Cadillac provided a surprise glimpse at its answer to the Lincoln Blackwood, showing off its '02 Escalade EXT at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

The EXT is a cross between a luxury sport/utility vehicle and a pickup truck.

The luxury sport/utility truck (SUT) is equipped with the same 345-hp 6.0L V-8 as the Escalade, "making it the most powerful SUT (sport utility/truck) in the world," says Gary White, General Motors Corp.'s vehicle line executive for full-size trucks.

The all-wheel-drive vehicle also is equipped with a new heavy-duty electronically controlled 4-speed automatic transmission with overdrive.

Escalade EXT in standard configuration has a 5-passenger cab and a 63-in. long cargo box. But the "Midgate" can be folded into the cab to increase the cargo box to 97 inches. A three-piece cargo cover is standard on the vehicle.

Cadillac says it needed to get into the growing SUT market after company research showed 20% of luxury households and 23% of Cadillac households own a full-size pickup. And with more pickup customers choosing up-level trims, it was a signal that Cadillac needed to tap into the market, says Susan Docherty, Escalade brand manager.

GM expects to market the vehicle, which will be built in Silao, Mexico, to 35- to 55-year-olds. Eighty percent of buyers will be male and household income will average $125,000.

GM decided to preview the vehicle at its new California design studio because 30% of Escalades are sold on the West Coast and the EXT is expected to do as well in that region, says Cadillac General Manager Michael J. O'Malley.

The Escalade EXT is among four versions of the Escalade SUV to be offered for '02 including all-wheel- and 2-wheel-drive models and a Middle East export version.