Page 1: Intro
When Lincoln debuted the Navigator sport-utility to the world in 1997 as a 1998 model, Cadillac was already hard at work developing the SRX. Problem was, the SRX was several years away, and Lincoln was poised to steal thousands of potential Cadillac customers with its hulking, Expedition-based luxo-ute. With dealers clamoring for something with which they could battle Lincoln, Cadillac gussied-up a GMC Yukon Denali with a couple of wreath-and-crest badges and began selling the Escalade in 1999.Today, the Escalade, originally a stopgap product but now one of the strongest selling models in the luxury division's lineup, has lead a product renaissance at Cadillac. It is an icon of popular culture, a vehicle people aspire to own, single-handedly lowering the average age of a Cadillac buyer and available in three flavors: original (Escalade), spicy (Escalade EXT) and extra crispy (Escalade ESV).
Still, the SRX lurks. Good thing, too, because sales of luxury crossover suvs that drive like cars but look like trucks have taken off, and the Escalade cannot satisfy this buyer. Furthermore, in recent years, performance has become a key ingredient to success in everything from the Lexus RX 330 and Infiniti FX to the BMW X5 and Porsche Cayenne. Cadillac needs a like-minded product if it truly intends to become, once again, the Standard of the World.