By KBB.com Editors
At the time the Escalade EXT was created, its purpose was to give Cadillac an entrant in the then-growing market for big sport utility vehicles and full-size pickups, and with features not available on the competition. While the Escalade ESV is derived from the long-wheelbase Chevrolet Suburban, the EXT is Cadillac's take on Chevy's innovative Avalanche truck, which quickly converts from a closed SUV to a surprisingly capable pickup via a removable Midgate Panel divider system that extends the usable bed into the rear-seat area. The 2009 Cadillac Escalade EXT boasts GM's latest chassis, body, interior and powertrain upgrades, as well as a generous allotment of new convenience and safety features.You'll Like This Car If...
If you need or want full-size truck towing capabilities, along with upscale Cadillac luxury and image and the versatility to change from a quiet, comfortable closed SUV to a pickup with more cargo capacity, this is the one.You May Not Like This Car If...
If convert-a-truck flexibility and Cadillac crests are not important to you, any modern full-size crew-cab pickup can be equipped to do the job of serious hauling and comfortable occupant-coddling at well below the EXT's price. And Chevy's Avalanche offers the same Midgate Panel feature for a lot less money.What's New for 2009
For 2009, a power tilt steering wheel is added as is an enhancement to the OnStar navigation system.Driving It Driving Impressions
This heavy full-frame luxury truck drives like a very large car. It's no sport sedan, but it is more agile, sure-footed and Cadillac-comfortable than most any other full-size truck you'll encounter, at least in part due to its fully-boxed frame, capable suspension, wide tracks and improved rack-and-pinion steering. Both braking and steering feel, especially, are vastly improved compared to previous GM trucks. The 6.2-liter V8 idles aggressively at rest and roars impressively at full throttle as it thrusts the big vehicle forward with eye-opening authority. One unpleasant surprise: There's an auxiliary input jack for the rear audio system, but none for the front.Favorite Features
Remote Vehicle Starting
This is one of those features that you may not want to live without once you've become used to it, especially in hot summer or cold winter weather. At the touch of a key-fob button from afar, it can start the engine and begin cooling or heating the cabin before you're even inside.
Convert-a-Cab Midgate Panel
This clever removable divider system quickly converts the EXT from a closed-cabin SUV with a five-foot pickup bed to a surprisingly capable pickup by extending the bed nearly three feet into the rear seat area.
The 2009 Cadillac Escalade EXT's interior is luxury-plush, surprisingly quiet and raises the luxury and refinement bars another couple of notches. The instrument panel is set low and far forward to improve real and perceived room. It houses quad round gauges with white needles, blue-light inlays and white LED backlighting. "Nuance" leather covers the seats, doors, steering wheel and center console, while the interior pillars wear rich-looking fabric. And then there's the manually-folding Midgate Panel bulkhead that allows the five-passenger EXT to convert into a two-passenger pickup with an eight-foot bed. It's pretty slick, but one potential down-side is that, in that configuration, the entire interior is open to the great outdoors and all the security, weather and dirt issues that includes.Exterior
Those who bought the original Escalade EXT will find even more to like in the 2009 model, beginning with its styling. Slightly larger and heavier due to added structure and features, it appears perhaps somewhat smaller thanks to its crisp, sleek lines. The swept-back 57-degree windshield contributes to an impressive aerodynamic drag coefficient of 0.36, which helps improve fuel economy and reduce wind noise, and careful detailing shows in its large, finely-crafted Cadillac signature grille, front fender vent ports and tasteful chrome accents.Notable Standard Equipment
The 2009 Cadillac Escalade EXT's comprehensive standard content begins with all-wheel drive, road-sensing suspension, automatic rear leveling, Ultrasonic Rear Park Assist, a three-piece rigid cargo cover and remote vehicle starting. Interior features include leather-covered 14-way power heated front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, steering wheel radio controls, rear audio controls, power adjustable pedals, DVD/MP3/CD-changer with Bose Surround Sound, XM Satellite Radio and OnStar with turn-by-turn navigation. Additional safety and convenience features include advanced front air bags with passenger sensing, head-curtain side air bags for both rows, four-wheel antilock disc brakes (ABS), Stabilitrak stability control, rain-sensing wipers and heated washer fluid.Notable Optional Equipment
With so much standard equipment, the EXT's option list is not long, and includes 22-inch tires on chromed aluminum wheels, rear-seat entertainment system, power adjustable running boards, a power sliding sunroof, a Climate Package (heated and cooled front seats and a heated steering wheel) and an Information Package that includes DVD touch-screen navigation, a rearview camera and Intellibeam automatic headlamps.Under the Hood
Powering every 2009 Cadillac Escalade EXT is a new 6.2-liter all-aluminum V8 with variable valve timing (VVT), which optimizes camshaft timing to improve low-rpm torque and high-rpm power, along with emissions and fuel economy. This engine does not yet have GM's Active Fuel Management (AFM), which deactivates half of the cylinders under light load, but it is now E85 compatible.
403 hp at 5700 rpm
417 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4300 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 12/19 (gas), 9/14 (E85)
The 2009 Cadillac Escalade EXT has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting ranging from just under $61,000 for the base model and topping out near $70,000 when fully loaded. The Escalade EXT's closest competitor, the Ford F-150 SuperCrew Cab Platinum Edition with all-wheel drive, is priced in the mid $40,000 range but can't match the EXT's Midgate Panel flexibility or impressive horsepower. Chevy's top-of-the-line four-wheel-drive 5.3-liter V8-powered Avalanche LTZ is also in the mid $40,000 range. Over a five-year period, the Cadillac EXT is projected to hold resale value lower than the F-150 Platinum Edition and the Avalanche. Fair Purchase Price will show you what others in your area are actually paying for the Escalade EXT, so be sure to check the price before you set out to buy.