For a while in the late Nineties, if you wanted a big, blingy SUV, there was just one ride to roll in: the Lincoln Navigator. Then Cadillac came along and crashed the party with the Escalade.
This year, there's a brand-new Escalade and it's more impressive than ever--but is it enough to take on the likes of the Range Rover and Mercedes-Benz GL-Class?
Bold, big, and of course, truly American, the Escalade wears its sharp-edged sheetmetal with pride. The roofline and sills have Armani creases, and the Escalade's also added gorgeous stacked LED headlights and huge LED taillights. Slab sides and heavy strips of chrome aren’t everyone’s taste, but we claim ‘em as a guilty pleasure.
The cabin hits new heights in the Escalade. There’s cut-and-sewn upholstery leather and suede everywhere, even a stunning low-gloss wood to match the high-quality finishes. If you’ve been in a Cadillac recently you’ll recognize the CUE infotainment system, for better or worse. It's pretty, but its haptic interface isn't always in sync with our hands.
These front seats are comfortable, and there’s an additional 4 inches of legroom up here compared to the previous Escalade. Headroom is no longer at a premium, especially with the sunroof. One of the best details--these little pads to cushion elbows on the door panels.
In the second row you’ll find standard heated bucket seats. They're a little narrow, and the armrests sit a little low, but leg and head room are better than ever. Need more room? A three-seat bench is an option.
The standard third-row is absolutely usable for adults, but if you plan to take a road trip, you’ll need the long-wheelbase ESV model. The third row folds flat, but when it's tucked away, it hides inside this casing that's obviously an add-on piece--it's not as well integrated as the one in the Navigator. Put down the seats, and the Escalade has vast cargo space--up to about 120 cubic feet behind the front seats. Where’s that sofa I had to move?
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The Escalade’s sole engine is a 420-horsepower, 6.2-liter V-8 that produces 460 pound-feet of torque. It sends power through an eight-speed automatic transmission to all four wheels. It can tow more than 7,900 pounds and rip 0-60 mph runs in about 6.0 seconds, though likely not at the same time.
Fuel economy is up about 17 percent with EPA ratings of 15 mpg city and 21 mpg highway.
Behind the wheel, the Escalade's drivetrain feels more than powerful. Even in this 6,000-pound SUV, the torque rises to the occasion, with Secret Service levels of acceleration. Stiffer body structure and magnetic shocks make this big SUV drive very well. It's not at all daunting, thanks to light-touch electric power steering.
The Escalade hasn’t been through crash testing yet, but GM’s big trucks have traditionally performed well. There’s a raft of safety features here such as automatic braking, a pre-collision system, parking sensors, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warnings, and a ton of airbags.
The Escalade starts from just under $73,000 and comes well equipped with leather upholstery, wood trim, heated seats, a power tailgate, and a handful of USB ports. Get a loaded Platinum model like our tester and you'll get a leather-wrapped dashboard, 18-way power front seats, and 22-inch wheels. You'll also get a bill for about $95,000.
So what’s the bottom line with the 2015 Cadillac Escalade? It promises—and delivers—more of everything a full-size luxury SUV buyer could want.
For more information be sure to read our full review of the 2015 Cadillac Escalade here.