NEW FOR 2008:

– Escalade Hybrid model debuts in calendar-year 2008

Completely redesigned for 2007, the Escalade and Escalade ESV models are unchanged for 2008. Later in the year, a new hybrid version featuring GM’s two-mode hybrid system will debut.

The Escalade and the larger Escalade ESV models use a 6.2-litre V8 engine with six-speed automatic transmission. Both are based on GM’s full-size SUV platform, with the Escalade sharing with the Chevrolet Tahoe, and the Escalade ESV with the Suburban; both are also related to the Escalade EXT pickup, which corresponds with the Chevrolet Avalanche. Both Escalade models feature three rows of seats and all-wheel drive.

Both the Escalade and ESV come in a single trim line, and include 18-inch aluminum wheels, tri-zone automatic climate control, privacy glass, power liftgate, fog lamps, power-folding mirrors with auto-dimming driver’s side, reverse tip-down and integrated turn signals, roof rack side rails, running boards, rain-sensing wipers with heated fluid system, rear washer/wiper, garage door opener, cruise control, tire pressure monitoring system, power-adjustable pedals, leather-wrapped tilt wheel with audio controls, ten-way heated leather seats with driver’s side memory, heated second-row bucket seats, three-passenger third-row 50/50 split-bench seat, six-CD/MP3 stereo, XM Satellite Radio, rear-seat earphone jacks with audio controls, trailer package, automatic Xenon headlamps, theft-deterrent system, rear parking assist, and OnStar.

Available options include a rear-view camera, power-retractable running boards, power sunroof, 22-inch chrome-clad wheels, heated steering wheel, cooled front seats, two-passenger third-row seat, power-release second-row seats, second-row bench seat, navigation system and rear-seat DVD entertainment system.

Riding on a stiff, fully-boxed frame, the Escalade handles well for its size, with an extremely comfortable ride and powerful engine; you’ll only really notice its heft once you try to park it in a downtown space. There are several seating arrangements available, including the available power-folding second row, although the seats must be manually returned to their upright position. The third row is tight in the Escalade but more comfortable in the ESV, which is a better choice if you are planning to consistently carry enough people to fill all three rows. For those who prefer a pickup to an SUV, the Cadillac EXT is similarly powered and outfitted and includes a “Midgate” that can switch it from passenger vehicle to full pickup box.

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