2011 Cadillac Escalade EXT Review

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Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
February 7, 2011
The EXT's name is a little deceiving; while it carries the Escalade name, and is very much part of this iconic luxury SUV family, it's a pickup. And at that, it's a pickup with a twist: A special Midgate system allows the driver to reconfigure the EXT as needed to either accommodate backseat passengers or create a larger cargo bed.

While the Escalade EXT is, to the objective eye, just a luxed-out version of the Chevrolet Avalanche, it's arguably much more. Just as the Escalade has become a glitzy, chrome-and-excess fantasy object, the same applies here. From the front doors forward, the EXT looks much like the rest of the Escalade lineup, though some won't be quite as pleased with how the pickup design fits behind that.

However, the EXT rides and drives nearly as well as the other Escalade models. The same 403-hp, 6.2-liter V-8 churns out enough torque down low to let this mammoth beast leap forward at stoplights (all-wheel drive is standard), but the consequence is a 13-mpg city EPA rating (18 highway). But it's way more refined than most pickups. Even GM's Magnetic Ride Control, which allows essentially the best of both worlds and grants the Escalade a more nimble feel than you'd guess from its massive, tall stance, is available here.

The Midgate system is novel, but it's a setup you have to see and try out to know if it's right for you. The rear seats aren't quite like those in the regular Escalade, but they're ample and comfortable for adults. A lockable, standard tonneau cover protects items in the cargo bed or can be removed entirely for added space.

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The EXT isn't offered in a top-gloss Platinum version, as other Escalades, but its top Pemium trim gets power-retractable running boards, IntelliBeam headlamps, a rear DVD entertainment system, and a heated steering wheel—in addition to the great Bose sound system and all the other Escalade standard features.

For more information on the EXT—including more pictures, advice, and what others have said—see our full reviews of both the 2011 Chevrolet Escalade, as well as this review on the Escalade EXT.

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$22,500 - $34,998
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