Amid all the controversy surrounding Cadillac’s ambitious future plans and new naming scheme stands the 2015 Cadillac Escalade. There’s nothing too ambitious or forward-looking about this old-school, truck-based SUV, but the Escalade has done more for Cadillac’s public image than any other model in recent memory, and reports say that the Escalade name will survive on even as other Caddy SUVs are renamed XT3 or XT5. So even though there’s plenty of anticipation for the upcoming Cadillac CT8 or CT9 flagship sedan, it strikes us that the Escalade already carries the torch for this American luxury brand.
The Escalade definitely sits at the top of the current lineup in terms of numbers. It’s the biggest and most expensive Cadillac by far, as our test 2015 Cadillac Escalade ESV Premium’s sticker price of $90,985 is $10,000 more than even the ridiculously overpriced ELR plug-in. Ours wasn’t even the highest ESV Platinum trim, although it did boast high-zoot features such as power-extendable running boards, Kona brown leather, adaptive cruise control, and a 16-speaker Bose audio system.
This new 2015 Cadillac Escalade also ups its style quotient while retaining the swagger that made the Escalade such a cultural icon in the first place. The new front end is more subtle than the brash, in-your-face chrome overload of previous Escalades. It still can’t avoid the conspicuous consumption vibe — no giant, luxurious SUV can — but the nice detailing on the LED headlights and the cleanly styled grille go a long way toward classing up the look. The interior is gorgeous too, with its open-pore wood, beautiful stitching, and subtle use of chrome, though we did find detail shortcomings such as the annoying sound of the retractable running boards and some panel-fit issues.
By all measures, the 2015 Cadillac Escalade shouldn’t be as successful as it is. Its monstrous size and mediocre fuel economy are completely out of sync with the times, yet sales have soared this year. Clearly, there’s something about the Escalade’s classy, confident character that jibes perfectly with Cadillac’s history and brand messaging. It’s not quite a flagship worthy of what Cadillac wants to be in the future, but the Escalade will do nicely for now, at least.
2015 Cadillac Escalade ESV Specifications
- Base price: $76,965
- Price as tested: $90,985
- Engine: 6.2-liter OHV 16-valve V-8/420 hp @ 5,600 rpm, 460 lb-ft @ 4,100 rpm
- Transmission: 6-speed automatic
- Layout: 4-door, 7-passenger, front-engine, 4WD SUV
- EPA Mileage: 14/20 mpg (city/highway)
- L x W H: 224.3 x 80.5 x 74 in
- Wheelbase: 130 in
- Weight: 6,040 lb