SUV’s fit for VIPs by Becker Automotive Design

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 Integrated into the vehicle is an impressive iPod-ready A/V system featuring satellite HDTV, DVD, and digital surround sound.

Have you ever been traveling in your chauffeured Mercedes S-Class, smoking your freshly imported Cohiba Esplendidos, and sipping a glass of Château d’Yquem when you thought to yourself, “Although this is nice, I think I’d prefer a slightly more spacious method of transportation that features reclining leather seating, a mobile office, and wonderful ambient lighting”? Or maybe you’re the spirulina-infused wheatgrass protein shake kind of person who wants to downsize your personal carbon footprint. No matter which way you lean, the following SUVs, which are more like rolling Gulfstreams, are next level, on every level.

Becker Automotive Design, known globally for their unique custom limousine and coach conversion vehicles, has partnered with custom automotive designer STRUT to create a special edition Cadillac Escalade ESV for Becker’s exclusive global clientele (they’ve produced specialty vehicles for heads of state, royalty, celebrities, prominent families, business leaders, and high-end properties in more than 15 countries). It redefines business-luxury executive transport.

The new Becker/STRUT Cadillac Escalade ESV combines an unmatched blend of privacy and European interior craftsmanship with cutting-edge mobile office capabilities. The floor-to-ceiling custom-leather interior is designed for comfort, convenience, and ergonomic utility. The reclining seats, which are modeled after private aircraft, have electronically controlled leg rests and offer increased headroom. Or, in other words, this beautiful beast is completely devoid of the typical Vegas limo disco nightmare treatment.

Integrated into the vehicle is an impressive iPod-ready A/V system featuring satellite HDTV, DVD, and digital surround sound. It yields picture and sound quality rivaling that of any high-end home audio or theater system. Becker has chosen only the finest high-end components from Alpine, JL Audio, LG, Dynaudio, and other manufacturers, all controlled by a custom Crestron touchscreen that utilizes proprietary Becker Automotive Design software.

While the Becker/STRUT Escalade ESV offers luxurious accoutrements, it’s as ready for work as it is for play, with a sophisticated onboard computer system, broadband Internet connection, wireless keyboard, and full printer/scanner functions. The large LCD monitor allows rear-seated passengers to check email, surf the web, or crunch some spreadsheet numbers whether they’re on the highway or stuck in traffic. And whenever the ignition key is engaged or removed, this superb mobile office automatically smart boots up or gently shuts itself down.

The exterior of the Escalade ESV features a custom-crafted and meticulously tooled jewelry collection from STRUT featuring a woven, diamond-mesh front grille with matching side vents, all created from the finest stainless steel, highly polished for style and all weather conditions durability. Each piece in the collection bears the distinctive STRUT shield, announcing to all that this vehicle stands apart from the crowd. Completing the Becker/STRUT Escalade ESV signature collection is a set of Icon Wheels, also by STRUT.

Each vehicle contains specific design input from the commissioning customer, and pricing for the converted ‘Slade starts at about $125,000. It can range up to $225,000 for the top-of-the-line package.

Anchored in the future, yet drawing on inspirations from Lincoln’s rich and storied past, Galpin Auto Sports, MTV’s Pimp My Ride wizards, created a Navigator with a distinctive and opulent look and feel. Highlighted by dark, saturated colors, elegant wood trim details, gleaming chrome accents, and state-of-the-art technology, the Lincoln Navigator LUX by GAS stands above the crowd and reinterprets iconic sophistication.

This awesome interpretation takes an expressive and ultra-luxurious approach to the model, while preserving all of the craftsmanship and elegant amenities that are so unmistakably Lincoln. GAS wanted to recreate the ambiance and textures of the great Lincolns of the past, which were loaded with luxurious embellishments, special amenities, and sumptuous materials. This Navigator is designed to dazzle the senses and exude an atmosphere of pure luxury, much like a private jet or yacht.

The customizers started with an all-new 2007 Lincoln Navigator 4×4, equipped with a powerful 5.4-liter V8 engine and 6-speed automatic transmission. The reinvention began with attention-grabbing Lexani LX 131 27-inch wheels cushioned in Nitto custom 305/45/22 tires. Stunning Oxblood custom paint lends an earthy, non-metallic, stylish finish that accentuates the Navigator’s one-of-a-kind custom Strut grille.

Inside, the amenities continue with a plush Edelman Luxe Calf high-end leather interior (installed by Casmann), that wraps the seats, headliner, door armrests, sun visors, and center console. The rear center console features auto-rising Champagne and flutes. In order to refine the feeling of elegance, GAS (with help from Rau) installed exquisite maple burlwood trim throughout (even in the entire rear cargo area), custom shearling floor mats, and custom fiberglass enclosures.

GAS also blended high-tech with design innovation with interior upgrades that include: a WinBook JIV mini PC with Intel VIIV technology; Hybrid Mobile Technology software; Xenarc 10.4-inch touch screen computer monitor; SkyWay Systems mobile data services; 23-inch Exonic LCD in rear; Xbox 360; Arc Audio amplifiers; Image Dynamic speakers; StreetWires audio accessories; and Optima batteries.

And in a final step, GAS embedded a specially commissioned, one-of-a-kind, 5.5-carat Lex diamond clock (retailed at $10,000). It stamps the vehicle as a glittering example of Galpin’s transformative powers on all makes and models.

If you want the same pleasures of a customized SUV but with 25 percent less guilt, get ready for the first full-size luxury hybrid, the 2009 Escalade Hybrid.

GM has high hopes for the Escalade Hybrid, which is aimed at luxury buyers who may be less affected by the economic downturn and want to add a little green to the Escalade’s bling. The vehicle, which features four prominent hybrid badges and large hybrid lettering on both sides, already has a waiting list of show-biz glitterati and politicians.

A fantastic expression of responsibility without sacrifice, the EH embodies all the performance and swankiness of the original. At its heart is a 332hp V8 that can do 367 pounds per foot of torque at 4,100 rpm-not what you’d expect from a hybrid.

It gets 20 miles per gallon in the city and 21 on the highway, making it comparable to a midsize sedan with a six-cylinder engine (but with the towing capacity of a large SUV). The gas mileage is a 50 percent improvement over the conventional Escalade in the city, and a 10 percent improvement on the highway.

The Escalade’s so-called two-mode hybrid system can operate in electric-only mode at speeds up to 30 mph or with a combination of the gas engine and electric assistance at higher speeds.

Like single-mode hybrid systems now used by Toyota Motor Corp., Ford Motor Co., and others, the two-mode runs without the gas engine at low speeds but unlike those systems, the electric motor contributes more power at higher speeds. Single-mode systems also have heavier motors, which reduces the towing capabilities.

The Escalade Hybrid has a suggested retail price of $71,685 for the front-wheel-drive version. That’s $3,600 more than a fully loaded conventional Escalade. They’ll be available this fall at most Caddy dealers.

So whatever your sensitivities are, from top-flight comfort and quality, security needs, electronic entertainment systems, advanced mobile office productivity, or even environmental, one of these intelligently indulgent SUVs is sure to fit the bill.

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