Cadillac turns the Escalade into something “so much more than just a rolling canvas for tacky gold badges, customized paint jobs, TV screens and wheels so large the Amish could stick them in a river to power a grain mill," Edmunds says. Road tests from a variety of sources find the 2010 Cadillac to be a powerful, fine-handling SUV that does its best to forget its truck roots—except when it comes to fuel economy.
The Escalade’s massive 6.2-liter V-8 engine puts out 403 hp and 417 pound-feet of torque. According to Edmunds, this provides "tremendous acceleration" for a behemoth tipping the scale at around 2.75 tons. Motor Trend clocks the Escalade’s 0-60 mph run at “only 6.5 seconds…for a full-size SUV that weighs just south of 5800 pounds, those are impressive numbers, to say the least.” For 2010, the Escalade’s V-8 is capable of burning E85 fuel and features Active Fuel Management. Though the Escalade’s V-8 has technology to shut off cylinders when under light engine loads, it still only musters 12/19 mpg at best, and can hit the single digits for fuel economy in city driving. As for the soundtrack, Automobile Magazine thinks the Escalade is “blessed with one of the best exhaust notes in the business, one that woofles and burbles at idle.”
According to Kelley Blue Book, the 2010 Escalade’s six-speed automatic transmission exhibits an unfortunate "reluctance to downshift for passing" from time to time. This tendency could conceivably be overcome through judicious use of the manual shift mode—which in the Escalade is accomplished through pushing “+” and “-” buttons located on the steering column.
The 2010 Escalade is once again available with optional all-wheel drive. Last year, Car and Driver reported that the Escalade suffered from "reduced towing capacity” of only 7,800 pounds; for 2010, the towing capacity rises to 8,100 pounds for the all-wheel-drive model and a hefty 8,300 pounds for the rear-wheel-drive variant.
As for handling, Automobile Magazine says “there's more steering feel through the Escalade-specific rack-and-pinion system, and there's newfound feedback when the truck is loaded in a corner,” though “the four-wheel disc brakes are adequate—if saddled with an annoyingly touchy pedal feel.” Handling is a strong suit of the Escalade so long as you remember it’s a truck and not a luxury sedan. Motor Trend concurs, stating that “the Escalade's adaptive suspension delivers a ride that resides more on the firm rather than soft side of the spectrum, but it still comes across as compliant, notable considering the enormous 22-inch wheels and 45-series tires.”
Expect a smooth ride on good surfaces, although minor bumps will get through, especially with the larger-diameter tires and wheels. Editors of TheCarConnection.com are impressed with the Escalade’s handling. It's certainly not as nimble as a dedicated sports car, but the steering feel is more pleasing and precise than with previous Escalades. Acceleration is strong, and automatic-transmission shifts are impressively smooth, though gear selection itself can be a touch confusing for the automatic transmission.