The 2019 Cadillac Escalade is a full-size luxury sport utility vehicle, one of the most noteworthy of its kind. Its reputation precedes it, a model noted for its eye-catching design, strong V8 engine, and superior ride quality. The Escalade also offers robust towing ability, but it also guzzles premium unleaded gasoline like a drunken seaman.

Best Value

In a niche segment, the full-size 2019 Cadillac Escalade leads all comers. This model seats up to eight passengers and comes with standard rear-wheel drive or available four-wheel drive. Cadillac offers the 2019 Escalade in standard and extended wheelbases. It comes in four trims: base Escalade, Luxury, Premium Luxury, and Platinum.

All models have a 6.2-liter V8 engine with 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque. Cadillac pairs this engine with a 10-speed automatic transmission. The 2019 Escalade has a tow rating of up to 8,300 pounds. That equals the Lincoln Navigator, yet it's more than the Lexus LX 570, Mercedes-Benz GLS, and the Land Rover Range Rover.

Standard features include LED headlights and taillights, integrated assist steps, 20-inch alloy wheels, and a hands-free power liftgate. Inside, this SUV comes with 12-way power-adjustable, heated and cooled front seats, leather seats, a power tilt-and-telescopic steering column, and power fold-flat third-row seats. Other features include a 16-speaker Bose audio system, a WiFi hotspot, a surround-view camera, and automatic parking assist.

Our pick is the Escalade ESV in Premium Luxury trim and four-wheel drive. This pick catches our attention as it includes a rear seat entertainment system and a driver assist package. The longer length is ideal for the additional cargo room. We think four-wheel drive offers the handling edge on slippery roads families demand.

  • Model: 2019 Cadillac Escalade ESV Premium Luxury
  • Engine: 6.2-liter V8
  • Output: 420 hp / 460 lb-ft
  • Transmission:10-speed automatic
  • Drivetrain: Four-wheel drive
  • MPG: 14 City / 21 Hwy
  • Options: Red Passion Tintcoat finish ($1,225)
  • Base Price:$92,490 (including a $1,295 destination charge)
  • Best Value Price:$93,715

Performance

Cadillac Escalade

Cadillac offers one engine and transmission combination to form the Escalade’s powertrain. The 6.2-liter V8 is the largest gasoline engine offered by GM and it bangs out 420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque. Yet, that’s less power than the twin-turbocharged V6 engine found in the Lincoln Navigator. Cadillac pairs this engine with a 10-speed automatic transmission.

The Cadillac powertrain is strong and never flags in zeal. Indeed, between its robust step-off acceleration, strong passing power, and capable towing, this engine is a true workhorse. The transmission is properly matched here too, serving up gears quickly. The downside is the Escalade guzzles gas, and premium grade fuel at that. The ESV has the 31-gallon fuel tank to accommodate your weekly $100-plus fill-ups. That’s five more gallons on tap than the standard model.

Style

The Cadillac Escalade is derived from GM’s full-size truck architecture. As an SUV, it shares its platform with Chevrolet and GMC models. From there, the canvas is far different as Cadillac gets its own sheet-metal to dress the Escalade.

Upfront, the Escalade’s fascia features an oversized grille flanked by equally outsized headlights with LED accent lighting. If that look doesn’t get your attention, the rest of this massive model will, from its broad hood, long profile with massive wheel wells, and a rear fascia with boomerang taillights. The look may be too over the top for some, but it makes a strong statement. Adding to the effect is the chrome trim touches and surround.

If you think the exterior is dazzling, the interior is what clinches it for many people. The cabin seems wrapped in leather nearly everywhere – across the dashboard, around the center stack, on the doors, and on the seats. The Escalade ESV is the better of the two models available as it has superior third-row leg room than the standard model. The amount of cargo space behind the third-row seat should please families or anyone needing extra room to house their gear.

Nothing about the Escalade’s interior suggests anything less than luxury. Full power accessories, including the tilt-and-telescopic steering column, front seats, and the power-fold third-row seats are just a start. Ambient lighting, plush seats, and advanced technologies underscore the strength of the Escalade and are style elements in their own right.

The Best and Worst Things

At the end of the day (or following your long trip), the Cadillac Escalade keeps everyone comfortable. Its ride is about the best you’ll find among any model anywhere. You’ll pay big for an Escalade, too. Even the base model is priced high. As our sample model build shows, it isn’t that difficult to approach six figures for this vehicle.

Right For? Wrong For?

Cadillac Escalade

The 2019 Cadillac Escalade is right for anyone who wants to show off to the world their wealth. It's an ostentatious, luxurious, and even a bit intimidating package. On the other hand, if you’re put off by its gauche style, there's little you can do about it, except maybe consider the GMC Yukon XL Denali instead.

The Bottom Line

Nearly two decades after its introduction, the 2019 Cadillac Escalade continues to set and maintain the bar in the segment. Lincoln is chipping away with the new Navigator, but Cadillac has years of loyal customers who continue to return to the brand. The cost is not cheap, but if you’re seriously considering buying one, money is hardly your concern.