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2018 Cadillac Escalade ESV

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2018 Cadillac Escalade ESV Expert Review

By Scott Oldham -- Contributing Editor

A favorite of moms and moguls, the 2018 Cadillac Escalade is a full-size luxury SUV with big style, big V8 horsepower and seating for eight passengers. Available in two sizes, the full-size Escalade and the even larger Escalade ESV, Cadillac’s largest SUV competes with the Lincoln Navigator, the smaller Mercedes-Benz GLS, Infiniti QX80, Lexus LX and the mechanically similar GMC Yukon and Chevy Tahoe and Suburban. Four trim levels are available, Base, Luxury, Premium Luxury and Platinum. Behind the Escalade’s distinctive grille is the largest engine in the class, a massive 6.2-liter V8 that makes 420 horsepower. This year it’s mated to a new 10-speed automatic transmission, which improves highway fuel economy. Rear-wheel drive is standard, but 4-wheel drive with a low range is available. Cadillac says the Escalade can tow up to 8,300 pounds and accelerate from 0-60 mph in 6.0 seconds.

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Those looking for the most size in the full-size luxury SUV class can stop looking. But the big and bold 2018 Cadillac Escalade and Escalade ESV don’t just offer seating for as many as eight passengers and acres of cargo space, they’re leather-lined and luxurious, with high-tech driving aids and family-friendly features including onboard Wi-Fi.

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Some may equate the imposing size and weight of the 2018 Cadillac Escalade with safety, but the full-size luxury SUV is only rated four out of five stars for overall safety by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The smaller Mercedes GLS 550 and AMG GLS 63 offer more horsepower and handling than the Caddy.

How It Ranks
2018 Cadillac Escalade ESV Low/wide front photo What's New for 2018

For 2018, Cadillac has updated the new Escalade with a 10-speed automatic transmission, which improves the full-size SUV’s highway fuel economy. Top-of-the-line Platinum models also get a new available Maple Sugar interior with Jet Black accents.

Driving the Escalade ESV
2018 Cadillac Escalade ESV Front angle view photo
Driving Impressions

It looks imposing and it intimidates other drivers like Dale Earnhardt, but from behind the wheel the 2018 Cadillac Escalade is a pussy cat. The Caddy is comfortable, easy-to-drive, sure-footed...

... and powerful. Sure it’s big, and parking this beast or backing it up in tight parking garages can be challenging, but on the road it’s like a high-riding luxury sedan with impeccable manners and a refined ride. Cadillac’s 420-horsepower, 6.2-liter V8 is a lovable brute. Power for passing and merging is never in short supply and the new 10-speed automatic transmission is responsive and smooth. GM’s Magnetic Ride Control does an admirable job managing the Escalade’s bulk, allowing it to soak up rough roads and negotiate tight turns with little fuss. The power-steering assist is appropriately proportioned. Add the optional 4-wheel drive and the Escalade becomes a winter warrior capable of tackling all kinds of road conditions.

AUTOMATIC PARK ASSIST
If you’re worried about parallel parking such a big truck, don’t be. Cadillac’s Automatic Park Assist feature is standard. It uses ultrasonic sensors to locate a suitable parking space and then steers the vehicle into the space while you work the pedals and the gear selection.

MASSAGE FRONT SEATS
Power-adjustable, heated-and-cooled front seats are standard on the new 2018 Cadillac Escalade, while the top Platinum-spec models add the luxury of a massage feature. Kneading, rolling and anti-fatigue settings are offered, and the intensity is adjustable. When used in combination with the heat, it feels reeeeeeeeeally good.

2018 Cadillac Escalade ESV Details
2018 Cadillac Escalade ESV Dashboard, center console, gear shifter view photo Interior

With space, space and more space, the new Cadillac Escalade allows families to stretch out and luxuriate in an expanse of leather, wood and high-tech features. All models offer a 2nd-row bench seat allowing seating for eight passengers or a pair of bucket seats and seating for seven. Third-row legroom is tight for tall adults in standard models, but the extended-length 2018 Cadillac ESV SUV rectifies that while also offering considerably more cargo space behind the rearmost seats. Both the 3rd - and 2nd-row seats fold flat, and open up an incredible amount of cargo space, 94.2 cubic feet in the Escalade and over 120 cubic feet in the Escalade ESV.

Exterior
2018 Cadillac Escalade ESV photo

You can’t miss the new Escalade’s massive grille, but you might not see the active-aero shutters behind it, which close to improve aerodynamics on the highway and increase fuel economy. The 2018 Cadillac Escalade also benefits from full-LED headlights with four crystals in the headlights that act as the high beams, giving off radiant light. The long vertical taillights also employ LEDs, making it easier to follow the Escalade when weather conditions are less than ideal, which improves safety. Originally installed for aerodynamic purposes, the rear spoiler not only adds a sporting flair to the SUV’s derriere, it also hides the rear-windshield wiper. At 224.3 inches, the Escalade ESV model is about two-feet longer than the standard model.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

Standard luxuries on the new Cadillac Escalade include 12-way power-adjustable seats, 20-inch chrome-plated aluminum wheels, Magnetic Ride Control and hands-free power liftgate. A remote starter, tri-zone climate control, and a reconfigurable instrument cluster further the Escalade’s appeal, as do a power-folding 3rd-row seat, heated and cooled front seats, front and rear park assists, rain-sensing wipers, a surround-vision camera, Automatic Park Assist, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto-compatible 16-speaker Bose Centerpoint audio, onboard Wi-Fi, CUE with navigation and a power tilt/telescopic steering column with heated leather-wrapped steering wheel. Also standard is Automatic Park Assist, which can practically parallel park the SUV for you, and Surround Vision, which provides a bird’s-eye 360-degree view of the vehicle and its surroundings.

Optional Equipment

Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keep Assist, adaptive cruise control, side blind-zone alert, rear camera mirror, cross-traffic alert, and 22-inch machine-finished wheels are all available on the 2018 Cadillac Escalade. For buyers seeking the most indulgence, the range-topping Platinum line comes with Nappa semi-aniline leather, suede microfiber headliner and climate-controlled 18-way-adjustable front seats complete with massaging functionality for the driver's side. A head-up display is also available, as are a sunroof, a rear-entertainment system with a 9-inch overhead screen, wireless headphones and remote control. Top Platinum models get a unique chrome grille, power-retractable side steps, a suede headliner and a leather-wrapped instrument cluster and console.

Under the Hood
2018 Cadillac Escalade ESV Engine photo

You have one choice when it comes to motivating the 2018 Cadillac Escalade luxury SUV, and that’s the 6.2-liter V8 engine rated at 420 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque. The standard transmission for both 2-wheel and 4-wheel-drive (2WD, 4WD) models is a 10-speed automatic with driver shift control and tow/haul mode. Even with the 10-speed transmission, this engine gets parched quickly, and the EPA’s ratings of 14/23 mpg for the 2WD model and 14/21 mpg for the 4WD variant reflect that. While premium gasoline is recommended, the Escalade’s engine doesn’t require it, so you can save a few cents at the pump.

6.2-liter V8
420 horsepower @ 5,600 rpm
460 lb-ft of torque @ 4,100 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/23 mpg (2WD), 14/21 mpg (4WD), 14/23 mpg (ESV 2WD), 14/21 mpg (ESV 4WD)

There are four trim levels for the 2018 Escalade: Standard (Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price [MSRP]) of just under $74,500 including a $995 destination charge, while the popular Luxury trim level costs about $5,500 more. Premium Luxury models start at $83,890; the top-line Platinum, just over $93,000. Long-wheelbase Escalade ESV models cost an extra $3,000. Adding 4WD is another $2,600. With every option box checked, the 2018 Cadillac can reach into the high-$90,000 range. The starting price for the 2018 Escalade puts it ahead of competitors like the Lincoln Navigator, Infiniti QX80 and even the Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class. The Audi Q7 and the Infiniti QX60 both offer seating for seven and a starting price below $55,000 and $45,000, respectively. Be sure to check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for their new Escalades. We expect the Escalade to have better resale value than the Lincoln Navigator but to trail that of the Lexus LX.

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