2009 Cadillac Escalade Performance

8.0
Performance

Cadillac has turned the Escalade into something a bit more sophisticated than "tacky gold badges" and "customized paint jobs," Edmunds says. It's now a fine-handling, powerful SUV that doesn't forget its truck chores.

Automobile says it has "one of the best exhaust notes" and loves the way it "woofles and burbles at idle." Motor Trend pegs acceleration to 60 mph at 6.5 seconds, but even with cylinder-shutoff technology, the SUV can only manage 19 mpg highway at best. City driving can see that figure drop to the single digits, in our experience.

In terms of power and handling, the 2009 Cadillac Escalade is one of the best-performing full-size SUVs.

Responsible for all that power and consumption is a 403-hp 6.2-liter V-8 which Edmunds says doles out "tremendous acceleration" even for a vehicle approaching three tons.

Kelley Blue Book finds fault with the Escalade's 6-speed automatic. It has a "reluctance to downshift for passing," they note. To overcome the sluggishness, GM fits the truck with a manual shift mode.

The 2009 Escalade is available with all-wheel drive. Car and Driver reports that the Escalade suffers from "reduced towing capacity" but it still checks in at 7,800 pounds. It's reduced, it seems, only in comparison to the 8,000-pound-plus capacity of the similar Chevrolet Suburban.

Automobile likes the new power steering in this year's Escalade. It has "newfound feedback when the truck is loaded in a corner." It thinks the brakes are just adequate, and that they have touchy pedal feel. Motor Trend likes the handling within its truck context. The adaptive suspension offers a composed ride on the firm side, but with enough compliance even when the SUV is shod with huge 22-inch wheels and low-profile 45-series tires.

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