No luxury brand adds bling to a vehicle like Cadillac, at least not for less than six figures.
Introduced in 1999, the Cadillac Escalade took the full-size sport utility vehicle (SUV) to a new level. A weeklong test drive of the all-new 2015 Escalade 4WD Premium for Latino Traffic Report left me fairly dazzled by all the stuff.
The evolution of the Cadillac design has been fun to watch, remember those iconic tailfins? The latest design DNA, with the upswept headlamps and sharp edged tail lamps, distinguishes a Cadillac from others on the road. The fourth-generation Escalade now looks a bit more like its siblings.
Its powerful 6.2-liter V8 mated to an eight-speed transmission can propel the Escalade from zero–60 miles per hour in less than six seconds.
While it can tow 8,100 pounds (8,300 with two-wheel drive), it’ll get you there with a suspension assisted by Magnetic Ride Control, which is standard.
What most impressed me about the Escalade was the safety technology that was included rather than packaged separately on all but the base model. I’ve driven luxury models that considered a parking sensor and rearview camera optional. Not so on the Escalade and in a big SUV like this, these features really matter.
Beginning with the Luxury trim level (second from the bottom) the Escalade comes with side blind zone alert, rear cross traffic alert, and the driver awareness package with forward collision alert and lane change warning systems. The best part is that these features engage the driver via my favorite innovation, the Safety Alert seat, that buzzes you on the upper left or right thigh (depending on what side of the vehicle is most at risk) to get your attention. My second favorite was the heads up display, also included, that shows the speed limit.
Luxury features abound on the Escalade as well. The front seats were heated and cooled and the second row bench and leather wrapped steering wheel were heated. An entertainment system with a nine-inch screen for the back seats, a power sun roof, adjustable pedals for shorter folks like me, a split third row bench with power fold, standard built-in Wi-Fi hotspot with 3GB/three-month data trial, and a power programmable liftgate with hands free capability, were included.
This list is just the tip of the iceberg.
The CUE infotainment system had nice features, like haptic touch, but the scrolling required to operate it can be distracting.
Cadillac was slow to include real wood in its vehicles but those days are gone. Real wood combined with premium cut-and-sewn materials and suede accents, along with ambient lighting, accentuate the interior.
Extremely well appointed, the Escalade Premium test model did include some optional features, like a retractable running board, that added $4,295 to the price.
We pay up for luxury vehicles because we want a vehicle that’s a cut above the rest, but the modern luxury car market is filled with brands that expect you to pay-up for features that less expensive models are offering as standard. Not so with the Cadillac Escalade. Yes, you’ll pay a pretty price, but you’ll be blinged out!
Pricing for the Escalade Luxury starts at $77,965—I’m not starting with the base (Standard) model since it excludes important safety features whereas the next step up, the Luxury, includes them as standard. The as-tested price came to $89,360.
Sí: Cadillac packages the Escalade in a manner befitting a luxury vehicle.
No: The base model is excluded from several features like a blind spot monitor or heads up display.