Although the Escalade ESV Platinum has several minor improvements from the previous top-line model (new badging, chrome accents, and interior upgrades), by far the biggest piece of advanced technology is the Magnetic Ride Control (MRC) system, an integral part of the new suspension, previously only offered on the Corvette and Cadillac cousin. Essentially, the system uses a magnetic charge to stiffen or soften the shocks (each filled with tiny charged metal shavings), collecting data from sensors thousands of times a second. The shock sensors (each shock works independent of one another) reads the real-time road conditions every millisecond and adjusts instantly whether hard cornering, empty cruising, or laden pulling. Beyond that, other impressive details are the quality in the materials and the fact that just about seat in the SUV has access to a video screen. Additionally, even at this level, the third-row seat is still of the removable design, convenient for those who have the upper-body strength to de-latch and haul the seat to the garage, but many will likely just leave it inside the SUV regardless of need. We just flipped them forward out of the way in order to pack more cubic gear.

During our recent trip, with the exception of the extra mass that affected braking more than anything else, we found the ride fully loaded identical with our ride empty -- not a typical occurrence in something this large and loaded. But, as you might imagine, this all comes at price. We're hearing Cadillac is thinking about only offering the ESV in Platinum trim because most of its buyers are looking for fully loaded and dressed-out vehicles anyway. And at $82,495 fully loaded, you can bet GM won't argue with kind of per-vehicle profit. It's expecting to sell over 10,000 of these Luxo-Barges this year, but who knows for how long. Now if it could only get the 2-Mode Hybrid system to work in something this heavy (the 2-Mode will be in the shorter Escalade this year), it could probably charge a premium for it as well.

2009 Cadillac Escalade ESV AWD Platinum
Base Price $62,690
Price as tested $82,495
Vehicle layout Front engine, 4-door, AWD, SUV
Engine 90-deg 6.2L all-alum V-8, 403 hp/417 lb-ft
Transmission 6L80 6-spd auto
Wheelbase, in 130.0
Length x Width x Height, in 222.9 x 79.1 x 75.5
Base Curb Weight, lb 5880
Max GVWR, lb 7400
Max Payload Capacity, lb 1520
Max Towing Capacity, lb 7800
Max Cargo Volume, cu ft 137.4
Fuel econ, city/hwy 12/18
CO2 Emissions, lbs/mile 1.37
On sale in U.S. Currently