I have been a huge Escalade fan since the big re-do in 2007. I actually owned an ESV model for several years, and truly enjoyed it. Now comes the new 2015 Escalade that is all new and completely redesigned. It is built in Arlington, TX, very near my hometown of Dallas.
My test vehicle is the ESV Premium, meaning it is the top-of-the-line version, and it is the extended length version. It comes in a standard and luxury trim levels also. The one I had is White Diamond Tricoat, with Shale and Cocoa interior, and it is the 4-wheel drive version.
Normally, I review a car for a week, but this time I had a two week review that included a 2000 mile round trip to Iowa and back to Dallas (thank you GM for allowing me an extended test drive). I got a unique perspective of the Escalade, driving on highways for extended periods of time, through back roads, and in traffic.
As you would expect, this large, beastly, SUV comes with an impressive list of standard features. The Bose stereo was terrific, I liked the configurable driver gauge cluster, and the heads-up display was fantastic. You get a heated steering wheel with controls, power adjustable brake and gas pedals, keyless remote start, heated and cooled seats, a rear entertainment system with two lowering screens, and climate controlled air conditioning.
Also as standard, you get automatic dimming and brightening headlights, front and rear parking assist beeps, power sunroof, 22” wheels, and a power lift gate. On the safety front, Escalade comes with stability control, rearview camera, theft-deterrent package, blind spot monitoring, and a driver assist package, which makes the seat vibrate when you stray out of your lane, or if an accident is imminent.
Options on my tester were power retractable running boards for $1695, the White Diamond paint runs $995, and there is a $500 upcharge for chrome 22” wheels, that look fantastic.
I always said that if the Escalade had a power folding third row seat, it would be the perfect SUV, and now it does. GM did a great job designing the seat to fold completely flat, and it is the fastest power third row I have ever operated.
One of the things I loved about my own Escalade was the 6.2-liter V8, and that engine remains today, hooked to a 6-speed automatic transmission. This engine performs beautifully while putting out 420-horses and will tow 8300 pounds. The one thing you notice is how good this engine sounds. It has a sound all its own and in spite of the almost 3-ton weight of the Escalade ESV, acceleration is steady and strong.
On the highway, I averaged about 85-miles per hour for long stretches and over 2100- miles of pretty hard driving, the average fuel economy was 17.6 MPG, which I thought was good considering the size of the vehicle, and the speed at which I drove.
Handling was terrific, it is very quiet, and visibility was great. Cadillac’s Magnetic Ride Control gives you a nice ride, not too firm but not too stiff either. In the extended version, there is a massive amount of cargo area with the third row seat up, and when folded down, the cargo area is cavernous. Be aware the third row seat room is fairly limited, great for kids, but will be tight for average sized adults.
The interior is spectacular, the leather seats are soft and can be adjusted to make anyone comfortable. The interior looks rich, and the 8” color display is vivid and operates by touch.
Not all was wonderful, however. Have you ever seen the big arch in St. Louis in person? Well, I now have, and it’s big! The problem is, I should not have gone through St. Louis to get to the part of Iowa I was going to. I trusted the navigation system and it routed me two hours out of the way. After that, I used OnStar turn-by-turn navigation and it was spectacular.
Other issues were the Bluetooth system when wirelessly connected to an iPod. It would randomly disconnect, but the worst was the controls that are below the color screen that are supposed to operate the radio volume, which radio band you want to listen to, the up and down temperature of the climate control system, etc. They are maddening to say the least. Try to turn the radio volume up or down, you’ll end up blaring it, or get silence. The good news is most of it can be controlled from the steering wheel, but that is of little use to the front passenger.
One final issue that annoyed me was the adaptive cruise control, which I generally love. This system, at least on my tester, was jerky. It would brake hard when you got too close to the car in front of you, and acceleration is way too long once you have room in front of you.
Overall, it was a very pleasant driving experience, and I would recommend the Escalade highly to those looking for a luxury SUV. Almost $90,000 is a lot of money for an SUV, but if you look at other large, luxury SUVs, it stacks up just fine.
What I liked most: Exterior looks, performance, and terrific interior.
What I would change: The radio controls, they’ll drive you crazy.
MSRP: Base price $85,798 as equipped $89,980.
Fuel Economy: 14 City/20 highway/16 combined. Actual Mileage 17.6 overall
Odometer reading when tested: 3120 miles.
Weight: 5794 Pounds.
Length-Width-Height-Wheelbase: 224.3” long/80.5” wide/74.4” High/224.3” wheelbase
Fuel Tank Capacity: 31 gallons.
Towing Capacity: 8300 pounds.
2015 Escalade ESV in a few words: Beauty and the Beast mate for a great SUV.
Warranty: 4-year/50,000 mile bumper-to-bumper, 6 year/70,000 mile powertrain warranty with roadside assistance, 4-years/50,000 miles of free scheduled maintenance.
Car Pro Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Manufacturers website: http://www.cadillac.com/escalade-suv.html
Dealers: We have great Cadillac dealers in Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio, Austin, Lubbock, and Sacramento.