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2012 SLP Cadillac Escalade Supercharged Sport Edition Review

It’s nuts. You’d think 403 hp in a Cadillac Escalade would be enough to flash your jewels around town, but apparently not. After all, you can get a 500-hp Porsche Cayenne Turbo, or even a 555-hp BMW X5 M for extra bragging rights. Something had to be done to the king of bling.

SLP, which usually massages Camaros such as the ZL585 we drove a year and a half ago, decided to diversify its activities after GM announced it would produce the factory Camaro ZL1. Now, pretty much anything that steps out of a GM assembly plant with a V8 underhood can receive the SLP treatment.

In this case, we were handed the keys to a shiny black 2012 Cadillac Escalade equipped with a supercharged 6.2L V8. You get massive amounts of power and torque that can now measure up to those German rocket SUVs. Despite the addictive blown V8 and other performance upgrades, however, this remains an Escalade with its attributes … and shortcomings.

Explosive acceleration
SLP piled a TVS 2300 supercharger up top of the Escalade’s L94 6.2L V8, which in factory form produces 403 hp and 417 lb-ft of torque. A freer flowing, meaner sounding exhaust system and a cold air induction system are also added, and together they help the engine bolt out 525 horses and 517 lb-ft of twist.

Slap the column-mounted shifter of the 6-speed automatic down to D, stomp on the gas pedal, and hang on to your neck chains. The 0-100 km/h dash takes only 5.1 seconds, while the quarter-mile flashes by in 13.4 seconds at 168 km/h. That’s damn fast for a 5,800-lb truck.

And for those who don’t believe how much muscle you’re packing, SLP cleverly installed a hood with a see-through polycarbonate window, making the supercharger and belt clearly visible. And that muscle car supercharger whine at wide-open throttle is music to us car-nuts’ ears.

Fuel economy? You really wanna know? SLP tells us the supercharged engine consumes only about 1L/100km more than the stock L94 V8, which sounds optimistic. Eco-driving in this rig is about as relevant as track-testing a smart fortwo. Our five-day test result: 20L/100km; truthfully, we were expecting worse.

Rounding out the SLP treatment on our Escalade are 2” lower front springs, front and rear sway bars, subtle side skirts and exclusive 22” chromed alloy wheels wrapped in 295/40R22 rubber. You can also get Brembo brake package upgrades, which we strongly suggest to go with the extra forward motion.

From the driver’s seat
There are a few distinctions to the interior of the SLP Escalade, but they’re not all that noticeable. The most extroverted additions are SLP’s red and white “Sport Edition” badging, with a plaque affixed on the passenger side of the dash and embroidered on the front seat headrests. Oh, you also get SLP front floor mats.

The rest of the environment is pure 2012 Cadillac Escalade. And that’s what’s great about the package as a whole: it’s subtle, and you don’t look like you’re trying too hard to impress everybody, but you do anyway. The Escalade has always been a desirable machine and gets admirable stares, in some neighbourhoods more than others. Not only do you feel like you own the street, but you now have the firepower to impose an extra layer of respect.

Fantastic powertrain, but…
As much as we love blasting off at stoplights and intimidating Lincoln Navigator and Porsche Cayenne drivers with the engine’s deep-throated burble, the blown Escalade has its shortcomings, and they have nothing to do with SLP’s work.

The Cadillac Escalade, largely unchanged since 2007, is in dire need of a makeover. While it continues to offer a luxurious ride and remains a symbol of prestige, things we’ve been complaining about since its redesign six years ago are obviously still present today.

The steering column doesn’t telescope. The climate control buttons are minuscule and difficult to use while driving. Woodgrain instead of genuine wood trim is hard to justify in a vehicle of this price. The second-row seats don’t offer much room for such a big vehicle, and the third row is worse. The third row bench doesn’t fold into the floor, so you must remove it to maximize cargo space. A GMC Yukon looks almost the same but costs thousands less. We could go on.

Many SLP models to choose from
According to SLP, the base supercharger package costs $18,995 over the price of a standard, short-wheelbase Escalade, which currently carries an $85,260 MSRP. If 525 hp isn’t enough, SLP also offers a 700-hp version that includes a 427-cubic-inch V8 for about $35K.

If an Escalade isn’t your cup of tea, SLP had the good idea of broadening their product portfolio and now offers their performance packages on just about every GM model equipped with a V8 engine, which includes Silverado, Tahoe, Suburban, Sierra, Yukon, Yukon XL, Avalanche, Escalade, Camaro and Corvette.

Best of all, all SLP models under 600 hp are backed by the same warranty that GM offers, which means this blown Escalade is covered bumper-to-bumper for four years or 80,000 km, while its powertrain warranty is five years or 160,000 km, whichever comes first.

In short, the SLP Escalade is a wild ride that will please those who want a high-horsepower SUV that’s made of Detroit iron. Those pesky Germans now have some company in the 500-hp club.

Interested in an SLP-tuned vehicle? Check out the SLP Performance Parts website. We’d like to thank SLP’s Stefano Ciambella (sciambella@slponline.com, 514-260-1457) and Automobiles Paillé in Berthierville (www.gmpaille.com) for making this test possible.

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