2015 Cadillac Escalade: Return of the King
When Cadillac first set out to build an SUV for 1999, the stakes were high. The BMW X5 was on its way to market that same year and the Mercedes-Benz ML had been on the road for a little over a year, as had its prime competition, the Lincoln Navigator. The Germans have kept the upper hand for some time when it comes to on-road handling, but the Escalade has long been the first choice for luxury SUV buyers looking for premium finishes, an excess of cargo and passenger space and, more importantly, that glorious street presence the Escalade has become synonymous with over the years. After all, nothing says “Don’t mess with us” like rolling up in a big black Caddy.
Freshly redesigned for 2015, the new Escalade is by far the best looking example to date. Cadillac’s art and science design language was taken to the new Escalade in full force, and it seems to work brilliantly on this updated SUV. Its massive grille and swept back headlights are just similar enough to those of the Cadillac ATS and CTS, and the character lines of its front fenders cut right along the entire side of the Escalade, elongating its already massive profile. With so many big and bold styling cues, you could easily miss the laser-etched Cadillac logos hidden away in the base of its tail lights. In the demographic of plus-sized SUVs, it’s safe to say the Cadillac is ahead of the pack in terms of style. Once designers are forced to pen a long-wheelbase SUV, things can go a little pear-shaped (case in point, the Infiniti QX80), but the Escalade looks great from just about every angle.
Climbing into the interior of the new Escalade it’s clear that its design team put just as much effort into its passenger cabin as it did into its exterior. There is a sculptural elegance to the dash and centre consoles that has been sorely lacking in the SUV segment as of late. Even the silver trim that surrounds the CUE infotainment display and the Escalade’s climate and audio controls has an interestingly architectural feel. Everywhere you place a hand throughout the interior there is a sense of substance to the chosen materials. The Escalade is practically devoid of any cheap or flimsy plastic panels. Whether at the wheel or reclining in one of the rear seats, there’s no mistaking the Escalade for some middle-of-the-road SUV.
The real treat from behind the wheel is how enjoyable the monstrous SUV truly is to drive. Its new 6.2-Litre V-8 engine offers up tons of power, rocketing the Escalade from 0-100 km/h in just over six seconds. Thanks to Cadillac’s Magnetic Ride Control suspension system, the Escalade has the handling chops to keep up with its brisk pace. Adapting to ever-changing road conditions, the variable suspension system is firm enough to not roll back and forth while cornering, and is reasonably soft over rough pavement.
With so many manufacturers going the route of compact and efficient vehicles time after time, there’s something special about seeing the Escalade standing as loud and proud as ever. This isn’t the ideal vehicle for the single urban commuter, but for those seeking luxury in an extra large dose, few SUVs make as big of a statement as an Escalade.
Engine: 6.2-L V-8
Torque: 460 lb-ft
0-100 km/h: 6 seconds