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2011 Cadillac Escalade EXT Review

This review was written when the 2011 Cadillac Escalade EXT was new.

While other automakers may claim to offer “the Cadillac of pickup trucks,” the 2011 Cadillac Escalade EXT is the real deal. But some reviewers wonder who would want this luxobarge-turned-pickup, since it can’t tow much, only seats five and is a member of the dying sport utility truck breed.

Reviewers agree that the 2011 Cadillac Escalade EXT occupies a strange place in the pickup truck market. It’s a luxury sport utility truck based on the eight-seat Escalade, but the EXT can only seat five. And in some cases, it offers less interior luxury than other spec’d-out pickups for significantly more money. As Car and Driver puts it, "The Caddy tows less than the Chevy and doesn't have as much passenger space as an Escalade SUV. We don't get it."  Then again, if you have your heart set on a luxury sport utility truck, the Escalade EXT is literally your only choice.

However, as confused as the automotive press is about where the EXT fits into the market, they say it performs pretty well across the board. Its folding midgate feature wins widespread praise, and reviewers say the EXT’s interior lives up to its Cadillac badge. They applaud its powerful V8 engine, although some writers noted that its brakes don’t inspire as much confidence as they’d like in such a big, heavy vehicle. Most reviewers say that while no vehicle in the Escalade family will ever be a sports car, the Escalade EXT has car-like handling, which is high praise in this category.

Overall, reviewers wonder why anyone would get an Escalade EXT. It’s not very useful, and you can find similar levels of luxury elsewhere for less money and even the base Escalade seats more people. But, for a select few who occasionally need something utilitarian and want a bling-tastic commuting car the rest of the time, the 2011 Cadillac Escalade EXT should be just fine. Edmunds says, "As traditionally defined, ‘escalade’ refers to the act of climbing up and over obstacles, or scaling fortresses and castles with ladders during a medieval military assault. The 2011 Cadillac Escalade EXT probably couldn't pull that off, yet should you need to participate in the act of cruising boulevards with buddies during a Saturday evening club crawl, this luxury sport-utility truck may just be your ride.”

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Other Sport Utility Trucks to Consider

If you’re in the market for a luxury sport utility truck, the Cadillac Escalade EXT is the only name in town. But, if you go for a less expensive model, you won’t be sacrificing quality. The Chevrolet Avalanche and the Escalade EXT are corporate siblings and share a platform, so it has the same basic body shape and the same folding midgate that reviewers love. It can also tow up to 8,100 pounds, which is 500 pounds more than the Escalade EXT’s 7,600-pound limit. A fully-loaded Avalanche will run you about $52,600, which is a lot for a pickup but still undercuts the Escalade EXT’s base price by about $9,560, without many trade-offs.

You can also get an equally-luxurious and far more capable pickup truck than the Escalade EXT by opting for the Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn. Reviewers say this truck has the most opulent pickup interior in its class. To top it off, the Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn can out-tow the Escalade EXT by 2,850 pounds. A crew cab, four-wheel drive Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn starts at $46,210, a price difference of nearly $16,000 compared to the Escalade EXT. After checking all the options boxes, you can add features like heated and ventilated front seats, heated second-row seats and a rear-seat entertainment system to the Laramie Longhorn. Fully-loaded, Ram’s luxury truck will come out to about $52,300, about $9,900 less than the base Escalade EXT.

Details: The Cadillac Escalade EXT

Cadillac last redesigned the Escalade EXT in 2007, and since then, it hasn’t received many changes. The only updates for 2011 include an improved warranty that covers scheduled maintenance like oil changes and tire rotations, the addition of noise-reducing laminated glass and an upgrade to the OnStar telematics system. Since so little has changed over the past couple of years, few writers have published reviews on the 2011 Cadillac Escalade EXT. As a result, this review includes reviews from the 2007 to 2011 model years.

  • "If you need or want full-size truck towing capabilities, along with upscale Cadillac luxury and image and the versatility to change from a quiet, comfortable closed SUV to a pickup with more cargo capacity, this is the one." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "For all its luxurious versatility, the Cadillac Escalade EXT's hefty 6,000-pound weight contributes to lackluster braking performance and poor fuel economy. It also doesn't have the towing capacity to match full-size truck models from Dodge, Ford and GMC, which can be pretty luxurious in their own right when loaded up with amenities.” -- Edmunds
Review Last Updated: 6/23/11

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