However, the Cadillac is clearly the winner here with its more tasteful presentation and tour de force gadget list: premium hands-free OnStar concierge service (driving directions, hotel/restaurant reservations, an Internet-accessible Virtual Advisor), dash-loading six-CD changer with a 250-watt 11-speaker Bose Acoustimass audio system, power folding mirrors, reverse sensing with audio and visual cues, Driver Information Center (offering a multitude of mileage, fuel, and trip data, as well as personalized lighting, seating, locking, and alarm option choices in no fewer than four different languages) and so on-all standard equipment. Our as-tested price was $49,990, with the only current option available being a $1550 power moonroof (which was not on our test vehicle). Bargain is a subjective term, but in this realm, it's like getting every option you could think of-and a few you might've missed-for the price of an entry-level vehicle.
Hard performance numbers are cold indicators of a vehicle's raw abilities, and as we've already mentioned, the two SUVs couldn't be more disparate here, as well. With a more powerful engine and better chassis dynamics and brakes, the Escalade soundly outdoes the Navigator. Besides the obvious bragging rights, these numbers also indicate an increased level of on-road control, comfort, and confidence. And there's nothing quite like hurtling to 60 mph in a 5800-lb SUV in just 7.4 sec. It makes you feel powerful and important, to be sure, and sounds wonderful doing it.
In the '02 Escalade, Cadillac has taken the luxury SUV movement to the pinnacle of the form. It's loaded with fresh, innovative technology, pampering comfort, and exceptional performance-in anybody's book. In two short years, the Escalade went from rebadged GM full-size SUV to definitive luxury sport/utility. What once was an "also-ran" in this relatively new category has cast a huge shadow over its nearest domestic competitor and earned its rightful title: King of the Hill.