Driving Notes

2015 Cadillac Escalade ESV Luxury SUV

The next-gen Escalade pairs a bevy of interior comfort features with a stout driving experience.

May 1, 2014

by Chris Wolski - Also by this author

Photo courtesy of GM.
Photo courtesy of GM.

The all-new 2015 Escalade not only exudes quality with its muscular, newly designed fascia and hand-sewn interior, it underscores itself in big bold letters when the engine starts and you begin gliding down the road.

The fourth-generation Escalade has received a top-to-bottom revamp from Cadillac and is the fourth Cadillac launch from the GM brand in the last 18 months. During a Southern California ride-and-drive event through choked Los Angeles city streets onto the highway and into the winding canyons of Malibu, the Escalade performed, well, like a Cadillac.

And I put the Escalade ESV 4WD to the test. Powered by a 6.2L V-8, which produces 420 hp and 460 lb.-ft. of torque, the ESV responded well to both heavy traffic and desolate canyon roads. It had good take off, smooth acceleration, and great stopping power—handling the kinetic power of its mass with ease.

The fuel economy is better than expected for a large, V-8-powered vehicle: 14 mpg city/20 mpg highway. For such a large vehicle, the ESV is surprisingly nimble and easy to drive, taking tight canyon curves crisply. I even made a three-point turn with little difficulty.

While the 2015 Escalade is a sight to behold, the real pleasure of operating it comes from sitting in the driver's seat. The cabin is comfortable with high-quality materials throughout.

The all-digital instrument cluster is easy to read at a glance. Outfitted with GM's Cue system, the infotainment system provides solid content, including real-time GPS and Sirius XM radio capability.

Photo by Chris Wolski.
Photo by Chris Wolski.

The Bose sound system delivers a clean music experience, and even on low; there was no struggling to hear the subtlest of notes. Part of this is due to the noise-reducing technology throughout the vehicle, including stronger body structure, triple-sealed doors, acoustic-laminate glass, and Bose active noise cancellation technology. Even at highway speeds or on rough canyon roads, little of the outside world invaded the cabin.

While I loved the ride, I also couldn't help exploring the nooks and crannies in the driver’s compartment, which offered endless places to store day-to-day equipment such as files, sales materials, cameras, laptops, idevices, and even a sack lunch. As another interior delight and improvement over the previous generation, the third row seats folded flat with a push of a button and then righted themselves again just as easily.

My absolutely favorite part of driving the Escalade ESV was the passive safety features. For someone who isn't used to driving a long-wheel-base SUV on a daily basis, the anti-collision warning system was a godsend, and I relied on it constantly during heavy traffic.

The other passive systems such as forward collision alert and lane departure warning—while I never had to use them—gave me a sense of driving comfort and confidence. I always felt safe and in control behind the wheel.

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