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2013 Cadillac Escalade Overview
The handsome, stately Escalade, Cadillac's premier SUV, confidently returns for 2013 with few changes from last year's model. That's mostly a good thing, as this rugged (8,300 pounds of towing capacity), wide (79 inches), powerful (403 hp) machine is the choice of senators and CEOs in a hurry who refuse to compromise and demand luxury.
The Escalade is expected to get a refresh for 2014. So for now, it sits on its laurels—pretty nice laurels at that. The machine comes in 4 main trim levels—Base, Premium, Luxury and Platinum—each of which is powered by a 6.2-liter FlexFuel V8 mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission that combine for the aforementioned 403 hp and 417 lb-ft of torque. Each trim level is available with sporty rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive (AWD). You'd better believe this SUV is quick—0 to 60 takes just 6.7 seconds, in spite of its curb weight of more than 7,000 pounds.
And since 2009 the Escalade has gone green by adding a Hybrid trim level, which includes a 6.0-liter V8 and is co-powered by a NiMH battery. Combined they produce 332 hp and 367 lb-ft of torque, delivered by a 4-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive. The result is a decent 20 mpg city/23 highway (the standard engine gets 14/18).
Outside, the car is both beautiful and imposing—you definitely want to stay out of its way, but its massive, standard assist steps make getting in and out a snap. New to this year's Escalade is the addition of a snazzy new color, Silver Coast Metallic. The Base trims come with 18-inch aluminum wheels but can easily be supersized to 22-inchers, which come installed on every other level.
Inside, the 8-passenger Escalade never feels cheap or uncomfortable at even the lowest levels of trim. All versions include 3-zone climate control, a navigation system, aluminum interior and leather seats—that's Caddy Style. Other notable features include a power liftgate, Bose 5.1 Surround Sound system and heated-and-cooled cupholders (they think of everything!).
And the Escalade is safe. With stability control, antilock brakes, a rear-view camera and blind-spot monitoring system as standard, the body-on-frame vehicle keeps its passengers out of harm's way. The vehicle also comes equipped with front and side airbags for front seats, as well as head-curtain side airbags for everyone in case of a rollover.
But it's not all champagne and caviar. The Escalade's navigation system is not yet linked to an infotainment center, like those of many of its competitors; this upgrade is expected to show up in 2014. And the Escalade is the very definition of "behemoth"—you may feel like you need special credentials to handle it. The third-row seat can feel a little cramped and is difficult to fold. And then there's its mileage...
But these are petty concerns to the pampered power people driving Escalades, as they stare coldly through the darkened glass at the "little people" below them.