The 403-hp, 6.2L aluminum V8 is exclusive to the Escalade. The engine incorporates variable valve timing to allow both low-rev torque and high-rev passing power, and it's hooked up to a new 6-speed automatic transmission with a wide ratio to balance performance and fuel efficiency. The new Escalade Hybrid draws its 332 hp from a 6.0L Vortec V8 and an electric motor. It is mated to 6-speed unique to the Hybrid.
A strong boxed frame is shared with GM's other full-size SUVs and brings increased strength and stiffness, for a more controlled ride and improved handling.
The Escalade has great stopping power as well, with large, powerful disc brakes on all four wheels and intelligent Bosch anti-lock braking. The ABS integrates with the Escalade's rollover mitigation technology, and is included with the standard Stabilitrak stability control. The system applies the brakes to help avoid situations that may lead to a vehicle rollover.
Other safety features include side curtain air bags for all three rows of outboard seating, along with a new 360-degree front seatbelt pretensioner system.
The Escalade's look features a steeply sloped windshield and is nicely integrated with wrap-around fascias, styled mirrors, and integral running boards.
The well-appointed cabin includes a power folding second-row seat along with plush leather upholstery and other premium materials inside, while the instrument panel has eye-catching white LED backlighting with blue inlays and white indicator needles.
Big, shiny wheels have become part of the Escalade's look, and stylish 22-inch wheels are available on select models. Escalades so equipped also benefit from Cadillac's new Magnetic Ride Control.
Audiophiles will be interested in the standard Bose 5.1 Digital Surround Sound system, and all audio systems on the Escalade play DVD, CD and MP3 formats, along with XM satellite radio. An eight-inch in-dash touch-screen navigation system is standard, as is a DVD player with eight-inch flip-down screen. Additionally, the standard OnStar Directions and Connections plan features Turn-by-Turn navigation through the vehicle's sound system.
The Escalade ESV is nearly identical in features and equipment to the standard Escalade, but it adds 21 inches of length, for improved rear seating space and cargo capacity.
The Escalade EXT closely resembles the other Escalade models from the front, and includes many of the same features, but it follows a so-called Sport-Utility Truck (SUT) body style. Part SUV, part pickup, it has a mid-gate panel that allows one to easily convert the EXT from a five-passenger SUV with a small cargo bed to a two-passenger SUV with a larger bed. With the mid-gate, the bed can either be five or eight feet long. The EXT comes with a lockable tonneau cover to secure items in the cargo bed.
Standard luxury equipment on the Escalade and ESV models includes tri-zone climate control, power tilt steering wheel, rear parking assist, remote vehicle start, and a power-assisted rear liftgate.
For 2009, Cadillac's flagship Escalade adds a gas-electric Hybrid to its lineup. The 6.0L Vortec V8 powerplant is available in either two-wheel or all-wheel drive and makes 332 hp. It is mated to a hybrid-specific 6-speed and has a towing capacity of 5,800 lb.
E85 FlexFuel capability is now available, as is Side Blind Zone Alert, XM NavTraffic, power-adjustable tilt steering, express-up windows, and Magnetic Ride Control suspension on Escalades with 22-inch wheels. The standard audio system now includes navigation, while a Bluetooth interface through OnStar and a rearview backup camera are standard as well.
A special Black Cherry exterior color will be available for a limited time.