2008 Cadillac Escalade EXT Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
June 27, 2008

The 2008 Cadillac Escalade EXT stands out as the world's only transforming luxury truck/SUV.

TheCarConnection.com’s editors read the latest reviews on the new 2008 Cadillac Escalade EXT to write this comprehensive review. Experts from TheCarConnection.com also drove the EXT, as well as other members of the Escalade family, to offer you a definitive opinion on this full-size SUV. This review also compares the 2008 Cadillac Escalade EXT with other vehicles in its class to give you the best advice even when other reviews present conflicting opinions.

The 2008 Cadillac Escalade EXT is a truck that works to combine the best attributes of a pickup with an SUV--with a heavy helping of bling thrown in for good measure. If you're considering the 2008 EXT, it's important to note that the entire line of Cadillac Escalade models was completely overhauled in 2007. The Escalade family of trucks (the short-wheelbase SUV, the long-wheelbase ESV, and the EXT) now rides on General Motors' GMT900 new-for-2007 truck platform.

But it's important to note that the Escalades are more than just gussied-up Chevrolet Tahoes. For Cadillac, 2008 is another year where its Escalade trucks continue to define the upper echelon of this category with Cadillac-specific styling, features, engineering, comfort, and refinement.

Cadillac says its 2008 Escalade EXT model is based on a unique sport-utility truck (SUT) body style, giving it a part-SUV, part-pickup profile and function. Once you look past the EXT's lower-rent sibling (the Chevrolet Avalanche), there isn't anything else currently available that transforms quite like the Escalade EXT.

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What makes the SUV/truck transformation possible is GM's industry-exclusive Midgate panel. Here's how it works; owners can easily convert the EXT from a five-passenger SUV into a two-passenger pickup with 8 feet of protected and secured storage using the Midgate located behind the rear seat. The Midgate can be folded into the cabin, enabling the cargo area to expand from 5 feet to 8 feet, for a total of 101 cubic feet in secured volume. A lockable, standard tonneau cover protects items in the cargo bed or can be removed entirely for added space.

While the styling of the 2008 EXT is certainly unique among trucks, editors at TheCarConnection.com wonder about the truck's genuine usefulness. Some buyers will like the versatility the design offers, but most might never use the Midgate beyond showing friends and family how it works. Regardless, the window in the Midgate should be power-operated instead of only being removable, because driving with it out is a pleasant open-air experience, especially when the sunroof is open.

Editors from TheCarConnection.com feel that the EXT's interior, like the other Escalade models, is among the best in the entire Cadillac lineup--right up there with the new Cadillac CTS. Though there's still a bit of that chintzy black plastic in the center stack, the overall look is refined and elegant, just the right mix of wood and chrome to give meaning to the Cadillac badge in the center of the steering wheel.

The 6.2-liter V-8 found in the 2008 Cadillac Escalade EXT is impressive for several reasons. The engine's construction is all aluminum and benefits from several bits of high technology, including variable valve timing to produce 403 horsepower and 417 pound-feet of torque. This power is routed through a six-speed automatic transmission that performs very well, with virtually no gear hunting. This combination makes the big EXT hustle and helps it feel lighter than its curb weight of nearly three tons. Its exhaust note at idle has the cadence of a musclecar blended with a substantial richness.

The EXT is available in rear-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive configurations.

Experts from TheCarConnection.com have had the opportunity to drive several different Escalade models, some with the standard 18-inch tires and wheels, and others with the optional 22-inch wheels. While the 22s have that look so many people are down on, there is a reduction in ride quality, but not as bad as on other vehicles.

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