2015 Cadillac Escalade – first drive

First impressions of all-new Escalade from the launch in USA

By Shahzad Sheikh

2015 Cadillac Escalade

Engineers and executives absolutely insist that the all-new 2015 Cadillac Escalade is exactly that – all new. Only a handful of components have been carried over, and even the platform has been redesigned. It may look familiar, but this new top-dog SUV is touted as being vastly improved over its illustrious predecessor.

2015 Cadillac Escalade

It’s a crucial car for Cadillac in the Middle East region and already the response is very positive with the first year’s batch sold out. The Escalade arrives here in July, but if you haven’t already ordered one at prices starting from AED302k ($82k) then you’ll have to wait a bit.

2015 Cadillac Escalade

The styling is definitely a winner. Whilst it shares its overall dimensions and shapes with its equally new siblings from GMC and Chevrolet, the front and rear treatments are distinctly Cadillac. There is a substantial and unmistakable grille and the vertical light arrangements starting from the top end of the bonnet and waterfalling down to the lower spoiler has been adopted from the new saloons.

2015 Cadillac Escalade

At the rear it’s also clean and bold with huge upright LED taillights featuring clever reflective arrangements (BTW the front headlights are entirely LED, including the high-beam, making this one of only a handful of cars on the market to offer this).

2015 Cadillac Escalade

As you’d want from your Escalade, the look is solid, stylish, imposing, grand with neater and better finishing than ever before.

2015 Cadillac Escalade

All about refinement

But as proud as the chaps at Cadillac are about the exterior, it’s the interior they really want you to see, especially as it departs considerably from the Yukon and Tahoe. It’s all about refinement, luxury, refinement, gadgetry, refinement, quality and oh, did I mention refinement?

2015 Cadillac Escalade

You may think that this full-size SUV is a body-on-frame proposition, surely that’ll lend itself to a bit of jiggling about, but in the relentless pursuit of reducing NVH (Noise, Vibration Harshness) this thing even features clever new shear-style mountings designed to dampen any vibrations. There are also hydraulic engine mounts, the door frame has been moved into the body, they’re triple-sealed it and there is active noise cancellation sound-reduction voodoo at work here.

2015 Cadillac Escalade

Apart from a few items like the traditional American truck-style column-mounted shifter, the dashboard would be immediately familiar to owners of any modern Cadillac saloon (ATS, CTS, XTS) and includes the CUE touch infotainment system and a 12.3-inch configurable instrument display. It’s obviously packed with entertainment features including a 16-speaker sound system and for the longer-wheel base variant, not one, but two rear 9-inch DVD screens in the ceiling.

2015 Cadillac Escalade

There’s an emphasis on a better materials in this cabin with the leather and trim a notch above what you’ll find in the GMC and attention to detail like more appealing tactile feel to the seat control buttons on the side.

2015 Cadillac Escalade

There are two models and two trim levels available, the longer wheelbase ESV offering a 355mm longer wheelbase and being 508mm longer with 60% more luggage space behind the third row seats – which can be power folded from the rear – in fact you can even power fold the middle row from there. And by the way the tailgate can be open by just waving your foot under the rear bumper (if you have the key on you obviously, so don’t just walk up to any Escalade and start kicking its backside!).

2015 Cadillac Escalade

The models offered

The trim levels offered are presently ‘Standard’ and ‘Premium’ with a ‘Platinum’ version set to be introduced later in the product cycle. With a price difference of only AED14,000 between the Standard and Premium the latter is the one to go for as it comes packed with all the latest driving and safety aids

2015 Cadillac Escalade

These include lane departure warnings (with the vibrating seats – bonus!), collision alerts, blind zone monitor, rear cross traffic alert, auto high-beam, adaptive cruise control, and new to the segment, a front centre-mounted airbag that goes off between the front passengers in case the vehicle is struck from the side, as it’s been found that injuries and fatalities are often caused by passengers slamming into each other. With the Premium you also get chrome accents for the 22-inch wheels, sunroof and heads-up-display.

2015 Cadillac Escalade

All models are powered by a 6.2-litre Gen 5 V8 producing 420bhp and 459lb ft of torque (both up 17bhp and 42lb ft respectively) mated to a six-speed auto giving the short-wheel base Escalade a 0-100kph time of about 6 seconds.

2015 Cadillac Escalade

What’s it like to drive

I may have mentioned the word ‘refinement’ already once or twice in this text, but it has to be said again that the first main impression you take away from driving the new Escalade compared to the old one is: refinement.

2015 Cadillac Escalade

It’s so much quieter, composed and grown up. It seems to have matured nicely and smoothness is what it’s going for, particularly with that amazing third generation magnetic ride control which just seems to smoother out the surface below your new tyres -developed for better ride, economy, stopping and handling.

2015 Cadillac Escalade

How is the handling? Well we didn’t have a chance to really chuck this thing around, but again the magna ride means the body is far more composed and the car certainly feels more planted and less wayward than it was inclined to get previously. The new electric power steering makes the drive easy and far less taxing, and despite its bulk and mass, it seems a remarkably easy car to manoeuvre and place with decent all-round visibility. The brakes are reassuringly strong and progressive; a good thing given that there is plentiful pace available.

We’re looking forward to giving this a more comprehensive run on local roads later in the year.

2015 Cadillac Escalade


Massive improvement for a massive car, which is of course going to be massive in the market. It’s a big leap forward in terms of the quality of offering with considerably reduced NVH and upping the game substantially when it comes to kit and luxury.

2015 Cadillac Escalade

The space, the comfort and the ability, both in terms of on-road performance and driving ease, as well as some off-road ability (all Middle East cars will come with Four-wheel drive) plus the keen pricing, not to mention the highly competitive warranty and free servicing for four-years or 100,000km, in addition to roadside assistance and a buy-back guarantee, all make this a shortlist-topping contender for large families that want to cruise around in style.

Video Verdict

2015 Cadillac Escalade – The Specs

How much?
Standard: AED302,000 ($82k)
Premium: AED316,000 ($86k)
ESV Standard: AED312,000 ($85k)
ESV Premium: AED326,000 ($89k)
Engine: 6.2-litre V8, 420hp @5600rpm, 470lb ft @ 4100rpm
Transmission: Six-speed auto all-wheel drive
Fuel economy: (SWB) 14.7L/100km
Performance: (SWB) 0-100kph 6 seconds, Top speed 180kph
Weight: (SWB) 2649kg

4 responses to “2015 Cadillac Escalade – first drive”

  1. Jaffar Abdulbaqi says:

    I am not surprised that the ride has been improved.
    I am however skeptical about the magnetic shocks.
    The only sure way of telling is to test one with and one without.
    This was done actually by Motor Trend. They tested samples of the Yukon/Tahoe with and without, head to head.
    They state that basically the jury is out as to whether the magnetic suspension improved the ride.
    Thank you for bringing the latest and the greatest to us.

  2. Essa says:

    I like GM SUVs a lot, specially Escalades but shouldn’t it have 360 view cameras? Its kind of necessary in my opinion. No one wants a door dents from parking too close to other cars.

  3. marc says:

    nice report!

    interesting though that UAE pricing for the escalade is published prior to the tahoe.

    i havent heard any UAE-related details to the tahoe nor the yukon yet..

    exciting times 🙂

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