2002-2013 Cadillac Escalade EXT: The History of the Caddy Luxury Pickup Truck

Cadillac is well-known for offering luxurious vehicles, like its SUVs and sedans. But, how many people are aware that Cadillac had a pickup truck? The Cadillac Escalade EXT, built off the Escalade SUV platform, was produced for about a decade until poor sales drove it from the market in 2013. What exactly happened to this line of Cadillac pickup trucks? Let’s take a look.  

NBA star Dwyane Wade's customized Cadillac Escalade EXT luxury full-size pickup truck model
NBA star Dwyane Wade’s Cadillac Escalade EXT | Gregory Bojorquez/Getty Images

2002 to 2006 Cadillac Escalade EXT (1st gen)

Cadillac was never known for pickup trucks, but the brand tried its hand with a part pickup part wagon combination back in 1970. The long-forgotten Mirage saw only 204 units made, so the vehicle didn’t exactly take off.

In 2001 the company surprised people by releasing another one, but this time the brand took the Escalade SUV, gave it a truck bed, and called it the Escalade EXT. It was meant to be a luxurious version of the Chevrolet Avalanche, the only sport utility truck on the market until the Cadillac’s EXT model came out. 

Besides the truck bed, the EXT version set itself apart from the SUV by offering 10-inch thick truck bed walls with storage compartments placed inside. The 5-foot bed could extend to over 8 feet in length, according to AutoEvolution

It was also powered by a 6.0-liter pushrod V8 engine producing 350 hp, which was paired with a four-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy rating at the time was 13 mpg on city roads and 17 mpg when traveling on the highway. 

According to Edmund’s, the price for a brand-new model was just over $49,000. Cadillac sold approximately 50,000 of these trucks between 2001 and 2006. Then the brand decided it was time for a change.

2007 to 2013 Escalade EXT (2nd gen)

While the Escalade SUV was redesigned for its third generation, the EXT entered its second generation for 2007. It was built on the same chassis as the Silverado pickup. Cadillac redesigned the front end with narrower headlights and new front fascia. 

The brand upgraded the powertrain as well. You got a 6.2-liter V8 engine producing 409 hp. Cadillac also paired it with a six-speed automatic transmission and an all-wheel drivetrain. According to J.D. Power, the engine was configured to run on E85 fuel by 2009, and by 2010, the brand added the Active Fuel Management cylinder deactivation system.

The truck offered even more luxurious components for the interior, like heated and cooled front seats, a sizeable rear seat area, and wood/leather combination accents spread throughout the cabin. 

The center console was large enough to have a small refrigerator inside for a few cold drinks. The only trim available in 2007 was the base model, which ran about $54,000. 

Cadillac discontinues its pickup truck

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By 2013 the Escalade EXT had three trim levels to choose from. One was the base; then, you’d upgrade to the Luxury and the Premium versions. It continued to offer a quiet ride and plenty of power.

However, critics weren’t too sure about the fact that the EXT couldn’t haul as much as other pickups of its size. Plus, it’s hard to imagine people wanting to do much hauling in a luxury pickup that could basically get the interior amenities dirty or broken. 

Also, due to its sheer size, which measured 222 inches long and over 80 inches in width, this luxury truck was pretty challenging to maneuver, especially in tight spots like parking spaces. Another issue that became prevalent was the fact that thieves seemed to really like it because the model had a high theft rate. 

With all the luxury trims offered for the traditional pickups, like Ford’s F-150 King Ranch and Ram’s 1500 Laramie, Cadillac’s pickup truck couldn’t compete with the towing numbers the other trucks were offering. The 2013 model was the last year for the Escalade EXT. However, there’s some indication that it may be coming back sometime in the next few years.

The Cadillac Escalade EXT was the epitome of luxury, which had the usefulness of a truck back when the brand offered it. With more luxury trims of rival trucks, the EXT just couldn’t relate to the pickup fan market anymore. Maybe, if it comes back, it will be ready to play with the big boys and offer competitive towing capability.