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2017 Cadillac Escalade Review - The best Suv Car of the year

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The 2017 Cadillac Escalade is a full-size luxury SUV offered in rear- or four-wheel drive, one engine option, and comes in four newly renamed trim levels, including the base Escalade, Luxury, Premium Luxury, and Platinum.

2017 Cadillac Escalade Overview :

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Redesigned for the 2015 model year, the Cadillac Escalade is powered by a direct injection 6.2-liter V-8 engine paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission with TapShift control, pushing out 420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque. Thanks to cylinder deactivation technology, the 2017 Cadillac Escalade offers an EPA-estimated 15/22 mpg city/highway with rear-wheel drive and 15/20 mpg city/highway on four-wheel-drive models. Cadillac also offers the Escalade in an extended-length variant, the ESV, which offers a 14-inch longer wheelbase for increased third-row passenger room and cargo room.

Cadillac’s Cue infotainment system will come standard on all Escalade models, and now features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The infotainment system uses an 8.0-inch capacitive touch screen and gesture recognition to mimic tablets. OnStar with 4G LTE and a Wi-Fi hotspot are also available with the Cue system, as well as a Bose Centerpoint surround sound system.

Best Design:

2017 Cadillac Escalade 1

I could attempt to sum up just how in-your-face the Escalade’s chrome treatment is all by myself, but I think Missy Elliot put it best in her 2001 song Lick Shots: “I ride down the block in an Escalade / Bling bling all in your face / I think you might need to put on your shades / Blaaah!”

Onomatopoeia aside, she makes a good point. The Escalade is an absolutely blinding hunk of metal, available in several high-gloss shades with plenty of chrome on the front and rear fascias and even along the side of the vehicle. Add the new “Radiant Package” as my test vehicle was equipped with, and you get unique 22-inch chrome wheels, a brightened grille design, and a polished tailpipe, turning the glitz and glamor up to 11… though I guess that’s more of a rock n’ roll thing than hip hop.

Still, it all comes together to make for one of the most visually imposing vehicles on the road, from the in-your-face headlights to the LED taillights that are the height of a small child, and when finished in an actual color like the gorgeous (and $595 option) Dark Adriatic Blue paint on my test vehicle, the Escalade is a downright handsome truck.

Inside, Cadillac’s typical interior blend of sharp creases and flowing curves works nicely to set this apart from other large luxury SUVs, and more importantly, from the more humble Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon upon which this behemoth is based. I especially love the seat design, which looks best in a contrasting color like Kona brown leather and open-pore wood, though I think rapper Rich Boy said it best in 2007 on the hit track Throw Some D’s: “Touchin’ gator on my wheel / Got peanut butter Peter Pan seats…”

Fit and finish is mostly great, as is to be expected from a Cadillac, but the Escalade lacks the buttoned-down feel of much of the rest of the brand’s lineup, and there are some noticeable rattles at pretty much all times. The Escalade also suffers from a more obvious tie-in to the GM parts bin, with much of the switchgear lifted straight off the more budget-minded vehicles on this platform.

Cadillac Escalade Comfort:

2017 Cadillac Escalade interior 2

If you’re the driver or front seat passenger in an Escalade, chances are you won’t want to relinquish your seat any time soon. The aforementioned leather thrones are very supportive, power adjustable in myriad ways, come with heat and ventilation on upper trim models (and even with massage functionality on the top-tier Platinum edition), and the driver has the ability to raise or lower the pedal height for legs of different sizes. My one complaint is that the head restraints are hard as a rock, but then again, you shouldn’t be leaning back on them while driving anyways. I’m merely thinking of the airport limo chauffeur who has some time to kill at JFK…

Behind the front seats, though, comfort levels drop significantly as you move further back in the vehicle. There’s a decent amount of legroom for the two occupants of the middle row captain’s chairs – 39 inches, to be exact – but not nearly as much as is expected in a vehicle so often used to shuttle around high-profile clientele… or their kids. What’s more, the second row lacks the ability to slide the seats forward and back, so where you sit is where you’ll stay.

By far, the worst seat in the house – if you can even call it a seat – is for the up to three passengers forced to sit in the third row. A flat bottom bench and lack of any space to put your feat under the seat in front make for an extremely uncomfortable ride. Legroom is only 24.8 inches way back there, practically the same amount as you’d find in the rear seat of a coupe, and your legs are forced into an upright, bent position because of the height of the floor, not to mention all the bouncing around from sitting right on the rear axle. Speaking of which, the Escalade’s live rear axle is to blame for this lack of space all the way in the back, but more on that later.

Buyers in need of more space can opt for the extra-long Escalade ESV, which adds more cargo room and about matches the legroom of the second row all the way in the third, but that vehicle is almost 19 feet long and has a turning diameter of 43 feet, so good luck maneuvering that anywhere near a city on a regular basis.


Top Controls:

2017 Cadillac Escalade control

Cadillac still uses a piano black, capacitive touch control panel in the Escalade as found on many of their recent vehicles, though the CT6 and XT5 – both part of the next generation of Cadillac interiors – do away with much of this in favor of separated control areas and a larger touchscreen, and frankly, good riddance.

It’s tough to discern and memorize where each function lies on the glossy surface, and tasks as simple as cranking up the volume require sliding your finger across the touch-sensitive face right under the infotainment screen, an often clumsy affair that can lead to unintentional extra loud bursts of music.

Thankfully, the voice recognition system works well and Cadillac’s updated CUE infotainment system is straightforward enough to use, and though they’re borrowed from the parts bin, the knobs and stalks found around the steering wheel are familiar and ergonomic.

2017 Cadillac Escalade Utility:

2017 Cadillac Escalade utility

The 2017 Escalade can tow up to 8,300 pounds with two-wheel-drive equipped, but only 8,100 pounds with four-wheel-drive, thanks in part to its strong, truck-derived frame and big engine, but that’s about where the utilitarian benefits of a live rear axle design in a large SUV end.

In fact, the decision to forgo an independent rear suspension design means the Escalade’s load floor is incredibly high at 32.1 inches – the same issue I had with the GMC Yukon Denali – so if you’re planning on loading anything particularly heavy or unwieldy into your Escalade, bring a ramp or a couple of friends.

Additionally, cargo space behind the third row is pitiful at just 15.2 cubic feet – about the same as a Honda Civic – so invest in a cargo carrier or limit everyone’s luggage down to about a shopping bag each if you plan on carrying more than three additional people. Speaking of which, the cargo space does improve to 51.6 cubic feet with the third row folded flat, but that makes this behemoth essentially a 4-person vehicle, which just isn’t handy in a pinch.

Total cargo space is generous at 94.2 cubic feet, but you’ll have to account for the higher up captain’s chairs when they’re folded down, not to mention the open space between the two.


New Technology:

2017 Cadillac Escalade tech

As it should be, the Escalade is loaded with pretty much every tech feature Cadillac (and GM, for that matter) has to offer, including the excellent 4G LTE Wi-Fi and the feature-loaded but sometimes frustrating CUE touchscreen interface.

Smartphone aficionados can opt for Apple CarPlay or Android Auto instead of CUE (which I highly recommend doing), but those who don’t should be able to get along fine with the default system.

The Premium Luxury trim Escalade that I tested for the week included a rear seat entertainment system with an HDMI port to keep the kids (or kids at heart) occupied while you cruise along, but with the Wi-Fi system, you may not ever feel the need to use it. There’s also a color head-up display that puts pertinent information right in front of your eyes, and the sleek digital dashboard display is easily configurable and one of the smoothest and best-looking I’ve yet to use.

2017 Cadillac Escalade Performance:

2017 Cadillac Escalade Power 111

The Escalade’s sole powertrain is a 6.2-liter V8, which makes 420 horsepower and 460 lb.-ft. of torque, and it is without a doubt the absolute star of this vehicle.

Power is smooth and effortless pretty much across the rev range, and while the driving experience can sometimes be marred by the clunky 8-speed automatic transmission, this is a surprisingly sprightly vehicle for something weighing well over 5,000 pounds, hustling along to 60 mph in about 6 seconds with four-wheel-drive
What’s more, cylinder deactivation that turns the V8 into a V4 at high-gear, low-RPM cruising can help save on fuel, but this is still a thirsty truck, averaging about 17 mpg according to the EPA. I saw around 18.4 over the course of 900 mixed city and highway miles, but the highway portion likely pushed that figure upwards, so expect to see a bit of a gain if you’re hardly ever in a city in the Escalade.

My only complaint about the Escalades performance lies with the brakes, which are squishy at best and downright unresponsive at worst. They did save me once on the highway in an abrupt slowdown, but make sure you’re not skipping leg day, as it takes some serious force to get the pedal mashed all the way to the floor.

Ride and Handling:

2017 Cadillac Escalade ride

The Escalade utilizes a version of GM’s excellent magnetic ride suspension, which uses a system of sensors and magnets to adjust the density of a metallic liquid in the shocks several times a second, responding to minute changes in the condition of the road and generally making for a very comfortable ride and impressive performance when needed.

Unfortunately, this suspension setup is completely betrayed by the truck platform the Escalade rides on and the massive wheels that are so often equipped on a vehicle of this size and stature. The 22-inch chrome bad boys on my Escalade tester meant that every road blemish was transmitted into the cabin as a shimmy and shake, or sometimes a sharp whack. On smaller rims and larger tires, the Escalade’s ride would likely be passable, but if you want style, you’re going to have to deal with a miniature earthquake every time you get behind the wheel.

Chatter bumps can also upset the Escalade a bit in the corners, as the frequent jouncing around can cause a lack of grip in the rear wheels when taking a particularly bumpy corner at speed, something you don’t want to have happen in a vehicle this large and unwieldy.

Otherwise, though, the Escalade drives like a truck, so if you find yourself looking for a more sedan-like ride, a different luxury SUV might be more your speed.

2017 Cadillac Escalade Review - The best Suv Car of the year

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Highs :

  • Imposing style
  • Impressive technology suite
  • Strong V-8 engine
  • Voluminous cargo area

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