By JIM PARKER The Post and Courier
When Cadillac teamed with a high-performance designer to mint a special Escalade, the carmaker shipped the first model to a big auto auction house.
And No. 2, out of just 250 to be built? It landed in Charleston, more specifically at Baker Cadillac on Savannah Highway.
“This is the first one for sale in the country,” said Walt Kinney, general manager.
The super exclusive sport-utility is the 2012 Cadillac Sport Edition Supercharged Escalade SLP. Price tag including options on the Baker model is $99,985, or $27,000 more than the “standard” Escalade Premium edition. Powering the four-door model is a supercharged 525-horsepower V-8 engine, up from the traditional 6.2-liter V-8 producing 403 hp.
According to its website, SLP was formed in 1986 to design “Street Legal Performance” Chevy Camaros and Pontiac Firebirds. The Michigan-based company would steadily grow to where today it outfits many GM muscle cars, crafting parts at its Toms River, N.J., plant.
“They do all the Camaro SSes (Super Sports),” said Sumter S. deBrux, sales manager.
Still, SLP hadn’t added its specialized upgrades to a Cadillac before, at least until the limited edition Escalade came out this year, he said. The full-sized SUV gets 14 miles per gallon in the city, 18 mpg on the highway.
Buyers are expected to be fans of Escalades and supercharged engines who also want a one-of-a-kind showpiece.
“This obviously is going to be someone who is very performance oriented, looking for something exclusive,” deBrux said.
In its first foray into the Cadillac lineup, SLP supplied a slew of upgrades. According to its brochure, standard upfits are a Supercharger package with black finish, high performance tuning with speed limiter increased to 175 mph, cold-air induction system and specialty hood with chrome finish “heat extractor” grilles.
Customers can further request front and rear springs that lower the vehicle two inches and include larger-diameter sway bars, a hood with clear or tinted polycarbonate window and 22 inch, 12-spoke alloy wheels with chrome-finish and Cadillac center caps.
Also included are “Sport Edition Supercharged”-labeled exterior badges and embroidered head rests and floor mats. The words are interchanged red, white and red.
Meanwhile, the Escalade is available with a bevy of Cadillac-inspired high end features such as stainless steel dual exhaust, optional Brembo front and rear 15-inch GT brake packages and Michelin Latitude Tour HP tires.
Another handy addition to the full-bodied Escalade is a set of side running boards that automatically pop out when people are exiting or entering the vehicle and slide out of sight when the car is in drive mode.
Based on a few hours behind the wheel of the Escalade SLP recently, the specially designed sport-utility proved high-end in most every way.
The model displayed a stylish black exterior and plush, eminently comfortable leather seats. The navigation-communications systems and other features of the center console were user friendly, and the model comes equipped with a rear backup camera.
Especially for a large sport-utility, visibility was extremely good out the front windshield and the rear- and side-view mirrors. The vehicle seats five comfortably and has plenty of cargo room particularly with seats folded down.
The Escalade steered easily, maneuvering in city traffic and on the highway. The suspension, firm but not overly so, made for a smooth ride.
Maybe the more incongruous feature about the high-performance Cadillac was the less-than awe inspiring get-up-and-go. Most notably, the model seemed to balk at revving up to higher speeds on an open interstate. The Escalade drove best at mid-range speeds of 40-60 mph or so.
To be sure, this is an SUV, not a race car. And all things considered, the 2012 Cadillac Escalade SLP is a sleek-looking collector’s item for the right buyer and is well worth the nearly six-figure price tag.
Reach Jim Parker at 937-5542 or firstname.lastname@example.org.