Cadillac's New Hog

Cadillac has gone folksy. The car that's long been known for its snob appeal, the car that's emblazoned with the family crest of Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, the car that for generations has been the very symbol of America's material wealth -- that car now wants to be just one of the boys. Specifically, Cadillac has come out with a pickup truck.

Cadillac. Pickup. The two words just don't sound right together. I can't imagine Joe Bob, Willie, Geezer, and the boys pulling up at Ida Belle's Chat & Chew Cafe in their Cadillac pickups, can you?

Of course, this is not what Joe Bob and them would call a "working truck," and Cadillac hasn't designed it for such workaday riff-raff as us. It is, after all, still a Cadillac, so this pickup has a soft leather interior, a Bose sound system, and a $50,000 sticker price. Instead of plain pickup colors, this ritzy truck comes in hues that Martha Stewart must have designed: "sable black," "white diamond," and "silver sand." Cadillac's pickup is so fancy that a trailer hitch is optional.

In fact, Cadillac refuses to call its new vehicle a mere pickup. It's an S.U.P -- a Sports Utility Pickup, don't you know. Cadillac's truck has a soft and appropriately luxurious name, the Escalade EXT, and the company told the New York Times that its target customer is a man, 40-something, who lives in a $2-million home, and "might have inherited his father's construction business." Apparently the target customer also is one who's either clueless or doesn't give a damn about keeping America tethered to the spigots of foreign oil and keeping our country gagging on the toxic pollution of gasoline, for the Escalade EXT is a hog. It weighs nearly three tons, has a toxic-spewing 345-horsepower motor, and gets a pathetic 13.5 miles per gallon.

This is Jim Hightower saying ... Meanwhile Cadillac, is in Washington lobbying against any toughening of the fuel economy standards.

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