Highlights: Although sales of luxury SUVs have slipped over the past few years, the Escalade is still one of the best-selling luxury vehicles in this segment with over 25,000 new-vehicle sales annually. The Escalade was just name the best luxury SUV in terms of short-term quality, according to the industry respected J.D. Power survey.

MSRP of Premium Edition: $72,670 (MSRP of Base Model is $64,165)

Trim Levels:

  • Base
  • Luxury
  • Premium
  • Platinum

Powertrain Warranty: 5 years or 50,000 miles

Maintenance Warranty: 4 years or 50,000 miles

Standard Safety Features:

  • airbags; a rollover protection system
  • rear vision camera system
  • traction control system
  • blind-spot lane changing system
  • rear parking assist electronic monitor
  • high intensity discharge headlamps

Standard Features on Premium Edition:

  • 22-inch wheels
  • heated steering wheel
  • three-zone automatic a/c
  • adjustable pedals (gas and brake)
  • heated and cooled front seats
  • second-row heated seats
  • power retractable side steps
  • a power-release fold-and tumble second-row seats
  •  a power cargo door (liftgate)

Standard Engine/Horsepower: 6.2-liter, 8-cylinder engine/403-hp

Standard Fuel Mileage: 14-city/18-highway

Standard Audio System:

  • a 10-speaker
  • 5.1-Bose surround sound with single disc MP3/CD/DVD player
  • limited-time subscription-based satellite radio system
  • a rear seat entertainment system with headphones and audio control

Bluetooth Connectivity: Yes.

USB Connectivity: Yes.

What’s New: The luxurious Escalade is basically a carryover for the 2012 model year. The only minor changes are an enhancement to the navigation system and a few new paint choices.  Tech savvy buyers will welcome that this big Caddy now offers a new USB interface port which is located inside the center console. This feature now allows direct iPod command and control as well as USB storage device connectivity.

Pros: The Escalade is available in a variety of configurations: a short-wheel base model, a long-wheel base model, a hybrid and a truck. Due to its massive size, the luxury SUV is capable of fending off any type of weather climate, depending on if the vehicle is equipped in a rear-wheel drive system or an all-wheel drive system.

And unlike most vehicles, this vehicle can carry up to eight individuals, along with cargo in the vehicle or on top of the roof’s luggage rack. Moreover, the Cadillac Escalade has a towing capacity upwards of 8,100 lbs. So not only can one ride in style, but they don’t have to sacrifice cargo space, while doing this.

Besides this being a utilitarian vehicle, buyers can opt for such luxury amenities as heated (and cooled) cupholders, hand-stitched accents covering the instrument panel (door trim and center console) and LED headlights.

Cons: In this day and time where consumers are downsizing to more fuel-efficient utility vehicles, the days of the mammoth SUVs are no longer fashionable. Also while this vehicle was literally equipped with a host of luxury features, it lacked a push-button keyless starter, a radar cruise control system and a lane-departure warning system. It’s time for Cadillac to up the ante, offering more high-tech features in this luxury SUV.

Ironically, we’re currently reviewing Cadillac’s baby sibling, the Chevy Equinox and this pint-size crossover offer features that should be available on the Escalade. For instance, a well-equipped Equinox LTZ with a 6-cylinder engine is available with a safety package that includes a forward collision alert system and a lane departure warning system. Go figure? Why are these features available on a $30,000 vehicle and not one that costs twice as much? We expect that the next-generation Escalade scheduled in about two years will address our concerns.

Also we won’t even mention how much this vehicle disliked gas stations or better yet, how much we disliked filling-up. Well, at least, there is a hybrid available in this Caddy.

The Verdict: The luxurious Cadillac Escalade is a brand to itself. In fact, we just learned from Cadillac officials that the Escalade name is so popular it’s usually not associated with the luxury brand. This could be seen as both a positive and negative, depending on if the glass is half full or half empty. Overall the Escalade is capable of doing everything that one expects of a luxurious brand, except this one happens to be a SUV. And unlike the other luxury SUVs, this one was just rated as the number one vehicle in its segment in terms of quality. This is a first for the Escalade. So whether one is looking for short-wheel base model, a long-wheel base model, a hybrid or a luxury truck, it can all be found in the Escalade family.

Competition: Infiniti QX56, M-B GL- Class, Lexus LX-Series, Lincoln Navigator, Range Rover  and Toyota Land Cruiser

Jeff Fortson is an auto analyst and editor of a car-buying website for women and minorities. To learn more about his popular car-buying workshop and/or to price a new-vehicle, drive on over to JeffCars.com. Follow him at Twitter/JeffCars.