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2012 Cadillac Escalade EXT Overview
As the only full-size luxury pickup truck on the market, the Cadillac Escalade EXT full-size pickup still manages to provide impressive utility. For 2012, this Caddy-with-an-attitude should remain essentially unchanged. It will, of course, retain its unique and well-received “midgate” folding rear window/rear seat that morphs the EXT from an Escalade SUV into a pickup truck with a 5.3-foot bed, and it continues to offer boundless luxury features not found in run-of-the-mill trucks.
Three trims - the far-from-basic Base, midlevel Luxury and top-shelf Premium - will once more grace the EXT moniker; each will be delivered with standard full-time all-wheel-drive (AWD) traction and handling advantages. With the midgate in place, this manly Caddy offers five-passenger Crew Cab seating with the usual front bucket seats, and, with the window and seats folded, sports 109 cubic feet of covered cargo area, complements of a power-retractable hard tonneau cover. At a projected base price near $62,500, this storied pickup is geared toward the rich and famous... or at least the well-off, thus its tepid (to say the least) gas mileage should be of little consequence when driving this opulent workhorse.
For 2012, the Escalade EXT will likely retain its standard 403-hp 6.3-liter ethanol-friendly Flex Fuel (FFV) V8 powerplant. A shiftable 6-speed automatic transmission pulls 417 lb-ft of torque from the potent V8, and variable valve timing (VVT) keeps mileage at an underwhelming 13 mpg city/18 highway, burning recommended premium gas. Towing is rated at some 7,600 pounds, with the shiftable 6-speed automatic packing a tow/haul mode and complementing the standard viscous center differential and rear locking differential that govern the AWD system. An auxiliary transmission fluid cooling system is also expected to be standard once again.
A major draw for the 2012 Escalade EXT, besides its unique utilitarianism, is doubtless the numerous luxury appearance and cabin amenities offered. With standard 18-inch alloy wheels, a roof rack, power-operated tonneau cover, trailer equipment and heated, power-adjustable, and power-folding exterior mirrors retained, even the Base EXT looks snappier than the average high-end pickup. Add to that standard leather upholstery, a leather-and-wood steering wheel, and wood and simulated alloy dash trim, not to mention various other cabin accents, and this Base trim beats most every other top-line pickup hands-down for sheer opulence. Then there’s the standard heated and cooled power-adjustable front seats with driver's memory (including audio and climate controls) and heated second-row seating to be expected, placing this Base trim far above its lesser brethren. Cruise control, power-adjustable pedals and tilt-wheel steering, remote keyless entry, a universal remote garage door opener, cruise control, dual-zone climate control, remote engine start and, of course, power door locks and windows should top off the Base EXT’s list of standard comfort and convenience goodies. Entertainment and techno-gizmos, meanwhile, will once again encompass an eight-speaker Bose premium audio system featuring an MP3-capable single-CD player, XM satellite radio, and OnStar Directions and Connections with voice-activated, memory-card-based navigation and Bluetooth-interfaced communications services.
The EXT Luxury trim, as its name implies, is expected to add 22-inch chromed aluminum wheels, rear-seat audio and climate controls, and a heated steering wheel to the mix. Moving up to the Escalade EXT Premium, meantime, will again beget standard power-retractable side steps and a DVD/MP3 rear-seat entertainment system.
Options across the lineup should include a bedliner and engine-block heater, while the Luxury trim will likely once again be eligible for the rear-seat entertainment system that graces the Premium trim. A standard active suspension system ought to again soften the ride in the Luxury and Premium trims and is expected to once more be an available option for the EXT Base.
Sheer bulk provides the 2012 Escalade EXT most of its occupant protection, but should that not be enough, a plethora of standard safety equipment graces this amped-up pickup.
Four-wheel antilock brakes (ABS) and traction control and StabiliTrak stability control, as well as front side-mounted airbags and front and rear head airbags headline standard safety features. This equipment is backed up by daytime running lights, front fog/driving lights, xenon high-intensity-discharge (HID) headlights, a remote antitheft alarm and a post-collision safety system, with OnStar emergency services, including automatic collision response and stolen vehicle tracking also standard across the lineup. The Premium trim additionally sports standard Intellibeam LED headlights for added confidence at night.
Owners of the 2011 Escalade EXT find its gas mileage less than advertised, with the Luxury and Premium trim’s 22-inch wheels dishing out an unexpectedly harsh ride, despite the active suspension system. A somewhat noisy cabin and some seemingly low-rent cabin plastics also have a few owners mildly upset, while all are aware of the limitations this big pickup presents in tight spaces. Posh, power, looks and utility, however, should keep buyers flowing into dealerships for a look at, and perhaps a deal on, this unique Caddy.
by Eric Tallberg
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