Cadillac may be struggling a bit with its sedan lineup, but there’s one vehicle that has gotten things right for years, the Cadillac Escalade. The over the top 2018 Cadillac Escalade makes no apologies with its imposing presence, in your face grille, massive blinged out wheels and old school V8. As the industry focuses its attention on soft me-too crossovers and electric vehicles, the Escalade goes against the status quo by appealing to buyers that aren’t ashamed to flaunt it.
While the current generation Escalade has been with us since the 2015 model year, the Escalade’s styling still stands out. At the front, the Escalade’s face is dominated by a large grille that looks like it’s about the same width as a subcompact car. The grille is flanked by LED headlights that look modern and classic. As your eyes move past the bold front fascia the Escalade’s profile is dominated by straight lines that give it a boxy shape that o makes the Escalade look almost as tough as a G-Class. At the rear, a Cadillac isn’t a Cadillac without its signature taillights and the Escalade lets everyone know that you’re in a Cadillac with its large vertical LED taillights. Also you can’t miss those insanely large 22-inch wheels.
Inside the Escalade’s interior is spacious and luxurious. When the fourth-generation Escalade debuted, Cadillac made a strong effort to make the Escalade’s interior feel more upscale. The Escalade’s interior received upgraded materials, more comfortable seats and the latest tech features. Now a few years later, the Escalade’s interior still feels luxurious, especially if you opt for the top Platinum trim level, but it does feel a bit dated. The Escalade’s main rival, the Lincoln Navigator has upped the ante here with a more modern interior.
The Escalade does offer the CUE infotainment system Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot and wireless charging for your cell phone. If you select the Platinum trim level you’ll also get massaging front seats and a cooled compartment between the driver and front passenger to chill your bottles of Pellegrino on your drive out to the country club. The Cadillac CUE infotainment system has continued to receive criticism since its introduction and while it has improved over the years, it still feels a bit slow.
The Escalade continues to be offered in both standard and the extended ESV version. If space is a priority then you’ll want to opt for the extended Escalade ESV since it’s wheelbase is 14-inches longer than the standard Escalade. This translates to more legroom for your friends in the third row and 39.3 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row compared to a tiny 15.2 cubic feet in the standard Escalade.
Under the hood both versions of the Escalade are powered by the same 6.2L V8 that generates 420 horsepower and 460 lb-ft. of torque. For the 2018 model year the Escalade has received a new 10-speed automatic transmission that replaces the old 8-speed gearbox. Even with having to pull around three tons of metal, the 6.2L V8 is up to the task. The torque rich engine picks up speed fast and even with all that weight, the Escalade feels more athletic than many SUVs half its size. All-wheel drive is optional and the Escalade can tow around 8,000 pounds depending on which version you choose and if you select rear or all-wheel drive. Lastly if you care to know, the Escalade is rated at 14/23 mpg if you choose the rear-wheel drive version or 14/21 mpg if you need to send the power to all four wheels.
The Escalade is a big SUV at just over 80-inches wide and 203.9-inches long or 224.3 if you choose the Escalade ESV. While its large footprint may make you assume that the Escalade will be hard to navigate, it’s actually the opposite. Driving the Escalade around the traffic jammed streets of Los Angeles was much easier than we thought it would be. The sight lines are great and thanks to the Surround Vision system, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and the Rear Vision Camera, it’s easy to park the Escalade.
Around town the Escalade’s ride quality can be a bit harsh, especially if you choose the shorter version, even with its Magnetic Ride Control system. The suspension also lets you know that the Escalade isn’t a sporty SUV, since once the road gets twisty, you’re reminded that the Escalade is a large body-on-frame SUV and not a car based crossover.
While crossovers are all the rage and body-on-frame SUVs seem to be going the way of the dinosaur, the Escalade still proves that it’s hard to beat if you want a large SUV with more presence than anything out there, besides the iconic G-Class. Nothing says you’ve arrived more than a Cadillac Escalade.
Pricing for the 2018 Cadillac Escalade starts at $75,590.