: Review: 2006 Cadillac Escalade

09-15-08, 03:29 AM
My parking space seems to have something new in it every 2-3 months.

Here's the latest:
2006 Cadillac Escalade
6.0L Vortec Max
RWD with Stabilitrak
DVD Navigation
Park distance sensors
75,000 miles

I originally went to Florida to bring home a Chrysler Crossfire SRT6. I ended up taking home an Escalade instead. What changed my mind wasn't the drop in fuel prices; it was the lower insurance quote I got from Esurance, which was quite a bit less than Geico. Add to that the cost of buying a used pickup truck as a second vehicle, and choosing the Escalade was easy.

Style and Appearance: 5/5 Everyone knows what an Escalade looks like, and six years later it still looks damn good. I like the OEM wheels and have no intention of changing them, especially because of all-season requirements and the desire for ride quality over pock-marked inner city roads. Plus, they look nice. Maybe its the shade of blue, but I have yet to see a sharper looking SUV, except maybe the H2, H1, and perhaps the L322 Range Rover.

Interior: 4/5 As for the interior, it seems a bit nicer than the last Escalade I was in which was an '02. Every surface is either padded or softened, with the exception of the large dashboard trim piece that goes around the radio, function switches, and climate controls.
Compared to the 03-06 Navigator, the leather is far superior, with an almost velvety surface and thicker padding. The Navigator also had a few unpleasantly hard plastic pieces on the center console, rear cargo area, and door panel. It seems to me that GM spent more money.
I do prefer the Navigator's brilliantly clear optitron gauges over the Escalade's chrome ringed analogs, but the Escalade has a transmission temp gauge for people who tow trailers, boats, and horses.
The Navigator also has a beautiful silver center console that swoops upward to an analog clock. The Escalade's plain-looking Bulgari clock is mounted low in a completely useless position on the lower half of the dash. Otherwise, the truck-like layout is highly functional. It wraps around the driver and I can rest my hand on the shift lever while changing radio stations.
Unfortunately, the lack of an independent rear suspension makes the third row cramped. Navigator has a clever power-folding third row which makes for a very quick change from cargo to passenger space while the Escalade's third row remains in place and folds forward. The entire seat bench can be removed to create a flat load floor, but it's heavy, and then you have to store it somewhere.
The Navigator is also wider, wider even than the Hummer H2. This made the third row realistically useful for three adults, as evidenced by the time I drove eight people (and their luggage) across Chicago at a Cadillac owners meet.
Speaking of seating, the front buckets ARE as comfortable as they look. Wide, supportive, and heated. No cooled seats, unfortunately.
The Navigator also had a remote-operated power rear hatch, a feature I greatly miss. Its nice holding grocery bags while tapping the key fob and approaching an open cargo area.

I love the oversized Cadillac wreath and crest on the back. I only wish it was the classic badge with merlettes. I also wish there was a Cadillac logo in script.

Acceleration/Engine/Transmission: 5/5 "RAWRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!" 0-60 in 7 seconds at most, and shifts are quick and subtle. "Muscle car" comes to mind at full throttle, and it becomes very difficult not to hammer it at every light.

Audio/Electronics: 4/5 The Bose system offers clean bass, but mids and highs are harsh and seem artificial. It's pleasant enough with certain types of music, but too many instruments and layers turn it into mush. I call it fake clarity.
Navigation is excellent. The turn-by-turn voice is gentle and gives commands accurately. 3D and split screen views make it impossible to get lost, but I haven't tested how accurate point-of-interest locators are.
I guess if the nav system comes up short, there's On-Star, for which I have a six month subscription. I pushed the On* button and said hello, told the friendly lady I was just testing, and disconnected. I'll dig into that later.
I wish there were more XM presets. For now, I've chosen a station from each of the categories I listen to, then tune up and down from there to find what I want.

Steering/Suspension/Handling: 3.5/5 There's some bouncing over undulating surfaces, but highway ride quality is serene. The Navigator had precise and quick steering similar to a sport sedan, and while this is enjoyable, its a half step down in that regard.
There's a bit less body roll than the Lincoln.

Overall: 5/5 Seriously, 5/5. Almost every real and superficial need has been met, and I pretty much have nothing to complain about. A Prius owner might gripe about the fuel economy (14-18mpg, 18.7 average driving it from FL to MO), and a Miata owner might hate the handling, but those people don't do what I do.
When I let the Navigator go, I missed it tremendously. I own a business, carry boxes of inventory, take lots of road trips, and drive for hours each day. I also have a full time job, which means I need to go from commuting to doing a warehouse run without having to go home and change vehicles.
If family/friends call asking for an airport ride or to help carry something from the hardware store, I should be able to load up people and cargo while having the ability to switch back and forth in a flexible cabin. I want the comfort of a luxury sedan with the packaging of a minivan and the capability of a truck. Thanks, Cadillac!

09-15-08, 03:51 AM
2006 has a few notable updates over the other years, small but worth nothing:

This is the first full model year that the 6.0L Vortec was available in combination with RWD. Previously the nicer motor was only available with the less fuel friendly and more complex AWD system.

The PRNDL (prundle) indicator on the IP was switched from a Vacuum Flourescent green display to a subtle small orange LED.

IP Font made more aggressive, similar to the original '02 style.

Fully Digital On-Star with no need for an upgrade.

Richer, darker burled-wood interior trim replaced Zebrano in 2005.

09-16-08, 11:36 AM
Great review Jesda, now the only question I have is does Careless Whisper sound better at full volume in the Navi or the Skoalaide?