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I picked up my new Cadillac EXT last Thursday (27th September 2007). Considered as a luxury sport-utility truck by Cadillac, the Escalade EXT seats five passengers and offers a reconfigurable midgate which converts it from a 4ft x 4ft truck bed to a full size 4ft x 8ft truck bed in a vehicle no larger than a full size SUV. It's available only in all-wheel drive, the 2007 Cadillac Escalade EXT is equipped with a 6.2L V-8 engine with variable valve timing hat boasts 408-hp and pushes out over 400 lb-ft of torque, achieving 0-60 in just 6.2 seconds and a top speed of 105mph (limited to that by the onboard engine management system). It is coupled to a heavy-duty six-speed automatic transmission that is quiet but responsive to drive and which offers a "manual" option with gear change paddles.
Climbing into the driver's seat of the 2007 Cadillac Escalade EXT, the first thing you notice is how high you sit above the rest of the road-going public. Visibility is good in all directions thanks to the Cadillac Escalade EXT's tall stance and its pickup-truck design.
There are very few extras you can purchase as the base vehicle comes with just about everything. Mine has three of the four available extras - DVD navigation system with built-in rear view camera & acoustic parking sensors, 22 inch chrome wheels and a climate package that includes sunroof, heated/cooled seats and heated steerinh wheel. I decided not to go for the power retractable side-steps as I could'nt see a real use for them so I stuck with the fixed sidesteps instead.
The base price is $52,000 and loaded with extras less the dealer discounts, mine cost $59,000 plus transport to UK and import taxes bringing it to £48k (GBP) on the road. What you get for that is a Porsche Cayenne beating performance truck that returns 22MPG (my average since last Thursday over around 1000 miles) that is a luxurious as anything the Germans would offer as a 4x4 alternative. Add to that fact that the Escalade EXT is classified as a commercial vehicle as it can carry over a tonne in the back and you have something that is tax efficient (in company car terms) as well as being somewhat unique on UK roads.
Also ranking high in the tech spectrum is the Escalade EXT's audio system. The standard model has an eight-speaker Bose surround sound system with digital sound processing that delivers a rich audio output. My system is driven by a CD/Hard Drive that copies your music for subsequent playback just like an MP3 player and it's also fully wired to take input direct from your iPod which you can navigate from the 5 inch touch screen that is built into the dashboard. Hands-free calling is available in my Cadillac EXT and can also be operated using the touch screen keypad - all you need is a bluetooth mobile phone which you sync with the on-board system and you are away.
As part of its standard package, my Cadillac Escalade EXT also came with GM's Intellibeam headlight-control system, which uses a forward-looking digital camera mounted to the front of the rearview mirror to enable the car to turn on its manage its own lighting - you never need to turn them on or off as it senses ambient light levels and does it all for you - it even automatically controls high beams at night when no other vehicles are detected on the road ahead. Add road-sensing suspension, stability control, ABS and multiple air bags, you have a vehicle that is as safe as any other on the road. On the US NCAP ratings, the Cadillac Escalade EXT scores a full five-star safety rating for frontal and side impact, as well as a four-star rating for rollover safety. The 2007 Escalade EXT also comes with GM's StabiliTrak, which corrects the vehicle's path through steering and braking inputs if sensors detect a difference between the direction of steering and the actual turning angle. Other standard safety equipment includes a tyre-pressure monitor in each wheel, rain-sensing wipers and a comprehensive alarm/immobiliser system.
For the really lazy among us, the base model of the 2007 Cadillac Escalade EXT also has remote-start which enables you to fire-up the truck from the key fob at a distance of up to 200 feet at which point it starts the engine, turns on the lights and automatically adjusts the car interior temperature to a comfortable 70 degrees F.
In terms of competitors, the Cadillac EXT could be compared against the Nissan Navara, Mitsubishi L200 or Toyota Hilux but those trucks look tiny compared to the Cadillac Escalade EXT and none can match the luxury of the Cadillac interior. More realistcally, compare it to other American imports like the Dodge Ram 1500 or Ford F150. True, the EXT could be used in a utilitarian manner like many of those trucks but with a leather and wood-trimmed interior, a bevy of multimedia cabin features, and enough chrome to make you squint, the 2007 Cadillac Escalade EXT declares its true comfort-focused mission.
Looks - 10 out of 10 Value for Money - 9 out of 10 Performance - 10 out of 10 Behind the Wheel - 10 out of 10 Safety - 9 out of 10 Economy - 7 out of 10 (will be higher when I convert to run on LPG)
I have not discovered any dislikes yet but I am concerned about the steal-me, scratch-me potential that is there for any unusual vehicle in today's sometimes sad society.
Even judged purely as a luxury 4x4/SUV, the 2007 cadillac Escalade EXT has its appeal. Like the rest of the Escalade family, the EXT has benefited from a vastly more modern design in 2007 that has endowed it with more precise steering, able handling, great perofrmance and a gentle ride.
If you fall into the "I want one of those" category then speak to Charles Partos of 51st State Autos (www.51stateautos.com). Other importers exist but having researched the supply market before ordering mine, I found Charles to offer the best service and value-for-money.