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2003 Cadillac Escalade EXT Luxury Crew-Cab Pickup Truck

MSRP Range: $50,780 - $55,805

Invoice Range: $46,464 - $51,062
Price Quote

MSRP As Tested: $55,000

Versions: ESV, EXT

Vehicle Category: Full-size, Luxury, Sport Utility Vehicle

Engine Location: Front Engine

Drive Wheels: Rear-Wheel Drive and optional All-Wheel Drive without low-range gears

Engine As Tested: 5.3-liter, Dual Overhead Cam, V8, 285-hp at 5,200 rpm and 325 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm optional engine - 6-liter, Dual Overhead Cam, V8, 345-hp at 5,200 rpm and 380 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm

Transmission As Tested: 4-speed Automatic

Fuel Economy (city/hwy): 5.3-liter engine - 14/18 optional 6-liter engine - 12/16

Standard Safety Features: Driver and Front Passenger, front and side airbags, power 4-wheel disc brakes, Antilock Braking System, Traction Control

Competition: 2003 Acura MDX, 2003 Chevrolet Suburban, 2003 Chevrolet Tahoe, 2003 Lexus RX 300, 2003 Lincoln Navigator, 2003 Mercedes-Benz M-Class, 2003 Toyota Land Cruiser

Although the 2003 Cadillac Escalade EXT is really, really expensive, I have to say that if you want a specialty vehicle that's fun to drive, a true comfort on the road and especially everything a Cadillac should be, you're gonna have to pay for it. And dearly. To the tune of nearly $55,000. That's more than I paid for my home a scant 20 years ago. Ouch. But, to tell you the truth, this Cadillac - if you can afford it - is worth those hefty bucks.

From the comfort issues to the fact that the rear tailgate sounding like a car door when it's closed, everything in this Escalade EXT is a dream come true. The Escalade EXT looks like a clone of the Chevrolet Avalanche, but has attributes that sets it apart from anything that's on the road today. It's a totally configurable truck, specialty sport utility vehicle and passenger car all in one. For something that resembles a truck, it's nothing like a truck. The creature comforts you'll find are more like what you'd find in a Cadillac Fleetwood (dating myself, aren't I?). Seriously, this ride and it's comfort are truly everything that Cadillac is known for.

I don't care if you're driving down I96 †in the heart of Detroit or on I75 up by Grand Blanc, you won't feel a bump, a pothole or a pavement blemish in this vehicle. That's what most impressed me - the ride. Attribute it to the handling improvements this year due to the upgraded SabiliTrak 4-channel system. It's better braking capability has a better feel and a quieter system. There are also adjustable brake and accelerator pedals as well. The system, provided by Borg Warner, has been upgraded to include a 4-channel electronic brake control system that replaces a 3-channel hydraulic system. Previously, the independent braking applied only to the front wheels. With this new system, any of the four wheel can be independently controlled, which allows a much more stable ABS stop, improved fuel economy, reliability and serviceablility.

Power is provided by a Vortec 6,000 6-liter V8 that provides an incredible 345 horses. That makes it the most powerful SUV on the market. No matter what situation you throw at it, you'll find it steps up to the plate and takes the challenge.

On the inside, which is where you always are, there are a multitude of creature comforts for the driver. There's a driver information center that monitors more than 30 vehicle functions and keeps you up-to-date on everything you every wanted to know about this vehicle. The instrument panel and cluster have also been redesigned and the steering wheel is equipped with a host of buttons and controls designed to keep your eyes on the road instead of on instrumentation controls. And, of course, the Escalade is equipped with satellite radio technology and the very competent eyes of OnStar.

Another wonderful feature of the Escalade is the rear-seat entertainment system that includes a DVD player with a flip-down screen for rear passengers to enjoy. Keeps the kiddies quiet, that's for certain. It's got the newest technology available, including wireless headphones, remote control, 7-inch liquid-crystal display and capability to listen to DVD or CDs at the flick of a switch. Quality is unmatched by anything I've seen so far.

Something I've come to appreciate is the new outside rear-view mirrors with the turn signal function. It's so functional and easy to see for other motorists. If you're not paying attention, it gets your attention. Especially in the dark. It's a safety feature that should be put on  every passenger car and truck, I think.