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- Highs Good power and towing capability, loads of standard features, plenty of room for people and stuff.
- Lows Less refined ride than competitors, awkward removable third-row seat, not exactly fuel-efficient.
- Verdict The Escalade is roomy, imposing, and maintains its reputation as a status symbol, but it trails key rivals in several areas.
The Cadillac Escalade was introduced for the 1999 model year, based on the Chevrolet Tahoe full-size SUV. The fourth-generation Escalade launched in 2015 with more exterior design distinction to separate it from Chevy and GMC versions of the utility vehicle. Like its primary competitor, the Lincoln Navigator, the Escalade is a big, traditional body-on-frame, truck-based SUV with a standard V-8 engine, though with all the luxury of Cadillac’s plushest sedans. The standard Escalade is 203.3 inches long on a 116-inch wheelbase, while the Escalade ESV measures a whopping 224.3 inches overall on a 130-inch wheelbase. Both versions feature a removable third-row seat, though the ESV has more cargo space behind the second row, and either version is available with rear- or four-wheel-drive.
What's New for 2017?
Cadillac enhanced the Escalade’s technology and safety features for 2017, including a rearview camera mirror and automatic parking assist. There is also a redesign of the 22-inch wheel option, and two new paint colors, Dark Adriatic Blue Metallic and Bronze Dune Mist.
- Base: $74,590
- Luxury: $79,590
- Premium Luxury: $84,090
- Platinum: $93,390
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Engine, Transmission, and Performance
The Escalade and Escalade ESV come with just one powertrain, a 420-hp 6.2-liter overhead cam V-8, based on Chevrolet's small-block engine architecture and coupled to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Both models are available with rear- or four-wheel-drive, with towing capacity ranging from 7800 to 8300 pounds. The big V-8 allows for reasonably quick acceleration times for its nearly three tons, though braking is not very impressive, even when taking its weight into account. Magnetic ride control is standard, with a substantial amount of roll stiffness in the suspension tuning, resulting in a penalty to ride quality. You’ll also feel some chassis quiver on rough roads, and the steering is slow to respond, though it should never be too quick in such a large and tall vehicle.
EPA fuel-economy testing and reporting procedures have changed over time. For the latest numbers on current and older vehicles, visit the EPA’s website and select Find & Compare Cars.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
The Escalade and Escalade ESV are available with second-row captains’ chairs or a bench seat, so the biggest, most expensive Cadillac can accommodate seven or eight passengers. The issue with the Escalade’s seating, however, is the vehicle’s solid rear axle, which necessitates a heavy third-row seat, which must be removed and stored in the garage in order to make full use of the load floor. Key competitor Lincoln Navigator has independent rear suspension, which allows for a more convenient folding third row. Standard equipment includes heated and cooled power front seats, leather upholstery, a heated steering wheel, and three-zone climate control. Higher trims add such features as massaging front seats, heated power rear seats, premium leather upholstery, a refrigerated center console, and upgraded interior trim. Maximum cargo behind the first row is 94.2 cubic feet for the Escalade, 120.9 cubic feet for the Escalade ESV.
Infotainment and Connectivity
The Escalade comes standard with Cadillac’s 8.0-inch CUE touchscreen infotainment system with navigation, Bluetooth, 4G LTE connectivity, five USB ports, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a 16-speaker Bose audio system with satellite radio. Higher trims add features like wireless phone charging and a rear-seat entertainment system with a 9.0-inch screen, HDMI and HML inputs, dual wireless headphones, and Blu-Ray DVD capability.
Safety Features and Crash Test Ratings
For more information about the Cadillac Escalade / Escalade ESV‘s crash-test results, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) websites.
Some older vehicles are still eligible for coverage under a manufacturer's Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) program. For more information visit our guide to every manufacturer's CPO program.