2017 Cadillac Escalade

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$73,395–$95,195 MSRP range
Key Specs
Our Take
Road Test
Photos
Reviews
Safety & Recalls
Warranty & CPO
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Key Specs

of the 2017 Cadillac Escalade. Base trim shown.

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • Bold, modern exterior styling
  • Plenty of grunt from big V-8
  • Towing capability
  • Excellent outward visibility
  • Lots of cargo room
  • Quiet highway cruising

The Bad

  • Doesn't feel worth $100,000 (price as tested)
  • Touch-sensitive control panels
  • Choppy ride despite Magnetic Ride Control
  • Rearview camera takes getting used to
  • Second-row legroom not huge
  • Steering wheel not centered on driver
2017 Cadillac Escalade exterior side view

Notable Features of the 2017 Cadillac Escalade

  • Seven-seat, truck-based, full-size SUV
  • Rear-wheel drive or optional four-wheel drive
  • One engine, one transmission
  • Magnetic Ride Control adaptive suspension
  • Regular and extended-length models
  • Head-up display

2017 Cadillac Escalade Road Test

Aaron Bragman
The Verdict:

The latest Cadillac Escalade is quintessentially American: big, bold, loud and thinks it's worth more than it actually is.

Versus The Competition:

Competitors at this price are generally much more refined and luxurious inside and out, but few can match the Escalade's sheer size and towing capabilities.

The biggest, baddest American luxury vehicle is undisputedly the Cadillac Escalade, a blingy behemoth that prowls the streets of the United States in all its chrome-grille glory, rumbling and roaring its anti-environmental presence. While foreign automakers maintain flagship sedans, like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and Lexus LS 460, the American love for trucks has elevated rigs like the Escalade to that position here.

It had been a while since we last experienced Cadillac's range-topper, so we spent a week with the latest example, a 2017 Cadillac Escalade four-wheel-drive Platinum. We drove a short-wheelbase version that tickled the $100,000 MSRP mark and lacked nothing on the model's options list except the extra length of the Escalade ESV (see the changes from 2016 to 2017 here).

Exterior & Styling

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Despite sharing a basic structure with the more plebian (and less expensive) Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon, the Cadillac Escalade looks nothing like those trucks. Cadillac has done an admirable job of differentiating the Escalade from its brethren, adding distinctive Cadillac cues like blade-style vertical headlights and tall LED tailfins — er, taillights.

The Escalade's garish chrome grille is the only blemish on an otherwise smooth-sided, slick and modern design. Integrated side steps that fold out when the doors open add another level of design sophistication, allowing for the function of running boards without the design in...

The biggest, baddest American luxury vehicle is undisputedly the Cadillac Escalade, a blingy behemoth that prowls the streets of the United States in all its chrome-grille glory, rumbling and roaring its anti-environmental presence. While foreign automakers maintain flagship sedans, like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and Lexus LS 460, the American love for trucks has elevated rigs like the Escalade to that position here.

It had been a while since we last experienced Cadillac's range-topper, so we spent a week with the latest example, a 2017 Cadillac Escalade four-wheel-drive Platinum. We drove a short-wheelbase version that tickled the $100,000 MSRP mark and lacked nothing on the model's options list except the extra length of the Escalade ESV (see the changes from 2016 to 2017 here).

Exterior & Styling

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Despite sharing a basic structure with the more plebian (and less expensive) Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon, the Cadillac Escalade looks nothing like those trucks. Cadillac has done an admirable job of differentiating the Escalade from its brethren, adding distinctive Cadillac cues like blade-style vertical headlights and tall LED tailfins — er, taillights.

The Escalade's garish chrome grille is the only blemish on an otherwise smooth-sided, slick and modern design. Integrated side steps that fold out when the doors open add another level of design sophistication, allowing for the function of running boards without the design interruption of fixed boards. Despite some of its more outlandish design elements, this Cadillac Escalade is still a more subdued and sophisticated design than previous models; it doesn't look out of place when parked among Land Rover Range Rovers and Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class SUVs in the country club parking lot.

How It Drives

You'd expect a vehicle this size to feel massive and ponderous, heavy in its body motions and hesitant to change direction, accelerate or brake. And that's pretty much what you get with the Escalade. There's no disguising the fact that it's truly a huge truck, powerful though it may be.

Still built on a stout, steel body-on-frame truck design, the Cadillac Escalade hasn't gone through any of General Motors' latest weight-reduction efforts. The Escalade does feature GM's Magnetic Ride Control, an adjustable suspension that reads the road and adapts shock absorber firmness in lightning-fast time, which helps in controlling squat, dive, roll and other body motions.

It doesn't help steering and handling much, as the Escalade's heft makes it a better cruiser than dancer. It also doesn't make for a very quiet or supple ride, as there's only so much you can do to damp 22-inch wheels shod with super-low-profile tires. The smaller 20-inch wheels with taller sidewalls on lesser trims would likely make the Escalade's ride more luxurious.

Thanks to its burly 6.2-liter V-8 engine, the Escalade feels decently quick for a truck of its size. (Cadillac reports its zero-to-60-mph time at a tick less than 6 seconds.) It fires to life with a surprising roar that's especially loud from outside the vehicle, which you'll hear if you're using the remote start. You'd swear the Escalade has an aftermarket exhaust system, so loud and rumbly is its engine, but it comes that loud from the factory.

The big engine makes 420 horsepower and is mated to a standard eight-speed automatic transmission. My test vehicle came with selectable four-wheel drive, but rear-wheel drive is standard. One benefit of this truck-based setup is the ability to tow 8,300 pounds (8,100 on the longer Escalade ESV), meaning the Cadillac Escalade could pull a good-sized camper trailer or personal watercraft (or two).


Fuel economy on this monster is better than you might expect thanks to technology like cylinder deactivation. The EPA rates the four-wheel-drive Escalade at 15/20/17 mpg city/highway/combined, and my week in one netted an observed fuel economy of 18 mpg combined. Not exactly hybrid territory, but for a vehicle this size, it's acceptable.

Competitors aren't much different, with the V-8 powered Mercedes-Benz GLS550 coming in at 14/18/16 mpg, almost matching the performance of the V-8 Land Rover Range Rover, which is rated 14/19/16 mpg. They're all better than the dismal performance of the Infiniti QX80, however, which is rated 13/19/15 mpg.

Interior

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Open the door to the Cadillac Escalade Platinum's completely leather-wrapped interior and an automati,c integrated side step folds out of the lower sills to aid you in climbing up. Presumably, this is because the Escalade doesn't offer an adjustable air suspension to raise and lower the vehicle, as many of its competitors do. Once situated in the cabin, you'll realize a great effort has been made to make the Escalade feel special and upscale — an effort that doesn't quite succeed.


The truck doesn't feel terribly spacious for something so massive on the outside. The wide center console eats into passenger hip room, and the driving position is awkward; the steering wheel isn't centered on the driver, a trait common to GM's full-size trucks that needs to be corrected. Front occupants have plenty of leg and headroom, but second-row passengers may be surprised to find legroom isn't as plentiful as they might expect in a vehicle this big. Third-row passengers have it even worse, with a seat that will make them feel almost as if they're sitting on the floor.



Material quality is also mixed, as is assembly quality. The surfaces covered in leather feel quite nice, but all the black plastic control surfaces feel cheap. The steering wheel in particular has controls that don't feel like they belong in a flagship vehicle costing just shy of $100,000, as our test vehicle did. Drop into a Mercedes-Benz GLS or Range Rover and you'll see what a $100,000 premium luxury interior looks and feels like. Sit in the Escalade's mishmash of nice cowhides and cheap black plastic, and you're likely to be disappointed.

Electronics & Ergonomics

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The Cadillac User Experience multimedia system is front and center in the Cadillac Escalade. It's a more advanced version of the Chevrolet MyLink and Buick/GMC IntelliLink systems. It has a more upscale look to it, and it definitely functions better than it used to, with speedy actions and reliable voice recognition. The touchscreen itself provides haptic feedback when making selections; there's a barely detectable "thump" when you touch an icon. CUE is better than any system from Lexus or Infiniti in its sophistication, ease of operation and speed, but the Mercedes-Benz system looks classier and works equally well.


For backseat passengers, there's not one but two rear entertainment systems. One has a screen that comes down from the ceiling, and the other's screens are in the backs of the front-seat head restraints. There's no excuse for second- and third-row passengers to be bored in an Escalade.

Cargo & Storage

The Cadillac Escalade comes in two sizes: regular and ESV. They basically correspond to the lengths of the Chevrolet Tahoe (regular) and longer Suburban (ESV). That extended length comes in both the wheelbase and the rear cargo compartment.


I drove a standard-length Escalade featuring 15.2 cubic feet of cargo room behind the third row and 51.6 cubic feet with the third row stowed. It should be noted, however, that the third row doesn't exactly fold into the floor in the Escalade. The SUV features a raised rear floor so it appears flush, but unlike the Lincoln Navigator with its independent rear suspension, the Escalade uses a solid rear axle, necessitating a higher cargo floor. Fold the second and third rows and you'll get a maximum of 94.2 cubic feet of cargo space in the standard Cadillac Escalade. That compares to the Mercedes-Benz GLS and is far more than the Range Rover. It's a little short of the volume you get in a standard Navigator.

Safety

The 2017 Cadillac Escalade has not been crash-tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, but it has been tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. NHTSA awarded it a four-star rating overall out of five, but only a three-star rollover rating.


The new Cadillac Escalade features forward and rear automatic emergency braking, which can prevent you from hitting the car in front of you or backing over something in the driveway. New for 2017 is an automatic parallel and perpendicular parking feature, but the really novel new item is the Rear Camera Mirror that has made its way to the Escalade. At the flip of a toggle under the rearview mirror — one that, in most cars, would switch between the normal and darkened mirror for nighttime driving — the mirror instead becomes a high-definition display that uses the rear-mounted camera to show the view behind the vehicle, as if the backseat and rear pillars of the truck weren't there.


The camera offers a wider-angle view than the typical mirror, so it definitely takes some getting used to — mostly because it requires you to refocus your eyes. When you're driving along with a conventional mirror, you're already looking and focused well ahead of the vehicle. When looking at your rearview mirror, you're also looking well behind the vehicle — your eyes are focused on a point well off in the distance.

But if you switch the mirror to the camera display, that same focus isn't going to work because you'll no longer be looking at a reflection, but rather a video. It's as if you had switched your gaze to the radio or speedometer, and while drivers are used to refocusing like that, they're not used to it when looking at the rearview mirror. Retraining myself to consciously refocus my eyes for the mirror's camera view took all week. I still wasn't entirely comfortable doing it by the end of the test, but I was at least more used to it.

Value in Its Class

This is where I have a hard time swallowing what Cadillac is selling. The price for a standard-length, rear-wheel-drive, base Escalade is $74,590. From there, you can go up to Luxury, Premium Luxury and Platinum trims. My Platinum model started at $96,390 for a 4x4 version, then added special Red Passion paint, a chrome exhaust tip and wheel locks for an as-tested price of $97,100. If you opt for the longer ESV and equip it like my test vehicle, the sticker tops $102,000 — frankly, an outrageous price for what is essentially a somewhat nicer Chevrolet Suburban.  


Luxury competitors in this price class are not hard to find. The one that matches up best with the standard Cadillac Escalade is the Mercedes-Benz GLS, which comes in only one size but with multiple powertrain options. It doesn't appear as big on the outside but offers comparable interior space to the standard Escalade and only slightly less towing capacity. The Infiniti QX80 is less expensive than the Escalade but is meant to compete in the same realm. It's not as powerful as the Cadillac but feels comparably luxurious.


The Land Rover Range Rover isn't as big as the Cadillac Escalade but is much more luxurious, and like the Mercedes-Benz, it's available with several powertrain options. The Lincoln Navigator used to be a direct competitor to the Escalade, but the Cadillac's past redesign pushed the Escalade well out in front of the Lincoln in terms of luxury, amenities, style and power. The Navigator features a much less powerful twin-turbo V-6 as its only engine option, and until a new Navigator arrives in the next year or two, its size is the only aspect that competes favorably with the Escalade. Compare the Cadillac Escalade with its competitors here.


Latest 2017 Escalade Stories

What Drivers Are Saying

Exterior Styling
(4.9)
Performance
(4.6)
Interior Design
(4.7)
Comfort
(4.8)
Reliability
(4.5)
Value For The Money
(4.4)

Latest Reviews

(4.0)

Good car for now, 1 month old

by Hillbilly from Scottsdale on May 22, 2018

Good over all, Great looking car with lots of room for people and things. We?re having to learn what all the buttons do on the electronic systems. It should be more intuitive or you should be able to ... Read full review

(5.0)

best car we ever have owned

by Ted M from lemont il on January 28, 2018

Great CAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2017 Cadillac Escalade currently has 1 recall

NHTSA Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2017 Cadillac Escalade Base

NHTSA rates vehicles using a star rating system from 1-5 stars, with 5 being the highest.

Overall
4 Star
Overall Front
4 Star
Overall Side
5 Star
Overall Rollover Rating
3 Star
Driver's
4 Star
Passenger's
4 Star
Side Barrier
5 Star
Side Barrier Rating Driver
5 Star
Side Barrier Rating Passenger Rear Seat
5 Star
Side Pole
5 Star
Side Pole Barrier combined (Front)
5 Star
Side Pole Barrier combined (Rear)
5 Star
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation. NHTSA provides vehicle safety information such as front- and side-crash ratings and rollover ratings. Vehicles are rated using a star rating system from 1-5 stars, with 5 being the highest.

CPO Program & Warranty

Certified Pre-Owned by Cadillac

Program Benefits

24-hour roadside assistance, trip-interruption services, 24-hour consumer relations center hot line, Free OnStar service for six months and Vehicle history report

  • Limited Warranty

    6 years / 100,000 miles

    Every certified Pre-Owned Cadillac comes with a 6 year or 100,000 mile Certified limited warranty coverage
  • Eligibility

    Under 5 years / 60,000 miles

    Vehicles receive a 172 point inspection and reconditioning.

    See inspection details.

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The Escalade received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker