You'll Like The 2008 Cadillac Escalade If...
If your driving life demands plenty of room for people plus cargo, along with luxury amenities and a brash aura, the Escalade could be your breed of SUV. Though not quite as glitzy in this iteration as the last, the audacious Escalade continues to get you noticed.
You May Not Like The 2008 Cadillac Escalade If...
Full-size dimensions translate to improved but still only so-so gas mileage, plus a rather high climb into the passenger compartment. So, if you can survive with a less-bulky luxury SUV, you may want to consider the Escalade an also-ran.
Fresh from its 2007 makeover, the 2008 Cadillac Escalade has only minor changes. The biggest news is the arrival of a hybrid version due later in 2008.
Seating is available for six to eight passengers. No exposed fasteners are visible, close-out panels conceal seat hardware, pillars are fabric-wrapped and the instrument panel's low and forward placement provides more interior room. The seats have sculpted backs to enhance interior space, and both the recline and seat-track travel are quite generous. Gauges are large enough, but blue pointers impair readability. Sadly, there's no driver's grab handle, and the passenger handle is a long reach.
Besides concentrating on proportions and execution, designers strove toward such detail refinements as reduced body gaps. All major components were new for 2007, including front and rear fascias, triple-stack HID headlamps, a unique D-pillar treatment and doors that wrap over the rocker panels. Ventiports adorn the front fenders and the windshield is steeply raked for both style and aerodynamic efficiency. The track width grew by three inches up front, a coil-over-shock suspension replaced the prior torsion bars and the boxed frame delivers 49-percent greater torsional stiffness. Standard wheels and tires are 18-inch, but hard-to-miss 22-inch versions are available.
The 2008 Cadillac Escalade's performance is energetic, but not exactly dramatic; hitting the gas at lower speeds doesn't always produce vigorous response, while engine noise during acceleration doesn't sound exactly Cadillac-like. Automatic-transmission shifts are impressively smooth, though on upgrades it sometimes seems uncertain what to do next. Handling isn't really truck-like but, in curves, it doesn't feel like a sports car, either, although the steering feel is more pleasing and precise than with previous Escalades. Expect a smooth ride on good surfaces, although minor bumps will get through, especially with the larger-diameter tires and wheels.
With all-wheel drive, the 2008 Cadillac Escalade has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) just over $58,000, while the two-wheel-drive version starts under $56,000. The Escalade's pricing places it well above the Lincoln Navigator, Lexus GX 470 and BMW X5, but on par with the Infiniti QX56 and far below the Land Rover Range Rover HSE. Fair Purchase Prices, which represent what consumers are actually paying, are running at about MSRP, so be sure to click on Fair Purchase Prices to compare. The 2008 Escalade should hold its value on par with the BMW X5 and Lexus GX 470, and trump the Lincoln Navigator by a wide margin.
A power rear liftgate heads the list of standard features in the amply-equipped 2008 Cadillac Escalade. Compatibility brackets, built into the front frame, are intended to reduce damage to other vehicles in certain collisions. Side-curtain airbags include tethers for enhanced rollover protection, front seatbelt pretensioners activate in rear impacts - said to be an "industry-exclusive" feature - and the StabiliTrak stability control system incorporates rollover mitigation technology. Audiophiles can enjoy Bose 5.1 Digital Surround Sound, while everyone benefits from Cadillac's Auto Ride suspension. Integrated tow hooks are standard. A tap-up/tap-down manual mode for the transmission works easily and promptly, using buttons on the column-mounted gearshift lever.
Power fold-and-tumble second-row seats are convenient to operate and cooled seats are offered in all models as part of the Ultra Luxury Collection package. Rear parking assist is available, along with a rearview camera; both are incorporated into a package that also includes Cadillac's navigation system. Power-deployable running boards are another appealing option and, when properly equipped, an all-wheel-drive Escalade can tow up to 7,700 pounds; good news for boaters and RVers.
Manual-mode Transmission Operation
Placing the + and - (upshift/downshift) buttons on the column gearshift might not seem like a good idea at first, as most vehicles with a manual-shift provision have a floor lever. Even so, these buttons are easy to find and use, and the transmission responds with satisfying promptness.
Power Fold-and-Tumble Second-row Seating
Third-row access is a serious issue in big SUVs and an easy-folding second-row seat can save a lot of irritation. This feature operates with buttons on the console and door pillar.
Under the Hood
Cadillac's V8 engine now displaces 6.2 liters and generates significant horsepower and torque. With its two overdrive ratios and wide gear-ratio spread, the Hydra-Matic 6L80 six-speed automatic transmission is said to be nearly equivalent to a seven-speed. The manual-shift mode uses column-lever buttons.
403 horsepower at 5700 rpm
417 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4300 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 12/19 (2WD), 12/18 (AWD)
Fast-living rappers and bling-dazzled celebrities swooned over the previous-generation Escalade but, in addition to more power and a greater length, the 2008 Cadillac Escalade stresses finesse over flashiness. Refinements are easily noticeable, inside and out, and the newest Escalade behaves more admirably on the road than its predecessor. Marketers claim segment-leading horsepower and torque for the "Gen IV" 6.2-liter V8 and, at 60 mph, the engine cruises along at just 1500 rpm.