Cadillac builds the 2018 Escalade on GM’s full-size SUV platform that underlying the Yukon and Tahoe twins. The main difference is that everything in the Escalade is more luxurious. There’s more power, sharper style, more standard features, even more optional features. All of this gives Escalade the credibility of a true luxury SUV.
The inheritance attributes of the traditional SUV design are all here as well. On the plus side, the Escalade can tow up to 8,300 pounds, which is more than most luxury crossover SUVs in the class. But solid rear-axle suspension and body-on-frame construction also produce less ideal driving quality and less comfortable cargo area. Overall, the 2018 Cadillac Escalade is worth a try, but make sure you also see a more refined the Lincoln Navigator.
Trim and Features
The 2018 Cadillac Escalade is a seven passengers full-size, body-on-frame luxury SUV. It’s sold in four trim levels: base, Luxury, Premium Luxury and Platinum.
Standard equipment for the base trim includes an adaptive suspension, 20-inch wheels, automatic wipers, LED headlights, a hands-free power liftgate, automatic parallel and perpendicular parking assist, front and rear parking sensors, remote start, three-zone automatic climate control, power-adjustable pedals, a heated and power-adjustable steering wheel, driver-seat memory settings, ventilated and heated power-adjustable front seats, leather upholstery, heated rear seats and split power-folding third-row seats.
Standard tech features include a customizable gauge cluster display, a navigation system, a surround-view parking camera system, an 8-inch touchscreen with CUE infotainment interface, OnStar with 4G in-vehicle Wi-Fi, a wireless device charging pad, five USB ports, and a Bose 16-speaker audio system with satellite radio.
The 2018 Cadillac Escalade Luxury trim adds the Driver Awareness package, which includes automatic high beams, rear cross-traffic alert, blind-spot monitoring, forward collision warning and mitigation with automatic braking lane departure warning and intervention. Also standard are 22-inch wheels, a sunroof, power-folding second-row seats, a camera-based rearview mirror system and a head-up display.
A recommended trim, the 2018 Cadillac Escalade Premium Luxury adds adaptive cruise control, advanced collision mitigation system with both forward and reverse automatic braking, a rear entertainment system with a Blu-ray player and an overhead-mounted display.
The most expensive Platinum trim adds power-retracting side steps, upgraded leather upholstery, upgraded power front seats with massaging function, a cooled front-seat center console and two more rear entertainment screens mounted in the front headrests.
The 2018 Cadillac Escalade is powered by a 6.2-liter V8 engine that produces 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque. It’s paired with a new 10-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive is standard. Four-wheel drive is available as optional and comes with a two-speed transfer case for low-speed mobility over off-road terrain.
Cadillac says the Escalade 4WD with a new transmission is powerful enough to enable 0 to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds. Towing capacity is 8,300 pounds for the RWD Escalade and 8,100 pounds for the heavier four-wheel-drive model.
The EPA estimates fuel economy at 17 mpg combined (14 city/23 highway) for the rear-wheel-drive and 17 mpg combined (14 city/21 highway) for the four-wheel-drive. These numbers are about average for the class.
Although it looks very large on the outside, it’s surprising that the 2018 Cadillac Escalade interior does not feel amazingly spacious. The first and second rows have plenty of headroom and leg room, but the shoulder space looks strangely limited. And just like the third row seats in all SUVs in all sizes, it’s meant to be used only for kids on short trips.
The 2018 Cadillac Escalade cabin features high-quality materials. This is especially true on the Platinum trim, which increases the premium skin use thoroughly. The CUE Cadillac infotainment system is visually appealing, as does the controls on the central dash pile. CUE offers many features to entertain passengers, but system responses are sometimes delayed and menus are not easy to understand. Touch sensitive buttons for climate control are also problematic.
For utilities, the 2018 Cadillac Escalade cargo capacity is comparable to other major SUVs. It provides 15.2 cubic feet of space behind the third row, 51.6 cubic feet behind the second row, and 94.2 cubic feet behind the first row. This number is huge, but high load floors make the loading process quite heavy. Fortunately, the hands-free liftgate can be triggered with the friction of your feet under the rear bumper.
Release Date and Price
The entry-level Escalade is priced at $75,290 (including $1,295 destination charges). The Luxury costing $80,290. The Luxury Premium trim comes in at $84,890 and the range-topping Platinum will set you back $93,990.