THE BIG TIME
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Published on Wed, May 18, 2005
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
THE BIG TIME
By JOHN GRAFMAN
This is not a sport utility vehicle, it's a school bus! Anytime you have room for seven with plenty of cargo, nearly three tons of mass, and heated as well as cooled cup holders, the term sport just doesn't seem right.
Cadillac has gone to the brink of personal transportation, and this is most certainly the most massive impression one can find without needing a commercial driving license.
School kids being chauffeured about in this crossover vehicle (a cross between a motor coach and a suburban) will love the way-back outpost in the third row. Like the back of a school bus, well away from the long arm of the law (more commonly known as mom and dad), kids are free to watch movies and make irritating faces at rearward cars. However, most bus-bound juveniles can only dream of the lavish cabin that the Platinum edition of the super-size ESV version of the already huge Escalade touts.
I am looking about to uncover some feature that this doesn't have. I can't seem to find any! I think Cadillac took a good look at the extensive GM parts list and simply said "Yes".
For the moment, Cadillac claims this as the world's most powerful full-size sport utility. The 6.0-liter engine cranks out 345 horsepower - a very impressive number and, for that matter, an impressive experience. I liken the behavior to a space shuttle. This is counterintuitive. Things this big aren't supposed to move this fast!
The wow factor is very high in the king of Caddies, but all is not perfect in this kingdom. Like many other machines we have noted over the years, when the basis of a vehicle is a much lower priced vehicle, it is hard to overcome the shortcomings - even when it's dolled up to the nines.
I am not too surprised that around town this behemoth wallows about. Cornering and stopping are not encouraged. While the Cadillac can manage respectable performances all around, the standard for the world is obviously left to its sibling, the XLR, to set.
Cruising about town with some GM savvy friends, we did (more-or-less) come to some common ground on the ESV. All of us agree that a trip to Mammoth (no pun intended) is an excellent use for the monster. Long cruises to distant locations exploit the best aspects of the Escalade. Any big trip will benefit from plenty of room and such niceties as heated and cooled front and second row bucket seats and the aforementioned cup holders, tandem DVD screens for the second and third row - complete with four sets of wireless headsets, and that oh-so-sweet Cadillac leather.
Each facet of the experience has something special to consider. The interior clock is not the usual, but an analog Bulgari. The pedals are power-adjustable, the center function screen is touch-activated, and the second row of seats can actually recline at the touch of a button too.
As much as I lose perspective having no snow filled winters in my resume, one of the group is eager to kindly remind me that the seemingly oversized buttons are there to accommodate a gloved hand. Gloved for wintertime, not engineered for the king of pop. Be that as it may, I had to question the buttons for the GPS mapping and audio just to the side of the screen. GM crams in a bunch of buttons in an area fit for just one or two. Even with a steady hand while driving, no gloves involved, it is still tricky connecting with the appropriate button.
The upscale clock is also not angled enough for the driver to read without leaning over. The pedals are staggered way too far apart.
While these might be small details, it's those details that need to be addressed, as the barbarians are at the gate.
Occupants will love the Platinum edition ESV for the impressive sound, with built in XM satellite radio and its nearly endless selection of stations - including several urban stations that offer the whole spectrum of rap. Although I am not normally tuned to the rap stations, I feel compelled to follow the adage of "When in Rome, do as the Romans do". This is a perfect alternative to a limo for those nights out with four, five or six of your accomplices. The rear seat audio only adds to aural experience.
Other features of the Platinum edition include the ever-popular Dubs (20-inch wheels), an imposing chrome grill and badging, the temperature adjustable seats with 14-way power, the previously mentioned cup holders, power sunroof, and a DVD navigation radio.
Standard equipment worth speaking of are the all wheel drive, Stabilitrac electronic stability control system, road-sensing suspension, automatic rear leveling control, high intensity discharge (HID) headlights, tire pressure monitoring, and one year of OnStar satellite service.
The listed figure for mileage may, on first blush, read abysmal. If the vehicle is loaded up with a maximum number of occupants, however, the 17 miles per gallon figure doesn't come across as bad at all. On the other hand, mom shuttling about a single child is not be the best use of the Caddy.
I don't find the added length to be happy during in-town driving. The ultrasonic rear park assist sensors are lifesavers, but this machine is best in the wide-open spaces.
But you know us crazy Californians, the less it makes sense the better we like it. Ferraris that can't get over forty miles per hour due to traffic are as plentiful as bug splats on the windshield while on a warm summer night's drive. GM is more than happy to deliver what the masses desire. If it's a school bus the public wants, it's a school bus they shall have. I can see that Cadillac just might have a hit on its hands with this decadent living room on wheels.
Summary Judgment: A perfect vehicle to transport six in luxury, and one of the most wasteful means of moving a single person from A to B.
More information on this can be found at www.cadillac.com
Price: Base $69,825.00, as tested $70,675.00
Engine type: Vortec H.O. 6000 6.0L V-8, OHV, 2 valves per cylinder, cast iron block, cast aluminum cylinder head
Horsepower: 345 / 257 @ 5200 rpm
Torque: 380 / 515 @ 4000 rpm
Drive configuration: Front engine / all-wheel drive
Transmission type: Hydra-Matic 4L65-E, electronic 4-speed automatic
Suspension: Front: Independent SLA with torsion bars, Road Sensing Suspension RSS, 32-mm stabilizer bar, monotube shocks Rear: 5-link with coil springs, with automatic air-leveling system, Road Sensing Suspension, 30-mm stabilizer bar, monotube shocks
Wheels and tires: Front: 20-inch Goodyear Touring all-season steel-belted radials P275/55R20 Rear: 20-inch Goodyear Touring all-season steel-belted radials P275/55R20
Brakes: Front: Discs 12.01 x 1.14 diameter Rear: Discs 13 x 1.1 diameter
4-channel StabiliTrak stability enhancement system Hydroboost, 4-wheel disc with 4-wheel ABS, dual-piston calipers with Dynamic Rear Proportioning
Overall length: 221.4" Overall width: 79.5" Overall height: 75.7" Curb weight (lbs.): 5,933
EPA mileage estimates City/ Highway: 13/17