Intent on moving to the forefront of the full-size luxury SUV realm, the 2015 Cadillac Escalade made its world debut today at an event in New York City. Although retaining the same basic scale and form as the vehicle it replaces the fully redesigned fourth-generation Escalade introduces an entirely new level of style, refinement and technology to the mix that parallels the kind of image-elevating changes seen in the latest iteration of Cadillac's passenger cars. Both the Escalade and its stretched sibling, the Escalade ESV, also have become quieter, safer and more user-friendly than ever before.
Visually, the 2015 Escalade has a cleaner, more sophisticated appearance that complements its angular edginess with distinctive detailing that's most evident in the dramatic front and rear lighting elements. Chic evolutions of the vertical motif that's a pillar of Cadillac's signature Art and Science design language, both now feature full LED configurations. Look close and you'll see that the Escalade's headlight bezels are stamped with a "Cadillac" script while the new slim-line taillamps that stretch to the top of its roofline feature the division's wreath-and-crest insignia that lights up in the dark.
Less evident but no less critical to the remake, the Escalade's even bolder but tastefully recast shield-shaped grille now conceals active air shutters that automatically close at highway speeds to help tidy its aerodynamic profile. A more sculpted hood and new hands-free power liftgate are made from weight-saving aluminum while the Escalade's doors now feature an inlaid design with tighter panel gaps that help reduce both drag and wind noise at speed. Finally, the rear wiper has been relocated into the roof spoiler for an even cleaner appearance.
The cabin of the 2015 Escalade reprises themes and design elements most recently seen in the ATS, XTS and all-new 2014 CTS sedan models. Premium materials, including leather, suede, wood and metal trim combine with Cadillac's cut-and-sew handcrafting to create a more elegant overall ambiance while additional sound attenuation materials and a new active noise cancellation system also make it a significantly quieter realm. In addition to its new dash that showcases a 12.3-inch reconfigurable instrument cluster display and Bose premium audio, the 2015 Escalade is the first of its family to come with Cadillac's sophisticated CUE infotainment system and also will offer a new full-color head-up display.
The Escalade's seating for up to eight has been upgraded, as well. Redesigned front buckets now boast more comfort and support as well as standard heating/cooling. Second-row captain's chairs also are heated, and while that warming function only covers outboard perches in the optional 60/40 bench, the split backs now gain adjustable recline. One of the most welcome features in the new Escalade is the introduction of flat-folding rear seats - a change that means it's no longer necessary to physically remove the individual 3rd row perches when cargo duty calls. Better still, it comes with power activation that also includes a remote flip-down feature for row two in all but the base model.
Base, Limited, Premium or Platinum, sole engine for all 2015 Escalades is a 6.2-liter version of GM's all-new Gen 5 small-block V8. More advanced and efficient than the 6.2-liter used currently, this EcoTec3 variant retains Active Fuel Management cylinder-deactivation but adds variable valve timing and upgrades from port-style to direct fuel injection. Along with bumping the pony count from 403 to 420, the new V8 also generates nearly 10 percent more torque - and that loftier 460 lb-ft of peak twist arrives lower in the rev range to improve the Escalade's off-the-line feel. Gear-changing duties are handled by a 6-speed Hydra-Matic transmission with enhanced TapShift control.
The 2015 Cadillac Escalade and Escalade ESV share a good deal of common platform engineering with their recently introduced 2015 Chevy Tahoe/Suburban and GMC Yukon/Yukon XL cousins, including more robust fully-boxed frame rails and a mega-dose of high-strength steel throughout. While their 116.0/130.0-inch wheelbases are unchanged, track dimensions have been widened slightly and these new Cadillac SUVs roll on 20-inch aluminum wheels wrapped in 275/55 tires or optional 22-inch alloys with 285/45 rubber. Rear or all-wheel drive, all Escalade variants now offer improved dynamics thanks to the latest version of GM's Magnetic Ride Control, a real-time active damping system with driver-selectable Tour/Sport modes. It's complemented by new speed-sensitive electric power steering, StabiliTrak stability/traction control with tow/haul mode, auto-grade braking/hill start assist and more capable 4-wheel ABS brakes that feature long-lasting Duralife rotors.
Stepping up its passenger protection game, the new Escalade bolsters its lengthy roster of existing safety standards with GM's front seat center-mounted airbag while Luxury and Premium models also will come with new Side Blind Zone Alert, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Lane Change Alert systems. A Driver Assist Package adds Full Speed Range Adaptive Cruise Control, new Front and Rear Automatic Braking and Automatic Safety Belt Tightening while a Driver Awareness Package brings Forward Collision Alert, Lane Departure Warning System, and GM's Safety Alert Seat.
Production of the 2015 Cadillac Escalade and Escalade ESV will begin next spring in Arlington, Texas, which also will be home to the Chevy Tahoe/Suburban and GMC Yukon/Yukon XL. Look for pricing and EPA numbers to be released closer to the Escalade's actual on-sale date.
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