Cadillac Escalade 2015 review

The Cadillac Escalade is a vast eight-seat SUV but is it a bit too big for UK tastes?

Overall Auto Express Rating

2.0 out of 5

A range-topping Range Rover eclipses the Escalade in near enough every way. It’s faster, better to drive, easier to live with – and crucially, comes with its steering wheel on the right-hand side. If you live in the US, with cheaper fuel and wider roads, we can see the Caddy’s appeal, but here in the UK, it’s as bonkers as it’s ever been.

It almost doesn’t matter what we say here. If the Cadillac Escalade appeals to you – and you can afford the frankly ludicrous list price – you’ll likely buy one regardless.

However, in the interest of fairness, we travelled to Zurich to drive the new eight-seat SUV, and learn more about Cadillac’s plans for the future.

As you’d expect from a near three-tonne 4x4, what immediately strikes you is its ridiculous footprint. It feels like a bus from behind the wheel, you can’t see past the end of the bonnet, and you’ll need to squint to see the rear window thanks to huge the 5.2m body. The commanding driving position dwarfs all but the biggest SUVs, making cars like the BMW X5 and Mercedes ML look like toys stood side-by-side.

All Escalades use a de-tuned version of the 6.2-litre V8 from the latest Chevrolet Corvette. It still packs 420bhp and 610Nm of torque, and will cover 0-62mph in less than seven seconds, which to all intents and purposes, is pretty impressive. However, it never feels that fast, and the six-speed automatic gearbox is somewhat off the pace compared to rivals. Bizarrely, US buyers get a newer eight-speed setup, which we expect shifts cogs faster and more smoothly – but it’s not even an option on Euro-spec cars for the time being.

What’s more, even with the new Magnetic Ride Control suspension, the gigantic SUV still wallows and rolls in the bends, doing little to disguise its bulk. Switching to Sport mode doesn’t improve things either, making the car feel twitchy and less stable at speed. 

On the motorway, though, the Escalade is whisper quiet, and despite the bluff shape and 22-inch wheels, suffers very little in terms of wind and road noise. Standard cylinder deactivation technology – which allows the thirsty V8 to run on just four cylinders – does its best to maximise fuel economy – but in reality won’t really lessen the dent on your wallet. Cadillac says it’s 10 per cent more fuel efficient, but you’ll be lucky to match the claimed 21mpg.

Thankfully, from the inside it does feel suitably luxurious. Of course, you’ll find the odd switch or button pulled from the Vauxhall parts bin, but there’s swathes of leather, wood and metal, and all cars come with a frankly astounding level of kit.

Each and every Escalade gets heated and ventilated seats, LED headlamps and a sunroof, as well as 16-way electrically adjustable seats, remote start and heads up display. If you try to match it with a like-for-like Range Rover, you’ll need to delve deep into the extensive options list.

That said, the Ampera-style touch controls and dated infotainment system do let it down – and similar systems from BMW, Audi and Mercedes are all more intuitive to use. The dials are big and easy to read, and there’s a handy sat-nav display fixed to the middle of the speedo. But it just doesn’t feel quite as sophisticated as its European rivals.

Space is one area that the Escalade has the market sewn up, though. Nothing this side of a Volkswagen Caravelle can offer similar outright load capacity, and with eight usable seats, no direct competitors offer quite as much passenger room.

We drove the standard wheelbase version, which boasts a 1,461-litre boot with five of the eight seats in place, but go for the long-wheelbase Escalade ESV and that extends to 2,172 litres. It adds another half a metre to the car’s overall length and helps the SUV double as a van with all the seats folded flat – with a total load area of 3,424 litres.

In all honesty, it’s tough to see the appeal of a car like this in the UK. In foreign markets, where fuel is cheaper and the roads are wider, straighter and smoother, it does make more sense, but in Europe, the tight city streets render the Escalade almost completely useless. We’re interested to see where Cadillac goes from here – with right-hand-drive diesels due before the end of the decade – but for now, the sensible money is still on a top-spec Range Rover.

Most Popular

Driving test update to preserve the manual gearbox
Dacia Duster gear lever
News

Driving test update to preserve the manual gearbox

With more drivers learning in autos and electric cars, the DVSA is looking to update the driving test so people can still drive manuals in future
16 Jun 2021
Tesla Model 3 police car all set for evaluation by UK emergency services
Tesla Model 3 police car - front
News

Tesla Model 3 police car all set for evaluation by UK emergency services

Tesla hopes to offer UK police forces a new zero-emission emergency responder option with the Model 3 police car
17 Jun 2021
New 2021 Vauxhall Astra to offer plug-in hybrid power
Vauxhall Astra render
Vauxhall Astra

New 2021 Vauxhall Astra to offer plug-in hybrid power

The new Vauxhall Astra will get a plug-in hybrid powertrain and a more premium image - here’s how it could look
17 Jun 2021
Ineos Grenadier prototype 2022 review
Ineos Grenadier prototype
Ineos Grenadier 4x4

Ineos Grenadier prototype 2022 review

Can the Ineos Grenadier really fill the mud-splattered void left by the old Land Rover Defender? We take a first drive in a prototype to find out...
15 Jun 2021
Motorists think they can get away with driving offences due to lack of road police
police speed gun
News

Motorists think they can get away with driving offences due to lack of road police

Lack of road traffic police officers in the UK is making it easy for drivers to break the law, according to a survey of 15,500 British motorists
16 Jun 2021
New Nissan Qashqai 2021 review
Nissan Qashqai 2021
Nissan Qashqai

New Nissan Qashqai 2021 review

We get behind the wheel of the larger, more comfortable and higher-tech Nissan Qashqai SUV in the UK
16 Jun 2021
Dacia unveils new badge design
Dacia badge
Dacia

Dacia unveils new badge design

The new Dacia branding will feature on the company’s cars from 2022, with the Bigster being the first candidate
17 Jun 2021
New Audi Q4 e-tron 2021 review
Audi Q4 e-tron 2021  front
Audi Q4 e-tron

New Audi Q4 e-tron 2021 review

We get involved with the new all-electric Audi Q4 e-tron SUV on UK roads for the first time
17 Jun 2021
UN report highlights ethical problems with electric cars
Electric car charging
News

UN report highlights ethical problems with electric cars

Analysis reveals lithium refining takes 65 per cent of Chilean region’s water, while 40,000 child miners dig for cobalt in DRC
14 Jun 2021
'I was cynical about Hyundai's aim to be the world's 2nd biggest carmaker, not now'
Opinion Genesis Hyundai Ioniq
Opinion

'I was cynical about Hyundai's aim to be the world's 2nd biggest carmaker, not now'

Steve Fowler is impressed by Hyundai's electric cars, its N division and now its luxury Genesis brand
16 Jun 2021
Mazda to launch 10 new hybrids and three new EVs by 2025
Mazda electric plan
Mazda

Mazda to launch 10 new hybrids and three new EVs by 2025

The electrification push forms part of Mazda’s goal to become a completely carbon neutral company by 2050
17 Jun 2021
New Renault Arkana 2021 review
Renault Arkana - front
Renault Arkana

New Renault Arkana 2021 review

Does an eye-catching coupe-SUV body give the new Renault Arkana the edge over other mid-size SUVs? We find out...
16 Jun 2021
Fan-designed Ford Puma ST Gold Edition revealed
Fan-designed Ford Puma ST Gold Edition
Ford Puma

Fan-designed Ford Puma ST Gold Edition revealed

Ford unveils a special edition Puma ST, with a black and gold colour scheme chosen by Ford fans over social media
18 Jun 2021
New Skoda Enyaq iV 2021 review
Skoda Enyaq iV 80 Sportline - front
Skoda Enyaq

New Skoda Enyaq iV 2021 review

The new Skoda Enyaq iV is the Czech firm’s first bespoke electric car and we've tested the full range on UK roads
10 Jun 2021