The Escalade is a luxury-vehicle icon--both as one of the most luxurious and noteworthy American luxury vehicles and as a capable truck beneath it all. Cadillac says that the Escalade's EPA highway rating of 22 mpg beats both the Mercedes-Benz GL550 or Lexus LX 570. Yet the Escalade can reach 60 mph in an astonishing six seconds--impressive for an SUV that weighs two and a half tons.
The Escalade's trailer-towing rating of up to 8,300 pounds (or 8,100 pounds for the ESV) is better than that of the Land Rover Range Rover or either of those other models. Separately, the new front-seat airbag is unlike anything else in this class, potentially providing an added assurance in some types of accidents, while all the active-safety features might help keep you from ever getting in one.
The 2018 Cadillac Escalade ESV Platinum is an imposing vehicle. It's over 6 feet tall, more than 18 feet long and weighs in at 6,088 pounds when equipped with all-wheel drive. If it was a prize fighter, the body-on-frame luxury SUV would undoubtedly be a heavyweight and have the persona of Mr. T, its massive grille, LED lights and 22-inch wheels with chrome pitying the fool that dare mess with it.
Unlike most heavyweights, the Escalade is far from slow. Not with a 6.2-liter V8 with 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque on tap, capable of hustling the big Caddy to 60 mph in around 6 seconds. The engine is a peach, with thrust available everywhere throughout the rev band, and works with a new-for-2018 10-speed automatic transmission that's beautifully tuned, always delivering smooth shifts.
With the new gearbox and seamless Active Fuel Management cylinder deactivation system allowing the engine to operate in eight- or four-cylinder modes, the drivetrain combo is estimated to return 14 mpg in the city and 21 mpg on the highway. If not for the "V4" icon on the gauge cluster, it would be difficult to tell when the engine is running on half or all of its cylinders. In mixed driving, I averaged 17.1 mpg, matching the EPA combined rating.
The Good Powerful and reasonably efficient drivetrain with new 10-speed automatic transmission. Respectable handling and excellent ride comfort. High-quality cabin surroundings with impressive tech offerings.
The Bad Long navigation boot times. Large luxury with all the bells and whistles comes at a six-figure price tag.
The Bottom Line When it comes to mammoth luxury SUVs, the Cadillac Escalade ESV and new Lincoln Navigator L are slugging it out for the top spot in the segment.
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