Now, a very funny thing happens when you get behind the wheel of a brand new $85,845 Cadillac Escalade Platinum Edition which is essentially the most pimped out version of one very, very pimped out full-size SUV. Sure, we could call it a family SUV because families love the Escalade but then so do overpaid TV actors, rappers, professional sports stars and more than a few of the ladies from the “Real Housewives” franchises as anyone who ever watches the Bravo Network can well and truly attest.
But what is it that makes the Cadillac Escalade so appealing not only to SUV buyers but also to its owners given the fact that this ultra-shiny SUV came in first place overall in the Autobytel/AutoPacific Vehicle Satisfaction Awards? Yep, you read that right. After we surveyed thousands upon thousands of new car, truck and SUV buyers for their opinions of their recently purchased rides, it was only the Cadillac Escalade that managed to stand head and shoulders above every other vehicle on sale this year.
That’s quite an impressive accomplishment for an SUV that prior to this road test was in our suspicious minds just a Chevy Tahoe with extra shiny bits glued on. But no, on that count we were most assuredly wrong as this behemoth SUV has such an imposing visage that it is almost like sitting on a nightclub bouncer shoulders as you are travelling down the road. The 2012 Cadillac Escalade is also like those burly bouncers in that it intimidates lesser beings on the road and that it also manages to make its owner look like he or she is of a higher stature or importance.
You might just call this elevation in social status the “Sopranos Effect” because not only did Tony Soprano drive one to his New Jersey home during the opening credits of the show but owning an Escalade might also give people reason to fear you for reasons that are wholly irrational. Now, we aren’t saying people will think you are in the mob but at the very least they just might think you were a one-time cast member on “Jerseylicious.”
In the past we were always left wondering why Cadillac buyers would fork over the extra money for an Escalade rather than “slumming it” with the GMC Yukon and Chevy Tahoe that also share the same platform. In fact, besides some decorative bright work and the inclusion of ridiculously sized 22-inch chromed alloys mounted on our Platinum Edition test unit, we felt hard pressed to notice many exterior differences between the three siblings.
As for Cadillac exteriors in comparison to the 2012 Escalade Platinum Edition, well, we tend to think that a brand which represents the “bling movement” in America should also at least be offering customers a trim level that is as comprehensively luxurious as this SUV. So we implore the folks at Cadillac to start offering “Platinum Edition” trims on every model including CTS, SRX, ATS or XTS just like the big boys at BMW, Audi and Mercedes Benz do with their S-Line, M and AMG trim designations. Just a thought.
Interior and the Unique Luxury of the Platinum Edition
When you select the Platinum Edition when ordering your 2012 Cadillac Escalade you are not only buying the most well equipped model on the dealership lot. You are also buying into an elevation of the notion of true luxury at Cadillac as this marks the first time many of the following bespoke luxury features have even made available with any vehicle that they make.
To our eyes, however, it was the little things that came as part of the Platinum Package like the Tehama Aniline leather seats with the Cadillac wreath sewn into the headrests, the leather covered French-stitched dashboard, the incredibly well done Olive Ash or Walnut wood dashboard trim pieces, the 3 separate rear seat DVD entertainment screens (that can play 3 movies at once) and finally the very effective heated/cooled front seat cupholders. And don’t forget how much you will need the Platinum Edition’s power retractable running boards since this monster will now be standing tall on 22-inch chrome alloys that are easily visible from space by way of The Great Wall of China.
There are three rows of seats in this particular length Escalade which makes this large SUV a potentially sensible purchase for any upwardly mobile suburbanite or Gangsta Rapper. Thankfully, the 2012 Cadillac Escalade model we tested showed us time and again during our time with it that there was always plenty of human legroom available for each passenger in each rear seats. So despite the astronomical price, this Escalade is just as family friendly as your average minivan.
Going for the longer Escalade ESV mainly aids in expanding the cargo hold which can be a bit small when all three rows are in use. Sadly, however, the Escalade still is weighed down by the fact that its third row of seats just folds flat for cargo hauling and must be removed and stored elsewhere to create a truly handy flat load floor. This one flaw is understandable, however, as during this Cadillac’s redesign GM went through bankruptcy proceedings which pushed forward the launch of this generation Escalade by over 6 months. However, even with this flaw with the second and third row seats folded down there 108.9 cubic feet of cargo hauling space on offer.
When you are sitting inside a 2012 Escalade with the Platinum Edition inhaling the heady wealth of its own unique new car smell there is a unique sense of imperviousness and superiority that just can’t help but get noticed by the driver. To sum up, the difference between a GMC Yukon and Chevy Tahoe is down to detail trim pieces whereas buying an Escalade with the Platinum Edition designation will ensure that your friends will never imply you spent too much money. Shockingly after a week driving this Escalade we wouldn’t imply that either even with that $85,000 price of entry.
Pricing, Features and Fuel Economy
The 2012 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid we tested got marked down for having a lower tow weight rating than some gas powered rivals but as long as 5,600 lbs. is your maximum hauling requirement then there should be no problem with buying this model. EPA fuel economy estimates of 20 city/23 highway translated to just over 20 miles per gallon for the week this Escalade stayed with us. That’s impressive given how much this monster weighs and how fast the gas/electric powertrain feels from behind the wheel.
Now, we have already extolled the virtues of the ritzy Platinum Edition upgrade on the Escalade but we will continue to do so by letting you know it also nets buyers a heated wood trim steering wheel, power folding third row seats, a blind zone monitoring system which proved mighty handy, adjustable magnetic ride control for improved handling, LED “smart” headlamps that try not to blind other drivers, an in-dash navigation unit, power sunroof and a 10-speaker premium Bose audio system. If it could, this Escalade would no doubt also have the proverbial kitchen sink.
The 2012 Cadillac Escalade Platinum Edition may cost a princely sum of money to buy but we can attest that it comes with all of the luxury features anyone could ever want even true blue blooded royalty. Or, to reiterate a previous notion, the Platinum Edition is seemingly purpose built for young actors in Hollywood, rappers everywhere, every successful sports celebrity and no doubt a King and Queen or two.
Driving Impressions and Safety
The current generation Cadillac Escalade has not been crash test rated under the newer, more stringent NHTSA Government crash test scoring system and the last results we could find were for 2009. In those tests the Escalade scored the maximum five stars in front and side impact testing but in roof strength it only garnered three stars. Given the fact that large suvs like this Escalade are governed by laws of physics that make them more prone to have rollover accidents it seems odd to us that so many SUVs like this have poor performances in these tests.
Suffice it to say that while the Escalade didn’t tackle any off-road duty, we do recall enjoying how seamlessly effortless the surge of the 6.0 liter V8 engine felt as it worked so harmoniously with the electric hybrid motor. As a result of these dual power sources, this is a full size SUV that proves most enjoyable to drive during freeway passing maneuvers most especially when you get trapped between that Big Rig 18-wheeler and the Ford Aspire traveling at 52 miles per hour.
The power generated by the electric motor acted as a sort of turbo boost function for the Escalade and really made this vehicle more fun to drive given its rather cumbersome dimensions. Yes, an Escalade Hybrid is best enjoyed when going in a straight line thanks to relatively light steering and a somewhat soft suspension. We do admit, however, that these attributes help the Escalade toe the line as it crosses treacherous suburban parking lots covered in huge potholes. In an Escalade, you truly will just glide right over them. But then you kind of expect that in a Cadillac.
Make no bones about it, the 2012 Cadillac Escalade Platinum Edition is a whole lot of full size SUV and its overwhelming levels of bling and flashiness practically require that it be purchased by an individual with a certain amount of self-confidence. Some may say that this Escalade requires a little bit of pomp and ego as its primary driver and while that may be true it is also the vehicle itself that will elevate the owner’s social status in the eye of those around him or her.
So, would you like to suffer from a case of high self-esteem? Well, that’s all that ownership of a 2012 Cadillac Escalade Platinum Edition will show to those around you. And with the hybrid version like the Escalade we tested you can even appear like you are concerned about the planet’s natural resources. Truly, owning an Escalade is quite like having the whole of your life by the short hairs.
What We Loved About the 2012 Cadillac Escalade 4wd Platinum Edition
- The Hybrid Powertrain is smooth, powerful and returns an EPA estimated 20 city/23 highway
- Despite its external size, this Cadillac is surprisingly agile and easy to maneuver in parking lots
- Three Back Seat Passengers Can Watch Different Things on the 3 rear DVD movie screens
What We Loathed About the 2012 Cadillac Escalade 4wd Platinum Edition
- The outward image of excess and environmental carelessness that this SUV projects
- Wow, the Escalade was gorgeous but $80,000 is a whole lot of money for a Shiny Chevy Tahoe
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