Last year, we gave you a hint at how Escalade’s complete redesign would change the world. After spending a week with a new ESV with the Premium package, we are even more convinced.
Photos don’t convey how imposing and elegant this SUV is in person. The ESV is their largest offering. Riding on the Suburban chassis, it is 20” longer than the standard Escalade. Every contour and body panel is oversized and styled in a manner that makes them appear even larger than they are. The ESV model, being longer, has the added length in the second row doors. Typically, SUV rear entry has been a compromise due to the pickup truck origins of the chassis, but this long wheelbase was purpose built from the ground up. All exterior lighting is provided by LEDs, with some being hidden in very clever spots.
Climbing inside, we were shocked that this SUV was from GM. In the past, it was hard to tell the interiors of the Yukon, Escalade and Suburban apart- save for nicer leather and climate control. Now, Cadillac seems to have free reign to craft its own interpretation of luxury. Most interior surfaces that are not carpet or alcantara are covered in Kona brown leather. These premium hides are cut and sewn by hand and provide a nice contrast to the dark Elm wood. Second row seating is heated and the rear seats are power folding. When both rows are lowered you have 120.9 cubic feet, or an entire studio apartment’s worth of cargo space. Each row of seats has its own roof mounted screen with headphones and DVD capability. Equipped with the Premium package, the only options our test model lacked were the center console fridge and massaging driver’s seat.
Using the key fob for a remote start is a great way to cool off the interior. The 6.2L V8 awakens with a deep and smooth note from the exhaust. If you think it sounds like a Stingray, you would be correct. The Escalade has the same 460 lb-ft of torque, but horsepower is dialed back to 420. This is due to the smaller intake and exhausts that make Escalade whisper quiet inside. Thanks to the Corvette’s broad powerband, most of the engine’s torque is available just above idle. We were surprised; a vehicle this size shouldn’t be capable of such brutal acceleration. If you want to put that power to work, ESV sports an 8,100 lb. (two Camaros or a really nice boat) towing capacity. Ours was one of the last models built with the six speed automatic, as production of the new eight speed units began in September. As expected, shifts were smooth and uneventful, with great part-throttle downshifts and manual control.
The Escalade is very rewarding behind the wheel. Magnetic ride control isolates the cabin from the road and electric power steering is precisely weighted. Controls are combined into the CUE system, which took us some time to get comfortable with. Our Escalade ESV 4WD Premium carried a sticker price of $90,985, raising the bar for all other SUVs. That is a lot of coin, but this is a statement that you have arrived. If you prefer your daily driver to be the “Standard of The World” with the heart of a Stingray, an Escalade is the logical choice.
(Image Source: Cadillac)