2024 Cadillac Escalade

  • February 22, 2024

Is a Cadillac Escalade worth $20k more than a GMC Yukon? Is a GMC Yukon worth $4k more than a Chevy Tahoe?

All three are basically the same SUV sold under three different labels – at three different price points.

You’ll have to decide whether the price is worth the difference.

What It Is

The Escalade is Cadillac’s version of the Chevy Tahoe – which is also resold as the GMC Yukon. All three are full-sized SUVs that come standard with V8 engines, with one of the chief differences between the Escalade and its fraternal twins being it comes standard with the 6.2 liter V8 that’s optional in the less-prestigious (and less expensive) Tahoe and Yukon.

There is also a supercharged version of the 6.2 V8 that you can’t get in the twins.

But of course, it’ll cost you more to get into an Escalade, which stickers for $81,895 to start for the 2WD Luxury trim vs. $58,200 for essentially the same SUV sold under the GMC Yukon label, albeit with a smaller, not-as-powerful 5.3 liter V8. (And sold under the Chevy label, as the Tahoe – with the same 5.3 V8 – for $54,600).

The Escalade also comes standard with 22 inch wheels, a huge 16.9 inch secondary LCD touchscreen and a primary 14.2 inch LCD main gauge panel, a 19 speaker premium stereo system and heated rear outboard seats, among other upgrades that aren’t standard – or even available – in its less-expensive fraternal twins.

A top-of-the-line Premium Luxury Platinum trim comes with a 36 speaker audio system, power soft-closing doors, an adaptive suspension, a rearseat entertainment system and GM’s SuperCruise hands-free driving system.

It stickers for $110,695 with 2WD and $113,695 with the optional 4WD system.

There is also the high-performance Escalade V – the centerpiece of which is a supercharged version of the 6.2 V8 that offers 682 horsepower vs. 420 for the non-supercharged 6.2 V8 that’s standard in other Escalade trims (and available in the Yukon and Tahoe). The V also comes with a high-performance Brembo brake package, performance suspension tuning and V-specific driving modes.

4WD is standard with the V, which stickers for $152,295.

What’s New For 2024

There are no changes to the Escalade, per se, for this model year. However, there is an electric version of GM’s biggest SUV coming out later this year called the Escalade iQ.

What’s Good

Standard V8.

Luxury amenities not available in Tahoe or Yukon.

Significantly more cargo capacity than its main rival, the Lincoln Navigator.

What’s Not So Good

Get the same basic vehicle in a Tahoe or Yukon wrapper for thousands – even tens of thousands – less.

Not much range (just 336 miles in city driving) on a full tank of gas.

V8 doesn’t make as much power as rival Navigator’s twin-turbo V6.

Under The Hood

Unlike its Tahoe and Yukon fraternal twins, the Escalade comes standard with the 6.2 liter, 420 horsepower V8 that’s optionally available in those two.

They come standard with a 5.3 liter V8 that makes 355 horsepower.

A ten speed automatic is standard, as is rear-wheel-drive. All trims are available with 4WD. Depending on the configuration, an Escalade can tow between 7,000 and 8,200 lbs. This is a little less than the 8,300 lb. max tow rating of the Caddy’s primary rival, the Lincoln Navigator. That one comes standard with a much smaller (3.5 liter) V6 but its output is goosed to 440 horsepower and 510 ft.-lbs. of torque (vs. 460 ft.-lbs. for the Caddy’s V8) by a pair of turbochargers.

Another thing that gets boosted is the Lincoln’s range. It can go 377 miles in city driving and 519 on the highway (vs. 456 for the Escalade). Luckily, neither is an EV, so it only takes a few minutes to refill the tank and get going again.

The V8 Caddy is quicker, however. It can get to 60 in about 5.9 seconds (vs. about 6.3 for the Ford). The Escalade V – with 682 supercharged horsepower – cuts the time down to 4.3 seconds, which is about as quick as a new Mustang GT that weighs a ton less and that’s half the size.

There’s also an optional turbo-diesel engine. It’s a 3.0 liter in-line six that makes 277 horsepower and 460 ft.-lbs. of torque (same as the V8). This one increases fuel economy to 21 city, 27 highway – the latter figure a significant improvement over what you’d get with the V8, especially when pulling a trailer.

Interestingly, it is a no-cost option that can be specified in lieu of the otherwise standard 6.2 V8. The idea seems to be to offer Cadillac buyers the option of not having to stop as often without charging them extra for the privilege. A heavy duty cooling system is part of the package, which makes this version of the Escalade the one to pick if you’re planning on regularly towing a trailer.

On The Road

A Cadillac has been defined, historically, by its size – and while the Escalade is very closely related to its GMC and Chevy-badged fraternal twins – it is without question a Cadillac-sized vehicle.

At almost 212 inches long and riding on a 120.9 inch wheelbase, it is almost as long as a ’70s-era Sedan deVille and much heavier. The 2WD version with the V8 weighs 5,635 lbs. With the diesel six (which is heavier than the V8 because it’s a heavier-built engine) and 4WD, an Escalade crests three tons (6,015 lbs.) before anyone gets onboard, including the driver.

That – to quote the ’80s one-hit wonder band, Duke Jupiter – is a lot of automobile.

And that is a big part of the appeal – of a Cadillac.

Size does matter, when it comes to Cadillac. Also attitude. Rivals like the Lincoln Navigator are also large but not as imposing, another quality that successful Cadillacs have always had. The Escalade is not shy about its size and that includes what’s under its hood, which makes light of all that size in a purposely showy way. The Navigator’s twin-turbo V6 is actually stronger – and the Navigator is nearly as quick but the Cadillac feels – and sounds – quicker. The V8 does not require “augmentation” to sound like a V8. Because it is a V8. The Navigator’s V6 does, because it isn’t.

Same goes for the V6 that’s now standard in the Toyota Tundra-based Lexus LX500, which – like the Lexus – used to come standard with a V8.

The sound that accompanies the pull is part of what you’re paying for and it’s worth even more now, arguably, because you can’t even get it in many of the Caddy’s rivals anymore. There have, however, been issues with the 6.2 V8 that add an asterisk to this review. This reviewer personally knows one owner who experienced a total engine failure within weeks of purchase and – apparently – this is not an isolated incident.

Leaving that aside – if you can – this is otherwise a vehicle that lives up to its billing as the ballsiest of the big luxury SUVs. It is similar in attitude and presence to the Hummer GM used to sell – before GM went over to the Green Side and turned that model into a device – but far more luxurious. It rides softer than a ’70s era Sedan de Ville but handles much better. You don’t need to slow down for curves – as you did in a ’70s-era Sedan de Ville, if you didn’t want to throw hubcaps into the culvert. 100 MPH feels like you’re doing 40 if there’s no frame of reference, such as the fact that you’re blasting past other traffic like it’s parked.

And – unlike a ’70s big Caddy – you’re way up high and literally towering over the peons, the massive, almost vertical climb wall of the Escalade’s grill leering at them as you pass them by – or roll up behind them. I found that other drivers try to avoid being in front of this rig, almost as if you were a cop. That’s another thing you get for your money here.

Of course, you also get the sheer size of this thing, which can be as much a liability today as it was back in the ’70s and sometimes, more so – because the world of today (unlike the world of the ’70s) is designed for cars (and crossovers) much smaller than a ’70s-era Caddy Sedan de Ville, or a modern-day one. The Escalade takes up every bit of a supermarket parking lot spot, often not leaving space enough to fully open the doors without striking the sides of the vehicle parked next to you.

It may not fit in your garage, either. Or it may take up pretty much all the space inside your garage. A test drive is always important, including one that ends at home. Make sure yours can accommodate this latter-day Sedan de Ville before you drive it home for good.

At The Curb

Though it’s not quite as long as a ’70s Caddy, this one’s much more roomy – both for people and stuff. You have no doubt heard the cliche about the “three body” trunks of the land yachts of the ’70s. More like two.

One, if rolled up in carpet.

In this one, you could probably fit a casket. With the second and third row out of the way, the Escalade has 121 cubic feet of space for whatever you need to carry. Here – as under the hood – the Escalade out-bigs its main rival, the Lincoln Navigator, which has a comparatively cramped 103.3 cubic feet of total cargo space available and only 19.3 behind its third row (vs. 25.5 for the Caddy).

And this latter-day Sedan de Ville can carry up to eight people, three more than could go for a ride in the ’70s Caddy.

It can also go where a ’70s Caddy dared not – as for instance out on the road, when it’s covered with snow. The available 4WD and almost 7 inches of standard ground clearance make all the difference here – although the standard 22 inch wheels and tires operate somewhat at cross purposes. Be careful about curb strikes and potholes, too as these very tall rims (with very short sidewall tires) are easy to damage and expensive to fix.

That is, to replace.

The standard full-width dual-LCD gauge cluster/infotainment system looks very “hip” and “with it” – for now. The problem with these now-almost-ubiquitous LCD touchscreen displays is they may not look very “hip” and “with it” even as soon as three years from now, or right around the time the first lease ends. Of course, that’s exactly the point when it comes to vehicles in this Caddy’s class. Most of the people who “buy” one lease one – and plan to lease a new one after about three years, so as to get what’s “hip” and “with it” three years from now. The second owner – who will actually buy the vehicle – will be buying what was “hip” and “with it” three years ago.

The upside being he’ll be able to buy it for half or less what it cost to buy what’s “hip” and “with it” today.

The Rest

Oddly – in view of the base price of this Cadillac – features such as adaptive cruise control and leather seat covers are optional. To get these latter, you must step up a trim from the base Luxury (an odd way to put it) trim to the Premium Luxury trim, which stickers for $93,195 to start. That’s a bump of $11,300  . . . to get leather and heated seats. The good news is you also get ventilated (as well as heated) front seats, a panorama sunroof and a Heads Up Display.

The bad news is you still have to pay extra to get the optional adaptive suspension, soft-close doors and a limited slip rear differential, the latter being a critical feature to have if you don’t buy 4WD. Without a limited slip rear diff, a 2WD (that is, rear-wheel-drive) Escalade will be as bad or worse in the snow than a ’70s-era Sedan de Ville.

Also, you can’t buy the heavy-duty trailering package (which includes heavy duty cooling as well as an auxiliary trailering camera) and get the max 8,200lb. tow rating unless you first step up to the Premium Luxury trim.

On the other hand, all trims do come standard with that big V8 – and that’s something that’s hard to get anywhere else. The supercharged version in the V takes that to a whole ‘nother level, too.

The Bottom Line 

Big Caddys like the ’70s Sedan de Ville may be long gone, but their SUV inheritors deliver a similar experience – and even more attitude.

. . .

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