This is the article about the Cadillac Escalade luxury SUV. For the Escalade EXT pickup truck, see Cadillac Escalade EXT.
The Escalade is a full-size luxury sport utility vehicle (or SUV) sold by the General Motors luxury brand, Cadillac. It was the division’s first major entry into the popular SUV market. The Escalade was introduced for the 1999 model year in response to German and Japanese competitors and to Ford’s 1998 release of the Lincoln Navigator. The Escalade project went into production only 10 months after it was approved. The standard Escalade is built in Arlington, Texas.
After the demise of the RWD Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham sedan in 1996, the Escalade filled the void once dominated by the limousine market.
The Escalade was originally based on the GMC Yukon Denali, but was redesigned for the 2002 model year to make its appearance fall more in line with Cadillac’s new design theme. The Escalade was not the first Chevrolet-based Cadillac: the first-generation Seville and mid-1980s Cimarron were based on entry-level Chevrolet vehicles (Nova and Cavalier, respectively). As of today, the Escalade EXT pickup are, together with the Cadillac BLS, the only Cadillac vehicles made outside of the United States, since the demise of the German-built Cadillac Catera in 2001. Both the Escalade ESV (a luxurious Chevrolet Suburban) and Escalade EXT were made in Silao, Mexico before the 2006 redesign; the new Escalade ESV is sourced from Arlington, TX.
The Escalade line has proven very popular with after-market tuners, who personalize vehicles for usually affluent customers. While such work is not done by the Cadillac factory, much can be ordered through a Cadillac dealer and done by third-party companies. Much like the customized Cadillacs of the 1970s (during the pimpmobile craze), popular modifications include larger wheels, increased engine performance and custom paint. Due to its expensive parts and exposure from celebrity ownership, the Escalade has also been proven to be popular with car thieves as well, becoming the most frequently stolen vehicle from 2001-2003 according to the Highway Loss Data Institute.
The Escalade has quickly become an easily recognizable presence in pop culture. It has been featured in many hip hop music videos, and it may have been the reason for Cadillac’s recent popularity among the urban demographic. Comedian Bernie Mac drives an Escalade on his hit sitcom, The Bernie Mac Show, continuing the brand’s popularity among TV stars and standup comedians. Tony Soprano began driving an Escalade on The Sopranos, and after wrecking it while avoiding an animal in the road, quickly procured a new one. The Escalade was also mentioned in an episode of Family Guy as God’s vehicle of choice. Many sports stars, especially baseball players, drive an Escalade (or other Cadillac models) as well.
Major competitors include: Mercedes-Benz GL-Class (and possibly the smaller G-Class), Lexus LX series, Infiniti QX56, Land Rover Range Rover, Lincoln Navigator.