Such is the global cultural spread of American hip hop and its connection with large 'bling' cars that the Escalade, a model rarely even spotted outside of the US, is an icon around the world. Mention the word 'SUV' and the first thing many will think of is an Escalade. Probably a black one, probably with big chrome alloys, blacked out windows and probably cruising through downtown LA. But before that the Escalade was General Motors' response to a rapid rise in outside influence on the American SUV market. Companies like BMW and Mercedes were increasingly taking market in the late '90s, and then in 1998 the Lincoln Navigator arrived on the scene as Ford's response and GM had to act.
Thus arrived the first Escalade in 1999, followed inevitably four years later by an extended version, and it has been the mainstay of their SUV fleet ever since. Through the generations the Escalade moved more toward embracing its 'blinged-up' image, gradually gaining sharper looks, a giant chrome grille and sprouting options like those chrome wheels.