2011 Cadillac Escalade ESV

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2011 Cadillac Escalade ESV Review

By KBB Editors

KBB Expert Rating: 6.7

In the world of full-size luxury SUVs, they don't come much fuller or more luxurious than the 2011 Cadillac Escalade ESV. Based on the popular Chevrolet Suburban, the ESV gets the full-blown Cadillac treatment, including a unique suspension, engine, and options list. With its three-row seating and massive towing ability, there really isn't anything like the Escalade ESV from Europe or Japan. Its closest rival is probably the Lincoln Navigator L, which has some obvious advantages over the Cadillac ESV, but can't quite match the big Escalade ESV's "wow" factor. Status does have its price, and the 2011 Cadillac Escalade ESV seems to have met the bar set by the country club set and the urban elite alike.

You'll Like This Car If...

If you desire a capable, full-size premium luxury SUV that isn't shy about attracting attention, the 2011 Cadillac Escalade ESV belongs in your driveway. That's partially because it probably won't fit in your garage.

You May Not Like This Car If...

If you don't need the massive interior and towing ability of the 2011 Cadillac Escalade ESV, there are plenty of other luxury brands that are a bit more refined and a lot less flashy (think Land Rover Range Rover, Mercedes-Benz GL and Audi Q7, just to name a few.)

What's New for 2011

The 2011 Cadillac Escalade ESV gets Cadillac's Premium Care Maintenance Program that covers scheduled maintenance for four years or 50,000 miles. Physical upgrades include enhanced noise-reduction measures, available cocoa carpet color for the Platinum Edition and the ninth-generation OnStar with enhanced voice recognition software.

Driving the Escalade ESV
Driving Impressions

That the 2011 Cadillac Escalade ESV doesn't ride and handle like a sport sedan should come as no surprise. However, that it rides and handles better than any...

... full-size truck we've driven is an eye opener. Thanks to a phalanx of electronic stability, traction and suspension controls, twisting curves 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 ESV easy to park. As for power, the ESV's 6.2-liter V8 is as smooth as glass and has what feels like endless reserves of torque on hand. If you need to tow a boat or horse trailer, the Escalade's V8 suddenly becomes indispensable.

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. A the touch of a key-fob button from afar can start the engine and begin cooling or heating the cabin before you're even inside.

Heated and Cooling Cupolders
Available only on the Platinum Edition, these decadent luxury items actually seems to be one of the most logical inventions since the cup holder itself.

2011 Cadillac Escalade ESV Details

The 2011 Cadillac Escalade ESV is awash in leather, French-stitched seams and soft-touch everything. Seating can be ordered with a second-row bench or captain's chair configuration, with both the front- and second-row seats heated. A power flip-and-tumble second-row seat allows easy access to the third row. The cargo floor does not flood flush, which is a bit of a miss. On Platinum trims, comfort levels rise to new heights with such items as heated and cooled cup holders, a heated steering wheel and Tehama aniline leather covering all three rows. Even base models are lavish beyond measure, with leather covering the seats, doors, steering wheel and center console, and the interior pillars wearing rich-looking fabric.


From its massive Cadillac signature grille to its chrome-clad fender vent ports to its giant 22-inch chrome wheels, there is nothing about the 2011 Cadillac Escalade ESV that is subtle. Its road presence is made all the more apparent by the sharp-edged lines, flush-mounted headlamps and ridiculously long side-glass panels. Stepping into the Escalade ESV requires a hike up, but thankfully, Cadillac supplies an available power retractable assist step to help out. While most of the Escalade ESV's body is bold and upright, its windshield is laid back at a 57-degree angle, a design that helps this mammoth SUV slice through the wind. It boasts a segment-best drag coefficient of 0.36, so the design apparently works. Cadillac offers the Escalade ESV in a number of colors, but let's face it, if you want the full Escalade ESV effect, it's Ice Metallic Black or nothing.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

The 2011 Cadillac Escalade ESV's comprehensive standard equipment begins with 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 navigation with MP3/CD-changer, rear backup camera, Bose Surround Sound and rear-seat LCD monitor, XM Satellite Radio and OnStar with Turn-by-turn navigation.

Optional Equipment

With so much standard equipment, the 2011 Cadillac Escalade ESV's option list is not long. It includes 22-inch tires on chromed aluminum wheels, power retractable running boards, a power sliding sunroof, and a Luxury Package (Blind-spot Alert, IntelliBeam headlamps, power center seat release, heated and cooled front seats and a heated steering wheel).

Under the Hood

Powering every 2011 Cadillac Escalade is a 403-horsepower, 6.2-liter V8 with Active Fuel Management, which deactivates half of the cylinders under light load. Variable valve timing (VVT) optimizes camshaft timing to improve low-rpm torque and high-rpm power, along with emissions and fuel economy. The Escalade ESV's V8 engine is also E85 compatible.

6.2-liter V8
403 horsepower @ 5700 rpm
417 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4300 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/18 (2WD, gas), 10/15 (2WD, E85), 14/18 (AWD, gas), 9/13 (AWD, E85)

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