Certification
At our test venue in Camarillo, California, on a rather dirty stretch of blacktop that wasn't the friendliest to our featured vehicle, the Escalade did exceptionally well, except in braking, still a weak spot for GM products. The Cadillac needed 135 feet to stop from 60 mph and required 405 feet to stop from 100 mph. By comparison, the new Range Rover stops in 115 and 337 feet, respectively. However, we won't harp on the brake feel too much--it's far superior to the old Escalade's mashed-potato experience.

From a standstill, the Escalade ran to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds and through the quarter mile in 15.1 at 92.5 mph. For a full-size SUV that weighs just south of 5800 pounds, those are impressive numbers. On the skidpad, the Caddy registered a respectable 0.75g worth of lateral grip and a speed of 58.9 mph through the slalom, which nearly matches the pace put forth by the more sport-sedan-like Mercedes-Benz R500.

Subjected to real-world driving environments, the Cadillac demonstrates plusher, more luxurious ride, reacting quickly to changing road surfaces. The adaptive suspension delivers a normal ride that sits on the firm side of the spectrum, but it still comes across as compliant, notable considering the enormous 22-inch wheels with tires that have little sidewall. While the Escalade's new rack-and-pinion steering completely outshines the overall feel of the previous recirculating-ball setup, it does seem a bit numb on-center with too much power-assist through the turns.

The Conqueror
Walk around the Escalade, and your eyes will reflect the twinkle of chrome at just about every step. Cadillac wanted to maximize the exterior gleam factor, and chrome was the obvious answer. Thus, the shiny stuff adorns the grille, doors, sideview mirrors, wheels, window frames, roof rack, tailgate, side vents--almost everything. But somehow, it works. It borders on being overdone, yet doesn't overstep the boundary of excess.

More important from a substance standpoint, we like this reborn Escalade as it's quicker, roomier, better equipped, and less expensive than the previous model. That makes it a good value as well. Not a bad combination, even if you don't have to worry about how much it costs.