The old saying goes, If at first you dont succeed, try and try again. Cadillac hurriedly launched its first Escalade sport utility vehicle in 1998, reacting to the success of the Lincoln Navigator and strong sales of other upscale, full-size GM SUVs. The Escalades sales never reached expectations, but Cadillac rejoined the fray in February 2001 with a boldly redesigned version, introduced as an early 2002 model.
Among the host of technical upgrades is a new V-8 engine, which makes the Escalade the most powerful SUV on the market at least for the time being. The Escalade also is the best-equipped full-size GM SUV, ranking above the Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe, and the GMC Yukon. Rivals include the BMW X5, Lexus LX 470, Lincoln Navigator, Mercedes-Benz M-Class and Toyota Land Cruiser.
The 2002 Escalade is the first production model to display Cadillacs art and science design theme a bold, sharp-edged form that was first seen on the 1999 Evoq concept coupe and described as elegant severity. Led by a prominent egg-crate grille, the Escalade displays styling details that resemble both the Evoq and the recent Imaj concept vehicle.
Squared-off multireflector headlights complement the multifaced appearance of the front end, which has been described as gemlike. A new Cadillac wreath-and-crest insignia without the miniature ducks that adorned the previous badge decorates the grille and liftgate. Riding a 116-inch wheelbase, the Escalade stretches to 198.9 inches long overall. It is 78.9 inches wide and stands 74.2 inches tall. Seven-spoke cast aluminum wheels hold 17-inch tires.
Redesigned both inside and out, the Escalade promises greater head- , hip- and legroom in the second and third rows, with seating for eight occupants. Pewter- or shale-colored leather upholstery is standard. Front seats have power lumbar, side bolster and recliner adjustment, and the front- and second-row seats are heated. Each side of the 60/40-split, second-row seat folds in a two-step process, which creates a continuous, flat cargo floor. The third row has a 50/50-split seat.
A new center console is integrated into the Zebrano wood-trimmed dashboard. Storage slots in the console hold CDs or cassette tapes. An upper compartment in the leather-upholstered lid opens separately and has a hole for a power cord, which permits easy 12-volt accessory connections.
New analog instruments have aluminum rims, and an analog clock adds an elegant touch. A premium Bose stereo includes an in-dash six-CD changer. Stereo controls are repeated on the leather/wood steering wheel. Touching a button folds the side mirrors close to the body for squeezing through tight spots. GMs premium OnStar communication system offers Personal Calling and Virtual Advisor features. A sunroof is optional.
Under the Hood
A 5.3-liter V-8 engine develops 285 horsepower and 325 pounds-feet of torque in the rear-wheel-drive Escalade. All-wheel-drive models get a 6.0-liter V-8 that produces 345 hp and 380 pounds-feet of torque. Both engines drive a four-speed-automatic transmission.
The Escalade is the only General Motors SUV that comes with the companys StabiliTrak electronic stability system, which teams with a Road Sensing Suspension System that adjusts to various road surfaces. Both versions include a weight-distributing trailer hitch and wiring harness to tow as much as 7,700 pounds with RWD or 8,500 pounds with AWD. Cadillac claims a 0-to-60-mph acceleration time of 9.45 seconds with two-wheel drive and a swift 8.57 seconds with all-wheel drive.
Side-impact airbags for the front seat and antilock brakes are standard, along with all-speed traction control. The Ultrasonic Rear Parking Assist function warns of obstacles to the rear when the vehicle is backing up.