- Combination of soft, plush interior and bold, macho exterior
- Good handling for such a tall, heavy vehicle
- Big V-8 with lots of torque
- Drinks gas like water
- Not enough high-tech optional equipment
- Third-row seat design doesn't fold neatly
Considering the weight of the Escalade’s image and its segment-leading performance, the 2009 Cadillac Escalade is hard to beat.
The 2009 Cadillac Escalade is available in either standard or extended length—a 21-inch increase with seating capacity for up to eight adults. The Escalade shares its platform and mechanical layout with the GMC Yukon and Chevrolet Tahoe SUVs.
For 2009, the Escalade’s 6.2-liter, V-8 engine is capable of burning E85 fuel and features Magnetic Ride Control partnered with all 22-inch wheel/tire combinations. Both rear- and all-wheel drive are available. Although teamed with a six-speed automatic transmission and Active Fuel Management to help reduce fuel use during cruising or coasting, the Escalade still gets dismal fuel economy figures of 12 mpg city across the entire lineup and either 18 or 19 mpg highway, depending on the model. Real-world city driving can easily result in single-digit mileage numbers, as TheCarConnection.com editors have observed.
Even on steep upgrades with full loads, the engine powering the 2009 Cadillac Escalade provides plenty of power to make the big, heavy wagon feel perky, while the six-speed automatic transmission has a knack for finding the right gear. Brakes are powerful enough to slow the big SUV, and although the Escalade doesn't handle nimbly, it's one of the best of the biggest truck-based SUVs; the ride remains even-keeled and absorbent in the process, and the interior stays impressively silent except for a bit of engine noise.
The Escalade is virtually unbeatable for elbow and shoulder room because of its wide cabin. Seats are among the most ample and supportive of any vehicle. In both models, the second row is nearly as comfortable as the first, and in the ESV, the third row is quite roomy, though a bit difficult to access. Despite its high, truck-like driving position, the 2009 Cadillac Escalade is graced with an attractive instrument panel that wouldn’t look out of place in a luxury sedan.
Head-curtain side airbags covering all three rows are standard on the 2009 Cadillac Escalade, as are front side airbags; the StabiliTrak stability control system includes rollover mitigation to help avoid situations that might lead to a rollover. On that note, the Escalade gets a low three-star rating for rollover likelihood from the federal government (largely for its high center of mass), but the Escalade has earned top five-star ratings in the tests for frontal and side crash protection.
New equipment for 2009 includes a power-tilting steering wheel, express-up power windows for the front row, a new light Cashmere/Cocoa interior color combination, and rear-seat audio jacks standard on all models. Other features include an eight-inch touch-screen navigation system, a Bose 5.1 Digital Surround Sound system, cooled front seats, and power-actuated running boards. The maximum tow rating is 7,800 pounds when properly equipped. Features especially cater to the executives and VIPs who, it seems, all need a 'Slade in their stable. The center console is wide enough to hold a laptop, and the 2009 Cadillac Escalade includes standard heated power seats, tri-zone climate control, power-adjustable pedals, and a magnificent-sounding Bose system.