By Zach Vlasuk
KBB Expert Rating:
While the automotive landscape continues to shift towards smaller, lighter and more-efficient vehicles, the full-size luxury SUV segment remains relatively unscathed by this recent market shift. The Escalade nameplate remains as popular as ever, and the 2012 lineup satisfies America's appetite for excessively large vehicles with four capacious offerings, including the classic Escalade and its more efficient Hybrid accomplice, a long-wheelbase ESV variant, and the versatile, yet stately, EXT open-bed truck. Despite its inherent impracticality, the 2012 Cadillac Escalade makes a case for itself by offering one of the most spacious, extravagant and comfortable rides available.
If you are looking for a capable, full-size luxury SUV that isn't shy about attracting attention, the 2012 Cadillac Escalade belongs in your driveway - since it probably won't fit in your garage.
If exorbitant cabin space and impressive towing capability are nonessentials in your next vehicle purchase, there are plenty of practical alternatives that are a bit more refined and subtle from Lexus, Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz.
Cadillac Escalade models receive a few modest updates for 2012, highlights of which include two new exterior colors for Escalade SUV models (Radiant Silver Metallic and Crystal Red Tintcoat), a new center console design, and navigation system enhancements.
Driving Impressions Due to its sheer size and weight it should come as no surprise that the 2012 Cadillac Escalade lacks razor-sharp agility and steering. However, we feel the Escalade delivers the...smoothest and most comfortable ride offered on a body-on-frame vehicle. Thanks to a host of electronic stability, traction and suspension controls, winding roads that would have lesser SUVs heaving and tossing are simply tamed. All the electronic goodies in the world, however, can't help make the Escalade easy to park. As for power, the 6.2-liter V8 (standard in everything but the Escalade Hybrid) is as smooth as glass and has what feels like an endless reserve of torque on hand. If you need to tow a boat or horse trailer, the Escalade's V8 suddenly becomes indispensable. The heart of the Escalade Hybrid is a 6.0-liter V8 that feels as responsive and powerful as the conventional V8, yet it returns a 33 percent improvement in city fuel economy.
Remote Vehicle Start
This is one of those standard features that you may not want to live without once you've become used to it, especially in hot summer or cold winter weather. A touch of the key-fob button from afar can start the engine and begin cooling or heating the cabin before you're even inside.
Power Fold-and-Tumble Second-row Seat
Third-row access is a serious issue in big SUVs and an easy-folding second-row seat can save a lot of irritation. This feature operates with buttons on the console and interior door pillar.
The 2012 Escalade's interior takes Cadillac luxury to its extreme end. The interior is so solidly wrapped in sound-deadening materials one can almost hear a pin drop. Comfort levels rise to new heights on Escalade SUV Platinum trims with such items as heated and cooled cup holders, a heated steering wheel and Tehama aniline leather seating surfaces for all rows. Even the base 8-passenger SUV models and 5-passenger EXT variant are lavish beyond reason, with leather trim blanketing the seats, doors, steering wheel and center console, and with the interior pillars wearing rich-looking fabric.Exterior
From its massive signature Cadillac grille to its chrome-clad fender vents to its enormous available 22-inch chromed-aluminum wheels, there is nothing subtle about the 2012 Cadillac Escalade. Its road presence is made all the more apparent by the sharp-edged lines, flush-mounted headlights and long, tinted side-glass panels. Stepping into the Escalade requires a hike up, but thankfully, every Escalade model offers standard assist steps for suitable ingress and egress from the vehicle. The Hybrid model boasts a distinctive front end featuring unique upper and lower grilles accompanied by a slew of Hybrid badges.
The 2012 Cadillac Escalade's comprehensive standard equipment begins with road-sensing suspension, automatic rear leveling for heavy loads, a power liftgate, and remote vehicle starting. Inside, you will find leather-trimmed 14-way power heated and ventilated front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, power-adjustable pedals, DVD navigation with a rear backup camera, Bose Surround Sound, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, and OnStar with spoken turn-by-turn directions. Additional safety and convenience features include six airbags, OnStar emergency assistance, a sonar proximity warning system for difficult parking situations, and a specialized stability control system with roll-over mitigation.
With so much standard equipment and a variety of trims, 2012 Cadillac Escalade models offer an abbreviated list of options. Available equipment includes all-wheel drive (AWD) for Escalade SUVs (standard on the EXT truck), 22-inch chromed-aluminum wheels, power retractable running boards, a power sliding sunroof, a heated steering wheel, blind-spot monitoring and an automatic high-beam system, which detects the headlights of oncoming traffic and automatically switches between high and low beams accordingly.
The 2012 Cadillac Escalade features a potent 403 horsepower, 6.2-liter V8 with Active Fuel Management, which deactivates half of the cylinders under light loads for increased fuel economy. The Escalade's 6.2-liter engine is also E85 (ethanol/gasoline fuel blend) compatible. The Hybrid model boasts a more-efficient 6.0-liter V8 combined with a 300-volt battery pack as well as the conventional engine's gas-saving Active Fuel Management technology.
403 horsepower @ 5,700 rpm
417 lb-ft of torque @ 4,300 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/18 mpg (rear-wheel drive, gasoline), 13/18 mpg (AWD, gasoline), 9/13 mpg (EXT/ESV model with AWD, E85), 10/15 mpg (Standard Escalade model with rear-wheel drive, E85), 10/14 mpg (Standard Escalade model with AWD, E85)
6.0-liter V8 hybrid
332 horsepower @ 5,100 rpm
367 lb-ft @ 4,100 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/23 mpg
The 2012 Cadillac Escalade SUVs have a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) ranging from around $64,000 for the base model to nearly $90,000 for a fully-loaded AWD Hybrid model in Premium trim. The EXT truck also starts around $64,000 and tops out just under $74,000 for the fully-optioned Premium version. To get a better idea of what people in your area are paying for their Escalades, check out Kelley Blue Book's Fair Purchase Price in the "What should I pay for my new car?" section on our homepage. While the sticker prices of Escalade SUV models remain considerably higher than those of the Lincoln Navigator, they are not far off from comparably equipped versions of the Land Rover Range Rover HSE and the Lexus LX 570. The Escalade EXT's closest competitor, the Ford F-150 SuperCrew Platinum Edition with 4-wheel drive, is priced in the mid-$40,000 range but can't match the EXT in terms of luxury or horsepower. The 2012 Escalade SUV lineup equals the Lincoln Navigator and Land Rover Range Rover when it comes to resale values, but unfortunately falls behind those of the LX 570. As for the EXT truck, we project it will retain a resale value lower than the F-150 Platinum Edition and its corporate stablemate, the Chevrolet Avalanche.
By Tom (CA) on Saturday, April 27, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 1,200overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great drive..."
Cons: "No sun blocker at the sun roof opening."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Now part of the Cadillac Family...this is a vehicle I will drive and keep...pass on to my son...it is a forever vehicle..."
4 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By GN BRINT (TX) on Sunday, February 03, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 12,800overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Excellent Quietness and Ride"
Cons: "Not enough Caddy options available ..."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This is the Top of the Line... The seating is excellent as is the comfort for 5 people on Extended Trips... You will arrive at your destination almost as though you never took the Trip... 600 pluse miles a day is an absolute Joy... The bed has more uses than anything out there and only the Avalanche has a comparative pickup Bed.... Trailer pulling is unsurpassed as the 6.2 Liter 403 HP High Torque Engine effortlessly will pull any load up to its capacity rating... It is hard to believe GM will stop building this Super Great Vehicle so this will be the last one I will ever be able to purchase... I fully intend for this Caddy to be he last one I will ever buy and fully intend for it to last for the remainder of my Life Time... I owned the Cadllac 2009 XLR Before trading it in on this EXT and even though I throughly miss the fabulous EXR as the ultimate Roadster I needed a more versatile vehicle .... The EXT almost has all the amenities I would have preferred such as Vehicle Warning on the Outside Mirrors, Heads up Display on the Windshield, and Adaptive Radar Cruse Control... The front Seats on my 2005 DeVille were more confortable in the seating portion but the EXT front Seats are fully acceptable... Other than those unavailable options and being spoiled by the Deville Seats I am fully content with my 2012 EXT... One more thing; I have never heard a complaint from riders about the spacious and comfortable seating and no one can believe how Quiet the interior is even at extended speeds on all the various highway surfaces... This is one incredible Cadillac and what a Ride it is in typical Caddy Fashion..."
By Happy (NJ) on Tuesday, January 29, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 78,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Never thought we would buy a caddy but I am glad we did. This SUV is definitely awesome, everything works like a dream and it handles like a sports car. Can flick it in and out of parking spaces and down the highway. Comfort for every passenger and diamond white with black definitely gets the looks with the huge chromed 22's. mileage avg 15 city and 19 hwy use premium every 2nd or 3rd fill and reg or plus otherwise."
5 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By George (FL) on Tuesday, November 27, 2012
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 5,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Well built, great service, cool features."
Cons: "MPG could be better but after all it is a 400HP V8"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"After years of owning nothing but BMW's and Range Rovers if anyone had told me that I would buy a Cadillac I would have laughed at them. Then a couple of years ago both my 550i and my RR were coming up for lease end so my wife and I would need new cars. We test drove the ML550 thought it was nice but too "car like", we test drove a new RR; same old same old and then my wife suggested we look at an Escalade at first I thought "No way" but we went and arranged for an extended test drive as we had done with the others. We were no more than 1/4 mi from the dealer when we looked at each other and said this is the one. We went back and bought it and a month later I went back and bought the CTS Coupe. I'm now on my second Escalade and all cars were/are flawless. They drive and feel as if they were carved from a single block of steel. I just can't say enough good things about these vehicles and the dealer has treated me like gold. I doubt that I will ever own another foreign car or a different domestic for that matter."
5 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By Bates (CA) on Saturday, November 03, 2012
I don't own this caroverall rating 8 of 10rating details
Cons: "Loud, poor visibility, 3rdrow seats don't flatten"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 5
"I test drove the Porsche Cayenne S and GTS, Range Rover, Q7, Escalade, Yukon Denali, and Expedition. I chose the Navigator. Spouse and i thought we would just try the Escalade since reviews say it beats the Navigator and because it looks stylish and has 400 hp. But its visibility was worse than Lincoln, 3rd row seats did not go flat plus did not have button that you could just push like the Navigator and Expeditions had. Also did not have better acceleration at high speeds and worse visibility made passing more cumbersome. Plus engine was louder by far. THX stereo system in Navigator was much betterr sound. And Navigator had smoother ride on the bumps and cracks. I am used to Lexus and have driven SC 430s for the past several yrs. Before that i drove a little G35, and before that i had a couple Integras and a Prelude. Also had a 2007 MDX. The Navigator was the best SUV, hands down and we can tow 9,000 lbs. Still kept my cute SC 430 though"
5 people out of 9 found this review helpful
By Fast Caddy (OK) on Monday, October 08, 2012
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 45,999overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Excellent Ride"
Cons: "Its got it all"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Great ride for an SUV; AWD is the way to go in one of these. Interior is comfortable and quiet. Great for trips. Gas guzzler though."
3 people out of 3 found this review helpful