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