For 2005, the Cadillac Escalade and its even bigger brother, the Escalade ESV, enjoy some cosmetic changes. There’s a new premium instrument cluster with bright chrome trim; burled walnut trim; bright chrome exhaust tips; touch-screen navigation with 6.5-inch screen; an improved cooling system with a more powerful alternator; OnStar Gen 6 hardware with enhanced hands-free capability; new Riptide teal blue metallic exterior paint; and for buyers who think “excess” is a music group, optional 20-inch wheels on the Escalade.

Both vehicles show up elsewhere: the Escalade is a luxury version of the Chevrolet Tahoe, while the larger Escalade ESV is a tricked-out Chevrolet Suburban. Both use a 6.0-litre V8 hooked to a four-speed automatic transmission, and both come exclusively with all-wheel-drive; a two-wheel version of the Escalade sold in the U.S. market is not available in Canada.

The Escalade comes in a single trim line and includes privacy glass, fog lights, high-intensity discharge headlights, power foldaway heated mirrors with integrated turn signals, puddle lights, driver’s side auto-dimming and passenger side tilt-down park feature, running boards, 17-inch aluminum wheels, rear washer/wiper, cargo net, automatic tri-zone climate control with rear controls, HomeLink garage door opener, rear floor console, tire pressure monitoring system, auto-dimming mirror with compass, power-adjustable pedals, leather-wrapped wheel with audio controls, leather interior, 14-way power adjustable heated seats with driver position memory, power heated second-row bucket seats, third-row 50/50 leather bench seat, six-CD/cassette stereo with nine speakers and rear-seat audio controls, four ventilated brake discs, automatic rear level control system, speed-sensitive steering, rear parking assist and OnStar.

The Escalade ESV comes in two lines, the ESV and ESV Platinum. The ESV contains all of the Escalade’s features; the ESV Platinum adds chrome-trimmed grille, power sunroof, rear-seat DVD entertainment system with two LCD colour monitors and four sets of wireless headphones, leather-wrapped wheel with chrome and wood trim, and DVD-based navigation system.

Purists were horrified when Cadillac introduced its first truck in model year 1999, but it went on to become one of the company’s best sellers, aided considerably by high-profile celebrities who latched on to the idea of its wretched excess, and it single-handedly pulled Cadillac out of the slump into which it had fallen. Without it, we might never have received the much more practical SRX or the pricey but magnificent XLR roadster, so it seems we owe it something. In its favour, it rides extremely well, it’s the ultimate in big-truck luxury, and it will tow and haul just as well as the Tahoe and Suburban. It just does it at $32,000 more. Lincoln, of course, responded with the Navigator, which slips size-wise between the Escalade and the ESV, but is $4,235 less than the Escalade and arguably better-looking.

The Escalade is built in Arlington, Texas; the Escalade ESV is built in Silao, Mexico.

Connect with