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2005 Cadillac Escalade ESV Platinum

Cadillac’s Monster Hit Goes Platinum

    Cadillac says with the Escalade ESV Platinum they have created the ultimate full-size luxury SUV. For the time being, they’re right. If you thought a garden-variety Escalade was over-the-top in substance and style, prepare to recalibrate your substance and style meter. The ESV takes everything on the standard Escalade and makes it bigger and/or better. The most obvious modification being the Chevrolet Suburban chassis that underpins the ESV in place of the standard-length Tahoe chassis found on lesser Escalades. That modification gives the ESV an extra 22-inches of sheetmetal and 20-inches of interior length, providing substantially increased room for you and your 6-member posse. The ESV is bigger than other Escalades, no doubt, but is it good enough to warrant a $70,675 asking price? We borrowed one for a week to find out.
     You might expect a limited edition version of a vehicle to offer performance upgrades, but the Platinum goes without. Instead, Cadillac decided to make this limited edition ESV all about comfort. That means under the Platinum’s hood you’ll find the same Vortec 6.0-liter V8 as in other Escalades rated at the same 345hp and 380 lb-ft of torque. It sends that substantial power to all four wheels through the same 4L65-E 4-speed automatic transmission. This means if you’re looking for some extra kick from your sport-ute, you best start looking at other—much smaller—makes, like Land Rover and Porsche. But we have reason to believe you’ll be satisfied with the acceleration of this luxury bus. Thanks to a short first gear and the vigor of the Vortec, when you really spur the gas pedal you’ll find cruising speeds come faster than you’d expect in a vehicle only slightly smaller than a city bus. An added incentive to use the spurs is the nice exhaust note under acceleration. Of course, a disincentive to using the gas pedal like a vehicular volume button is fuel economy that would make a Saudi cry. Curiously, despite weighing several hundred pounds more, the Platinum is rated at the same 13city/17highway miles per gallon as the standard Escalade we tested last spring. Nevertheless, the vehicle was averaging about 12mpg in our hands. Apparently, we wear extra sharp spurs. We expect the new Escalade, due next year, to make moderate improvements in its fuel economy with the help of a six-speed automatic and Displacement on Demand. Any improvement in this area is welcome.
     Not much improvement is needed in the exterior design department. The Escalade looks as expensive as ever in this stretched and lowered (20 mm front, 23 mm rear) version. Our truck was painted Quicksilver which accents the plentiful chrome trim nicely. All Platinum Edition ESVs sit on gorgeous 20” chrome wheels and show off with a chrome grille. Besides some badging denoting this as the Platinum Edition that is the extent of the exterior changes.
     You have to swing open the door to see where the Platinum Edition really applies. Inside you’ll find every option Cadillac offers on the Escalade and even some reserved only for this luxury package. The standard equipment column reads like War and Peace. Heated and cooled front seats with 14-way power adjustments, heated and cooled second row captain’s chairs, heated and cooled cup holders (a neat idea in need of a little improvement) DVD navigation, power sunroof, Bose audio, XM radio, dual screen DVD entertainment system, HID headlamps, tri-zone climate controls, and on and on. The problem still rests with materials that aren’t up to snuff, although improvement has been made in the Platinum with leather and wood on the door pulls, the dash still needs improvement. We expect a huge leap forward in both materials and design when the ’07 Escalade bows next year. As it sits, the comfort factor is impressive, but the standard Escalade is no Alcatraz either.
     Part of the increased comfort level is due to a ride so plush passengers could paint their fingernails going down the road and not look like art school rejects when they finished. A combination of automatic rear-load leveling and GM’s Road Sensing Suspension make this possible. The 130-inch wheelbase doesn’t hurt either. It certainly ranks as one of the best riding vehicles we’ve driven in a long time. It’s also supremely quiet, making conversations with passengers in the back easy. There is plenty of room for both passengers and cargo. The third row seats remain significantly less plush than the other chairs and they do not fold into the floor so you must remove them the old fashioned way. We’d be surprised if Cadillac doesn’t implement fold flat 3rd row seats in the upcoming model. We’ll go out on a limb here and say they’ll be power operated, too.
     The Escalade has been an unquestionable monster hit for Cadillac. The argument could be made that it single handedly restored desirability to the wreath and crest brand. The Platinum Edition is the ultimate expression of the Escalade’s philosophy to flaunt it if you’ve got it. Well, the Platinum definitely has it and flaunts all 18-plus feet of it. The problem is that a brand new model is months away and is expected to be greatly improved in every area. If you’ve held out this long, a few more months should be doable. If, however, you must have the biggest, best riding, most luxurious SUV out there, there really is only one choice. It’s hard to justify a $70,675 vehicle that gets 12 miles to the gallon, but then again, you only live once.

The Good:
Rides like a hovercraft, every luxury feature known to man, gorgeous wheels.
The Bad:
Dismal fuel economy, squishy brake pedal, these materials at this price!
The Verdict:
Pretty, plush, powerful, and preposterous.

Photos by Brandon Dye

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  1. Dan Rebello
    November 12th, 2010 at 01:12 | #1

    Cadillac Escalade ESV is one of the top two contenders for the best large sized luxury sedans..Escalade boasts of really spacious interiors for eight which can accommodate upto eight passengers..This is the perfect car for those who need a combination of a luxury sedan and a highly functional full-sized SUV!It exterior look is pompous and will grab your attention if anywhere on the street!Also the controls are well-placed and sensible which make the driving part easy..Handling is good and acceleration is awesome!The navigation system is fabulous with a touch screen that reads all information about controls very easily!

  1. February 12th, 2010 at 08:14 | #1
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