2012 Cadillac Escalade EXT Review

Pros & Cons

  • Strong and smooth powertrain
  • plush ride
  • quiet cabin
  • versatile midgate design.
  • Less towing capacity than traditional pickups
  • awkward to maneuver in tight spaces
  • marginal quality of some interior plastics
  • high theft rate.
List Price

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Edmunds' Expert Review

The 2012 Cadillac Escalade EXT owns the full-size luxury sport-utility truck segment with its distinctive style, luxurious appointments, versatility and commanding V8 performance. Then again, it's the only full-size luxury sport-utility truck.

Vehicle overview

There are plenty of luxury-lined pickups out there. Each of America's Big Three automakers produces one, boasting abundant features, loads of leather and special trim names like King Ranch, Laramie and Denali. Yet none of those names carries the weight of Cadillac, nor is a "luxury-lined" pickup the same as an honest-to-goodness luxury pickup. If you're looking for one of those, you have only one choice: the 2012 Cadillac Escalade EXT.

One of three different Escalade models, the full-size EXT combines a five-passenger SUV-like interior with a rugged covered cargo bed. The key to making these two disparate elements work together is an innovative "midgate" behind the rear seats that extends the truck bed into the cabin. You won't want to be hauling around loads of manure, of course, but large items that wouldn't normally fit suddenly will with the midgate lowered.

Compared to its mechanically similar and significantly more affordable cousin, the Chevrolet Avalanche, the Escalade EXT comes fitted with all-wheel drive and a more robust (and thirstier) V8 engine. Of course, you also get flashier styling and a unique-to-Cadillac passenger cabin done up in higher-quality materials and filled with desirable standard features.

Unfortunately, the 2012 Cadillac Escalade EXT shares both the Escalade and Avalanche's shortcomings. Like the regular Escalade, it has one of the highest theft rates in the country. And like the Avalanche, it has a huge footprint and limited rearward visibility that adversely affect maneuverability in close quarters. Those aren't exactly foreign complaints among truck buyers, but the EXT also falls short in terms of maximum towing and hauling capability.

As such, if you intend to use your pickup truck as, well, a pickup truck, then the Ram 1500 Laramie, Ford F-150 King Ranch or GMC Sierra Denali will likely be better choices. They can all be pretty luxurious when loaded with amenities. Even so, if a cross between a full-size luxury SUV and a pickup truck is what you want, then there is literally only one choice to be had.

2012 Cadillac Escalade EXT models

The 2012 Cadillac Escalade EXT is a full-size luxury pickup offered in three trim levels: Base, Luxury and Premium.

Standard features on the entry-level Base model include 18-inch alloy wheels, an adaptive air suspension, automatic xenon headlights, foglamps, heated power-folding outside mirrors with driver-side auto-dimming, rear privacy glass, a roof rack, side steps, a fold-down midgate, lockable three-piece cargo cover, rear parking sensors, remote ignition and keyless ignition/entry. Inside there's tri-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, 10-way power front seats (with heating, cooling, driver memory settings and four-way lumbar adjustment), heated rear seats, power-adjustable pedals, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a tilt-only steering wheel and remote ignition. Electronic features include OnStar, Bluetooth, a navigation system, real-time traffic, a rearview camera and an eight-speaker Bose surround-sound audio system with a CD/DVD/MP3 changer, satellite radio, rear seat audio controls, rear seat headphone jacks and an iPod/USB interface.

The Luxury model adds 22-inch chrome alloy wheels, Magnetic Ride Control adjustable suspension (optional on Base), automatic high beams, a sunroof and a heated steering wheel. Springing for the top-of-the-line EXT Premium trim gets you different wheels, a body-colored grille and other exterior trim pieces, power-retracting assist steps and a rear-seat DVD/MP3 entertainment system (the latter two items are optional on the Luxury). LED headlamps are optional on the Premium.

2012 Highlights

The 2012 Cadillac Escalade EXT returns unchanged save for an updated navigation system.

Performance & mpg

The 2012 Cadillac Escalade EXT is powered by a 6.2-liter V8 that puts out 403 horsepower and 417 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission, full-time all-wheel drive and a heavy-duty locking rear differential are all standard. The automatic transmission features a tow/haul mode and manual-shift capability, but gearchanges can be awkward using the controls on the column-mounted shifter.

In Edmunds performance testing, the EXT went from zero to 60 mph in 7 seconds, which is very quick for a truck. Despite cylinder-deactivation technology, EPA fuel economy estimates are a dismal 13 mpg city/18 mpg highway and 14 mpg combined. When properly equipped, the EXT can tow 7,600 pounds, a few thousand pounds less than a traditional crew cab pickup.


The 2012 Cadillac Escalade EXT comes standard with antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. Other standard safety features include rear parking sensors, a rearview camera and OnStar emergency communications.

In Edmunds brake testing, the EXT came to a stop from 60 mph in a lengthy 140 feet.


From behind the wheel, the 2012 Cadillac Escalade EXT is a bit like a gilded sledgehammer -- sparkly and powerful but with a distinct lack of finesse. For starters, the sheer size of this colossus, combined with the limited visibility out the back and sides, makes it a good idea to wield it with a fair amount of restraint. Making that task just a little harder is the surprisingly quick acceleration produced by the 6.2-liter V8 under the hood. The adaptive suspension manages to deliver a decent balance between a smooth ride and confident handling, though there's only so much you can expect in either department from a 6,000-pound truck rolling on 22-inch wheels.


The Escalade EXT sets itself apart from the other luxury-lined pickups with a genuinely upscale cabin in terms of design, materials and features. Leather upholstery set off by tasteful wood and metal trim gives the passenger cabin a definite rich feel, though cheap plastic trim in a few spots detracts from the overall effect. The cabin's biggest downside -- limited visibility to the rear and sides -- is offset somewhat by the standard rearview camera and rear parking sensors.

Both rows of seats offer good head- and legroom, with the front buckets' heating/cooling making it especially easy for occupants to get comfortable. We do wish the steering wheel telescoped, however. Folding the rear seats forward and opening the lower half of the midgate expands the 5-foot bed into a huge enclosed cargo area that stretches 8 feet from just behind the front seats to the lockable tailgate. For larger cargo, removing and stowing the rear window and the three-piece tonneau cover creates a traditional pickup bed large enough for the biggest antique store finds.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 2012 Cadillac Escalade EXT.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

brakes 2012 Escalade EXT
4dr Crew Cab AWD SB (6.2L 8cyl 6A)
Recently purchase a 2012 Escalade EXT. Only had 690 miles. Thought I was getting the cream of SUV's. Find the car lacking in several areas based on the purchase price. However what I consider to be a major issue is the brakes. The EXT is a 6,00 pound truck. The brakes are way to small to stop the EXT in a panic stop. GMC should be ashamed to put that truck on the road with the brakes it has. Have had two near crashes. I'm 77 years old and have never experienced a near rear end collision before. When compared to a Chrysler product the EXT in the area of brakes gets a solid "D" ! Would be interested in other Escalade owners experiences. Gary... I have since installed new rotors and pads, a SUPERCHARGER, and cold air intake. The performance is amazing for a 6,000 pound truck. Unless I really get into it the milage has improved. and the engine really likes the supercharger. Still needs better brakes ! Sept. 3,2017 Still driving the 2012 supercharged Escalade EXT. No issues. Really like the performance for a 6,000 lb truck.


NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    DriverNot Rated
    PassengerNot Rated
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    DriverNot Rated
    PassengerNot Rated
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    Rollover3 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of Rollover21.2%

More about the 2012 Cadillac Escalade EXT

Used 2012 Cadillac Escalade EXT Overview

The Used 2012 Cadillac Escalade EXT is offered in the following submodels: Escalade EXT Crew Cab. Available styles include Premium 4dr Crew Cab AWD SB (6.2L 8cyl 6A), Luxury 4dr Crew Cab AWD SB (6.2L 8cyl 6A), and 4dr Crew Cab AWD SB (6.2L 8cyl 6A).

What's a good price on a Used 2012 Cadillac Escalade EXT?

Price comparisons for Used 2012 Cadillac Escalade EXT trim styles:

  • The Used 2012 Cadillac Escalade EXT Luxury is priced between $23,990 and$23,990 with odometer readings between 144496 and144496 miles.

Shop with Edmunds for perks and special offers on used cars, trucks, and SUVs near Ashburn, VA. Doing so could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Edmunds also provides consumer-driven dealership sales and service reviews to help you make informed decisions about what cars to buy and where to buy them.

Which used 2012 Cadillac Escalade EXTS are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2012 Cadillac Escalade EXT for sale near. There are currently 1 used and CPO 2012 Escalade EXTS listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $23,990 and mileage as low as 144496 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2012 Cadillac Escalade EXT.

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Find a used Cadillac Escalade EXT for sale - 3 great deals out of 9 listings starting at $12,386.

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Should I lease or buy a 2012 Cadillac Escalade EXT?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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