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Why Isn't There a Smaller Cadillac Escalade?

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author photo by Doug DeMuro January 2017

I've recently come to the conclusion that Cadillac's strategy needs some changes. I say this because I'm an automotive industry expert, in the sense that I once purchased a 10-year-old Aston Martin with a bumper-to-bumper factory warranty.

The biggest thing I think Cadillac needs is a smaller version of the Escalade. But first, I want to talk about their current lineup.

I'm not sure if you realize this, but the SUV absolutely dominates today's automotive world. Car sales are continually down or remain flat each year, while SUV and truck sales are typically up some amount like 1,341 percent, which doesn't even sound like a legitimate number. It's incredible. Everyone wants SUVs. Everyone wants trucks. It's like people think the ground is out to hurt them.

Except for Cadillac. Cadillac has rolled out approximately 37 new cars in the last few years and seems to be paying very little attention to its truck lineup. Here's a list of the recently released Cadillac cars I can think of, just off the top of my head: the new CT6. The new CTS. The ATS. The ATS Coupe. The ELR. The new CTS-V. The new ATS-V. The new ATS-V Coupe. Cadillac seems to be in a full and total blitz of the luxury sedan and coupe world.

Meanwhile, their SUV lineup consists of two vehicles -- the Escalade and the XT5. Admittedly, both of these vehicles are brand new, but there are still only two of them. Do you know how many SUVs are offered by Cadillac rival Mercedes-Benz? SEVEN! The GLA. The GLC. The GLC Coupe. The GLE. The GLE Coupe. The GLS. The G. You can buy a Mercedes-Benz SUV in virtually any possible configuration, including a couple that look like a cross between a regular Mercedes-Benz SUV and a turtle. And Cadillac is just hangin' out with its two single SUVs, one of which starts at an exclusionarily high $74,500 with shipping. Of the seven Mercedes-Benz SUVs I named, six have a starting price below that figure.

In other words: Cadillac, you need more SUVs.

You don't just need more SUVs. You need a LOT more SUVs. You need more SUVs like the printer industry needs to roll out one single model that actually works when you press the print key. They've been at it for decades, and they still aren't close. But you, Cadillac, you I believe in.

Not only does Cadillac need more SUVs, but they need the right kind of SUVs, and by that I mean a smaller version of the Escalade. You see, Cadillac's current affordable midsize SUV is called the XT5, and it's very nice, but it's kind of a docile competitor for the Lexus RX, and it's primarily purchased by people who mute the radio volume when they're backing up because they think it helps them see better.

This is kind of funny, because the Escalade is a serious SUV, with tremendously bold styling and maybe more personality than virtually any other car on the road. The Escalade is wildly popular with musicians, athletes and other "cool people" we all aspire to be -- and yet, there's no cheaper version available for those of us who don't reallllly have the means to drop $85,000 on a luxury automobile. Cadillac has invested an enormous amount of time, energy and money into making the Escalade "cool," but they've never allowed it to trickle down to the rest of their SUV lineup.

Why not?

Here's what Cadillac needs to do. Keep the XT5, and continue to sell it to the same people who buy it now. It seems to do pretty well. But add a new SUV to the lineup, with a lower price than the Escalade and similar styling to the Escalade. Give it some brawny name like the Escalade has -- like, maybe, Elevade. (NOPE, SORRY CADILLAC. TRADEMARK 2017, DOUG.)

They can base it on the GMC Acadia and the Chevy Traverse. It won't be as capable or as powerful as the Escalade, so "real Escalade people" will still buy the bigger version, just like "real Range Rover people" still buy the full-size model even in the face of the Range Rover Sport. But it'll be more affordable than the standard Escalade, and it'll be 80 percent as cool, and -- most importantly -- they will literally sell 40 zillion of them. The Elevade will be so common that people will be using them as napkins.

Once that's done, Cadillac, you need an even smaller version, designed to compete with the Range Rover Evoque. Maybe you can call it the Minimade. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Doug DeMuro is an automotive journalist who has written for many online and magazine publications. He once owned a Nissan Cube and a Ferrari 360 Modena. At the same time.

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Why Isn't There a Smaller Cadillac Escalade? - Autotrader