With mounting pressure from newer luxury SUVs, the 2014 Cadillac Escalade is fast losing its appeal. Rivals offer richer, more versatile interiors and are simply easier to drive on an everyday basis.
2014 Cadillac Escalade ESV AWD 4dr Luxury
Price $29,995MSRP : $0
Child Seat Anchors
Power Door Locks
Rear Window Defroster
Air Bag - Side Curtain
Dual Climate Control
Cadillac Escalade Review
Although the Cadillac Escalade wasn't the first luxury SUV sold in the U.S. market, it was the first light truck in the history of the Cadillac brand. Early versions drew plenty of criticism, but in retrospect, the Escalade deserves much credit for being the vehicle that transformed Cadillac's image from traditional and geriatric to youthful and flamboyant.
Much of the Cadillac Escalade's appeal is rooted in its over-the-top attitude. Generously proportioned inside and out, this sport-utility vehicle has a bold and angular face, exaggerated wreath-and-crest badging and chrome trim everywhere you look. There's no subtlety under the hood either, as the current truck's 6.2-liter V8 delivers an imposing exhaust rumble. Although quicker than many competitors, the Escalade often falls behind in refinement, from its handling dynamics to its build and materials quality. Cadillac has taken steps to address these shortcomings on the third-generation model, but there's no question the Escalade is primarily for buyers who like their SUVs large, brash and unapologetically American.
Current Cadillac Escalade
The Cadillac Escalade is a full-size SUV that seats seven people with standard second-row captain's chairs and eight with the optional second-row bench. The extended-length Escalade ESV, the quasi-pickup truck Escalade EXT and gasoline-electric Escalade Hybrid are reviewed separately.
Every regular Escalade comes standard with a 6.2-liter V8 that delivers 403 horsepower and 415 pound-feet of torque, providing relatively brisk acceleration in virtually any situation. A six-speed automatic transmission handles the gearchanges and even offers a manual-shift mode for those drivers willing to press a pair of buttons on the Escalade's old-fashioned column shifter. The transmission routes power to the rear wheels on two-wheel-drive models or all four on all-wheel-drive models.
Inside, the Escalade presents a much nicer environment than its mechanical near-twins from Chevrolet and GMC. There is an abundance of equipment even on the "base" model, with items like heated first- and second-row seats, navigation and a Bose surround-sound audio system included as standard. The Luxury, Premium and Platinum trims pile on the niceties even further, but most are styling and trim elements. Despite its features list, the aging Escalade doesn't have the same look and feel as other luxury SUVs. Construction and the materials used just aren't as nice, even if leather and wood trim is included.
In reviews, we've found that the Escalade certainly delivers the pomp and power one expects from this increasingly iconic nameplate. However, there are significant practical drawbacks. First of all, the third-row seat is cramped and uncomfortable for the middle passenger and must be physically removed should you need extra cargo space. The third-row seats of competing vehicles fold neatly into the floor. The Escalade is also unwieldy on tighter roads, suffers from lackluster brakes and is very thirsty. There's also its perennial placement atop the list of most-stolen vehicles. In light of all this, we'd consider one of the many other full-size luxury SUVs as well.
Used Cadillac Escalade Models
When the latest (third) generation of the Cadillac Escalade debuted for the 2007 model year, it was the most modern and luxurious version of this full-size SUV to date. A stiff, fully boxed frame and a coil-spring front suspension provide a smoother ride than in years past, and handling is more controlled and predictable. As with the previous generation, there's no option to get four-wheel drive with low-range gearing, as Cadillac has equipped the Escalade for duty in the urban jungle rather than the one with tigers. Unlike previous generations, the third-gen Escalade no longer feels like a hastily reupholstered Chevy Tahoe.
Since its introduction, changes have been light and related mostly to new standard and optional features. The following year saw the introduction of the plush Platinum Edition while 2009 brought E85 fuel capability and available high-tech features such as a blind-spot warning system, LED headlights, Bluetooth and a rearview camera. The '10 Escalade received cylinder-deactivation technology; those models produced earlier achieve 1 fewer mpg. That year also saw the addition of new front side-impact airbags, a strengthened door design and a new USB connection for portable audio devices.
The second-generation Escalade was sold from 2002-'06. This is the model that restored Cadillac's reputation with younger buyers, as it was the first application of the company's showy "Art and Science" design language. This Escalade had a 345-hp, 6.0-liter V8 that made it one of the most potent sport-utility vehicles on the road. It also handled better than one would typically expect of a vehicle this size. The cabin had a somewhat cut-rate feel, but between all the soft leather and wood appliqués, many buyers found this easy to overlook.
No Escalade was offered during the 2001 model year, but the original version was on sale for 1999 and 2000. This Escalade was a rush job, as Cadillac needed something to fend off Lincoln's Navigator while working on the 2002 model. Aside from its Cadillac badges, upgraded leather and Zebrano wood, there was nothing to distinguish the original Escalade from GM's lower-line SUVs. Acceleration, braking and handling are sub par on this model, and we'd advise you to avoid it.
edmunds expert review
The 2014 Cadillac Escalade is unchanged.
Over the last decade, Cadillac designers and engineers have done a remarkable job of transforming the brand's image from over-the-hill to up-and-coming. Now, however, the very nameplate that helped propel this transformation, the Cadillac Escalade, feels like an anachronism.
To its credit, the 2014 Cadillac Escalade maintains the attributes that made it so popular in the first place, including bold styling, a powerful V8, strong towing capacity, an upscale interior and a long list of standard features and desirable options. But driving an Escalade is no longer as fashionable as it once was, and alongside the newer offerings in this price range, this large luxury SUV is outdated.
Disappointing fuel economy, long braking distances, ponderous handling and 50/50-split third-row seats that have to be wrestled out and stashed someplace before you can load large cargo have become deal-breakers for many luxury SUV buyers. The fact that the Cadillac Escalade has consistently been a popular target for car thieves is another prominent turn-off.
Compared to its domestic rival, the Lincoln Navigator, the Escalade is still the better choice given its more robust V8. But if you check out the Infiniti QX80 (formerly the QX56), Lexus LX 570 or the Mercedes-Benz GL-Class you'll generally find that they provide greater versatility and refinement, and are simply easier to drive on an everyday basis. Overall, the 2014 Cadillac Escalade is still a deluxe SUV, but in the face of such modern competition, it's a little too old-school to recommend.
trim levels & features
The 2014 Cadillac Escalade is a full-size SUV that's available in four trim levels: Base, Luxury, Premium and the top-of-the-line Platinum Edition. Seating for seven is standard, while all but the Platinum Edition can also be had with a second-row bench that bumps capacity up to eight passengers. The Escalade Hybrid, the extended-length Escalade ESV and the pickup-like EXT are reviewed separately.
The entry-level Escalade comes fitted with 18-inch alloy wheels, an adaptive and auto-leveling suspension, a locking rear differential, automatic xenon headlights, foglights, heated power-folding mirrors with driver-side auto-dimming, rear parking sensors, towing hardware, running boards and a power liftgate. Inside, the standard equipment list continues with tri-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery (vinyl in the third row), heated and ventilated power front seats with driver seat memory functions, heated second-row captain's chairs, a power tilt-only steering wheel, power-adjustable pedals, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and remote ignition. The list of standard electronics features includes a touchscreen navigation system, a rearview camera, Bluetooth phone connectivity, OnStar emergency communications and a 10-speaker Bose surround-sound audio system with a CD player, satellite radio, an auxiliary audio jack, an iPod/USB audio interface and rear controls.
Moving up to the Luxury model adds 22-inch wheels, an upgraded adaptive suspension, automatic high beams, a sunroof, a blind-spot warning system, power flip-and-fold second-row seats and a heated steering wheel. Options include power-retractable running boards and a rear-seat entertainment system with a single display. Springing for the Premium trim level gets you all of the above options plus body-colored styling details in place of chrome, dual exhaust tips and painted wheels. LED headlights are an option.
The Platinum Edition starts with all those goodies and adds its own special exterior styling details, 22-inch chrome wheels, upgraded leather upholstery (including in the third row), heated and cooled cupholders, and unique interior color choices. The standard video entertainment system also gets dual headrest-mounted screens.
performance & mpg
Powering the 2014 Cadillac Escalade is a 6.2-liter V8 that puts out 403 horsepower and 417 pound-feet of torque. Rear-wheel drive and a six-speed automatic transmission are standard, with an all-wheel-drive system available as an option. Note that this is a light-duty AWD system, with no low-range gearing for off-road use.
In Edmunds performance tests, an all-wheel-drive Escalade accelerated from zero to 60 mph in just 7.5 seconds, surprisingly quick for a vehicle this size. Properly equipped, a two-wheel-drive Escalade can tow an impressive 8,300 pounds.
The price for all this muscle, as you might imagine, is poor fuel economy, with EPA estimates of 16 mpg combined (14 mpg city/18 mpg highway) with rear-wheel drive and 15 mpg combined (13 mpg city/18 mpg highway) with all-wheel drive.
The 2014 Cadillac Escalade's list of standard safety features includes antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front seat side airbags, side curtain airbags that cover all three rows, a rearview camera and rear parking sensors. Also standard is OnStar, which includes automatic crash notification, on-demand roadside assistance, remote door unlocking and stolen vehicle assistance. A blind-spot warning system is standard on all but the base model.
In Edmunds brake testing, the Escalade came to a stop from 60 mph in 144 feet, a disappointing number even for a full-size luxury SUV. In government crash tests, the Escalade earned an overall rating of four out of five stars, with five stars for overall frontal and side crash protection and just three stars for rollover risk.
Climb behind the Cadillac Escalade's steering wheel and you'll find yourself in a handsome space with leather upholstery accented by simulated wood and metal trim. The Escalade hasn't received Cadillac's latest CUE electronics interface, which means the Escalade's touchscreen and overall dashboard layout looks comparatively dated. But we suspect a lot of people will actually find this older setup a little easier to use.
Both front seat and second-row occupants enjoy comfortable accommodations thanks to heated and ventilated seats up front and heated seats in the second row. There's a good amount of head- and legroom for those passengers, too, which is something that can't be said for anyone exiled to the 50/50-split third-row seat. It's cramped even for kids.
The interior's greatest weakness, however, is the antiquated design of those third-row seats. Unlike the examples in many of the Escalade's competitors that fold into a well in the floor, these must be removed and stored in order to take advantage of the interior's humongous cargo hold (total capacity is 108.9 cubic feet behind the front seats). With the third-row seats removed, there's still a healthy 60.3 cubic feet of cargo room behind the second row.
Few drivers are likely to accuse the 2014 Cadillac Escalade of not being powerful enough. Acceleration is surprisingly brisk considering the large V8 is propelling more than 5,500 pounds down the road.
Given its truck-based SUV underpinnings, either of the Escalade's available suspensions does a remarkable job of delivering a smooth ride, even on versions with the huge 22-inch alloy wheels. However, those heavy wheels and tires play a role in the Cadillac's long braking distances, and for that reason, we'd be inclined to stick with the standard 18-inch wheels and tires.
Maneuverability in tight parking lots is understandably not this luxurious truck's strong suit, but the standard rearview camera and relatively tight turning radius help drivers make the best of the Escalade's massive dimensions.
our review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.
Ice cold A/C.
Looks & runs great.
Never seen snow.
Perfect first car.
Runs & drives great.
Still under factory warranty.
Upgraded sound system.
Very clean interior.
Engine, Vortec 6.2L Variable Valve Timing V8 SFI, Active Fuel Management, with E85 FlexFuel capability (403 hp [300.5 kW] @ 5700 rpm, 417 lb-ft of torque [562.9 N-m] @ 4300 rpm)
Throttle control, electronic
Cooling, external engine oil cooler
Cooling, external transmission oil cooler, heavy-duty air-to-oil
Differential, heavy-duty locking rear
Rear axle, 3.42 ratio
Battery, heavy-duty with rundown protection and retained accessory power
Alternator, 160 amps
Trailering equipment, heavy-duty includes trailering hitch platform, 7-wire harness with independent fused trailering circuits and 7-way sealed connector
Recovery hooks, 2 front, frame-mounted, recessed in front fascia
GVWR, 7400 lbs. (3357 kg) (AWD Model only.)
Suspension, front independent, SLA, coil over shock and stabilizer bar
Suspension, rear 5-link coil springs
Suspension Package, Magnetic Ride Control
Automatic level control, heavy-duty, air
Steering, power, rack-and-pinion
Brakes, 4-wheel antilock, 4-wheel disc, VAC power
Tires, P285/45R22, all-season, blackwall TL AL2
Tire, full-size spare, P265/70R17-113S blackwall
Tire carrier, lockable outside spare
Fascia, front, body-color
Fascia, rear, body-color
Moldings, color-keyed bodyside with chrome accents
Fog lamps, front rectangular halogen, integral in front fascia
Tail lamps, LED illumination
Mirrors, outside heated power-adjustable, power-folding and driver-side auto-dimming, color-keyed with integrated turn signal indicators, ground illumination and programmable to provide curb view when in reverse
Wipers, front intermittent
Wiper, rear intermittent with washer
Door handles, chrome
Body, power liftgate
NavTraffic is available in over 100 markets and works with your vehicle's navigation system to give you continuously updated traffic data right when you need it most - while you're driving. You'll avoid traffic tie-ups, save time and gas by getting alternate routes, and, in some cases, receive traffic speed and drive-time information. Plus, you can use NavTraffic at the same time you're enjoying SiriusXM Satellite Radio. You'll find that once you start using NavTraffic, you won't want to drive without it. (SiriusXM Satellite Radio and NavTraffic subscriptions sold separately or as a package after trial period. If you decide to continue your service at the end of your trial subscription, the plan you choose will automatically renew and bill at then-current rates until you call 1-866-635-2349 to cancel. See SiriusXM Customer Agreement for complete terms at siriusxm.com. NavTraffic available only in select markets. For more information, see siriusxm.com/navtraffic.)
Audio system feature, Bose 5.1 Cabin Surround Sound system with 10 speakers
Bluetooth for phone personal cell phone connectivity to vehicle audio system and HMI (Human Machine Interface)
Seat release, second row power for tumble-and-fold
Floor covering, color-keyed carpeting
Steering wheel, power-tilt, color-keyed with wood and leather-wrapped rim, locking
Steering wheel, heated
Steering wheel controls, mounted audio and Driver Information Center controls
Instrumentation, analog with speedometer, odometer, fuel level, engine temperature and tachometer
Windows, power with driver and front passenger Express-Up/Down and lockout features
Pedals, power-adjustable for accelerator and brake
Cruise control, electronic with set and resume speed
Theft-deterrent system, vehicle, PASS-Key III+
Remote vehicle start, adaptive
Mirror, inside rearview auto-dimming, includes OnStar controls.
Visors, driver and front passenger illuminated vanity mirrors with extenders
Daytime Running Lamps with automatic exterior lamp control
Air bags, head curtain side-impact, first, second and third row outboard seating positions with rollover sensor (Always use safety belts and child restraints. Children are safer when properly secured in a rear seat in the appropriate child restraint. See the Owner's Manual for more information.)
Air bags, seat-mounted side-impact, driver and right-front passenger for thorax and pelvic protection (Always use safety belts and child restraints. Children are safer when properly secured in a rear seat in the appropriate child restraint. See the Owner's Manual for more information.)
Rear Park Assist
Rear Vision Camera
Side Blind Zone Alert
Safety belts, first and second row belts to body, third row belts to seat, lap and shoulder all seating positions
Door locks, rear child security
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