size, features and comfort. Second, Cadillac didn’t compromise on the Escalade’s in-your-face styling and third, I LOVE HOW BIG IT IS! In short, if you’re in the market for a full size SUV and you want the best of the best that America has to offer, look no further than the 2011 Cadillac Escalade ESV Platinum.