Cadillac Escalade debuted in 1999 as a glorified GMC Yukon, and was intended to thwart sales of the Lincoln Navigator that came out in 1998. As time went on, Escalade distinguished itself from other GM SUVs made in Arlington, Texas and now in the fourth iteration, the 2015 Escalade has truly become an icon in luxury SUVs.
I had the ESV, which is the long wheelbase version, last spring when they were first redesigned. That model is meant for people who want a top-of-the-line Chevy Suburban. I wanted to try the short wheelbase version, but most of all I wanted to experience the 8-speed automatic, when I had the first 2015 Escalade, it had the 6-speed automatic. Changing a transmission in mid-year is unusual and says a lot about GM’s commitment to keeping the Escalade fresh and at the top of its game.
Nothing changed under the hood, nor does it need to. Escalade’s only engine choice is the 6.2-liter V8 that is putting out 420-horses and will tow 8100 pounds. My black review vehicle is the 4-wheel drive version, but two-wheel drive is available.
The exterior of Escalade changed greatly for 2015, and as you walk around the outside, you can’t help notice the bold grill that has become a trademark of Escalade. There is an abundance of LED lighting in the front, and from behind as the taillights go from the rear bumper to the roof. 22-inch aluminum wheels accentuate the new chiseled, squarer bodylines. A rear spoiler looks great and conceals the rear wiper.
While the exterior looks seem to draw people toward the Escalade, the real story continues to be the interior. If you sit down in the lobby of a Ritz Carlton or Four Seasons hotel, you will not be seated on nicer leather than the interior of this Cadillac. Stitching abounds throughout the interior and everything is hand-sewn. A huge center console greets you as you sit behind the wheel, and if your cell phone needs power, just lay it on topof console to recharge it.
A huge 12.3” gauge cluster immediately catches your eye, and you can’t help but notice the gauges are virtual gauges, cartoon-like actually, much like you find on a Range Rover. You can individually configure all three of the displays, and the colors are as vibrant as I have ever seen. A heads-up display comes in four colors and you can change the information you see to include the speed limit where you are at the time.
In the center of the dash, you find Cadillac’s CUE system, which stands for Cadillac User Experience. It gives you Bluetooth, a suite of apps for real-time information, navigation system, and you can operate the 16-speaker Bose stereo. You can enable a Wi-Fi hotspot that will allow you to use the Internet everywhere. As noted in the last review, the volume and other controls are very annoying and hard to operate, but otherwise I like the CUE system a lot.
This vehicle features just a couple of options, including an upgraded interior for $2000, the 22” wheels for $800, and deployable running boards for $1895, otherwise everything comes as standard in this Premium package, which is the next to the top of the line. You can move up to the Platinum, or down to the Standard or Luxury.
Included in the base price of $84,000 are notable features like a moon roof, heated steering wheel, pushbutton start as well as remote start system, power pedals, heated and cooled front seats, second row captain chairs, rear DVD entertainment system, and power hands-free liftgate that you can activate with your foot. New for 2015, you get the power fold third row seat that disappears into the floor and operates smoothly and quickly.
One of the other standard features I like is the cylinder deactivation system that lets the big V8 engine run on 4-cylinders when at cruising speeds, helping to achieve the 21-MPG highway rating. I also really like the Driver’s Safety Assist seat that vibrates when you drift out of your lane, and vibrates urgently if an accident is imminent.
The Escalade handles and drives really well thanks to Cadillac’s exclusive Magnetic Ride Control, and it is really quiet inside, but not so quiet you can’t hear the rumble of the engine that has become a trademark of the big 6.2-liter. Driving this shorter wheelbase makes parking, U-turns, and overall driving more enjoyable if you don’t need the extra cargo area of the ESV.
Speaking of fuel economy, I expected a great improvement from the 8-speed automatic, but it is just not there. However, the driving dynamics have improved the power band with quicker shifts upon acceleration and deceleration. With this transmission, Escalade feels more powerful and more nimble.
Over the years, I have realized that Escalade is not for everyone. Some people think you are trying to make a statement, and that it is over the top. That is not the case for me; I find it to be a great looking, great driving, true luxury SUV, and actually a good value. Were it not for the horrible dash controls, the 2015 Cadillac Escalade Premium would have earned a full 5 Star rating.
What I liked most: The looks, the interior, and the new transmission.
What I would change: The horrible dash controls.
MSRP: Base price $84,070. As equipped $89,360.
Fuel Economy: 15 City/21 highway/17 combined.
Odometer reading when tested: 11,300 miles.
Weight: 5840 Pounds.
Length-Width-Height: 203.9” long/80.5” wide/74.4” High.
Fuel Tank Capacity: 26 gallons
Towing Capacity: 8100 Pounds
2015 Cadillac Escalade in a few words: Best Escalade ever, taking luxury to the next level.
Warranty: 4-year/50,000 mile bumper-to-bumper with maintenance, 6-year/70,000 mile powertrain coverage with 5 years of roadside assistance.
Car Pro Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5 Stars.
Dealers: We have two great Cadillac dealers in Dallas-Fort Worth. Also, dealers in Austin, Houston, Chicago, Lubbock, Sacramento, and San Antonio.
Manufacturers website: Cadillac
Photo Credit: Cadillac