x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

2009 Cadillac Escalade

The Cadillac Escalade has oddly become a firm favourite of both hip-hop culture and school-run mums.

The Escalade is huge when viewed from every angle and always makes its presence felt.
The Escalade is huge when viewed from every angle and always makes its presence felt.

You just can't help but like the big Caddy Escalade despite itself. It may have been more than a little hijacked by the gangster rappers and LA wannabes, but at least it doesn't pretend to be something it isn't. Cadillac doesn't do subtle and the Escalade is the epitome of big car culture. Born out of the American obsession for tanker-sized vehicles, the Escalade has oddly become a firm favourite of both hip-hop culture and school-run mums. Is it a rival to Europe's high-end offerings? Probably not, as it's simply not clever enough. However, it does give the big SUV buyer a different option.

If you're looking for a technological tour de force this is not the car for you. If you want a huge slice of luxury with the road presence to rival a dumper truck then it doesn't come much more in-your-face than this. Approaching the Escalade is actually quite intimidating. The car is huge from every angle and the front seems to have been specifically designed to frighten other road users. Round the back, even the hatch opens and closes automatically, which is a welcome addition considering the size of the rear door.

The car's square styling may not be to everyone's taste, but it does seem to work, and if you want a luxurious interior to wile away the daily grind to the office in, then this is just the ticket. This Platinum edition of the Escalade really does come with all the bells and whistles, ensuring a loyal following across the Gulf, especially with owners who cart around a large family. The cavernous interior easily swallows a big brood, and the seats seem to have been built to accommodate some of the supersized people seen frequenting America's many drive-through burger joints.

But don't let that put you off. What it means for anyone of a more svelte nature is that you get a seriously comfortable place to park yourself. From the driver's seat you really do have all the regular luxury toys at your disposal. Just don't expect anything particularly cutting edge. Rather than list all the options here, just put together every item you can think of and fit them with a motor and cover it all in leather. To put it into perspective, even the side steps retract electrically when you close the door.

Under the bonnet you get a massive 6.2-litre V8 lump that hauls the Cadillac along pretty respectfully. It's certainly not fast, but it sounds fantastic at tick over and bumbling along at walking pace. Anything faster and the square edges cutting through the air tend to drown out the eight-pot hum. Close the window and the world goes silent again, with very little wind or engine noise. It also works well with the gearbox, which you tend to forget is even there. Stamp hard on the accelerator and there's a fairly harsh kick down and a lot of noise, all of which doesn't necessarily transform into a power surge forward. Mind you it does weigh in at a rather hefty 3,084kg, so maybe that's asking a bit much of the internals.

The suspension however, copes well with the car's mass, keeping it planted and very smooth on the road. The trade-off is when you get to a speed bump, as the obviously hardened suspension tends to clatter over them in a very unJapanese way. Just like life, you can't have everything, and a smooth ride is a better choice than ease over bumps, which you're supposed to slow down for anyway. For serious long distance driving the Escalade really is a great way to travel. Couple together the silken ride and the La-Z-Boy-style seats and you'll think you're in first-class all the way to your destination.

If you do need to bring the big car to a halt the brakes do an admirable job of slowing things down. Speed with the Cadillac is more about smooth progression than the pointing and squirting of, say, a Cayenne or X5. So who's going to buy a Cadillac Escalade? Lovers of sporty SUVs aren't going to like its slower responses. The off-road people won't want it for its lack of ground clearance and hefty weight. The people who love the Cadillac, however, are the SUV buyers who like a big car with loads of extras and a bit of luxury, otherwise known as the buying majority.

Everyone wants a good badge on the bonnet of their car and Cadillac is a left field choice that has both hip, young appeal and historic significance. It's not a cutting-edge planet saver, but neither does it rely on pretending to be something it isn't. It won't get you to your fashionable latte any quicker than a Range Rover Sport, and it certainly won't make you more attractive than the guy with an X5 outside that funky nightclub. It also can't go exploring the wilderness on an Arctic expedition. But it will carry your entire family pretty much everywhere else in supreme comfort, which is what most buyers actually use their SUVs for. So in that sense, it may not be clever, but it does what it says on the tin. motoring@thenational.ae