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Cadillac Escalade EXT - 2006 Pickup Truck Buyers Guide

by Martha Hindes

Cadillac Escalade EXT
2006 Cadillac Escalade EXT

Pickup trucks by nature, have certain requirements to qualify. A cab capable of carrying at least two. An attached truck bed capable of carrying a load. That might not lend itself to the idea of luxury, but if you haven't looked lately, that's exactly what one can get.

Take Cadillac's Escalade EXT, an extension of the luxury auto maker's popular, full-size Escalade SUV. It also shares some unique mechanical characteristics with a true pickup truck from parent GM's stable, the Chevy Avalanche. The difference is in the interpretation (and curb appeal to high profile athletes and other celebrities, according to Cadillac). Inside and outside the abundance of goodies take this from fully capable utility hauler to upscale must-have machine.

Escalade EXT, with room for four or five, makes no pretense at being undersized. It's big, bold and a clear statement from parent company General Motors that Caddy is still an American luxury vehicle dominator. Escalade EXT's appearance is instantly identifiable as Cadillac, with the brand's chiseled, sculpted exterior and large wreath and crest logos front and rear. And it comes loaded. Besides expected luxury touches inside are the latest in high-tech amenities: DVD rear-seat video entertainment, DVD-based nav system, standard XM Satellite radio, Bose sound system and GM's requisite OnStar security/communications system with Virtual Advisor.

Under the classy chassis is an unapologetic 345-HP Vortec high-output 6.0-liter V-8, with four-speed auto trans, full-time AWD and GM's StabiliTrak for road control, rated at 15/17 MPG. Most unique is its chameleon ability to expand the five-foot truck bed to a full 4 X 8-foot size, since its disappearing midgate and removable rear window opens cargo area where rear seats normally would be.

Caddy adds some mechanical and functional upgrades for 2006. A new, electronic tonneau cover over the truck bed opens and closes at the touch of a button. No more need to remove or install rigid covers by hand. A late model year addition: A sliding load floor that extends over the dropped tailgate to make loading and unloading easier, that holds about 1,000 pounds of cargo. At a base of around $55,000, going up from there, EXT is indeed a pickup with presence.