MAGNET ALL GROWN UP
2013 Cadillac Escalade Premium
This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!
Published on Sat, Oct 20, 2012
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
By Zoran Segina In the days of our youthful courting exuberance, there existed vehicles that could raise the esteem of the male operators in the objects of their affection. In some extreme cases (depending mostly on exuberance), these could be any device with more than one seat and forward motion. But, generally, the subject vehicles had to be low-slung, sporty, shiny, with two doors, a removable roof and of exotic (preferably Italian) origin. Non-standard English defined these vehicles as ‘chick’ magnets. As we grew older, more sophisticated, and less nimble, the demands of the, uh, ladies have grown more complex. Despite the passing years, the ladies have not lost an iota of their beauty or charm. Like fine musical instruments, the time simply adds to their complexity, thus making them even more lovely and interesting. Except now, they have kids in little leagues, have to haul groceries for the family, and organize complex holiday meals. So, the low-slung-removable-roof magnet machines no longer have the appeal as the preferred mode of transportation. Four doors are better than two, and, after a fortune spent in a salon, the wind in the hair is less desirable than a steady flow of air conditioning. Take Sonali, a lovely lady who hails from the faraway land of marigolds and maharajas. She has always had a soft spot for the Cadillac brand because her mom, upon arriving on our shores, would buy and drive the largest Caddy GM had to offer. When Sonali hears about the Escalade, her chocolate eyes flash with excitement: “This is my favorite car! Perfect for the kids! I have to ride in it.” A three- ton SUV can hardly be considered a magnet machine, but—as stated above—the ladies’ interests have shifted.
The first two rows of seats in the Escalade have captain chairs with multiple electronic adjustments including a lumbar support. In addition, the driver’s seat has a two-position memory, and a control to slide the seat back for easier entry and exit. Another control on the C pillar will collapse the second row seats forward to simplify the access to the rear. Before anyone can push the button, Sonali has found her way to the third row seats. The rest of the test team piles in and we take off. The high seating position offers excellent visibility all around, and a commanding view of the road which shortens the travel time. For Sonali’s mother, whose tiny stature is so disproportionate to her outsized determination, the pedals can be brought closer. The steering wheel has an adjustment for rake but not for telescoping, which is odd for the vehicle of this class. The faux wood trim on the dashboard is accented with brushed metal. The wood accent on the steering wheel rim adds the sense of elegance, but presses against the driver’s palm. Overall, the Escalade exudes the feeling of solidity and sturdiness. A centrally located analog clock with a square face above the navigation screen adds a nice touch. The area behind the sunroof is occupied by a DVD screen for the passengers’ viewing pleasure. A large box underneath the center armrest holds a DVD remote control and two earphones. When the Escalade is Park mode, the DVD plays on the navigation screen. Our destination is a small eatery somewhere in Hollywood on a busy street, with a postage-size parking lot behind the store. For its size, the Escalade is exceptionally maneuverable. The turning radius is short, and squeezing into tight spaces is helped by tilting rear view mirrors, a rear view camera with a directional tracking, and a progressively louder alarm signal as the rear bumper approaches a wall. The generously sized mirrors have traffic indicators to alert the driver about another vehicle in the blind spot. Sonali and the rest of the crew are impressed.
On the way back, the passengers request we drive through steep hills and descents “to see if the brakes work.” I manually shift by pressing controls designated + and - on the shifter, and the engine braking slows the fully loaded Escalade to a crawl. Another control on the shifter adjusts the SUV for towing. With a towing capacity of over eight thousand pounds, a transmission temperature gauge is a smart addition. The rear gate can be remotely operated from the button on a keychain. Sonali would like to have more space behind the third row seats, which can be independently collapsed to provide more room. But the smaller items can be just tossed in through the rear gate glass. When I finally park the Escalade and retract the large rear view mirrors, Sonali melts. Another lovely lady who melts upon approaching the Escalade (but for a completely different reason) is our friend Maureen. On a furnace-hot late afternoon in West LA, we are going to a restaurant we haven’t tried before. The temperature has been near triple digits for a week, and Maureen cannot take it anymore. While she gets settled into a second row captain chair, I crank the cooling system to full blast. The seats have built in cooling vents. With the inside temperature dropping, and Sinatra’s crooning over the multiple speaker Bose audio system, I can detect in the rear view mirror a twinkle of satisfaction in Maureen’s beautiful cerulean eyes. Decades ago, a similar twinkle convinced Bill that this is the only girl for him, and they have been together ever since. The second row seats have their climate control, and Bill is trying to adjust the controls to keep his date happy. We follow the navigation instructions to the restaurant. The system is self-explanatory, intuitive, easy to handle, and simple to operate. The uncluttered display can provide traffic and weather report on demand. To the left of the screen, somewhat hidden behind the shifter stalk, one can find the information control buttons for the e-panel between the tachometer and the speedometer. The electromagnetic suspension cannot mask the fact that our luxurious cabin rides on a truck frame. The twenty-two inch wheels suppress bumps in the road but the profile 45 sidewall ratio makes the ride harsh. At the restaurant, Maureen elegantly alights the Escalade by stepping on a footrest which slid out as I opened the door.“I could get used to this,” she observes to her husband, proving that the Escalade’s appeal to the ladies is not limited solely to the ones having a family relationship with the Cadillac.
A very sensible driving style (and definitely not utilizing the full power of the four hundred horses packed in the 6.2 liter Vortec V-8) results in a combined fuel economy below twelve miles per gallon. The Escalade is equipped with the computer-controlled all-wheel drive which determines when and how to distribute power. The massive torque is offset by the Escalades’ weight, and, despite the impressive acceleration numbers, the SUV does not seem easy to accelerate. The engine’s management system is programmed to shut four cylinders to save as much premium gas as possible. A portion of the passenger foot-well is inexplicably occupied by a big piece of plastic. While I miss a dead pedal to rest my left foot, the second row passengers love the handles above the doors and on the B pillar, and a bungee cord with a plastic hook to keep the seatbelts out of their way when getting in and out. A cupholder for the third row seat passengers conceals a tire sealant and a handy compressor. On the outside, the large angular body is made visually smaller by the “dub-twos”. Chrome abounds, from the roof rack, over the view mirrors, down to the front fascia. A glance under the hood reveals a big, heavy duty 6.2 liter Vortec engine. A door sticker bearing UAW and GM logo reminds the owner that the vehicle was assembled with pride in the Arlington, TX, factory which has been around since 1954. In our modern times, the V-8 premium gasoline-powered, body-on-frame SUV may be an anachronism, but the Escalade’s very appeal lies in its hefty dose of political incorrectness. The Escalade harkens to less complicated times, and offers an unabashed amount of chrome and self-assuredness. That it also raises the esteem of its operator in the eyes of certain ladies . . . . well, call it a very large chick magnet. For more information about Cadillac products, go to www.cadillac.com
SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2013 Cadillac Escalade Premium Price: $74,225 (base) $75,220.00 (as tested) EPA-rated fuel economy (miles per gallon): 13 city/18 highway Engine type: 6.2 liter, Vortec V8 SFI gasoline engine with active fuel management Horsepower: 403 @ 5700 rpm Torque: 417 pound-feet @ 4,300 rpm Drive configuration: All-Wheel Drive with transfer case Transmission type: Six-speed automatic transmission Steering: Power-assisted rack and pinion Suspension: Short and long arm independent front suspension, multi-link rear suspension, with front and rear stabilizer bars Brakes: 13 x 1.18-inch ventilated disc front 13.5 x 0.787-inch disc rear Wheels and tires: 22-inch x 9.0-inch seven spoke machined finish alloy wheels with Bridgestone Duelers HL 285/45 R 22 H-rated EL Alenza tires Dimensions Overall length: 202.5 inches Overall width: 79.0 inches Overall height: 75.9 inches Curb weight (lbs): 5,718 pounds