Should You Take the Cadillac Escalade EXT Off Road?

The Cadillac Escalade EXT can handle a few elements of off-roading, but don’t rely on it for the serious stuff.
Written by Cassandra Hamilton
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
Cadillac Escalade EXT
is the world’s first sport-utility truck. It’s the perfect blend of luxury SUV and pickup truck that was sadly discontinued in 2013. You can take it camping, but don’t try rock crawling in this truck. 
The world becomes a bigger place when you leave the road behind. Is your vehicle ready to take on this challenge or should you look elsewhere for your off-roading needs? What stats should a vehicle have to go off-road?
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Can the Cadillac Escalade EXT go off-road?

Yes, you can take your Cadillac Escalade EXT off-road if you really want to, but you might want to consider a less expensive alternative like a
Toyota 4Runner
Jeep Wrangler
. Not everyone wants to take a luxury vehicle out on the trails.
The Cadillac Escalade EXT’s original MSRP was $63,060 for the base trim. Today, you can find one for roughly $29,000—still more expensive than some new off-roading vehicles. 
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Ground clearance

One of the most important aspects of off-roading is the vehicle’s ground clearance. The Cadillac Escalade EXT has a ground clearance of 9.1 inches, which is more than enough for off-roading.
Truly great off-roading vehicles have ground clearances between 8.8 and 10.8 inches. Having a high ground clearance enables you to take on rough terrain without worrying you’ll damage your vehicle’s delicate undercarriage. The Cadillac Escalade EXT’s ground clearance is almost as good as the off-roading king
Jeep Wrangler
, which has a ground clearance of 9.7 inches.


High low-end torque gives vehicles lots of power at low speeds, and it’s crucial for off-roading. This is because you need to access the engine’s power at low RPMs. Turning power is more important here than speed, which is why low-end torque is so important for off-roading.
The 6.2 L V8 engine provides 417 lb-ft @ 4400 RPM. This is a good amount of power, but it’s not very accessible at the low speeds required by off-roading.


The Cadillac Escalade EXT comes with a set of P265/65R18 tires. 
These are all-season tires, which are great on the pavement. You can rely on these tires to be durable, sturdy, and good for traction on any type of pavement. However, they’re not the best for off-roading. To get good off-roading tires, you’ll need
all-terrain tires
whose open, aggressive tread patterns are needed to increase traction.


If you have two-wheel drive on your vehicle, you can forget about off-roading. Luckily, the Cadillac Escalade EXT comes standard with 4WD. This gives each tire individual traction independent of the other tires, which is necessary in case one or two tires lose contact with the ground.


Hopefully, you paid attention in geometry class because angles are very important in off-roading, especially the approach angle and the departure angle:
  • Approach angle: the maximum angle at which a vehicle can climb without interference 
  • Departure angle: the maximum angle at which a vehicle can descend without interference
Unfortunately, the approach and departure angles on the Cadillac Escalade EXT are not very good. The angles are 15.8 and 19.6 degrees respectively. For comparison, this is about the same as a
Honda CR-V
, which is not a vehicle designed for off-roading.

Off-road rating: Rough and ready

We’ve rated the Cadillac Escalade EXT using
super-technical DIRT rating system, broken down in the table below:
Don’t Try It
Vehicles better suited to highway conditions
In a Pinch
Vehicles that can handle off-road conditions in certain circumstances
Rough and Ready
Vehicles designed for casual off-roading
Trail Boss
True off-road vehicles capable of tackling a range of terrain
We’ve given the Cadillac Escalade EXT an R rating. This is a truck that can handle some casual off-roading thanks to its high ground clearance and average torque. If you’re looking for serious off-roading action though, you’ll want to consider another vehicle. The Cadillac Escalade EXT just doesn’t have the approach and departure angles needed for rock crawling and other off-roading extremes.

The best off-road alternatives to the Cadillac Escalade EXT

If you want to take the Cadillac Escalade EXT but don’t want to put a luxury vehicle at risk, there are alternatives though they’re mostly less luxurious. 
These are the best alternatives to the Cadillac Escalade EXT:
Best affordable alternative
Ford Ranger
Though not as big, the Ford Ranger is more than capable of handling off-roading.
Standard SUV alternative
Toyota 4Runner
This classic off-roading vehicle can handle anything you throw at it.
Best trail boss option
Ram 2500
This truck comes equipped with everything you need for a successful off-roading experience.
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