Cadillac has been building vehicles for 120 years, since 1902 when founder Henry Leland introduced his first single-cylinder car. The brand is the oldest surviving automaker in the US, beating both David Buick’s 1903 start and Henry Ford’s 1903 Model A.
When Cadillac was bought by General Motors in 1909, it became the prestigious car of the five divisions, and over the decades it was a leader in technology with the 1912 self-starter, the first mass-produced V8 of 1914, the great V16 from 1930, and the modern OHV V8 from 1949.
Leyland, who built another prestigious car, the Lincoln, named the Cadillac after the founder of the city of Detroit.
Okay, enough of the history lesson.
Also known as “The Standard of the World,” Cadillac was also the leader in style, delivering sculpted and flowing lines from Fisher and Fleetwood’s custom coachbuilders, as well as its technological innovations. Today, Cadillac offers the CT4 and CT5 range of sedans, plus the XT4, XT5, and XT6 crossovers for the 21st century driving public.
But the Escalade, introduced in 1998, continues the Caddy tradition more than its other current namesakes. It is the only model in the line-up with a real name, which harks back to the DeVille, the Eldorado and the Sevilla. It’s the flagship of the lineup, and while it’s seen as old-school in some areas, the men and women of Cadillac have certainly kept up with the times by presenting a luxurious example of SUV driving.
The vehicle is assembled in Arlington, Texas, and the V8 engine is manufactured at GM’s Saint Catharines engine plant.
This is the big, bold SUV that does it all with a superior fit and finish. While the boxy exterior inherent to the breed is designed to be as edgy and modern as possible, the interior shines with its excellent materials, leather seats and an abundance of technology. The two info screens, one 14.2 inches and the other 7.2 inches, give the occupants of the Escalade an overview of everything, both inside and out.
For 2022, several models of the Escalade come standard with Lane Keeping Assist and Lane Departure Warning, as well as Cadillac’s Super Cruise semi-autonomous driving function and automated front and rear emergency braking.
GM refined the rear suspension in the Escalade to a four-link setup and while it offers a tight ride, the Escalade now drives like a big car. The 6.2-litre V8 (a 3.0-litre diesel in-line six is optional) delivers plenty of power and grunt and pulling a horse trailer or Airstream wouldn’t be a problem.
Aside from the lavish interior and loads of tech, the Escalade’s sightlines are good, the on-screen graphics tasteful and the rear wiper works from the top of the tailgate and is hidden when not in use.
WHAT’S THE WORST?
The sheer size of the Escalade might be daunting to some at first, but size wise it’s no different from a full-sized pickup. With what is today considered a big bike and a hefty weight, the Escalade is not a mileage champion, but it is designed and built to carry style and comfort.
On the tailgate is a badge that reads ‘600’. This means the engine torque in Newton meters and represents the power available, whether petrol, hybrid or electric, across the entire line of Cadillac cars. This figure is displayed metrically to indicate that Cadillac is a global brand.
The Escalade has no equal worldwide. For someone in the luxury SUV market and needing a vehicle of this size, the Escalade ticks all the boxes.
Cadillac Escalade 4WD SUV, Platinum Edition
Price: Standard base price, $119,298. As tested with 1SG package $131,173.
Engine: 6.2 liter V8
Power/Torque: 420 hp, 460-lb-ft
Fuel consumption in kilometers: 13-15 l/100km in total
Drivetrain: Front-mounted engine, 10-speed automatic transmission, 3.23:1 axle ratio, front/rear wishbones with wishbone, magnetic ride control, differential lock, adaptive air suspension, 13.5 front/rear ventilated disc brakes, 22-inch rims/tyres.
Wheelbase: 3070.9 mm (120.9 in), (3460.1 mm, 134.1 in wheelbase version available)
Weight: 2844 kg, 6270 pounds
Fuel tank capacity: 91.1 liters
Passenger volume: 5097 liters, 180 cubic feet
Cargo volume: 1217.62 liters 43 cubic feet
Trailer Towing: 8000 lbs, 3629 kg.