Likes: Stylish exterior styling, roomy for eight passegners, available hybrid model, high-class image.
Dislikes: Seriously expensive starting price, and options will send price sky high. Running costs will be high, bulky size makes it a chore to park and live with in urban areas.
The Cadillac Escalade has been popular since its launch in 1999. There has been no other SUV that has gotten as much hype as the Escalade. Appearing in music videos, being mentioned in song lyrics and seen as the vehicle to have by many Hip/Hop Artists and movie stars. But does the Escalade suffer from all style and no substance?
Performance: The Escalade comes with a 6.2-liter eight-cylinder engine. The base trim comes with 403hp, and a two-mode hybrid with 332hp. The pick of the bunch is the base engine output. It's still quite expensive, but is far cheaper compared to the hybrid model. There's effortless power on the motorway and plenty of towing capability. The Hybrid commands a premium price and not much difference in fuel economy. You'll have to do tons of motorway driving to really get your moneys worth.
Ride & Handling: The Escalade has a soft suspension, which does a good job at isolating occupants from most bumps. But it never feels settled on patchy surfaces, and body movements are poorly controlled. The steering has very little feedback, and the sheer size of the car makes driving on narrow city roads hard work.
Refinement: The big engine is hushed at steady motorway speeds. The V8 emits a lovely rumble under heavy acceleration. Road noise isn't a big problem, but the Escalade is about as aerodynamic as a tower block so wind noise intrudes into the cabin at high levels.
Behind the wheel: You sit high in the Escalade, so all round visibility is good. Shorter drivers will have a harder time getting comfortable. Although the pedals adjust for reach, the steering wheel only adjusts for angle. This makes driving position awkward for some. The heater controls are fiddly too.
Space & Practicality: The Escalade has seating up to eight with a well laid out formation. But you won't get three adults in the third row because shoulder room is tight. The boot isn't massive, and the rear seats don't fold flat. You'll have to remove them to get the full cargo capacity.
Equipment: There are four trim levels available. All of them are well equipped, but the options will send the price soaring. Tri-zone climate control, six-disc CD-changer and parking sensors are standard equipment. Satellite navigation system and rear-seat DVD entertainment system are optional.
Buying & Owning: The Escalade has the bling looks that attracts many premier buyers. You'll need their wages to run one, because the Escalade is quite expensive to run. Fuel economy is low, and the price tag is high. Even the hybrid commands a high premium over the the base engine. The V8 engine is thirsty and you'll struggle in large parking lots and tight urban areas. Insurance rates are high, and theft rates are also high for this vehicle. The Escalade won't hold its value as well as its rivals.
Quality & Reliability: The dash plastics feel and look cheap. Some interior fittings feel flimsy and you can hear lots of rattles and creaks when driving over rough surfaces. Reliability of the electronics may be a bit of a worry.
Safety & Reliability: Twin front and side curtain airbags come standard across the range. The side curtain airbags covers all three rows. Stability control helps keep you on the road. Deadlocks and an alarm is fitted as standard.
The Cadillac offers tons of bling in its styling. It's stylish, and has tons of appeal to high class buyers. But one has to ask themself, is it really worth it? There are rivals that are better to drive, easier to manuever and offer far better gas mileage than the Escalade. You'll buy one for the status of wealth, but there are so many drawbacks to consider. High running costs, iffy reliability record all count against it.