While Cadillac’s CTS gets all the love for turning the Cadillac brand around in the minds of consumers, the Cadillac Escalade’s appeal to urban youth is what really put the wreath and crest logo squarely on the map with contemporary culture.
Before Cadillac’s Escalade came along, Lincoln’s Navigator was the de facto luxury urban assault vehicle. As nice as the Navigator was, it was doing well primarily because it had no competition in the large luxury domestic SUV segment. Yes, GM had similar offerings in its GMC branded vehicles, notably the Yukon Denali, but buyers didn’t look upon the GMC offerings as being on the same plane as the Lincoln.
Meanwhile, Cadillac dealers, watching Lincoln dealers drawing all them dollars, weren’t sitting quietly by. After several strong appeals to GM corporate, a plan was set into place to get a Cadillac suv on the road — quick. Obviously intended as a conquest vehicle from the onset, Escalade’s very name means the act of scaling defensive walls or ramparts with the aid of ladders. The tactic was a prominent aspect of siege warfare in medieval times.
And siege is exactly what this 20th century Escalade accomplished. Within a year of its launch, the Lincoln’s defenses were breached; its sales plummeted. The all-important urban cachet factor of hip and cool had gone strongly over to the Cadillac. Suitably anointed king of the streets, Escalade has virtually owned the domestic large luxury suv market ever since.
There have been three generations of the Escalade (sort of) since the first truck-based vehicle ever to be badged a Cadillac was launched in 1999.