By KBB.com Editors
Called the luxury king of SUVs, Cadillac's three-row Escalade ESV offers more horsepower and nine more cubic feet of cargo space than Lincoln's long-wheelbase Navigator L. Though the Navigator L offers a few competitive advantages, including its fold-flat third seat, more towing capacity and a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of nearly $9,000 less, the 2009 Cadillac Escalade ESV dominates the image arena. The full-size Escalade ESV has become the status symbol of choice for country clubbers and the urban cool affluent, and this 21-inch longer version offers even more than the previous generation.
If you want or need and can afford a truck this size with these levels of luxury and capability, along with the fast-rising Cadillac brand image, there is no better choice.
If want or need Escalade ESV capabilities without the Cadillac price, GM's three-row Chevy Suburban or GMC Yukon XL are available with nearly as much power for much less money. Lincoln's Navigator L is an excellent domestic alternative, while import-brand luxury SUV competitors are available from the likes of BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Lexus.
New features include HID headlamps on Platinum models, while a power tilt steering wheel and enhanced OnStar navigation tools are added to all Escalade models. A new safety option is Cadillac's Side Blind Zone Alert system that alerts the driver to vehicles not in the side mirror's field of view.
Driving Impressions This heavy full-frame truck-based SUV drives like a very large car. It's no sport sedan, but it is more agile, sure-footed and Cadillac-comfortable than most any other full-size...truck you'll encounter. Rival Lincoln's new Navigator is very good as well, and has the advantage of independent rear suspension, but we judge the Escalade ESV as better overall in ride and handling. Most of this is due to its fully-boxed frame, redesigned suspension, wide track and improved rack-and-pinion steering. The 6.2-liter V8 idles aggressively at rest and roars impressively at full throttle as it surges the big Caddy forward with eye-opening authority.
Remote Vehicle Start
This is one of those features that you may not want to live without once you've become used to it, especially in hot summer or cold winter weather. At the touch of a key-fob button from afar, it can start the engine and begin cooling or heating the cabin before you're even inside.
Heated Windshield Washer Fluid
Forget frozen washer fluid with this long-overdue feature. What could be better than warming it before you need it to melt annoying and dangerous windshield ice?
The 2009 Cadillac Escalade's interior is luxury-car plush and surprisingly quiet, and raises the luxury and refinement bars another couple of notches. The instrument panel is set low and far forward to improve real and perceived room. It houses quad round gauges with white needles, blue-light inlays and white LED backlighting. "Nuance" leather covers the seats, doors, steering wheel and center console, while the interior pillars wear rich-looking fabric.Exterior
The 2009 Escalade ESV looks powerful, purposeful and streamlined, not unlike a 1950s diesel locomotive. The largest and heaviest Escalade to date, Cadillac's stylist have clever created a vehicle that appears somewhat smaller thanks to its sleek, tightly-wrapped new body. Stepping in requires the use of the side step rails for all but the tallest passengers, and reaching the roof-mounted luggage rack is best left to those with the longest arms. The swept-back 57-degree windshield contributes to a segment-best aerodynamic drag coefficient of 0.36, which helps improve fuel economy and reduce wind noise, and careful detailing shows in its large, finely-crafted Cadillac signature grille, front fender vent ports and tasteful chrome accents.
The 2009 Cadillac Escalade ESV's comprehensive standard equipment begins with all-wheel drive, road-sensing suspension, automatic rear leveling, ultrasonic rear park assist, power liftgate and remote vehicle starting. Inside are leather-covered 14-way power heated front seats, heated fold-and-tumble second-row seats, three-passenger third-row seating, tri-zone automatic climate system, steering wheel radio controls, rear audio controls, power adjustable pedals, DVD/MP3/CD-changer with Bose Surround Sound and rear-seat LCD monitor, XM Satellite Radio and OnStar with Turn-by-turn navigation. Safety features include four-wheel anti-lock brakes (ABS), StabiliTrak stability control, advanced front air bags with passenger sensing, head-curtain side air bags for all three rows, rain-sensing wipers and heated washer fluid.
With so much standard equipment, the ESV's option list is not long, and includes 22-inch tires on chromed aluminum wheels, power retractable running boards, a power sliding sunroof, a Climate Package (heated and cooled front seats and a heated steering wheel) and an Information package that includes DVD touch-screen navigation, a rearview camera, Side Blind Zone Alert and Intellibeam automatic headlamps.
Powering every 2009 Cadillac Escalade is a 6.2-liter V8 with variable valve timing (VVT), which optimizes camshaft timing to improve low-rpm torque and high-rpm power, along with emissions and fuel economy. This engine does not yet have GM's Active Fuel Management (AFM), which deactivates half of the cylinders under light load, but is now E85 compatible.
403 horsepower @ 5700 rpm
417 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4300 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 12/19 (2WD, gas), 10/14 (2WD, E85), N/A (AWD)
By Montana Jack on Saturday, February 28, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 50,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Drives and looks new"
Cons: "Escalade battery problem"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"Have had this vehicle since June 2003. It looks as good as a 2014 Escalade. Replaced the Radio with a Pioneer 3500 with XM, CD, etc in 2013. One minor drawback (typical with Cadillac Escalades) is something is drawing the battery down. This has been going on for several years before the new radio system was installed. I plug it in to battery tender every other night in winter and once a week in other times. It would be a 10 if the battery problem did not exist."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By sistersixx on Wednesday, November 05, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 105,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Comfort, ease, reliable"
Cons: "Gas mileage (its an suv so expect that)"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Best car ever. I don't want to ever drive anything but this. It practically drives itself. My husband & I & our 3 kids drove to California and back. Straight through. We were all comfortable and I had no problems driving a 10 hour shift. Amazingly comfortable and fun to drive."
23 people out of 35 found this review helpful
By Don on Wednesday, September 10, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 107,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great SUV in better shape than the years should be"
Cons: "One running light needs replaced and a driving lt"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This has been my wife's car and she really likes it. We are selling because we don't need it any more. It has never been a problem and have always kept it serviced. We bought it new in 04 and it has always been a second car, the mileage shows it."
10 people out of 19 found this review helpful
By Dano on Sunday, March 23, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 160,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "comfortable and reliable"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I've purchased this new and have had no issues other than regular maintenance. Super comfortable and roomy interior. Two features that I wish this had is a power tailgate and bluetooth. It averages 15MPG for overall driving (mostly around town)"
15 people out of 24 found this review helpful
By PAT on Wednesday, January 15, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 121,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great looking, drive well"
Cons: "poor MPG, High cost to maintain."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 6
"My 2004 Escalade has been a show piece and head turner from day one, awesome to drive, has lots of bells and whistles. Downside: poor gas mileage (11 MPG), and unbelievably expensive to fix. Example: one headlight went out. Cost to replace $1300 !!!!! Would not buy again based on cons above"
19 people out of 24 found this review helpful
By Never Buying a Cadillac Again on Thursday, October 24, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 110,000overall rating 4 of 10rating details
Pros: "looks great on the outside"
Cons: "JUNK! Read the review"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"This was the car that my wife and I wanted for a long time but said not until we can afford it. Well, we bought an 06 in mint condition from the original owner. WORST MISTAKE EVER! This is still the best looking SUV on the exterior, but that is it. This is the last GM I will ever own. The interior is very cheaply made. plastic everything. the center console paint is chipping, the plastic wood grain is loose and the doors rattle. We have always taken it in to the shop for everything immediately and never abused the truck off road. other than exterior design, this thing is a pile of junk. Save yourself $20k and get a tahoe. Not to mention value. There is none. Our sticker price was $72k and 7 years later we are being told that it is worth $12-$14k on a trade in. I understand that all dealers low ball, but c/mon!! Just for fun, this is what I have repaired: air compressor for suspension (600) water pump(400) tailgate lock acuator(500) driver side lock switch(300) heated seat electronics(300) steering wheel radio control components(200) entire navigation system(1200) front differential(1500) front wheel barrings(400) Total: $4300!!"
45 people out of 52 found this review helpful