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PERFORMANCE | 8 out of 10
A gratifying driving experience, especially for a large luxury SUV
Ample power for any situation
0-60 mph: 6.1 seconds
More agile, sure-footed and Cadillac-comfortable than most any other full-size truck you'll encounter
Kelley Blue Book
If the 2008 Cadillac Escalade EXT is no shrinking violet in terms of styling, it's certainly no slouch when it comes to performance, either.
The 2008 Escalade's powerplant is a brute, delivering 403 horsepower at 5,700 rpm, and 417 pound-feet of torque at 4,300 rpm, which makes for stunningly quick acceleration in such a massive vehicle: 6.1 seconds to 60 to be exact, says ForbesAutos. "Powering every 2008 Cadillac Escalade EXT is a new 6.2-liter all-aluminum V-8 with variable valve timing (VVT), which optimizes camshaft timing to improve low-rpm torque and high-rpm power, along with emissions and fuel economy," Kelley Blue Book reports, adding, "This engine does not yet have GM's Active Fuel Management (AFM), which deactivates half of the cylinders under light load." That second part is unfortunate, because the Cadillac Escalade EXT 2008 model isn't shy when it comes to consuming fuel, either; Kelley Blue Book goes on to list the big Cadillac's EPA city/highway fuel economy at a dismal 12/18 mpg. Or, to use the words of ForbesAutos, "Don't expect to break 20 miles per gallon, even in highway cruising." If the Cadillac Escalade EXT 2008-spec engine had the ability to use just four of its eight cylinders while coasting along or idling, it would probably mean fewer trips to the gas station. But in current form, "As one would expect, gas consumption is quite poor," says Edmunds.
However, in the case of Cadillac's 2008 edition of the Escalade, "The six-speed automatic transmission shifts more smoothly and boosts fuel economy compared to the four-speed gearbox in the previous model," says ForbesAutos, adding that, "manual gear selection is possible with a button on the column shifter. ConsumerGuide has almost equally good things to say, stating that the "transmission changes gears smoothly, though some testers cite an occasional reluctance to downshift for passing."
ConsumerGuide also finds the Cadillac Escalade EXT 2008 model's handling to be "stable and confident in low- to moderate-speed changes of direction," but goes on to report that the optional chrome 22-inch wheel/tire package has "little impact on steering or handling." But that is unlikely to stop buyers from shelling out the extra cash for the extra bling. Edmunds describes the steering as "light and predictable" and the handling "stable and controlled over all but extremely rough surfaces," while ConsumerGuide describes the steering as "vague and overassisted," and reports, "Strong brakes have reassuringly firm pedal feel, but fast stops trigger lots of nosedive."
The 2008 Cadillac Escalade EXT accelerates as quickly as some sportscars, and has respectable handling for such a large, utilitarian vehicle.