The Cadillac Escalade has long been known for its bold, expressive styling, its large size, its luxurious interior and its brawny V8 engine. For 2015, the Escalade is completely redesigned, but the all-new model still manages to include each of those important traits.
In terms of styling, the 2015 Cadillac Escalade may look like last year's model, but closer inspection will reveal that a lot has changed. Every panel is new, and there are many new touches -- such as revised headlights and taillights and an updated profile -- that give the Escalade a more modern look. Like previous models, the 2015 Escalade is based on the latest Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon.
Inside, the Escalade is also significantly updated. Not only is the interior revised with a new look, it also features a long list of new equipment, both standard and optional. And as for the V8, it's still there: Last year's 6.2-liter powerplant carries over with a boost to 420 horsepower.
What's New for 2015?
The Escalade is completely redesigned for the 2015 model year. It offers new exterior and interior styling, along with several new features, though it retains last year's 6.2-liter V8.
What We Like
Brawny styling; muscular V8; huge interior room and towing capacity; reasonably priced compared to rivals
What We Don't
Big price increase over last year's model; engine still very thirsty; interior still no match for some luxurious competitors
The 2015 Escalade is offered with only one engine: a 6.2-liter V8 that makes 420 hp. It's mated to a standard 6-speed automatic, and it returns 15 miles per gallon in the city and 21 mpg on the highway in 2-wheel drive, or 14 mpg city/21 mpg hwy if you opt for 4-wheel drive. Four-wheel-drive versions of the long-wheelbase Escalade ESV carry around enough extra weight to earn a slightly worse Environmental Protection Agency rating of 14 mpg city/20 mpg hwy.
Standard Features & Options
The Escalade comes in two body styles: a regular-length model, called simply the Escalade, and a long-wheelbase version, dubbed the Escalade ESV. Both are available in three trim levels: base-level Standard, mid-level Luxury and range-topping Premium.
Shoppers who choose the Escalade Standard ($72,600 for the Escalade; $76,200 for the ESV) get a long list of standard equipment, including a navigation system, Cadillac's CUE infotainment system with an 8-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth, satellite radio, HD Radio, heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, power adjustable pedals, remote starting, tri-zone automatic climate control, 20-in alloy wheels, LED headlights, front and rear park assist and a backup camera.
Step up to the Escalade Luxury ($77,500 for the Escalade; $80,400 for the ESV) and you add 22-in alloy wheels, a power sunroof, a full-color head-up display and a long list of safety technologies, such as rear cross-traffic alert, a blind spot monitoring system, forward-collision warning, lane-departure warning and Cadillac's Safety Alert Seat, which vibrates to let you know if you're drifting out of your lane.
Topping the range is the Escalade Premium ($82,000 for the Escalade; $85,000 for the ESV). It includes front and rear automatic braking in the event of a collision, a rear-seat entertainment system, adaptive cruise control and a collision-preparation system.
As for options, the Escalade's list of available extras is primarily limited to features included on upper-level models. Drivers who choose a base-level Escalade, for instance, can add several of the Luxury trim's features. Other options include additional chrome exterior trim and available power retractable running boards.
The 2015 Cadillac Escalade comes with a long list of standard safety features, including dual front airbags, front-side airbags, side-curtain airbags, traction control, stability control, front and rear park assist and a backup camera. Available safety features include rear cross-traffic alert, a blind spot monitoring system, automatic braking, forward-collision warning, lane-departure warning, a collision-preparation system and a Safety Alert Seat, which vibrates if a driver should stray from his or her lane.
In terms of crash tests, the Escalade's performance is not yet known due to its recent redesign.
Behind the Wheel
The Escalade may be all new inside and out, but the SUV's basic idea is still largely the same as it ever was. That means big power, a muscular sound and a driving position that looks down on virtually every other vehicle on the road.
If that's what you're looking for, the Escalade is still an excellent SUV for the job; only now, you look down from a slightly nicer perch. The interior is a vast improvement over last year's model, which was itself a vast improvement over its predecessor. We're impressed with how well Cadillac has managed to keep up with the latest in interior design, though the Escalade still can't touch pricey rivals such as the Range Rover for overall quality.
On the road, the Escalade drives much as you'd expect -- like a big, bulky truck. Now in its fourth generation, the Escalade doesn't come with any big surprises here, even with Cadillac's impressive Magnetic Ride Control suspension system. The Escalade may be quick thanks to its 420-hp V8, but it's no sports car, a fact that's especially obvious when you go around corners. Still, the SUV is nicely composed for a luxury vehicle, even if there's a little more body roll than we'd want.
As for comfort, that's where the Escalade shines. While the SUV's ride is a little bumpier than we'd expect, largely owing to 22-in wheels in most trims, the Escalade still offers plush seats and a floaty feel that soaks up most bumps, a quality most luxury-SUV shoppers will truly appreciate.
Other Cars to Consider
GMC Yukon Denali -- GMC's own Yukon Denali is mechanically identical to the Escalade. It also uses many of the same chrome accents and bold styling cues. If you can't find an Escalade at the price you want, consider visiting the local GMC dealer to find out if they'll give you a good deal on a Yukon Denali.
Infiniti QX80 -- The V8-powered Infiniti QX80 shares the Escalade's formula of offering brawny styling and a long list of opulent features. The QX80 is also much less expensive than the Escalade, with a base price of around $64,000 with shipping.
Range Rover Sport -- The full-size Range Rover is now a bit too pricey to compete directly with the Escalade, but the recently redesigned Sport is a good rival, offering 3-row seating and available V8 power.
If you're a fan of the full-size luxury-SUV segment, you've probably already formed a love-it-or-hate-it opinion of the Cadillac Escalade. With brawny styling, a huge, thirsty V8 and an enormous footprint, the Escalade takes a certain type of buyer to appreciate it. Our personal favorite model is the base-level Escalade Standard, which we feel offers everything you could ever need from a luxury SUV and many luxurious extras.