Road Test Review: 2015 Cadillac Escalade

I have had the key to the White House and I still search for the President’s Office. I can just imagine a cavalcade of these in black, windows tinted, adorned with men in dark suits and glasses progressively escorting the President around the city. It is without doubt a little intimidating to look at and with that in mind I can’t help think we shall see these tailgating the roads of the UAE, I hope not though. I hereby introduce the 2015 Cadillac Escalade 6.2 V8.

The Escalade certainly places itself well against the competition; Nissan Patrol, Lexus LX 570 and the Infiniti QX 56. One thing that is quite apparent here is that the Japanese models take one drivetrain, rebadge and make some subtle changes. Look harder though and you realise that General Motors are doing the same with Cadillac, Chevrolet Suburban, Tahoe and GMC Yukon. So what in fact is the difference? Well apart from subtle body and interior changes, not too much.  For most it will be a features upgrade or badge thing and in the case of Cadillac, it's the prestige brand of General Motors and a style statement. 

Style

Slowly since its debut in 1999 the Escalade has sharpened up the looks and in this case also fed itself whey protein supplements! The Escalade has grown slightly and the imposing appearance has stuck with it. In my opinion it is a more enhanced version. It is more sophisticated and shows that it’s been tailoring its look according to the most experienced trainer in the gym. Huge proportions with enough LED lighting to satisfy a Broadway theatre, rather handsome.

Along with its siblings, the Escalade keeps itself one step ahead in style. The only one of the bunch to put a shirt on before going out. It also stands its ground well against the Japanese rivals, with a much more sophisticated look and feel. It's almost as if GM is pushing this Escalade into competition with the Luxury SUV market. Watch out Porsche and Land Rover, the Escalade is coming!

Interior Materials and Finishing

Climb into the Escalade on the automatic roll out side steps and you will sit down surprised. Cadillac has improved this interior immensely. Hand Crafted leather and Faux suede wrapped furniture decorates your view alongside small panels of wood veneer and with a rather good finish.  You will find it hard to find the compromises that American car manufacturers do so well. Plastics in the dash and around the centre console are so much improved.  A little flexible to the push in places but really are you worried when it looks this good.  You’ll be driving this mammoth anyhow so hands on the wheel.

The electric memory and heated or cooled seating is firm, quite wide backed, which is typical of American cars but it is comfortable. You feel looked after, important and powerful in a calm environment.

Interior Space and Visibility

For those that may have travelled business class, imagine this.  You have passed the check-in without a queue. Walking into the plane you’re greeted with a smile, escorted to your seat and offered some refreshment while waiting for the flight to administer the bulk of the passengers.  The kind hostess gives brief run through of the on-board entertainment passes you a menu and asks if you would like a blanket for the flight.  The flight gets underway, plane levels out you recline your seat a little, select some entertainment and relax.  The Escalade mirrors this feeling of importance and space, whether driving or just as the passenger. So many cars now make the experience more a driver’s thing but not so with the Escalade, passengers are included in this experience.

Visibility for all occupants is great and from the drivers perspective your all round viewing is great too.  Blind spots are minimal even though Cadillac has reduced the size of the side mirrors.  The only drawback will be the third row of seats.  The seats are rather low to the floor, which will mean that the children will probably be the only ones having a comfortable ride.  Anyone taller and you will have you knees close to your ears.

Interior Technology and Options

This is the Fourth generation of Escalade to hit the market.  As with previous generations they have produced both a long and a short wheel base.  The long stretching out at 5.6 metres and the short at 5.1 metres. In terms of options then you need to choose between the 5 and the 6 bedroom villa to drive around in.

Cadillac has tried to keep the options on the car as simple as possible. Instead of breaking the options down into sub packs of sub packs, they have made more tech and function standard to all.  The first and most obvious are the 22 inch wheels.  Standard are 20 inch.  I have 20 inch on my own car and to see them aside the 22 inch, the 22 are certainly much preferred.  A big guy like this is not going to be wearing shoes a little small for him.

The Escalade can also be bought in 2 wheel drive only or as requested with a 4 wheel drive system.  Again as with the older models this option has followed it through time.

The first notable bit of tech is the 12.3 inch TFT odometer display. No dials but a display. When you start the car it gives a star Trek like display as it sets itself up and then will show many of the functions that correlate with the information computer alongside the regular speedo and rev counter.

With the luxury and premium trim comes driver awareness using lane change warning, front collision warning and safety alert.  This function was fitted to this review model and I must say that I quite like the subtle vibrations it gives in the seat as the warning. Any warning on the left of the car and the left of the seat will vibrate and vice versa.  So much better than the beeps and dings that have you searching the dash panel to find out what may be wrong.  There is a driver assist pack that can be added to this, again fitted to this model, which adds Adaptive Cruise Control with braking and seatbelt tightening.

Entertainment can be added for the rear passengers in the form of a Blu Ray player with Blutooth headphones.

I was impressed by the HUD (Head Up Display) Once a pleasure of fighter pilots now creeping into everyday cars.  Anything that assists in keeping your eyes on the road should get strong praise in my book.

Not all things are perfect though; there are a couple of areas to note.  The infotainment centre and the steering wheel controls are not the most intuitive on the market and I suspect many will take a little while to adapt to it.  It has you looking down quite a bit before you really come to terms with it.  Then there was the reach on the steering wheel. I am only 1.76cm and was starting to feel the uncomfortable side of the steering being so far from me.  In most cases people will be driving with elbows on the rests and the fingers steering the bottom of the wheel. Not ideal though.  The most curious one was the side shift ‘Why’.  All the techno around the car and they keep on installing the side shift.  It totally feels out of place in the car.  Not only that the manual function being on the stick means to lean a little forward to change gear.  It’s something that should stay in the past.

To cheer you all back up though I will end this section with a high note. They have fitted a Bose entertainment system integrated with the Cadillac Cue touch screen System.  16 speakers to tickle the ear drums.  One of the most impressive sounding stereos that I have heard to date.  Alongside this Bose have installed there Noise cancellation Technology to enhance the peace that is so obvious when in this car.  A V8 burbles away under the bonnet and gives quite a pleasant exhaust note but you hardly hear a thing.  You need to hear the music of the car then you’ll have to open the window. The Gps works well and is quite well up to date with some of the UAE roads, considering all the changes that we have.  I did like that they use a little Escalade Icon as your point on the map and to note the icon even slides around corners like most big block American cars.

Safety Features

Safety on this car is very much the same as most falling of the production lines at the minute.  Traction control, stability control, airbags all round, Adaptive cruise control with collision warnings etc. etc.

However like every car manufacturer, there is always something new that can be added to the package and Cadillac are no different.  The Escalade has the addition of front centre airbags. These protect the driver in a side collision.

Power and Transmission

Cadillac has put a new 6.2 litre direct injected V8 with 420bhp and has paired it with a 6 speed transmission.  According to Cadillac, the car will hit 100kph in just short of 6 seconds.  In truth I think they had a downhill slope to get that.  I tried a couple of times to break 6 seconds and I could not break 7.  The first attempt was 8.2secs and on the final attempt I managed to get 7.2.  To get the 7.2 I had to turn of the traction control.  It wants to think about things first. Put your foot to the floor and the car takes a second to understand that you want speed. There after it’s quick but not as quick as it could be.  There is plenty I think could be done to reduce the weight of this mammoth.

Handling and Suspension

This is one of the largest vehicles on the road but one that still refines old ways. The stick shift I have highlighted but in terms of handling they are still updating and antique steel chassis.  They have paired the chassis with the world’s most re-active suspension, the MagnaRide system.  The car is generally quite smooth but you do at times get a jittery movement in the car.  It reminded me of an old fiesta I once had. I had removed the shocks to put lowered on but had kept the original springs.  The ride was low but the dampening was failing a little and giving me a slight jittery almost bouncing motion.  The Escalade had the same effect though only faint.  I could only think that the chassis was the cause.  Many mechanically minded will understand what I mean.  

The Escalade is a large car and is not so comfortable being thrown about, quite rightly so.  It feels secure and poised but if too aggressive with the corners the car will lean quite some. This car is a cruisers no doubt about it.

Braking

The braking in the car was fantastic considering the weight you are carrying.  I only did one test of the brakes from 100 to 0 and it was impressive. Without too much drama the car stopped in 2.9 secs.  I must note though that the brakes on the car when applied are rather heavy to the foot, so you will be pushing hard.  Moreover for the ladies that have to put up with these men’s cars, you will need to get used to this fact of adding a little more pressure to your braking.

Verdict

All done then. I enjoyed the car immensely. It made you feel important, powerful and safe.  The Escalade is living the dream but not quite getting to its goal.  This is the best of the Escalades by far. More handsome than its rivals and has an elegantly appointed interior but is fighting some antiquated technology under the skin.  It’s started the challenge to seek its place among the luxury branded models , you can see Cadillac’s new adventurous ambition coming through.  One thing for sure Cadillac is not going to be ignored.

Images:

Road Test Review: 2015 Cadillac Escalade
Road Test Review: 2015 Cadillac Escalade
Road Test Review: 2015 Cadillac Escalade
Road Test Review: 2015 Cadillac Escalade
Road Test Review: 2015 Cadillac Escalade
Road Test Review: 2015 Cadillac Escalade
Road Test Review: 2015 Cadillac Escalade
Road Test Review: 2015 Cadillac Escalade
Road Test Review: 2015 Cadillac Escalade
Road Test Review: 2015 Cadillac Escalade
Road Test Review: 2015 Cadillac Escalade
Road Test Review: 2015 Cadillac Escalade
Road Test Review: 2015 Cadillac Escalade
Road Test Review: 2015 Cadillac Escalade
Road Test Review: 2015 Cadillac Escalade
Road Test Review: 2015 Cadillac Escalade
Road Test Review: 2015 Cadillac Escalade
Road Test Review: 2015 Cadillac Escalade
Road Test Review: 2015 Cadillac Escalade
Road Test Review: 2015 Cadillac Escalade
Road Test Review: 2015 Cadillac Escalade
Road Test Review: 2015 Cadillac Escalade
Road Test Review: 2015 Cadillac Escalade
Road Test Review: 2015 Cadillac Escalade

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