Much like Tiffany & Co. is the mainstream high-end jeweler to the masses, Cadillac is the high-end automaker to the select crowd who is looking for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Known for its specialized powerplants, ride quality, and elegant interiors, Cadillac is a moniker that embraces its heritage each year with new and exciting platforms. None was more eagerly anticipated than the new '07 Escalade. With it's new 6.2L V-8 creating 403 hp, a smooth shifting six-speed auto, and redesigned body, the Escalade is the new hot luxury SUV that Cadillac promised it would be. Our questions of materials used, drivetrain performance, and overall build quality was quickly answered when we took delivery of a long-term EXT and were told to drive the wheels off. Here goes everything!

Initially, our first impression was the body fit and finish was superb and much improved over the previous Escalade. Months later, we still agree with our assessment. With the exterior panel's tolerances less than 4mm and the interior fit and finished within 1mm, each piece of the overall puzzle fits better than expected. The redesigned one-piece front bumper and grille add not only to the good looks, but also to the .36 coefficient of drag the new Escalade earned. Nice looks will only get you so far in life; however, entertainment and its performance-oriented driving experience is where the new EXT shines.

Sharing a similar platform with the already-improved '07 Chevy Avalanche, Cadillac went one step further and recalibrated the suspension by using tuned shocks, a new rack-and-pinion steering, and a five-link rear setup using air shocks. The end result of those improvements-along with adding technologies such as StabiliTrak and an AWD drivetrain-the EXT rides and performs better than any half-ton truck we've driven. There is no typical rearend bouncing on the freeway and the Cadillac has cornering ability not usually found on a stock truck. And the EXT is a truck, unlike its Lincoln Mark LT competition. In addition, the Cadillac can also be converted from a truck with a small 5'3" bed to a longbed-like 8'1" bed, all while being covered by the EXT's three-piece rigid tonneau system. This versatility surprisingly doesn't hamper the ride experience. As we found hauling a bed frame with the midgate opened, the new '07 Cadillac uses considerably more sound-deadening material throughout the cabin to ensure a quiet ride, with or without added cargo.