Road Test: Cadillac Escalade ESV Platinum

For 2012 Cadillac introduces the Escalade Premium Collection,

For 2012 Cadillac introduces the Escalade Premium Collection, a special edition featuring an alternate monochromatic appearance on the exterior and an expanded list of standard equipment including Magnetic Ride Control. (Credit: handout)

In the world of tow-and-show, nothing makes a bigger impression than the Cadillac Escalade.

The luxurious behemoth can haul seven passengers and 4 tons of trailer weight while dazzling passersby with its bejeweled exterior. This is a workhorse and a show horse.

The name Escalade is derived from a siege warfare tactic of scaling castle walls with ladders or siege towers. If you can afford this vehicle, you probably live inside a castle already.

With prices beginning at $64,120, Escalade is offered in three body styles. The model range includes the Escalade, the extended-length Escalade ESV and the reconfigurable Escalade EXT.

Escalade and Escalade ESV are available in all-wheel-drive and rear-drive configurations. The Escalade EXT sport utility truck features standard, full-time AWD. All models are powered by a 6.2-liter V-8 engine rated at 403 horsepower.

Escalade Platinum stands at the top of the line and comes with the world's fastest responding automatic suspension system. A hybrid version mitigates the Escalade's thirst for fuel with 50 percent better fuel economy and just slightly less overall power than the standard V-8 versions.

The vehicle tested was an ESV with Platinum trim that provided tremendous power, comfort and luxury features. What it lacked was a degree of maneuverability and fuel economy. It burned premium unleaded at the rate of 13 city and 18 highway miles per gallon for an average of 14 mpg.

The ride quality was outstanding, providing a quiet interior and smooth passage over rough road surfaces. Magnetic ride control, unique to the Platinum edition, includes a real-time damping system that reads the road in 1-millisecond intervals and responds through electronically controlled shocks.

Additional standard interior features include Platinum-specific doorsills and floor mats, a heated steering wheel, heated and cooled cup holders and a power lift gate. In addition to the roof-mounted rear seat entertainment system, the Platinum Edition includes dual DVD screens integrated into the rear of the front headrests. Each has its own player and controls and can be operated independently or in tandem.

Escalade and Escalade ESV models seat up to eight, with capacious cargo room when the third-row seat is removed. Escalade EXT seats five. The seductive instrument panel presents gauges with white needles and blue light inlays with continuously lit, white-LED backlighting. An enhanced navigation system with more features is also standard for 2012.

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