Cadillac bases its 2018 Escalade on General Motors' full-size SUV platform that underpins the Tahoe and Yukon twins. The main difference is that everything on the Escalade is "more." There's more power, more brash styling, more standard features, even more features that are optional. All of this gives the Escalade true luxury SUV cred.
The inherent attributes of its traditional SUV design are all here, too. On the plus side, the Escalade can tow up to 8,300 pounds, which is more than most other luxury crossover SUVs. But its solid rear-axle suspension and body-on-frame construction also result in a less than ideal ride quality and a compromised cargo area. Overall, we think the 2018 Escalade is worth a look, but make sure to also check out this year's more refined Lincoln Navigator.
The 2018 Cadillac Escalade is a full-size, body-on-frame luxury SUV available in four trim levels: base, Luxury, Premium Luxury and Platinum. The base trim comes with a dizzying array of equipment, but the Premium Luxury and Platinum take this big, plush American machine to yet another level. All Escalade models are equipped with a 6.2-liter V8 engine (420 horsepower, 460 pound-feet of torque) and a 10-speed automatic transmission. Rear-wheel drive is standard, and four-wheel drive is optional.
The base trim is generously appointed inside and out. Standard equipment includes 20-inch wheels, an adaptive suspension, LED headlights, automatic wipers, front and rear parking sensors, automatic parallel and perpendicular parking assist, a hands-free power liftgate, remote start, three-zone automatic climate control, a heated and power-adjustable steering wheel, power-adjustable pedals, leather upholstery, heated and ventilated power-adjustable front seats, driver-seat memory settings, heated rear seats and split power-folding third-row seats.
Standard electronic features include the CUE infotainment interface (with an 8-inch touchscreen), OnStar (with 4G in-vehicle Wi-Fi), a surround-view parking camera system, a customizable gauge cluster display, a navigation system, five USB ports, a wireless device charging pad and a Bose 16-speaker audio system with satellite radio.
For a few more driver aids and a bit more plush equipment, you can step up to the Luxury trim. This adds 22-inch wheels, a sunroof, power-folding second-row seats, a head-up display, a camera-based rearview mirror system (the rearview mirror is actually a screen displaying what the camera sees behind the vehicle) and the Driver Awareness package (automatic high beams, blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning and intervention, rear cross-traffic alert, forward collision warning and mitigation with automatic braking).
Our recommended trim, the Premium Luxury, adds adaptive cruise control, a rear entertainment system with a Blu-ray player and an overhead-mounted display, and a more advanced collision mitigation system with both forward and reverse automatic braking.
The most expensive (and most lavishly appointed) Escalade is the Platinum trim level. It certainly has all the bells and whistles, but you may not need all the extras it provides. The Platinum adds power-retracting side steps, upgraded power front seats (with massaging function), upgraded leather upholstery, a cooled front-seat center console and two more rear entertainment screens (mounted in the front headrests).