2018 Cadillac Escalade: Powerful, Luxurious and a Status Target

By Mike Blake Carlisle Events
Thursday, August 23, 2018

The Cadillac Escalade is the hip buying choice for the rich and famous as well as the affluent and trendy who are not so famous. The full-size luxury SUV has been a status vehicle since its inception. Introduced in 1999, the original Escalade was nearly identical to the 1999 GMC Yukon Denali, but was redesigned for the 2002 model year to make its appearance fall more in line with Cadillac's “art and science” design theme. Built in Arlington, Texas, Escalade derives its name from the term that refers to a siege warfare tactic of scaling defensive walls, or ramparts with the aid of ladders or siege towers. Escalade has sieged ahead in popularity and is even sought after by thieves, as according to information from the Highway Loss Data Institute, the Cadillac Escalade is the most stolen vehicle in the U.S.

Escalade was last fully redesigned in 2015, and model year 2019 is expected to be the last model year for the fourth generation Cadillac Escalade and Escalade ESV. Redesigned fifth-generation Escalade and Escalade ESV models are planned to be launched in 2019 as 2020 Model Year vehicles, so only a few minor changes were made for 2018.

New for this year, a 10-speed automatic transmission has replaced last year’s 8-speed; the entire console center was modified, along with the cup holders and a new seat memory system; Satin Steel Metallic was added as a new color, replacing both Silver Coast Metallic and Amethyst Metallic; and Shale/Jet Black (all trims) and Maple Sugar/Jet Black (Platinum only) are the new combined interior options, replacing Shale/Cocoa and Tuscan Brown.

Escalade is luxurious and loaded. Every Escalade has a rear vision camera, automatic front and rear parking assist, Apple CarPlay™, and are Android Auto™ compatible.

Interiors have Surround Vision -- Birdseye view of vehicle; second-row manual release fold-and-tumble seats; heated and cooled front and second-row seating; power fold-flat third row seats; Magnetic Ride Control™ with selectable Sport mode; and “Cadillac user experience” with 16-speaker Bose®Centerpoint® Surround Sound audio system and embedded Navigation. Interiors are filled out with 12-inch reconfigurable instrument cluster, leather seating surfaces with 12-way power adjustability for driver and front passenger, power tilt/telescoping steering column with memory settings, heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel and Wireless Charging. Escalade’s design provides a signature look of elegance and capability. The styling cues combine sculpted surfaces and high-technology embellishments, and dynamic front styling cues are enhanced by a highly detailed Galvano chrome grille that has a unique, almost brushed look and feel. It is accented by full LED lighting in the front and rear that creates razor-like vertical light signatures. LEDs provide even, steady and very bright illumination, while delivering longer life and using significantly less energy than conventional lighting.

Exteriors are enhanced by LED headlamps with Cadillac signature lamps and LED taillamps, 20-inch dual 7-spoke chrome plated aluminum wheels, and a hands-free powered liftgate that is height-programmable.

With a hefty and confident curbweight of 5856 lbs for AWD, the 2018 Escalade measures 203.9 inches long, 80.5 inches wide and a top-wobbling 74.4 inches high on a 116-inch wheelbase (the ESV stretches to 130 inches with 224.3 inches in length and virtually the same height and width). Tow capabilities are 8300 lbs in 2WD and 8100 lbs. in AWD configuration.

Inside, the 2018 Escalade, is refined and precise. With three rows of seating for eight, headroom is accommodating at 42.8 inches in front, 38.7 inches in row two and 38.1 in row three; legroom is 45.3 inches in row one, 39 in the center row and a child-worthy 24.8 inches for the rear row; and shoulder room comes in at a spacious 64.8, 64.4 and 62.6.

Escalade power comes from a 6.2-liter VVT V8 engine with 420-hp and 460 lb-ft. of torque mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission. Rated at 14mpg/city and 21mpg/highway, a week of long highway drives and short in-town excursions averaged 15.5mpg. Responsive in all ranges, power prevailed, and on the track, my test Escalade raced a zero-to-60mph sprint in 6.1 seconds during a 14.5-second quarter-mile. Strong, confident and quick, Escalade showed stability and balance in most steering drills, and my test ride was surprisingly nimble and easy to park.

The base 2018 Cadillac Escalade starts at $75,990; the Luxury trim with 22-inch dual 7-spoke premium painted wheels with chrome inserts; Driver Awareness Package of Forward Collision Alert, Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning, Safety Alert Seat, Lane Change Alert with Side-Blind Zone Alert, Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, Low Speed Forward Automatic Braking and IntelliBeam®automatic high beam on/off headlamps; Rear Camera Mirror; Power tilt-sliding sunroof; Theft Deterrent Package and more, bases at $81,590; Premium Luxury trim starts at $85,990 with more driver assistance and entertainment packages; and the top-of-the-line Platinum trim starts at $95,090 and adds more leather, premium interior and power accouterments. Moving to 4WD adds up to $3000 per trim. My black/black Platinum Escalade added all-weather floor mats ($250); a polished exhaust tip ($140); a cargo net ($55); 1-year-Cadillac remote Access/OnStar safety Plan ($350). With destination charges of $1295, the sticker was $98,480, but local discounts and cash allowances dropped my test ride to $92,480, so discuss price with your local dealer.

> Visit www.CarlisleEvents.com for more on the automotive hobby.

Mike Blake, former editor of KIT CAR magazine, joined Carlisle Events as senior automotive journalist in 2004. He's been a "car guy" since the 1960s and has been writing professionally for about 30 years.

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