I recently piloted the 2005 Chevy Equinox and the Cadillac Escalade ESV within a few weeks of each other and came to realize the reason the world needs middle management. Let's take the latter first, because it's big, bold and burled (in walnut inlay), an arrogant, aggressive, macho ride with "leadership" qualities, perfect for taking a spin to the nation's capital.
Cadillac Escalade (left); Chevy Equinox (right
The Escalade ESV more or less offers whatever you expect in a $63, 000 loaded vehicle (unless you expected heated and cooled cupholders, suede interior and 20-inch chrome wheels, in that case the Platinum Edition is the way to go.) The 345-hp V-8 Escalade hauls its 10-way seats, DVD player, 100 XM radio, Bose stereo, hands-free voice recognition, On Star, Bulgari clock and power everything and everywhere in smooth, roomy comfort. What can I say? The Escalade is a winner. It's muscular and strong and beloved by the muscular and strong, a la Shaq. It got six of us from NYC to DC in high-living, comfortable style, slurping up the petrol (13/17 mpg) as we went merrily, merrily, road-hogging all the way. The ESV -- especially the Platinum version -- is the unfiltered American id, with all the cocksure grandeur of Terrell Owens, Tom Cruise and Donald Rumsfeld.
The Chevy Equinox on the other hand, doesn't appear to offer much beyond its middling milquetoast "compact SUV" pedigree. Sure it gets the job done, meaning we were able to haul four people and a bunch of stuff, but in middling fashion. The 185hp V6 makes it prosaic, not dynamic, a tad tepid, the kind of car that's going to stand in the corner of the lot, waiting until someone calls on it rather than making its presence known. Granted, a horse-and-buggy or even a Chevy Chevette, would suffice when the roads less traveled twist along the empty, unencumbered, Gay Head cliffs of Martha's Vineyard during a stunning late September hurricane season reprise, so the Equinox served its purpose admirably. It's capable. It's middle management. It's also $22,700 for the standard model that has 69 cubic feet for cargo capacity and gets 19/25 mpg. And the Equinox handles smoothly and won't make waves, I mean one of its major selling points is the LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) system for toddler safety seats.
Are you an Escalade ESV or an Equinox type? Be honest. That's what I thought, but like the Stealers Wheel says, "Here I am stuck in the middle with you."
Inc. staff writer Patrick Sauer writes car reviews for Inc. magazine and regularly contributes more automotive insights on Inc.com.