2016 Escalade ESV New Car Test Drive
The Cadillac Escalade is the quintessential full-size luxury SUV. Bold and imposing, brash and opulent, the Escalade is synonymous with bling and excess.
Fully redesigned for the 2015 model year, Escalade adopted a more formal look and a hugely upgraded interior, greatly improved in refinement and comfort. Cadillac's CUE infotainment system has been enhanced for 2016; and on the safety front, Lane Keep Assist is available.
Closely related to GMC's Yukon Denali, but more decorated, the Escalade is quieter than it used to be. It's also smoother, better looking, and more fully equipped. One of the group of large GM SUVs, Escalade has the biggest engine, the most abundant technology, and a selection of truly ritzy touches.
In each Escalade, a 6.2-liter V8 generates 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque, teamed with a 6-speed automatic transmission. Cadillac says 0-60 mph acceleration takes about six seconds, which is quick.
Cadillac has strived to reduce fuel consumption, but moving three tons of SUV isn't easy. With efficiency-boosting features like direct injection, cylinder shutoff, and grille shutters, the V8 now earns EPA ratings as high as 17 mpg Combined city and highway driving. Hardly thrifty, but better than its predecessors.
Escalade offers a choice of rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. Running gear hails from GM's full-size pickup trucks. Escalade is one of few big luxury SUVs with an old-fashioned solid rear axle, better for towing. Magnetic Ride Control is standard, and the suspension provides better damping than many of Escalade's competitors. Towing capacity ranges from 7,900 to 8,300 pounds.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued three-star rollover ratings and preliminary five-star side-impact ratings.
An optional group of driver-awareness features includes lane-departure and forward-collision warnings. A Safety Alert seat vibrates to warn of a potential accident. A Drive Assist group adds adaptive cruise control and collision preparation. Automatic braking also is optional, warning of rapidly approaching obstacles before applying brakes. On upper trim levels, driver-awareness features have been made standard equipment rather than optional. Escalades are outfitted with several levels of vehicle security to reduce the chance of theft.
Cadillac Escalade ($72,970) comes loaded with 20-inch wheels, wood trim, leather seating surfaces, heated seats and mirrors, power tailgate, pushbutton start, tri-zone climate control, Bose 16-speaker audio, Magnetic Ride Control.
Luxury Collection ($77,045) gets a bundle of theft-deterrent and active-safety features, including Safety Alert seat and Lane Keep Assist, 22-inch wheels, sunroof, and head-up display. Premium Collection ($81,545) includes rear-seat entertainment, illuminated door handles, adaptive cruise control, and front/rear automatic braking. Platinum Collection ($89,350) features Nappa semi-aniline leather, a unique grille, 18-way seats with massage function, and dual-screen DVD entertainment.
All-wheel drive costs $2,600 additional. Cadillac also offers extended-wheelbase ESV models. Options include a Blu-Ray rear entertainment system and power running boards.