America's most popular luxo-SUV is too big, too ungainly, and would be best left on the far side of the Atlantic

What's new?

The USA's a curious place for all sorts of reasons, one of them the popularity of the Cadillac Escalade. There, General Motors sells some 60,000 Escalades every year; it's more popular than all of its competitors combined. Which is odd when, to European eyes, its driving experience seems to share more with that of a heavily-loaded commercial vehicle than a Range Rover Vogue.

This year, as part of the global expansion of the Cadillac brand, UK customers will be able to buy the 2007-model-year Escalade.

GM Europe isn't expecting demand levels akin to those of the States; that's why it isn't bothering to do right-hand drive conversion. But you will be able to walk into a Cadillac showroom and order an Escalade, and it will come with a four-year factory warranty.

What's it like?

The new Escalade is a greatly improved device. Cadillac has spent time and effort giving it a better-quality cabin and a quieter ride, and in those respects the Escalade is now nearer to, if still not quite at, the class standard for luxury 4x4s.

However, this car is so big (nearly 200mm longer even than a Range Rover) and heavy (2609kg unladen) that it feels gigantic on European roads.

Squeezing through width restrictors and motorway toll booths is painstakingly worrisome, and a steering system that's both imprecise and devoid of feedback makes positioning it in a corner an exercise in vain guesswork.

Should I buy one?

If you like the idea that you'd be driving around in the same car as Mischa Barton, Shakil O'Neil and a hundred other American celebrities, perhaps. The Escalade's other redeeming feature is its price; starting from £46,995, it's almost £20k cheaper than a Mercedes GL500.

The thing is, for a left-hand-drive only 4x4 as ungainly and as poorly packaged as this, that's still not cheap enough


Matt Saunders

Matt Saunders Autocar
Title: Road test editor

As Autocar’s chief car tester and reviewer, it’s Matt’s job to ensure the quality, objectivity, relevance and rigour of the entirety of Autocar’s reviews output, as well contributing a great many detailed road tests, group tests and drive reviews himself.

Matt has been an Autocar staffer since the autumn of 2003, and has been lucky enough to work alongside some of the magazine’s best-known writers and contributors over that time. He served as staff writer, features editor, assistant editor and digital editor, before joining the road test desk in 2011.

Since then he’s driven, measured, lap-timed, figured, and reported on cars as varied as the Bugatti Veyron, Rolls-Royce PhantomTesla RoadsterAriel Hipercar, Tata Nano, McLaren SennaRenault Twizy and Toyota Mirai. Among his wider personal highlights of the job have been covering Sebastien Loeb’s record-breaking run at Pikes Peak in 2013; doing 190mph on derestricted German autobahn in a Brabus Rocket; and driving McLaren’s legendary ‘XP5’ F1 prototype. His own car is a trusty Mazda CX-5.

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