2015 Cadillac Escalade: Big, Beautiful, Bling

By Sue Mead, June 7th, 2014

At first glance, the 2015 Escalade is unmistakably Cadillac's luxury sport utility vehicle: It's big, bold, beautiful, and has plenty of bling, just as its previous generation version. But it's also all-new: Updated sculpting and new lighting elements enhance the exterior, while inside the Escalade is an opulent "mini-cabin."

Manufacturer photo: The fourth-generation Escalade is an entirely new design yet instantly recognizable
Manufacturer photo: The fourth-generation Escalade is an entirely new design yet instantly recognizable

The new Escalade features handcrafted and authentic "cut-and-sew" materials, plus an astute assembly of additional communications, technology, and safety features.

The fourth-generation Escalade and its longer-wheel-based sibling, the Escalade ESV, come in Standard, Luxury, and Premium trim levels, and are available in both two- and four-wheel drive. The all-new Escalade is built on the same platform and has the same basic mechanical bits as General Motors' stablemates: the Chevy Tahoe and Suburban, and the GMC Yukon and Yukon XL.

The first thing you'll notice is the Escalade's exterior styling -- it's even more bold and blocky, with more of the sharper angles of the design cues on Cadillac's sedans. The new fascia incorporates a Galvano chrome grille, and has a brushed appearance. It is offset by full light-emitting-diode (LED) lighting in the front and rear shaped to be "razor-like vertical light signatures," according to its designers.

Its headlamps are unique and use the industry's first Total Internal Reflection LED high-beam function, which incorporates four vertically stacked crystal lenses and LEDs. The low beams have five crystal lenses with LEDs. If you look closely, you'll find the Cadillac script branded into the headlamp bezel, while tall, thin vertical LED taillamps stretch to the top of the backend and are appointed with the wreath-and-crest insignia, which illuminates in the dark.

Manufacturer photo: The fourth-generation Escalade is an entirely new design yet instantly recognizable

The Escalade is powered by GM's 6.2-liter EcoTec3 V-8 that produces 420 horsepower and 460 lb.-ft. of torque (an increase of 17 hp. and 43 lb.-ft.) and is matched to a six-speed automatic. The new V-8 enables 0-to-60-mph performance in less than 6 seconds. Fuel economy for the 2WD is up to 21 mpg on the highway; 4WD versions get 20 mpg highway. Escalade has a standard automatic locking rear differential and is trailer-rated to tow up to 8,300 pounds.

We drove the 2015 Escalade in South Carolina, motoring a distance of close to 200 miles. While it is very similar to its Chevy and GMC stablemates in mechanical performance, Cadillac has worked its luxury mojo into the suspension, giving it a serene stable and tranquil ride.

Notable drive attributes are plenty of torque on tap, confident braking, and steering that maneuvers this nearly 3-ton beauty as if it were a much smaller vehicle. The cabin is luxury-laden, with new seats that are comfortable, but not cushy. We particularly liked the ambient lighting and the array of thoughtful utility cubbies and bins, as well as clever stowage schemes.

New doors are inlaid around the top of the vehicle and tuck into body side openings, to significantly improve the quietness of the interior and aid in aerodynamics. This also increases fuel economy, along with a lightweight aluminum hood and aluminum liftgate panels which reduce overall mass.

Passengers will enjoy a lavish and tasteful interior that features hand-stitched and hand-wrapped supple leather, along with genuine metal and wood trims. Technologies include the standard CUE infotainment system and the 16-speaker new and advanced Bose Centerpoint surround sound audio system.

Manufacturer photo: The fourth-generation Escalade is an entirely new design yet instantly recognizable

CUE features state-of-the-art voice recognition, with touch controls similar to the most popular tablets and mobile devices. The 8-inch center screen uses capacitive touch technology and gesture recognition, which allows tapping and swiping, in the manner of smartphones and tablets, and uses proximity sensors to activate common options and controls as the user's hand approaches. An updated "favorites" section offers quick access to phone contacts, navigation destinations, and digital music, in the same one-touch form as traditional radio presets.

Priced starting at $71,695 to $92,840 (plus $995 destination and delivery), Cadillac's Escalade competes with the Mercedes-Benz GL, Land Rover Range Rover, Infiniti QX80, Lexus LX 570, and Lincoln Navigator.

Specifications

Base price $71,695 (as tested: $86,085)
Curb weight 5,840 lbs.
Displacement 6.2-liter
Epa mileage rating 14 mpg city, 21 mpg highway
Fuel capacity 26.0 gal.
Horsepower (net) 420 at 5000 rpm
Motor type OHV V-8 w/DI
Overall length 203.9 in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) 460 at 4100 rpm
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Vehicle type 7/8-passenger 4WD full-size SUV
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