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To compile this exhaustive assessment of the new 2008 Cadillac Escalade, the car pros at TheCarConnection.com consulted reviews from a wide range of sources. TheCarConnection.com’s editors have also spent time with the 2008 Cadillac Escalade and bring their insight to this all-encompassing review.
The 2008 Cadillac Escalade is a luxury body-on-frame SUV that shares its platform and mechanical layout with the Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon full-size SUVs, and like those other trucks, it comes either in standard-length form or the extended-length ESV, which is 21 inches longer overall and has seating capacity for up to eight adults.
The Escalade was completely revised for 2007 and gets few changes for 2008. All versions are powered by a 403-horsepower, 6.2-liter, V-8 engine teamed with a six-speed automatic transmission. Both rear- and all-wheel drive are available. Active Fuel Management helps reduce fuel use during cruising or coasting, but the Escalade still gets dismal fuel economy figures of 12 mpg city across the entire lineup and either 18 or 19 mpg highway, depending on the model. Real-world city driving can result in single-digit mpg.
The engine in the 2008 Cadillac Escalade provides plenty of power to make the big, heavy wagon feel perky--even on steep grades and with full loads. And the six-speed automatic transmission always finds the right gear decisively rather than hunting around. Brakes match the big ute's power and weight, and although the Escalade doesn't handle nimbly, it's one of the best of the biggest truck-based SUVs; the ride remains even-keeled and absorbent in the process, and the interior stays impressively silent except for a bit of engine noise.
Despite its very high, trucklike driving position, the 2008 Cadillac Escalade gets a very smooth, low, and attractively styled instrument panel that could be right out of a luxury sedan. Seats are among the most ample and supportive in any vehicle, and the Escalade is virtually unbeatable for elbow and shoulder room because of its wide cabin. In both Escalade models, the second row is nearly as comfortable as the first, and in the ESV, the third row is quite roomy, though a bit difficult to access.
Features especially cater to the executives and VIPs who, it seems, all need a 'Slade in their stable. The center console is wide enough to set a laptop on, and the 2008 Cadillac Escalade includes standard heated power seats, tri-zone climate control, power-adjustable pedals, and a magnificent-sounding Bose system. Available equipment includes an eight-inch touch-screen navigation system, Bose 5.1 Digital Surround Sound system, cooled front seats, and power-actuated running boards. The maximum tow rating is 7,800 pounds when properly equipped. And yes, the flashy 22-inch rims are also on the options list.
Head-curtain side airbags covering all three rows are standard on the 2008 Cadillac Escalade, as are front side airbags; the Stabilitrak stability control system includes rollover mitigation, to help avoid situations that might lead to a rollover. On that note, the Escalade gets a low three-star rating for rollover likelihood from the federal government (largely for its high center of mass), but the Escalade has earned top five-star ratings in the tests for frontal and side crash protection.