Totally redesigned for the 2015 model year, Cadillac's flagship SUV continues to offer rugged opulence and unmatched stage presence. As much as any competitor, it’s a full-size SUV for folks who will be satisfied with nothing less. If recent demand is any indication, that’s exactly what plenty of buyers want. Despite the abundant dimensions of the regular Escalade, large families might prefer the extended-length Escalade ESV.
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2017 Cadillac Escalade Overview
What's New for 2017
Two new technology options mark the 2017 season. The available rear camera mirror uses a camera mounted at the rear of the vehicle, promising a field of vision four times as great as a regular rearview mirror. It also removes obstructions from your view, including passenger heads and rear pillars. A newly optional automated parking system uses ultrasonic sensors to locate a suitable parking spot, and then maneuvers the car into either a parallel and perpendicular space. The available 22-inch aluminum wheels have a new design. Trim levels have been renamed to Escalade, Luxury, Premium Luxury, and Platinum.
Choosing Your Cadillac Escalade
All Escalades contain a 420-horsepower, 6.2-liter V8 that produces 460 pound-feet of torque, matched to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Rear-drive is standard, but most buyers opt for four-wheel drive. The Magnetic Ride Control system features Sport and Comfort modes. Fuel economy is estimated 15 mpg in city driving and 22 mpg on the highway. With four-wheel drive, the highway estimate drops to 20 mpg. Both versions are rated at 17 mpg in combined driving. A 4WD Escalade can reach 60 mph in a hair under 6 seconds.
An enormous load of standard equipment leaves no doubt about the Escalade's luxury mission. Interiors offer seating for eight (or seven with no-cost second-row captain's chairs). Cabins are as indulgent as anyone would expect in a Cadillac of this repute. The third row folds completely into the floor at the touch of button. The CUE infotainment incorporates Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Cargo volume behind the third row is 15.2 cubic feet, growing to 94.2 cubic feet with second and third rows folded.
Trim levels differ primarily in safety technology:
Luxury is baked into every Escalade, so you won't feel deprived in the least by selecting the “entry-level” model -- unless you absolutely must have a sunroof. Whether to upgrade depends mainly on your comfort level with piloting a vehicle of this size. The additional safety features are quite reassuring, especially in urban traffic.
2017 Cadillac Escalade Review
Ever since 1999, Cadillac’s top SUV has earned a reputation for audacious excess. The latest versions have eased up on brashness and bling, but there’s still nothing subtle about an Escalade. Structurally similar to a Chevrolet Suburban/Tahoe, the Escalade retains traditional trucklike construction.
Pricing and Equipment
Starting at $74,590 (destination charge included), the Escalade comes in standard-length or extended (ESV) form. Four trim levels are available: base, Luxury, Premium Luxury, and Platinum. Each contains a 6.2-liter direct-injected V8 that develops 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque, working with an eight-speed automatic transmission. Rear-drive is standard, but four-wheel drive is available for $3,000 additional. An extended-length ESV edition costs $3,000 more than a standard-wheelbase Escalade. Automatic parking assist is newly available.
An Escalade with Luxury trim includes:
- Driver Awareness Package (forward collision warning, lane keeping assist, blind-spot monitoring, and automatic headlights)
- Full LED lighting
- Heated seats and mirrors
- Leather upholstery with wood trim
- Hands-free liftgate
- Bose surround-sound
- 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster
- CUE infotainment with navigation
- Magnetic Ride Control
- 22-inch alloy wheels
- Strong V8 powertrain delivers surprisingly swift responses. Acceleration to 60 mph takes only about six seconds – a startling figure for a vehicle approaching three tons.
- Smooth-shifting automatic transmission.
- Standard Magnetic Ride Control yields ride quality that rivals the leaders in this vehicle class.
- An Escalade can tow as much as 8,300 pounds with confidence.
- EPA-estimated fuel economy is as meager as 17 miles per gallon in combined city/highway driving – an Escalade can hardly be called thrifty. Take its weight and performance into account, however, and that figure doesn’t sound quite so bad.
- Nimble or sporty the Escalade is not. Its truck-based chassis can impede cornering ability, as well as ride quality – though the ride is generally quite pleasing.
- Front seats are heated and cooled, even in base trim, upholstered in leather that feels good and appears durable.
- CUE infotainment operates like a tablet computer, with a 12.3-inch display, responding to voice, touch, or “swipe” gestures. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard.
- Massive cargo space. Standard-length model has 15.2 cubic feet behind the third row, versus 39.3 for the ESV, which is 20 inches longer than the regular Escalade.
- Plenty of sound insulation, along with Bose active noise cancellation, keeps the cabin quiet.
- Separate second-row seats are a bit narrow and not quite as fully padded as expected, which could impair comfort on a long trip.
- Cargo floor is higher than in Escalade’s competitors – which might actually help loading/unloading of heavier items.
The Most Pleasant Surprise
In addition to voluminous, luxurious interiors, today’s Escalades are way more refined, tasteful, and swift-performing than any of their predecessors.
A new standard rearview “mirror” is actually a display screen, connected to a camera in the liftgate. Getting accustomed to it takes a bit of time, which some drivers might consider a less-pleasant surprise.
The Least Pleasant Surprise
Cost. Considering the Escalade’s close physical relationship to a Chevrolet Tahoe, this Cadillac commands additional tens of thousands of dollars for fancier amenities and luxuries. In addition, NHTSA has given Escalade only a four-star rating overall and for frontal crash (five-star for side impact).
The Bottom Line
Even people who care little about cars often know that Escalade has long been a cultural icon, due to its flamboyant details and imposing presence. Few cars are as recognizable – or as sought-after by thieves. The Luxury trim should be a wise choice, because of its collection of active-safety features.
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