Our spy shooter caught the next generation of the luxurious Cadillac Escalade testing in a group on public roads, and the photos confirm that the big SUV will continue to be offered in both short and long wheelbase models (the latter is currently called the ESV). It looks as if the truck-like Escalade EXT is out, however, which makes sense given that the Chevrolet Avalanche on which it was based will be discontinued after 2013.
The general shape of these Cadillac Escalade mules is very similar to the 2014 Chevrolet Tahoe prototypes we caught in Michigan earlier this summer. That's no surprise given that, like the current model, the 2014 Escalade should be heavily based on the Tahoe. What sets it apart are the big wheels, LED running lights, a giant grille that recalls that of the new Cadillac XTS luxury sedan, and odd stacked taillights -- although the lights are likely test units slapped on for these prototypes, not the final design.
The new Cadillac Escalade will likely have a more distinct interior, so as to further separate it from other luxurious General Motors SUVs like the GMC Yukon Denali. Based on the raft of technologies applied to other new Cadillacs, expect the options list to include the CUE touchscreen interface as well as safety gadgets like forward collision alert and lane-departure warning. The luxury brand hopes that a raft of new vehicles debuting over the next few years, including the new Escalade, will help it double its annual sales.
The next-generation Cadillac Escalade -- as well as its siblings like the Chevrolet Tahoe/Suburban and GMC Yukon -- will be built on a shortened version of the truck platform that underpins the new 2014 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra. We expect a choice of General Motors' new direct-injected small-block V-8s, likely displacing 5.3, 5.5, and 6.2 liters. Increased use of high-strength steel could reduce overall weight, and anew eight-speed automatic transmission could make the new model more efficient than the current Cadillac Escalade. There are even rumors that GM could introduce a new hybrid drive system.
The 2014 Cadillac Escalade is expected to debut in late 2013. GM has already confirmed that it is investing $200 million for a new stamping plant in Arlington, Texas to build body parts for the company's full-size SUVs, including the Cadillac. The facility should be ready by early 2013.