The Road Traveled: Cadillac Escalade

The Road Traveled: Cadillac Escalade

A Family Affair

While not its top seller, the Escalade is still a hugely important part of Cadillac’s lineup. Adore it or abhor it, this high-brow hauler has brought in a lot of money for the company over the years and helped raise its profile among wealthy clientele.

Last year, the brand’s overall sales topped 182,500 units (retail and fleet). Their deliveries increased a whopping 22 percent compared to 2012. Of that total figure 22,514 Escalades (including ESV and EXT variants) were sold, which means it accounts for about 12 percent of Cadillac’s sales, but probably a much greater slice of its overall profits.

With traditionally bold styling and enough performance to match its looks, the luxury utility has done well over the years. With an all-new model about to be unleashed, it’s worth exploring the heritage of this luxury truck.

But this story needs a little context before we take a trip down memory lane, specifically a tip of the hat to Lincoln’s Navigator; for the luxury market was lost until this cartographically inclined utility vehicle guided the world to profits and prestige.

Released for the 1998 model year this F-150-based SUV proved there was a market for full-size, luxury SUVs, and a big one at that. It may sound like a fairy tale but this truck was released at a time when Ford’s domestic luxury division was actually capable of innovation; that’s a long-forgotten memory these days.

Essentially a gussied-up Ford Expedition, the Navigator was a major bullion-bovine for the company. Its unexpected success left competitors scrambling, notably Cadillac. The result was their hastily introduced Escalade, which bowed in ’99.