Cadillac has firmly cemented itself in the upper echelon of the luxury SUV and truck class by designing and producing the most decadent truck on the planet. In the last four issues of Truckin', we've shown you how we transformed our stock, though very well-appointed, '07 Cadillac Escalade EXT by using Genuine Cadillac Accessories and GM Performance Parts. Driving the EXT now is a true pleasure as most of the upgrades we've performed have seriously enhanced the overall Cadillac experience.

A brief overview of the upgrades includes new 22-inch GM Performance Parts chrome wheels with Bridgestone 285/45R22 tires, a color-matched grille, chrome tow hooks, a chrome gas door, a power-sliding tonneau cover, and a BedRug bed liner kit. Inside the doors, we had Tustin Cadillac install the new dual headrest DVD monitor system, chrome doorsill plates, and custom-formed floor mats. For added power, Tustin Cadillac installed a GM Performance Parts intake and GM Performance Parts after-cat exhaust system with polished tip. Though not cheap, the price of the parts combined with the MSRP of the loaded Escalade totaled $73,178.95, the Escalade really turned heads and everyone who rode in the Cadillac was impressed with the classy styling and the throaty exhaust note of the GM Performance Parts after-cat setup.

While most of our upgrades were beneficial, we felt two fell short of our expectations. The major reason for buying an EXT is the awesome midgate function of the bed, which allows the cargo space to be increased from a 5-foot 3-inch bed to a huge 8-foot 1-inch longbed-like truck. Also, the unique midgate can be folded down with the hard three-panel locking bed cover in place to keep your long, but short, cargo protected and weather-tight. Once the power-sliding tonneau was installed, the front mounting brace that contains the motor drive essentially locked the midgate in the closed position and made it useless. Whereas the key FOB-operated sliding tonneau did make access to the bed convenient, we're not sure it is worth making the bed and midgate null and void while also leaving the objects in the bed suspect, due to the soft material used on the cover. Another disappointment was the BedRug liner kit. The 3M double-sided tape did not hold to the plastic liner, no matter how many times we cleaned the plastic with acetone, it just kept falling down. Besides these two letdowns, the upgrades made the Escalade considerably better looking and more elegant.

During the last six months of driving the Escalade, we have established a real appreciation for the engineering and technologies placed into the truck. No other truck currently on the market has such sophisticated amenities, excellent performance with livable gas mileage, and a ride that is impressive. While in possession of the keys, we especially enjoyed the remote start, advanced touchscreen navigation with its crystal-clear picture, the Dolby 5.1 surround sound, and the back-up camera that we used everyday. Other accoutrements that spoiled us were the heated and air-conditioned leather seats, five-link coil rear suspension setup with helper airbags for towing, and the advanced HID headlights. There are only two things that should be on the new Escalade that are not, an auxiliary input for an iPod or MP3 player and a more powerful subwoofer. Despite these shortcomings, the Cadillac still spoils you with technology. Without question, the new Escalade EXT is the most extravagant truck available at any car lot, just ask Lincoln as they are stopping production of the Mark LT. For that large monthly payment, you get great performance from the 6.2L, relatively good gas mileage (we averaged 14.2 overall, with road trips averaging 20.2), and a pleasurable driving experience. Returning the keys to Cadillac will be a sad day, indeed, when we say goodbye to a modern-day classic.