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PERFORMANCE | 8 out of 10
don't expect to break 20 miles per gallon, even in highway cruising
a gratifying driving experience, especially for a large luxury SUV
ample power for any situation
more agile, sure-footed and Cadillac-comfortable than most any other full-size truck you'll encounter
Kelley Blue Book
Editors at TheCarConnection.com love the performance of the 2009 Cadillac Escalade EXT. It's both powerful and nimble—an unusual combination in such a large vehicle.
One of the reasons for that is the 2009 Escalade's powerplant—a brute, delivering 403 horsepower at 5,700 rpm, and 417 pound-feet of torque at 4,300 rpm. "Powering every 2009 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. The power makes for stunningly quick acceleration in such a massive vehicle: 6.1 seconds to 60 to be exact, says Forbes Autos.
Unfortunately, the 2009 Cadillac Escalade EXT isn't shy about fuel consumption. "As one would expect, gas consumption is quite poor," says Edmunds. Forbes Autos warns, "Don't expect to break 20 miles per gallon, even in highway cruising." Kelley Blue Book explains that the engine “does not yet have GM's Active Fuel Management (AFM), which deactivates half of the cylinders under light load.” If the Cadillac Escalade EXT had the ability to use just four of its eight cylinders while coasting along or idling, like most of GM’s other full-size trucks, it could make a difference of several miles per gallon, estimates TheCarConnection.com.
Fortunately, the transmission gets good marks in the 2009 Cadillac Escalade EXT. Consumer Guide states that the "transmission changes gears smoothly, though some testers cite an occasional reluctance to downshift for passing." However, in the case of Cadillac's 2009 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."
Edmunds describes the steering in the 2009 Escalade EXT as "light and predictable" and the handling "stable and controlled over all but extremely rough surfaces." Consumer Guide also finds the Cadillac Escalade EXT 2009 model's handling to be "stable and confident in low- to moderate-speed changes of direction,” but doesn’t like the feel of the steering, describing it as "vague and overassisted." ConsumerGuide also has a nit to pick with body motion under braking: "strong brakes have reassuringly firm pedal feel, but fast stops trigger lots of nosedive."
TheCarConnection.com finds that Magnetic Ride Control, which is now standard with the big 22-inch wheels, will help smooth out the choppy ride those oversized wheels otherwise invite.
The 2009 Cadillac Escalade EXT handles surprisingly well for such a large vehicle. Acceleration matches that of some sportscars.