Autotrader Find: Well-Preserved, First-Generation Cadillac Escalade

Although you might think of the vehicle above as just a regular used SUV, it’s a bit more special than that. The SUV you see here is an original, first-generation Cadillac Escalade — the beginning of a model line that has grown into Cadillac’s best-known and most profitable vehicle.

A little history: the Escalade first made its debut for the 1999 model year, a year after the Lincoln Navigator came out in 1998. But the Navigator was nowhere near the massive success that the Escalade was, and the Escalade blossomed in subsequent generations. Only recently has the Navigator returned as a legitimate challenger — and it’s a good one.

Still, the first Escalade is an important car largely because it touched off the beginning of the full-size luxury SUV revolution, and it’s especially interesting to see an early one, because Cadillac really had no idea if it would sell, something that’s clearly obvious from just a few minutes looking at photos. In the original Escalade, the panel gaps are huge, virtually every part is shared with the Chevrolet Tahoe, and it really is just a full-size GM SUV with some extra dressing. Later Escalade models were distinguished considerably more from the Tahoe and GMC Yukon, but the original one wasn’t.

So what’s so special about this particular Escalade? Namely the fact that it’s in such nice shape. The first-generation Escalade was made for only two years, 1999 and 2000, and then Cadillac skipped the 2001 model year before returning with a fully redesigned Escalade for 2002. The result is that Cadillac didn’t make too many first-generation Escalade models, and the ones they did make have often been modified or driven to huge mileage figures. This particular Escalade has traveled just 90,000 miles in nearly 20 years on the road — and now it’s offered by Auto Paradise of Texas in the Dallas area for $7,988. Not bad for a well-kept piece of automotive history.

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