Cadillac hastily launched its first Escalade full-size sport utility vehicle for the 1999 model year in reaction to the success of the Lincoln Navigator. Sales never reached expectations, but the automaker rejoined the fray with a boldly redesigned version that was introduced as an early 2002 model. A newly available V-8 engine made the Escalade the most powerful SUV on the market.
For 2005, the Escalade gains burled walnut interior decoration and a premium instrument cluster with bright chrome trim. A touchscreen navigation system with a 6.5-inch screen is available, and all-wheel-drive models can have optional 20-inch wheels.
XM Satellite Radio, a trailering package, second-row bucket seats and a tire-pressure monitor are standard; a second-row bench seat is a no-charge option. Cadillac also offers an extended-length Escalade ESV, as well as an Escalade EXT model that features a pickup truck bed.
When it was unveiled for the 2002 model year, the Escalade was the first production model to display Cadillac's art and science design theme, which features sharp angular edges, inside and out.
Squared-off xenon high-intensity-discharge headlights complement the front end, which sports a vertical eggcrate grille. Cadillac's wreath-and-crest insignia decorates the grille and liftgate. Escalades ride a 116-inch wheelbase, stand 76.5 inches tall and measure 198.9 inches long overall. Seven-spoke cast-aluminum wheels hold 17-inch tires. A glass sunroof is optional.
Seven people fit inside the Escalade. When fitted with the second-row bench seat, seating capacity is eight. Front bucket seats have 14-way power adjustment, and the first- and second-row seats are heated. The third row has a 50/50-split bench seat.
Power-adjustable brake and gas pedals include a memory function. Automatic climate control is standard.
The Bose stereo includes an in-dash six-CD changer. Touching a button folds the side mirrors close to the body to squeeze through tight spots. Cadillac says the OnStar communication system's hands-free capability has been improved for 2005.
Under the Hood
Escalades use either a 295-horsepower, 5.3-liter V-8 or a 345-hp, 6.0-liter V-8. Each engine drives a four-speed-automatic transmission. Rear- and all-wheel-drive models are available, and a weight-distributing trailer hitch is included. The rear-drive model can tow up to 7,400 pounds, and all-wheel-drive Escalades can tow as much as 8,100 pounds.
Antilock brakes, all-speed traction control, side-impact airbags for the front seats, a front passenger-sensing system and General Motors' StabiliTrak electronic stability system are standard. A rear parking assist function warns of obstacles to the rear while the vehicle is backing up.