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2012 Cadillac Escalade EXT Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2012 Cadillac Escalade EXT was new.


Performance: 7.0

Reviewers are impressed with the 2012 Cadillac Escalade EXT’s powerful V8 engine, although they say that its chunky curb weight hurts its braking performance. Still, most reviewers think the EXT drives well for such a big truck, and like other Escalade models, it has a particularly smooth ride. However, the EXT can’t come close to matching the out-and-out capability of other full-size luxo-trucks like the GMC Sierra 1500 Denali.

  • "For all its luxurious versatility, the Cadillac Escalade EXT's hefty 6,000-pound weight contributes to lackluster braking performance and poor fuel economy. It also doesn't have the towing capacity to match full-size truck models from Dodge, Ford and GMC, which can be pretty luxurious in their own right when loaded up with amenities.” -- Edmunds

Acceleration and Power

The only engine available with the 2012 Cadillac Escalade EXT is a 6.2-liter V8 that comes standard with all-wheel drive and a six-speed automatic transmission. This engine makes 403 horsepower and 417 pound-feet of torque. The EXT can tow a maximum of 7,600 pounds. Test drivers say the engine is plenty powerful, and they like the way it sounds. The EPA rates the 2012 Cadillac Escalade EXT at 13/18 mpg city/highway. That’s particularly bad, even for an all-wheel drive pickup truck.

  • "Standard V-8 has plenty of guts to get the big truck moving.” -- Car and Driver
  • "The automatic transmission features a tow/haul mode and manual-shift capability, but gearchanges can be awkward using the controls on the column-mounted shifter.” -- Edmunds

Handling and Braking

Reviewers say that the 2012 Cadillac Escalade EXT handles well for a pickup truck, although that doesn’t mean it’s easy to drive. Testers say it handles most like its SUV sibling, the Escalade, so its ride is smooth but it's hard to maneuver in close quarters. That’s average for a pickup truck, though.

  • "The adaptive suspension manages to deliver a decent balance between a smooth ride and confident handling, though there's only so much you can expect in either department from a 6,000-pound truck rolling on 22-inch wheels.” -- Edmunds
  • "Though this is a large vehicle, Escalades are stable and confident in low-to-moderate speed changes of direction. … Our testers are divided on the steering; some laud its feel and response, but others say it's vague and over assisted. Strong brakes have reassuringly firm pedal feel … but fast stops trigger lots of nosedive.” -- Consumer Guide
  • "Shares the big and unwieldy feel of GM's big utes.” -- Car and Driver

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