Tracing the Cadillac Escalade Through Popular Culture
We take a look at some of the places the famous SUV has appeared.
As Cadillac's status as a maker of the world's most luxurious cars waned since its golden-era in the mid 20th century, its Escalade SUV has endured as a signifier of wealth and status. With the official unveiling of the 2021 Cadillac Escalade now complete, we trace the Escalade through popular culture, and how it established itself in the early 2000s, propelling the century-old (at the time) marque into a new millennium. Here are some places you may have seen the ubiquitous luxury SUV in the world of music, movies, and more.
The second-generation Escalade rocketed into stardom as early as the year 2002 when it was featured in songs by Jay-Z and Jennifer Lopez. It was even parodied by Mike Meyers in the movie, "Austin Powers in Goldmember."
Big Tymers also expressed fandom for the Escalade early in its cultural advent, name-dropping the truck three separate times in the 2003 song "This Is How We Do," but the lyrics are a bit spicy for us to publish here. 50 Cent made waves on The Game's "How We Do," showing a modified Escalade with scissor doors in the song's music video.
As of a 2018 Cadillac press release, the company had counted nearly 200 references to its SUV in hip-hop recordings. Today, "Escalade" has appeared as a lyric more than 500 separate times, according to music content aggregator www.lyrics.com.
Movies and TV
The Internet Movie Cars Database, or IMCDB, features more than 50 pages of Cadillac Escalade appearances in films. The first-generation car appeared heavily, whether in the background or as a vehicle being driven by a primary character.
"The Matrix Reloaded," for example, featured an Escalade in its chase scene, specifically an EXT pickup truck variant; the film's villains used the luxury truck to chase Morpheus and friends down the freeway. Later, "The Hangover's" villain, Leslie Chow, played by Ken Jong, was ferried around in a 2005 Escalade by his henchmen.
Tony Soprano is perhaps one of the most famous fictional characters to drive an Escalade. Barrett-Jackson sold the car belonging to the titular character of "The Sopranos," a 2003 model year edition, at its 2008 Palm Beach sale for $45,000.
Even now, as the 2021 Escalade debuts, Cadillac has called on Spike Lee to introduce the new vehicle in a short film.
Cadillac never had to push hard to make its huge truck popular. With the combination of its size and badging, the big SUV's presence has permeated into every corner of society, even appearing as the occasional golf cart.
Although the Escalade has appeared as the vehicle of villains in film, real-life heroes have also been known to wheel the big Cadillac. In 2017, during Hurricane Harvey, a lifted Escalade with giant tires, basically a street-going monster truck, pulled a military vehicle out of floodwater.
The Escalade has even served duty for U.S. police forces, including on the campus police department of Northern Arizona University and by the Sheriff of Sandy Springs, Georgia. Cadillac said in a press release that law enforcement agencies flip seized vehicles and use them in their ranks.
Video games have even made their own versions of the SUV. Grand Theft Auto V, which parodies all aspects of life in Los Angeles, features a spoof of the iconic Cadillac. The game creators call it the "Albany Cavalcade," which is about as thinly veiled of a joke as possible.
Check out our gallery for more appearances of the Escalade in popular culture.