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Cadillac Escalade the king of bling

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Big and brash, with a heaping helping of bling: It’s the Cadillac Escalade, the luxury behemoth with the dubious distinction of being the most-stolen SUV in all the land.

For those in that line of work, they know the Escalade is the ne plus ultra of the luxury sport-utility world. If you’re going for broke, why not start at the top?

Our pinnacle Platinum AWD model was a sybarite’s dream. Automatic running-board steps motor out to ease entry into the cavernous cabin, swathed in sumptuous cocoa-colored leather not only on the seats but also the dash and doors.

2011 Cadillac Escalade Platinum AWD
VEHICLE TYPE: Four-door, seven-passenger luxury sport-utility wagon
BASE PRICE: $87,345
PRICE AS TESTED: $88,295 (incl. delivery fees)
POWERTRAIN: 6.2-liter V-8; 403 horsepower; 417 lb.-ft. torque; six-speed automatic transmission; all-wheel drive
WHEELBASE/LENGTH: 116.0”/202.5”
CURB WEIGHT: 5,488 pounds
EPA FUEL RATING: 13 mpg city/18 highway (premium/flex-fuel)

Handsome woodgrain trim and accents of gleaming chrome add to the high-end ambiance.

Everything is powered to operate at the touch of a switch or button. Amenities are too numerous to renumerate, but the front-console cupholders can keep your drink cold or hot, for one example.

Propulsion for the nearly three-ton truck comes from a 6.2-liter, overhead-valve V-8, producing a healthy 403 horsepower and 417 pound-feed of torque. Acceleration is fairly brisk, accented by a deep, big-bore V-8 rumble that brings back memories of the 1950s and ’60s.

But you’ll want to go easy on that go-pedal, no matter how enticing the sound: The ’Slade slakes its prodigious, premium-grade thirst at a wallet-draining 13 miles per gallon in town and 18 mpg on the highway.

As a sop to environmental concerns, the Caddy offers flex-fuel capability. Still, a “Drill, Baby, Drill!” bumper sticker might seem more apropos.

For those hauling a boat or horse trailer, note that the Caddy can haul up to 8,100 pounds.

The Escalade’s bulk makes city driving a bit of a hassle, especially in parking lots. But on the open road, it’s nothing but smooth sailing. Dropping the anchor to slow the big brute, though, shows the brakes have their work cut out for them.

Obviously, the Escalade Platinum attracts a rarified clientele (excepting the aforementioned criminal element). Those who can afford to own and operate one will be amply rewarded.




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