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2013 Cadillac Escalade EXT Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2013 Cadillac Escalade EXT was new.


Performance: 7.2

Reviewers say the 2013 Cadillac Escalade EXT is an all-around strong performer. They especially like its potent V8 engine, and they say its six-speed automatic transmission does a nice job of putting the power to the ground. Critics also say that the Escalade EXT has a smooth, refined ride, despite its high curb weight, but that its heft does detract from its handling and steering response. Fuel economy is not one of the EXT’s strong suits either. It manages just 13/18 mpg city/highway, which is low for a full-size pickup.

  • "And though it has an excellent 6.2-liter V-8 under the hood, its impressive power doesn't make up for its incredible thirst." -- Car and Driver
  • "However, we feel the Escalade delivers the smoothest and most comfortable ride offered on a body-on-frame vehicle. Thanks to a host of electronic stability, traction and suspension controls, winding roads that would have lesser SUVs heaving and tossing are simply tamed." -- Kelley Blue Book (2012)
  • "Cadillac fits the new GM 6.2-liter V-8, which is a 403-horsepower stump-puller, and the new six-speed automatic. It's a terrific combination, in terms of sheer power, although fuel economy is less than impressive." -- The Detroit News (2007)

Acceleration and Power

The 2013 Cadillac Escalade EXT has only one engine and transmission choice: a 403-horsepower, 6.2-liter V8 and six-speed automatic. The Escalade EXT gets 13/18 mpg city/highway, according to the EPA, which makes it one of the thirstiest full-size pickup trucks available.

Critics rave about the Escalade EXT’s V8. They say it provides more than ample power to get the truck moving from stop lights and on the highway. Critics also think the engine is strong enough to help the Escalade tow heavy loads with ease. They also credit the six-speed automatic transmission for providing fast, timely shifts.

  • "Conventional Escalades are robust, regardless of body style. Credit also goes to the smooth 6-speed transmission, which delivers prompt shifts when needed." -- Consumer Guide
  • "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 (2012)
  • "With a 6.2-liter V-8 under the hood, matched to the latest six-speed automatic transmission, you could tow a 7,600-pound trailer. And with 403 horsepower, you could probably surprise some punks at the drag strip." -- Cars.com (2007)

Handling and Braking

Reviewers applaud the Escalade EXT for delivering a comfortable, controlled ride, which is sometimes atypical of full-size, truck-based SUVs. While it has a composed ride, the EXT is a heavy vehicle, and some critics mention this heft means that handling and steering are truck-like. One reviewer refers to the around-town ride as “clumsy.” One reviewer mentions that the brakes have a good feel to them. For 2013, the Escalade EXT gets revised grade braking performance, a transmission feature that helps control vehicle speed on downhill grades without wearing out the brakes. Unlike most pickup trucks, the Escalade EXT comes standard with a full-time all-wheel drive system.

  • "For such a huge vehicle that uses traditional body-on-frame construction, Escalade rides very comfortably. ESV and EXT (which is based on the ESV) ride more smoothly than the standard-length wagon on account of their longer wheelbases." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Shares the big and unwieldy feel of GM's big utes." -- Car and Driver
  • "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 (2012)
  • "Although the EXT comes with road-sensing suspension, the ride around town is a clumsy, lunging one, with the EXT's huge, 6,013-pound bulk slow to respond to steering inputs." -- CNET (2007)

Towing and Hauling

The Cadillac Escalade EXT can tow up to 7,600 pounds. This is less than the maximum tow ratings of most competing full-size pickup trucks, but more than many other luxury vehicles.

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