Overview & Reviews
Although the Cadillac Escalade wasn't the first luxury SUV sold in the U.S. market, it was the first light truck in the history of the Cadillac brand. Early versions drew plenty of criticism, but in retrospect, the Escalade deserves much credit for being the vehicle that transformed Cadillac's image from traditional and geriatric to youthful and flamboyant.
Much of the Cadillac Escalade's appeal is rooted in its over-the-top attitude. Generously proportioned inside and out, this sport-utility vehicle has a bold and angular face, exaggerated wreath-and-crest badging and chrome trim everywhere you look. There's no subtlety under the hood either, as the current truck's 6.2-liter V8 delivers an imposing exhaust rumble. Although quicker than many competitors, the Escalade often falls behind in refinement, from its handling dynamics to its build and materials quality. Cadillac has taken steps to address these shortcomings on the third-generation model, but there's no question the Escalade is primarily for buyers who like their SUVs large, brash and unapologetically American.
Current Cadillac Escalade
The Cadillac Escalade is a full-size SUV that seats seven people with standard second-row captain's chairs and eight with the optional second-row bench. The extended-length Escalade ESV, the quasi-pickup truck Escalade EXT and gasoline-electric Escalade Hybrid are reviewed separately.
Every regular Escalade comes standard with a 6.2-liter V8 that delivers 403 horsepower and 415 pound-feet of torque, providing relatively brisk acceleration in virtually any situation. A six-speed automatic transmission handles the gearchanges and even offers a manual-shift mode for those drivers willing to press a pair of buttons on the Escalade's old-fashioned column shifter. The transmission routes power to the rear wheels on two-wheel-drive models or all four on all-wheel-drive models.
Inside, the Escalade presents a much nicer environment than its mechanical near-twins from Chevrolet and GMC. There is an abundance of equipment even on the "base" model, with items like heated first- and second-row seats, navigation and a Bose surround-sound audio system included as standard. The Luxury, Premium and Platinum trims pile on the niceties even further, but most are styling and trim elements. Despite its features list, the aging Escalade doesn't have the same look and feel as other luxury SUVs. Construction and the materials used just aren't as nice, even if leather and wood trim is included.
In reviews, we've found that the Escalade certainly delivers the pomp and power one expects from this increasingly iconic nameplate. However, there are significant practical drawbacks. First of all, the third-row seat is cramped and uncomfortable for the middle passenger and must be physically removed should you need extra cargo space. The third-row seats of competing vehicles fold neatly into the floor. The Escalade is also unwieldy on tighter roads, suffers from lackluster brakes and is very thirsty. There's also its perennial placement atop the list of most-stolen vehicles. In light of all this, we'd consider one of the many other full-size luxury SUVs as well.
Used Cadillac Escalade Models
When the latest (third) generation of the Cadillac Escalade debuted for the 2007 model year, it was the most modern and luxurious version of this full-size SUV to date. A stiff, fully boxed frame and a coil-spring front suspension provide a smoother ride than in years past, and handling is more controlled and predictable. As with the previous generation, there's no option to get four-wheel drive with low-range gearing, as Cadillac has equipped the Escalade for duty in the urban jungle rather than the one with tigers. Unlike previous generations, the third-gen Escalade no longer feels like a hastily reupholstered Chevy Tahoe.
Since its introduction, changes have been light and related mostly to new standard and optional features. The following year saw the introduction of the plush Platinum Edition while 2009 brought E85 fuel capability and available high-tech features such as a blind-spot warning system, LED headlights, Bluetooth and a rearview camera. The '10 Escalade received cylinder-deactivation technology; those models produced earlier achieve 1 fewer mpg. That year also saw the addition of new front side-impact airbags, a strengthened door design and a new USB connection for portable audio devices.
The second-generation Escalade was sold from 2002-'06. This is the model that restored Cadillac's reputation with younger buyers, as it was the first application of the company's showy "Art and Science" design language. This Escalade had a 345-hp, 6.0-liter V8 that made it one of the most potent sport-utility vehicles on the road. It also handled better than one would typically expect of a vehicle this size. The cabin had a somewhat cut-rate feel, but between all the soft leather and wood appliqués, many buyers found this easy to overlook.
No Escalade was offered during the 2001 model year, but the original version was on sale for 1999 and 2000. This Escalade was a rush job, as Cadillac needed something to fend off Lincoln's Navigator while working on the 2002 model. Aside from its Cadillac badges, upgraded leather and Zebrano wood, there was nothing to distinguish the original Escalade from GM's lower-line SUVs. Acceleration, braking and handling are sub par on this model, and we'd advise you to avoid it.
User Reviews:Showing 1 through 10 of 511.00
Reliable car. Head turner. - 2013 Cadillac Escalade
By Matthew - December 15 - 8:11 pm
Comfortable on long trip.
Front end clunk when accelerating from a stop. - 2008 Cadillac Escalade
By Ray gloria - November 16 - 6:04 pm
I have an 08 escalade that's awd with a 6.2 when putting it in drive and taking off or accelerating from a stop I hear a clunk in the front end. I already replaced the u-joints in the rear but I have not got into the front. This is my first awd vehicle. Also the guy at discount tire said that my front tires look like when I brake they the front tires are fighting directions because of the wear.
The beast - 2005 Cadillac Escalade
By Trevor - November 8 - 8:50 pm
We own a car dealership and have had just about everything. But haven't came across nothing like the Escalade we love the power luxury and how same we feel in it. We wouldn't be afraid to take it anywhere.
Best car on the road!! - 2004 Cadillac Escalade
By Trevor - October 4 - 11:20 pm
This is a great vehicle I wouldn't trade it for ANYTHING else but the same thing new!!
Over 100000 miles and it still performs - 2007 Cadillac Escalade
By David Graham - September 29 - 1:05 pm
Just got back from a 1000 mile road trip with my buddies and the Escalade did not disappoint. Ride was smooth, power was great and even though the 2015's completely changed the look, this car still looks great. We purchased the car used with 35000 miles and its had some minor repairs. (motor mounts, door handles power liftgate motor, power mirror motor) My main gripe is the lack of an aux jack or USB jack. We thought the rear aux jack could be used to connect an IPOD but that doesnt work.
TERRIBLE QUALITY... - 2009 Cadillac Escalade
By Tim - July 14 - 9:17 am
... for something aesthetically pleasing. At the end of 2014 I purchased a used CPO 2009 Cadillac Escalade with ~53,000 miles. It was fully loaded. THANKFULLY, it has had all repairs still under warranty, However, the warrant expires in a month and I am seriously considering selling the car to avoid costly repairs. Since I have owned it for almost a year the following repairs have been needed: heating and ventilation front driver seat repair, front struts needed replaced, cables to and from battery replaced due to complete electrical system failure while driving, lumbar support driver's seat repair, right driver's side CV boot leak, side cover for moon roof replacement, tire pressure monitoring system constantly going on/off, and now battery draining overnight and auto-up/down on driver side window malfunctioning. The complete electrical failure while driving was the scariest. We experienced a complete electrical system failure while driving twice (i.e. NO POWER STEERING, NO ANTI-LOCK BRAKES, NO INJECTION OF FUEL INTO ENGINE). Thankfully, my wife and I were able to pull the vehicle over before an accident occurred. Cadillac replaced the cables going to and from the car battery which has seemingly remedied the issue. There are tons of forums of this occurring and how the NHTSA has not recalled the car because of this boggles my mind. Overall this car is a prime example of poor mechanical engineering. DO NOT PURCHASE this car if you value reliability or quality craftsmanship. Unfortunately, it was my wife's dream car, but it has been in the shop for more often than not and she has been unable to showcase its most valuable asset: aesthetics. I cannot imagine the cost that we will incur once the CPO warranty expires. For example, the cost to repair the driver's side heated and ventilated seat was just over $1,000. The Cadillac dealership near us charges $150 just to diagnose an issue. I guess this is what you get for a "luxury" vehicle. In comparison, I have owned a 2004 Lexus ES330 currently with 130,000 miles and the only maintenance I have performed are oil changes and new tires. I have owned it for 3 years when I purchased it with ~90,000 miles on it. Good luck Cadillac owners. I feel your pain
Outstanding SUV - 2004 Cadillac Escalade
By 6paul11 - December 1 - 9:38 am
This Escalade is nothing short of an outstanding vehicle. If you are looking for command presence, curb appeal, and attitude that works in all weather conditions, look no further. Pros: -Excellent V8 engine that snarls when you put your foot down and has no trouble smoking most vehicles on the road. -Handles well -Good sound system Cons: -The interior build quality is a real black eye. They dropped the ball on this one. -Some replacement parts are pricey -Electronics build quality is also a little spotty
Buyer Beware, 2015 Escalade - 2015 Cadillac Escalade
By robin_loxley - August 12 - 5:41 pm
I don't believe the mainstream reviewers have ever driven this vehicle. I have. We have gone from excited anticipation to disillusionment. Not what we were expecting for $93,000. I ordered this 2015 Escalade ESV Premium with every option, sight unseen, based on the great reviews & excellent presentation on Cadillac's website. That was a mistake. I own a 2008 CTS which I absolutely love to drive, a few faults, but basically a great machine, never had a problem. So when I read that the new SUV was to be partially based on the CTS, along with great reviews, I was on the hook. Keeping it brief, what's good: styling, performance, handling, ride (especially Sport), finish, sound system, GPS,
Nice SUV, Terrible navigation system - 2015 Cadillac Escalade
By fred188 - May 16 - 6:13 pm
We really like the styling.
THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE UGLY - 2008 Cadillac Escalade
By irvdaddynyc - December 1 - 6:27 pm
THE GOOD ... Looks of the Escalade are second to none (eye catcher) ..... Powerful 6.2 motor (love the sound when I turn it on) THE BAD ... Horrible fuel mileage (barely 11mpg), plastic door handles (c'mon really??), Rear windows go down half way (sucks for rear passengers), Rear passengers are always hitting their feet exiting (seat adjustment needed), 3rd row seating ever worse (passengers knees hit their chest) THE UGLY ... Plastic (fake) wood grain interior panels are quick to get scratched and LOOKS horrible!! Overall I like my Escalade, just wished I purchased an ESV instead. Full rear doors(windows roll ALL the way down) 3rdrow seating has more leg room plus you have cargo space