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2015 Cadillac Escalade Premium Review

The 2015 Cadillac Escalade Premium was Cadillac’s first SUV in 1999 and it’s still a big seller after all these years.

  • Cadillac Escalade 2015 main1

THE PROS & CONS

    • What’s Best: Road trips are a blast in this baby.
    • What’s Worst: CUE infotainment system is confusing to use.
    • What’s Interesting: This was Cadillac’s first SUV in 1999 and it’s still a big seller after all these years.

2015 Cadillac Escalade Premium at a glance

BODY STYLE: full-size, luxury SUV.

DRIVE METHOD: front-engine, four-wheel drive

ENGINE: 6.2-litre direct injection V8 (420 hp, 460 lb/ft of torque) with an eight-speed automatic transmission.

FUEL CONSUMPTION: 15.9/11.1/13.8L/100 km city/highway/combined

CARGO CAPACITY: 2,668 litres behind first row seat; 1,461 behind second row and 430 behind third row.

TOW RATING: 3,674 kg (8,100 lb)

PRICE: $100,785 $104,760 as tested

When it debuted in 1999, the Cadillac Escalade set the standard for full-size luxury sport utility vehicles.

Things haven’t changed all that much over the years as the fourth-generation of this signature SUV enters the market in 2015, highlighted by a new exterior design and a host of technical improvements and additions.

I’ve driven Escalades many times over the years. If a long road trip is in order, you can’t find a much better vehicle for it than the Escalade.

It is smooth, comfortable and quiet and cruises with the best of them.

2015 Cadillac Escalade

It’s also an attention getter— wherever you go with the Escalade, someone wants to talk to you about it. Perhaps it’s the sheer size, but it sometimes creates as much or more of a stir than high-end performance sports cars.

Our Escalade Premium tester was big and bold, loaded with almost all the goodies Cadillac offers and painted a brilliant Crystal Red with a Jet Black leather interior.

2015 Cadillac Escalade interior

The Escalade is offered in two versions, a short wheelbase model like our tester at 2,946 mm and an extended-length or ESV long wheelbase model at 3,302 mm. The ESV model maximizes space for third-row passengers and nearly doubles the cargo volume behind the third row. With seating for seven, the extended-length edition would be an important feature if you regularly carry a heavy passenger load.

There are a variety of trim levels on the Escalade from base up to the Premium and all models are offered with 4WD and a 6.2-litre V8 that is more powerful and more efficient than previous offerings.

In fact, GM boasts that the 6.2L engine delivers fuel consumption ratings of 11.1L/100 km on the highway with the Escalade 4WD, 17 per cent better than before and also ahead of competitors like the Mercedes-Benz GL 550 (13.1 L/100 km) and the Lexus LX 570 (13.6L/100 km).

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Overall, Natural Resources Canada gives the Escalade a fuel consumption rating of 15.9/11.1/13.8 L/100 km city/highway/combined. Fuel savings are achieved in part through a new active fuel management system that shuts down cylinders when power is not needed.

Even with this new fuel efficiency, there is no sacrifice in power as GM quotes a 0-96 km/h time of 5.96 seconds for the Escalade 4WD.

2015 Cadillac Escalade badge

Four-wheel drive has replaced the all-wheel-drive system used on the outgoing model. The 4WD system has three modes: 2Hi for the best fuel economy, 4Hi for more challenging terrain and winter or rain, and Auto, which basically does everything for you.

Heading up to cottage country on a weekend, it’s not uncommon to see an Escalade towing a boat or camper trailer. This is a great tow vehicle with a rating of 3,674 kg (8,099 lb) for the short wheelbase model.

The cabin fit and finish is much superior to previous efforts. Simply put, you’re in the lap of luxury here with real wood trim, cut-and-sewn materials with suede accents and a very trendy ambient light setup.

2015 Cadillac Escalade back seats

This all adds elegance to the design of the cabin, which is quieter than ever thanks to triple-sealed doors. The seats have been designed to be more comfortable and the second row seats recline.

Among the standard features are keyless entry and push-button start; electric telescoping/tilting steering wheel; heated and cooled seats up front with heated second-row buckets; new fold-flat second and third row seats with power-folding third row and heated leather-wrapped steering wheel with wood accents.

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The instrument cluster has a high-resolution, reconfigurable 12.3-inch colour display screen. Meanwhile, an eight-inch screen atop the centre stack to the right of the driver displays information from the CUE (Cadillac User Experience) infotainment system.

2015 Cadillac Escalade stack

Our Premium tester had a Theft Protection Package, unfortunately a needed feature with high-end vehicles such as this. Among the security features are glass breakage sensors, motion detectors and a self-leveling inclination sensor that sounds an alarm if a thief attempts to steal wheels or tires, or tow or lift the vehicle onto a flatbed truck.

This package also has door shields on the driver’s door to help thwart a “slim-jim”-type unlocking device. Other anti-theft features include enhanced door security, laminated windshield glass and a steering column lock.

Outside, the sheer size of the Escalade gives it road presence as does the Galvano chrome grille, with a unique, almost brushed appearance. Full LED lighting is standard, both front and rear.

2015 Cadillac Escalade front grilles

The Premium model has so many features you might want to visit the Cadillac Web site to see for yourself.

Suffice to say, all the technology and safety features in GM’s arsenal are available or featured in the Escalade.

On the road, the Escalade drives and rides like a smaller vehicle— a goal of Cadillac engineers for this fourth-generation model. Sitting up nice and high over the traffic is a huge advantage and the better maneuverability of this new generation Escalade helps in tight city parking lots and side streets.

The Escalade is now equipped with GM’s Magnetic Ride Control that was first introduced on the Corvette. This system monitors road conditions 1,000 times a second and changes every 10-15 milliseconds.

We could go on and on here about how much better this new Escalade is over the outgoing model. If a luxury SUV is in your plans, the Escalade Platinum is a must-try vehicle.

2015 Cadillac Escalade rear

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