Test Drive Notes Library
- Dominance. Those of you who believe in the power of our animal nature will understand the Escalade. Like other beasts, humans have an instinctual need to be dominant; to procure a mate, to ensure the continuation of their genetic line, and to intimidate the Corolla going only 80 in the passing lane to get the hell out of the way. This explains the Escalade. It is bigger, taller, and blingier than anything else on the road. If the Escalade were a dog, its mark on the tree would be higher than the other neighborhood hounds.
- Isolation. In many ways, this is the Cadillac truest to the Cadillacs of yore. While the old Sedan de Villes were living rooms on wheels, this is a den on wheels. Or maybe a club on wheels. Dark, soft, exclusive, isolated from the sounds and annoyances of outside world, the Escalade promises security and escape.
- Comfort. Like the old Cadillacs, the Escalade is an old, body on frame truck, softened with every trick in Cadillac’s arsenal — including magnetic ride control — to make the experience pillowy and comfortable. They mostly succeed. The seats are great. The sound insulation is as good as it gets. There’s plenty of room for four (our test Escalade had two captain’s chairs in the back). The ride is great on smooth roads, but a can feel stiff when things get uneven. Credit the oversized 22 inch wheels when you feel the pea in your mattress.
- Powertrain. The Escalade has Cadillac’s humongous 6.2 V8. So even though the thing weighs nearly three tons (5,800 pounds), it accelerates very quickly. In combination with an 8- speed automatic, power delivery is plentiful and smooth. The V8 has cylinder deactivation, and will drop to using only four cylinders when under lighter load. It’s unnoticeable, save for the indicator on the dashboard.
- Highway cruiser. Going straight is what the Escalade is best at. It cruises along quietly and effortlessly, making the miles fly by, causing Jettas to scatter. Adaptive cruise control makes the highway driving even easier.
- Safety. As you might imagine on a $94,000 truck, you get all the safety equipment you need. Our middle-trim test car came with blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, automatic emergency braking, lane keeping assist, and a very good heads up display. It also has surround view cameras and audible parking assist, so you know where your truck’s large butt is when you’re parking. Since it’s not easy to see out the back and three-quarter rear view, those are useful and necessary additions.
- Headlights. Turns out those LED Christmas tree decorations on the grill aren’t just bling. They actually provide very good lighting at night.
- Plugs and ports. For the plugged in family, there are lots of USB ports and plugs. There’s also a wifi hotspot, so your kids can surf the real estate sections and plot how they’re going to spend their inheritance.
Test Drive Notes Library
- Height. To get that high, dominant seating position, where you can look down and spit on Ford Explorers and Honda Pilots, you have to climb into the Escalade. Cadillac must have realized that the well-heeled captains of industry who buy Escalades would not be satisfied with having to take a running start to get into the driver’s seat. So they give you an automatically deploying running board and folds out from under the car when you open a door. Well, they don’t give it to you. They sell it to you for an extra $1750. It’s the Stannah Stairlift for cars. You’ll probably want it. Still, you have to be careful to take the stairs up and down to get into and out of the Escalade.
- Mileage. Woo-fah. We saw about 9.5 in city driving. When we added about 600 miles of highway driving, our average went to almost the mid 17’s.
- Controls. The Escalade makes liberal use of Cadillacs capacitive touch controls, which are pretty horrendous. They’ll eventually replace them with something better, like a volume knob, hopefully before you decide to buy your Escalade.
- Cargo Space. There are two versions of the Escalade, a normal and an extended version. We drove the normal version, and were surprised that there wasn’t more usable cargo space in the back. Don’t get us wrong, there’s room back there. It’s an upgrade over your Mini Cooper. But with the third seat in place (for kids only), there’s almost no luggage room. And even with the third road folded down (electric, via push button, thank you), the space isn’t copious. We fit luggage for four back there, but we had to pile it up. And the load height is high. If you really need cargo room, especially if you need the third row seating, you’ll want the extended Escalade ESV.
- Reliability. The historical record suggests you might want to lease this beast, rather than buy and hold long term.
- The revenge of Newton. Wasn’t he the guy who said that objects in motion will remain in motion? So when you turn the steering wheel on the Escalade, at anything other than low speed, the truck feels like it wants to keep going where it was going. This is true even on the high speed highway curves. When you step on the brakes, remember you’re fighting Newton, so don’t wait too long.
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