Having undergone several cosmetic changes in 2005, the Cadillac Escalade and its even bigger brother, the Escalade ESV, move into 2006 with no changes.

You’ll notice similarities when you pass the Chevrolet dealer: the Escalade is a luxury version of the Chevrolet Tahoe, while the larger ESV is a very fancy Suburban. Both use a 6.0-litre V8 with 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. is not available in Canada.

The Escalade 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.

The Escalade’s immense popularity with rap stars made it one of the company’s best sellers, and it single-handedly pulled Cadillac out of the major slump into which it had fallen. But celebrities are notoriously fickle and many of those have traded for sedans; gas prices should also make their mark on the Escalade, especially the ESV. The Lincoln Navigator slips size-wise between the Escalade and the ESV. In its favour, the Escalade rides extremely well, it’s the ultimate in luxury, and it will tow and haul just as well as the Tahoe and Suburban, but for $31,000 more.

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