Let's see. You'd love to park a Cadillac in your driveway, but you're partial to four-door sport utility vehicles and oh, have a hankering, deep down, to own a pickup, too.
Starting in the 2002 model year, you can find all these disparate desires addressed in one vehicle -- Cadillac's new Escalade EXT.
As its name indicates, the EXT carries many of the styling cues and luxurious interior touches of Cadillac's more than $48,000 Escalade SUV. The EXT has the Escalade's powerful, 345-horsepower, 6-liter, overhead valve V8, too.
But underneath is the platform of General Motors Corp.'s full-size SUVs, and at the back of the EXT is a pickup bed.
Like the expandable rear end on Chevrolet's Avalanche, which shares its assembly line with the EXT, the EXT's bed can be extended into the back seat area of the EXT via a changeable Midgate.
"The Cadillac EXT has the luxury of Cadillac along with the capability of an American pickup truck," said Tony Posawatz, assistant vehicle line executive for General Motors full-size trucks.
The EXT also makes a mighty image statement, coming or going.
In front, there's the big, bold, Escalade-like, chrome grille and massive hood. Overall, it's tall, standing 75.6 inches high, 1.4 inches taller than even the Escalade SUV and 2 inches taller than the competing Lincoln Blackwood.
And in the back of the EXT, there's the 5-foot-3-inch-long pickup bed with cargo cover that sits so high I nearly had to stand on tiptoes to peer over the cover.
I also had to climb up and aboard into the driver's seat of this big sport utility truck, as Cadillac calls it. Thank goodness the EXT's running boards are standard.
The smooth, strong Vortec V8 works well in this new model, propelling the heavy, 5,853-pound EXT down the road as if it were far lighter.
Impressively, even on mountain twisties, the engine had power to spare and was always at the ready, it seemed, to provide more. I just had to beware coming up on slower traffic too fast, forcing me to put on the brakes.
Note that this 345-horsepower V8 in the Escalade SUV qualifies it as the most powerful sport utility on the market. In the EXT, the 345 horses surpass the 300 horsepower of the Blackwood sport utility-pickup truck combination vehicle with 5.4-liter V8.
Torque in the EXT is a maximum 380 foot-pounds at 4,000 rpm compared with 355 foot-pounds at 2,750 rpm in the Blackwood.
But the two-wheel-drive Blackwood can tow more -- a maximum 8,700 pounds vs. 8,000 pounds for the all-wheel-drive EXT.
Premium fuel is recommended for both vehicles, and fuel economy of 12 miles a gallon in the city and 15 mpg on the highway for the EXT isn't far from the 12 and 17 mpg, respectively, for the Blackwood.
The EXT's heavy-duty, four-speed automatic transmission shifted smoothly with nary a notice to riders. And I was surprised to find riders tidily isolated from most engine noises, unless I was putting pedal to the metal aggressively. Then, the confident tones of a V8 at work came through.
The EXT's all-wheel-drive system operates continuously, driving the four wheels with a rear-wheel bias as 38 percent of the power goes to the front wheels and 62 percent goes to the rear in normal driving.
Road-sensing electronics also help keep the EXT in line and provide a sense of stability.
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