For the people in my neighborhood who don’t really know me or know what I do for a living, they’re already suspicious. This week, I’m sure the talk of me resembling Walter White or being some kind of drug dealer was whispered. Having a different vehicle in my driveway every week does raise the curiosity level. But when the vehicle in the driveway is the lavish and bold Cadillac Escalade, the curiosity level peaks. To be clear, no, I’m not a drug dealer! But the Escalade does raise eyebrows.
There’s probably no bigger status symbol vehicle out there than an Escalade. Nobody “needs” an Escalade. It’s certainly a want. And after my week in this big SUV, I definitely want one! Now who wants to gift me $100,000?
While nothing has changed on the 2019 version of the Escalade, it still maintains an air of elegance and luxury. The front end is big, bold and distinctive. Boomerang-shaped LED headlights and daytime running lights balance the front end. The front is the most attractive aspect of the Escalade as the back end has styling that’s less bold and more conservative, although, admittedly, the back-side styling is more timeless than the front end. Long, skinny taillights look sleek at night, but have less sex appeal than the flashy front end.
A vehicle as big and bold as the Escalade needs an engine that is equally bold. The 6.2-liter V8 is up to that task. It puts out 420 horses. That seems like a lot, but when you’re talking about moving a vehicle that weighs more than 5,600 pounds, you need a lot of power.
The Escalade’s performance is smooth and refined. It’s quick enough off the line but doesn’t feel overpowered either. The 10-speed automatic transmission is magnificent. With four-wheel drive, the handling is outstanding too. While it’s a beast to park in garages and parking lots, the Escalade is surprisingly agile with an impressive turning radius.
The Escalade is capable in the towing department with a maximum towing capability of 8,100 pounds. My tester came with a special trailering package. It’s both refined, but ready for recreational work too.
The three-row SUV does not disappoint with the interior amenities. It seems hard initially to justify the high-end price tag of the Escalade, but when you see the supple seats and quality touch points it starts to make sense. Wood details, when combined with the leather seats, look like they were designed by an HGTV expert. All in all, the interior accents are classy and differentiate this SUV from even a higher-end GMC Yukon.
The Escalade stands alone when it comes to over-the-top luxury. The eight-inch touchscreen is part of a well-planned center stack that is driven by the CUE infotainment. The CUE is one of my favorite infotainment systems. There’s a small learning curve with it, but once you get the hang of it, you appreciate all it offers and how tech-heavy it is. There is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.
My tester had a rear seat entertainment system along with a slew of sensor-based safety features like collision alert, adaptive cruise control and advanced braking. Fold the third row flat and there are 51.6 cubic feet of cargo room. With second and third row seats folded, that cargo area increases to 94.2 cubic feet.
Getting into the Escalade is easy with retractable running boards that slide out. Second-row seating is vast with ample leg and head room. Even the third row has comfort for adults.
My tester was the top-of-the-line Premium trim with four-wheel drive. Standard price for this trim is $91,195. With options like the Kona Brown leather seats, power assist steps and 22-inch 12-spoke wheels, my tester had a final MSRP of $97,465. Yowza!
For being such a hulking SUV, the Escalade had better-than-expected fuel economy. It has an EPA rating of 14 mpg/city and 21 mpg/city. I averaged just over 17 mpg in a week’s worth of “normal” driving. That was better fuel economy that I had gotten on the last Escalade I reviewed a year ago.
I’m fortunate to be able to get behind the wheel of all of these great vehicles. Some weeks I’m luckier than others. This week spent with the Escalade gave me a hint at how the other half might live.