2013 Cadillac Escalade Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
June 7, 2012

Especially if towing capability matters, the 2013 Cadillac Escalade is one of the most luxurious--and most fashionable--luxury SUVs you can get.

The Cadillac Escalade, with its bold, super-size look, has become an American luxury icon--a symbol of excess, chromed splendor, and high-end executive transport. And with even a brief ride in one, it's easy to see why; the Escalade is surprisingly quick and responsive, while also boasting one of the most lavishly appointed interiors of any utility vehicle.

For 2013, the Escalade remains offered in several versions, with three different body styles in all and two different powertrains--standard and Hybrid. The extended-length (ESV) variant provides a 21-inch increase in size with seating capacity for up to eight adults, while the EXT is the Escalade of pickups—top-lux version of the Chevrolet Avalanche, essentially. Escalade Hybrid models are offered in a short-wheelbase model and share much with the GMC Yukon Hybrid and Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid SUVs, but they erases much of the Escalade's gas-guzzler guilt, with EPA ratings of up to 20 mpg city, 23 highwayThanks to a strong, responsive powertrain and somewhat athletic chassis tuning, you can almost forget that the 2013 Cadillac Esclade is one of the biggest, heaviest luxury SUVs--and one with truck roots, at that.

With a huge (and thirsty) 6.2-liter V-8, making 403 horsepower and 417 pound-feet of torque, the Escalade can move quickly--to 60 mph in only about 6.5 seconds, according to some sources, even though its weight can total almost 6,000 pounds. Key to that is that the engine makes loads of low-rpm torque, and that the six-speed automatic transmission functions as a willing companion most of the time. And all the while, the V-8 has a rumbly, uncommon (for a luxury vehicle) muscle-car note.

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Even with the huge 22-inch wheels that many Escalades come with, GM chassis engineers have managed to give this huge SUV a surprisingly responsive driving character thanks to Magnetic Ride Control, which is offered on most of the Escalade lineup and strongly recommended. .

The 2013 Cadillac Escalade is huge and imposing from the outside, but that does pay off inside, translating to a roomy, comfortable interior that's also luxury-car plush and reasonably quiet. Just be aware that if you want cargo versatility and folding seats, this might not be the right pick.

The Escalade's traditional body-on-frame layout dates back to the 2007 model year and it hasn't seen any major structural changes since. But GM got this one right from the start; even with today's tougher federal crash-test system, the Escalade gets five-star categories in all frontal and side tests.

All Escalade models are brimming with luxury features; it's simply a matter of how exclusive do you want it to feel, and how high you're willing to go. Base-model Escalade and Escalade ESV models cater to executives and VIPs who need a 'Slade in their stable, and the interior can reach a limo-like level of equipment that can focus toward either work or play.

If you want all the tech features, plus a unique, no-holds-barred look, the Platinum is the way to go; it adds unique chromed 22-inchers, special Tehama anilene leather, heated and cooled cupholders, LED headlamps, a leather-trimmed instrument panel, and many other appearance and trim upgrades. Other features worth note individually include an eight-inch touch-screen navigation system with real-time traffic, a Bose 5.1 Digital Surround Sound system, cooled front seats, and power-actuated running boards.

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