Towing a boat with the 2017 Cadillac Escalade: 6 things you need to know

August 30, 2017

A day in the life of most Cadillac Escalades starts with dropping the kids off at school followed by a visit to the local Starbucks watering hole, but these big brutes are well-suited to far more strenuous activities.

While most of the Escalade's rivals feature car-like unibody construction for improved on-road dynamics and more interior space, underneath the hulking Escalade sits a beefy, pickup-derived frame that makes it a not-too-distant cousin to the Chevrolet Silverado. That makes for tighter interior room than its ZIP code-filling proportions might suggest, but it's weekend-rated with optional four-wheel drive and up to 8,300 pounds of trailer-tugging capability.

After spending a weekend towing boats with the Escalade, we learned a few things you might want to know:

2017 Cadillac Escalade towing

2017 Cadillac Escalade towing

Enlarge Photo
2017 Cadillac Escalade towing

2017 Cadillac Escalade towing

Enlarge Photo
2017 Cadillac Escalade towing

2017 Cadillac Escalade towing

Enlarge Photo

Luxury towing is nice

While the Escalade might be a truck at heart, it's a damn fancy rig. With an as-tested price of $91,435, our test Escalade wasn't cheap—but its price is justifiable. My wife, who sits shotgun in a different test vehicle every week, was quick to pick up on the beautiful open-pore wood trim and matte metallic finishes scattered about the cabin.

Befitting its luxo-barge status, the Escalade can be fitted with a long list of optional tech, much of which has the added benefit of helping to shoulder trailering duties. The surround-view camera provides a glimpse of the entire vehicle to help hooking up to a trailer or backing into the water at the boat launch. Instead of a conventional rearview mirror, the Escalade features an HD camera mounted to the tailgate that live streams what's going on behind. It can revert back to a standard glass mirror at the flip of a switch, but the camera's view eliminates the wide roof pillars and makes keeping tabs on your trailer a cinch.

2017 Cadillac Escalade towing

2017 Cadillac Escalade towing

Enlarge Photo
2017 Cadillac Escalade towing

2017 Cadillac Escalade towing

Enlarge Photo
2017 Cadillac Escalade towing

2017 Cadillac Escalade towing

Enlarge Photo

You might need extra gear

The Escalade is pitched as an urban SUV with its flashy chrome. The downside to the optional 22-inch wheels on our tester is that they force its receiver hitch to sit up higher than you'll find in a crossover. I had to use a drop hitch to place the ball lower to ensure that the trailer was level behind the SUV.

Additionally, a newer boat trailer's safety chains had no problem reaching the Escalade's hitch, but an older trailer I also towed required an extension.

The lesson here: you're probably going to need to purchase a few items to tow a trailer behind your Escalade.

Choose your Escalade wisely

Not all Escalades are equal when it comes to towing. The short wheelbase, rear-wheel drive model that serves as the entry to the lineup is the towing champ with its 8,300 pound towing rating. If you opt to add four-wheel drive to your rig, that rating drops to 8,100 pounds.

The long wheelbase ESV models in two-wheel drive form can tow up to 8,100 pounds, but four-wheel drive drops that to 7,900. And if you spring for the blingy 22-inch wheels, you're down to a still decent 7,800 pounds.

2017 Cadillac Escalade towing

2017 Cadillac Escalade towing

Enlarge Photo

You're going to want to use Tow/Haul mode

The 2018 Escalade features a new 8-speed automatic transmission, which is terrific in day-to-day use. Throw a 5,000 pound boat setup behind it like I did and suddenly eight forward gears feels like a lot. In the name of fuel economy, the transmission upshifts quickly to save fuel unless you've engaged Tow/Haul mode on the gear lever. Then, it modifies the shift pattern to hold gears an extra 1,000 to 2,000 rpm to make things a bit smoother.

2017
The Car Connection
See the winners »
2017
The Car Connection
 
Ratings and Reviews
Rate and review your car for The Car Connection
Review your car
The Car Connection Daily Headlines
I agree to receive emails from the site. I can withdraw my consent at any time by unsubscribing.
Thank you! Please check your email for confirmation.