2003 Cadillac Escalade
– Strong engine
– Large interior
– Loaded with luxury
– Poor fuel economy
– A little big for the streets
– Cannot do serious offroading
This generation of the Cadillac Escalade, first introduced in 2002, has become one of the leading models in the luxury SUV market. It is one of Cadillac’s new models featuring their edgy design philosophy. The Escalade is a hit among professional athletes, rappers and movie stars in the United States. This Caddy is featured in numerous rap music videos with explicit lyrics, making it popular among a younger set of affluent buyers. Worldwide, the average Escalade buyer is 50 years old, which is about 12 years younger than the average Cadillac buyer.
A year after its release in 2002, the 2003 Escalade’s interior got a facelift and added a few more gizmos such as DVD rear seat entertainment and the navigation system. Since then a lot more features has been added to it. Second-row bucket seats come standard now offering more comfort for its passengers. The third-row seat is flat and not as comfortable, with little legroom.
New gadgets include a tyre pressure monitoring system for added safety. It gives a warning to the driver if the pressure on any of the four tires drops below a specified level. A fancy safety feature is its automatic passenger sensing airbag system which functions according to the type of occupants inside. This system senses the size of its occupants on the seats. If the system detects the occupant is small or is a child, it disables the passenger side front air-bag. If the occupant is a typical large person then the air-bag is enabled. Obviously the system is not very efficient, therefore Cadillac have installed a display on the rear-view mirror telling the passenger if the system is switched on or not. Other usual safety features include the side-impact air-bags and dual-level frontal airbags. The Escalade has side-impact door beams and energy-absorbing blocks to minimize injury to the head. The second row seat had a seat-belt in the middle and a child restraint anchor system for easily installing a child seat if needed.
For a safe ride, the Escalade has installed a four-channel StabiliTrak system and a Borg-Warner one speed full-time open-differential transfer case. These systems allow any of the four wheels to be independently controlled for greater stability. Also it improves braking and increases fuel-economy and reliability.
The Escalade seats seem to have a European look to it which feels kind of odd for an American car. The second row seats can be folded to increase luggage space. All models come with heated seats. Front power seats can be 10-way adjusted and also has power side bolsters and power lumbar support. The ebony instrument panel has the speedometer and tachometer which is surrounded with brushed painted rings. The flashy analog clock in the panel is designed by Bvlgari.
The rear seat DVD entertainment system consists of a 7-inch flip-open screen and navigation system which also consists of an in-dash 6-CD changer. The sound is provided by its nine-speaker Bose sound system which is one the best in the market.
The exterior design is not to everyone’s taste. With a flat front end and a simple shape, it is not as eye-catching as, say, the Porsche Cayenne. But its popularity with rap singers has helped its image immensely. Many Escalade owners get the standard wheels replaced by 24-inch chrome rims to brighten up their big four-wheel-drive.
The Escalade is one of the fastest and most powerful SUVs in the world thanks to its 6.0L V8 engine which pumps out 345 hp at 5200 rpm and 502 Nm of torque at 4000 rpm, making this machine reach 100 kph in about 8 seconds using the standard automatic gearbox. The engine is reasonably smooth and propels the Caddy to high speeds with little effort. The only drawback to all this power is the fuel economy. With worse petrol consumption than a Toyota Land Cruiser, it is hardly easy on the pocket. In its defence, the Escalade can out-accelerate most Japanese competitors except maybe for the Nissan Armada.
The Escalade also handles very well on the road, considering its size. The ride is smooth and small road bumps cannot be felt at all. Cornering abilities are actually better than the Nissan Patrol and the Land Cruiser, but not as sporty as the smaller BMW X5. However, braking is as good as any mid-size car. It reduces speed linearly when the brakes are applied, and stops in the same distance as a Toyota Camry from a speed of 100 kph. The Escalade is not a true offroader however, as it does not have low-range gearing like its Chevrolet Tahoe cousin. All it can do is cruise on bumpy roads, crawl on the beach, climb a footpath and maybe some simple sand driving. In contrast, a Range Rover can climb the toughest of mountain trails and sand dunes.
A Cadillac Escalade is the perfect vehicle for those looking for the ultimate luxury four-wheel-drive but do not need any offroading equipment. A potential buyer can look at this vehicle as an alternative to the all-too-common Mercedes-Benz S-Class sedan. Just be ready to spend some time practicing how to reverse park. As a used vehicle, the Escalade offers immense value for money, since Cadillacs lose value faster than many other luxury brands in the Middle East. It is easy to pick up a two-year-old model for less than two-thirds the cost of a new one. Reliability is fairly good, with a rock-solid engine, but maintaining a big American vehicle in this region can be an expensive affair.
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