The 2017 Escalade model line includes standard-length and extended-length Escalade ESV models, as well as Luxury and Premium versions of each. With any of these models you also have a choice between rear-wheel drive and four-wheel drive.
All Escalades have a 6.2L V8 engine. With an aluminum block and heads, direct injection, variable valve timing, this is a big V8, but a thoroughly modern one. The engine makes 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque, and thanks to an Active Fuel Management system, which will run the engine on four of its cylinders during coasting or some lower-speed cruising conditions, it returns EPA ratings of up to 15 mpg city, 22 highway.
Four-wheel-drive models include an Auto mode that allows on-demand 4-wheel drive when the conditions demand it. All models also have an automatic-locking rear differential.
The Escalade is built on a fully boxed frame, which allows the toughness for towing and heavier uses and payloads. All versions of the Escalade now also include Magnetic Ride Control, a system that uses special shocks that can change their damping characteristics in just a fraction of a second, allowing the softness to soak up coarse surfaces and road shocks while firming up for quick emergency maneuvers when needed. With variable-assist electric power steering, new-design body mounts, a wider rear track, and a new suspension geometry in back, the Escalade handles well for such a heavy vehicle. Meanwhile, Active Noise Cancellation technology and special acoustic-laminate glass help keep it quiet inside. The Escalade also includes 4-wheel disc brakes--now with Duralife rotors with extended service life.
Cadillac Escalade ESV models are about 20 inches longer than the standard Escalade, with a wheelbase that's 14 inches longer. Both offer an official seating capacity of up to eight, depending on the layout, and seating space is technically the same; but the key difference is that ESV models offer easier access to the third-row seats, as well as more than double the cargo space behind the third row (39.3 cubic feet for the ESV, versus 15.2 cubic feet for the standard-length Escalade). Throughout the Escalade's interior, the traditional luxury ambiance hasn't been forgotten, and the cabin feels plush and very well detailed, with cut-and-sewn materials and real wood trim.
In the instrument panel for all models, a high-resolution, 12.3-inch information cluster replaces conventional analog gauges, instead offering a choice of layouts, as well as a go-to point for trip-computer functions, navigation, and hands-free calling functions; meanwhile, there's also the Cadillac User Experience (CUE), a system that uses sophisticated voice controls combined with a capacitive screen at the center of the instrument panel; it even incorporates proximity sensing--showing different menus depending on how near the user's hand is to the display. The system now also includes Siri Eyes Free compatibility, with the capability to read incoming text. The OnStar 4G LTE data connection is also available, which turns the vehicle into a high-speed mobile hot spot.
All Escalades come with a comprehensive airbag system that includes seat-mounted side airbags, front driver and passenger frontal, curtain and side-impact airbags for all occupants. Luxury and Premium models add additional safety features that include Side Blind Zone Alert, Rear Cross-Traffic Alert and Lane Change Alert. An available Driver Awareness Package includes Forward Collision Alert, Lane Departure Warning and a Safety Alert seat that transmits warnings to the driver with patterned vibrations. A front and rear automatic braking system works to avoid or mitigate the severity of a potential accident. For 2017, the entire Escalade lineup gets a surround vision camera system and a semi-autonomous parking system.
There's also a Bose Centerpoint sound system in the 2017 Escalade; it includes 16 speakers, including five in the instrument panel and doors, as well as SurroundStage signal processing. A Blu-Ray DVD rear entertainment system is incorporated, with a 9-inch screen in the Escalade and twin screens on the ESV. It includes a USB port, an SD slot and RCA inputs.
The Escalade Luxury models add huge 22-inch Ultra-Bright Finish alloy wheels, a Driver Awareness Package, Side Blind Zone Alert, Lane Change Assist, Rear Cross-Traffic Assist, IntelliBeam headlamps, second-row power-folding seats, a sunroof and a head-up display. Top-level Premium models add the Driver Assist Package with automatic braking and adaptive cruise control, illuminated door handles and rear-seat entertainment.
Not too much has changed for the mighty Cadillac Escalade since it rolled through the Roadshow garage last year. The 2019 model sees a few former options become standard features as this titan elbows for whatever edge it can find in the large luxury SUV space. With stiff competition from Lincoln's Navigator, the Mercedes-Benz GLS and BMW's new X7, the Escalade certainly has its work cut out for it.
Can a few new features keep the Caddy relevant among these fresher models? I grabbed the keys to a loaded-up 2019 Cadillac Escalade Platinum ESV to find out.
For the 2019 model year, the Escalade's hands-free power tailgate becomes a standard feature across the line. Simply walk up to the rear end with the key in your pocket and kick under the bumper, and the rear hatch will automatically open. The same kicking motion can be used to close the hatch, which is useful when your hands are full while loading or unloading the SUV.
The Good The Escalade is a big comfortable ride with lots of space for people and cargo, especially in the long-wheelbase ESV trim.
The Bad The Cue infotainment is woefully outdated. The driver-aid tech could use an update as well.
The Bottom Line The big and luxurious 2019 Cadillac Escalade finds itself surrounded by younger, fresher competition. Fortunately, an updated next-generation model is just around the corner.
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