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Alfred, Maine, United States
NO TITLE. AS SEEN AS SHOWN. NEEDS SOME TLC.
Leading up to the debut of the 2015 Cadillac Escalade, we were told that the new luxo-SUV would be "much less ostentatious" and that we could expect greater differentiation from its Chevy Tahoe/Suburban and GMC Yukon siblings. And while those things may be true to some extent, after digesting the full raft of Escalade information and photography, we can say that this new 2015 model is exactly what we were expecting all along.
No, there isn't a single part of the new Escalade package makes us go "wow" or "ooh," but it still looks like a solid, nicely updated offering that will surely attract the same sort of baller status when it hits the road. For starters, the new front end has been completely redesigned, where cleaner, tauter lines work with the full-LED headlamps and running lamps to create a face that, while familiar, falls right in line with the rest of Cadillac's lineup. Around the sides, the shape is exactly the same as the rest of the SUV's platform mates, with better-fitting body panels and a handsome, upright design. Of course, 20-inch wheels are standard, and hifalutin' 22-inch rollers are available (in chrome, we assume). Things get really interesting around back, where full-LED taillamps extend from the bumper all the way up to the top of the tailgate, and - like the Tahoe/Suburban/Yukon - the rear window wiper has been integrated into the top of the hatch for a cleaner look. It all looks pretty modern and good, but doesn't really tone down the otherwise flashiness of the Escalade package.
Like its predecessor, the new Escalade will be available in standard- and extended-wheelbase formats (bring on the EXT!). Only one engine is available: GM's 6.2-liter EcoTec3 V8, good for 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Both two- and four-wheel drive configurations will be offered, and the new Escalade should be a bit better to drive than the previous model, with a new coil-over front suspension and five-link rear setup, a wider track, variable-assist electric power steering and Cadillac's Magnetic Ride Control system with Tour and Sport modes.
The new Cadillac ATS is an impressive sport sedan, often considered one of the most serious threats to the BMW 3 Series. Unlike GM's previous attempts, this four door brings aggressive styling, commendable chassis dynamics and class-leading handling to the highly competitive battle. And, like its daunting German foe, Cadillac offer several powertrain choices.
I recently spent time with the ATS 2.0T Premium on my home California turf. Fitted with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed manual gearbox with a limited-slip rear differential, my tester was lightly optioned, with only a paint upgrade and a cold weather package. That brought the as-tested price to $46,305, configured the way I imagine most enthusiasts would prefer. This meant I fully expected to enjoy a week with a tossable sport sedan that boasted "fun-to-drive" as its middle name, but all was not well...
General Motors has added another high-speed education course to the curriculum at the Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch outside of Las Vegas, Nevada. The desert track already hosts the Ron Fellows Performance Driving School with Chevrolet Corvettes, including the ZR1, and they've just added the Cadillac V-Series Academy.
Open now, the one- and two-day performance driving school teaches "the finer points of high performance driving" using the 556-horspower instructional aids known as the CTS-V sedan, coupe and wagon. This is different than than using the CTS-V at the Monticello Motor Club on the east coast - that's part of a sponsorship deal that Cadillac has with the track. The driving course at the Motorsports Ranch is its own program that was developed by Fellows, and we have no reason to think the Cadillac edition won't be just as thorough and enjoyable as the one with Corvettes.
Unlike the 'Vette edition, however, it doesn't appear that you get an invitation to the program if you buy a CTS-V model. Classes are capped at 12 participants and run $1,295 for a single day, $2,295 for two days. There are a video and a press release below with more info.