There is nothing more fitting for a status symbol in the automotive world than a Cadillac Escalade. From Hollywood stars and rappers to the Football players and the business executives, almost everyone is either driving one or has a significant other that drives one. While we were visiting the beautiful Northern California, General Motors sent a 2011 Cadillac Escalade ESV Platinum to give us company. Read the rest of the review to find out if that short term stay was worth remembering or not.

When we first walked up to the Escalade, we were amazed to see how big this thing really is. At 222-inches long, the Escalade is easily one of the longest in the market. Over the years there is one thing we have learnt about the Escalade is that the styling will never disappoint you. The 2011 Escalade is easily the best looking SUV in the market compared to the Land Cruiser, Range Rover and the QX.

Our tester came with a sticker price of $87,345 plus a $950 destination charge. Another reason to opt for the Platinum package is that you get every option as standard equipment thus removing the need to worry about which option box to check.

The Escalade’s exterior is where it is at with massive yet stylish LED headlight lamps, unique upper and lower front grilles and 22-inch Chrome wheels that are well suited to this bling-mobile. After a quick walk around we were left admiring the exterior of this SUV because even though it shares the platform with the Suburban and Yukon XL, Cadillac designers have done a great job keeping this Escalade a Cadillac. Did we mention that we were sold? Yes if we had to decide based on just the exterior, Escalade would be the only one we would purchase. But there is more to a SUV than exterior styling so let’s move to the inside and see what does this huge Caddy offer?

Getting into the Escalade is a breeze thanks to the power retractable running boards that snap out un-noticed. Once inside, Tehama Aniline leather 14-way power seats great you and you really feel pampered. Almost everything inside the Caddy is wrapped in leather which is expected considering the hefty price tag of this Platinum Edition. The dash is well treated with wood trim and aluminum accents with the trademark clock in the middle. We are not a big fan of the instrument cluster or the steering wheel as they belong to a Silverado rather than this Escalade. Steering Wheel with no telescoping option was a big fail and we think Cadillac could have done better but we are sure that the 2014 model will correct that. The Escalade ESV has ample storage space and even with the third row seats up you have about 45.8 cubic-feet of cargo space which beats the competition with some distance.

The Escalade is loaded with electronics and convenience features with a huge LCD in the dash for the Navigation and everything else. It also has 7” LCDs in the headrests and two 8” Overhead LCDs for the 2nd and 3rd row passengers. This mobile-theater is also equipped with BOSE 5.1 Surround sound system with Bluetooth functionality. We found the controls of the system to be very user friendly and OnStar is always a life saver. And talk about being pampered? You have got heated and cooled front seats AND cup holders along with a tri-zone climate control system.

Enough about the comfort and convenience, what about the driving experience? The Escalade is a beast with a Vortec 6.2L 403HP V8 under the hood with flex-fuel capability. EPA rates this SUV at 18MPG highway and 13MPG city which is exactly what we saw considering the steep roads of San Francisco. With magnetic ride control you don’t notice any potholes and the Escalade really moves when you floor the pedal.

So what did we think about this Caddy during our one week stay in Northern California? We think Cadillac has done a remarkable job building this big SUV and it definitely competes well with the rest of the SUV offerings. Based on just the exterior there is nothing in the market that even comes close. There is enough room inside to make your road trips perfect but we are not a big fan of the steering wheel and the instrument cluster. We really hope that Cadillac will take care of these minor things and the 2014 Escalade will return with a bang. So the bottom line is that if you are purchasing a SUV based on just the looks then Escalade gets the vote but if you are looking for more interior features then you should also check out the Infiniti QX56 but it will be a close call.

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