Struggling to cast the perfect vehicle for your new rap video? Been holding out for a new car to collect protection money in? Wait no longer: the quintessential American blingmobile is back – the all-new Cadillac Escalade.
(Even) bigger, more luxurious, yet supposedly more efficient than the model it replaces, the new Escalade goes on sale to US customers in summer 2014, after production kicks off next spring in Texas.
Cadillac Escalade: the brashest styling yet
With more LEDs stacked up front than in a Vegas nightclub, and a vast chromed grille seemingly inspired by a Wild West locomotive’s cow-catcher, the eight-seat Escalade is an unashamedly American take on the luxury SUV. It’s enormous overall – even more so than the outgoing behemoth. At 5180mm long, 2044mm wide, and 1889mm tall, it’s 38mm longer, 36mm wider and 2mm taller than before, dwarfing a sub-five-metre Range Rover. Even so, you can supersize your Escalade: opt for the ‘ESV’ model and you get a 355mm wheelbase stretch, offering better third-row seating and boot space. Overall, the Cadillac Escalade ESV measures a fraction under 5.7m end-to-end, and rides on 20in wheels as standard. Naturally 22in rims are on the options list.
What’s hauling this monster of an SUV?
There’s only one engine on offer, and it’s not a torquey turbodiesel or an electrically assisted hybrid. In the nose of the 2015 model-year Escalade is a naturally aspirated, 6.2-litre petrol-fired V8. The engine develops 420bhp and 460lb ft, which is handled by a six-speed automatic transmission – no Range Rover-style eight-speeder here. You’ve a choice of rear- or all-wheel drive, with the latter copping a 110-120kg weight penalty versus the rear-driver, depending on the model.
Surely that’s going to be thirstier than the England cricket team?
Indeed – Cadillac hasn’t revealed official economy claims yet, though it has promised greater efficiency than the 19.1mpg claim of the outgoing car. Thanks to direct injection and active cylinder technology, which shuts down a bank of cylinders when the engine is running under light load, the new Caddy might just have a shout of cracking the big 20mpg. Another fuel-saving feature is the debut of active aerodynamics in an Escalade, to reduce drag through the grille at speed.
There is one notable effort to save weight: the Escalade’s hood (bonnet) and liftgate (boot) are made from aluminum (aluminium). Which seems about as token as fitting a carbonfibre anchor to a cargo ship, really – at 2760kg, the Escalade ESV is around 110kg weightier than a comparable Infiniti QX80.
Is it all leaf springs and pig iron underneath?
No – the new Escalade is more advanced than that. A claimed 75% of the body-on-frame’s chassis construction is fashioned from high-strength steel, while the body mounts have been refined to reduce vibration and noise in the cabin. Meanwhile, Cadillac claims the new Escalade’s magnetic damping system is the fastest-reacting adaptive suspension in the world, capable of switching between its stiffest and most relaxed modes in a matter of milliseconds. Despite the clever damping, it’s safe to say that a Toyota Land Cruiser and Land Rover will trounce the Caddy off-road.
What has Cadillac done with all the interior space?
From the looks of these first pictures, it’s equipped the interior with the best Cadillac interior ever. Gone are the vast swathes of shiny wood and plastic from the previous models, replaced by a 8in touchscreen-dominated fascia running Cadillac’s ‘CUE’ infotainment interface. There’s also a fully digital 12.3in instrument display with configurable modes, like a Range Rover’s LCD dials. Steering wheel controls toggle the display’s readout of sat-nav commands, audio information, fuel economy (or lack thereof), and telephone functions.
Of course, there’s an opulent toy count too. Heated and ventilated front seats are standard, with heated second-row seats also factory-fit. Ambient lighting, higher grades of metal, wood and plastic and tighter shutlines are all geared at making the ultimate American SUV compete with the best from Europe. The Bose stereo uses noise-cancellation tech to keep that cabin quiet too.
And will the President's men be safe inside the new Caddy?
If the plethora of anti-crash gadgets holds out, then yes. Automatic braking to avoid low-speed collisions works in forward and reverse speeds, plus there’s blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control and the world’s first front-centre airbag, which deploys between the front seats in the event of a side-on impact, to protect the driver and passenger from colliding during an impact. We'd still prefer to wait out an attack in 'The Beast' though: the President's nine-tonne truck-based limo that can survive chemical weapons and grenade attacks.
This’ll do nicely on Surrey’s country lanes. How much?
US-market prices haven’t been revealed yet, but going by the previous model, importing an Escalade will set you back at least £70,000. And of course, it’ll be left-hand drive only, cost a Premier League salary to fuel, and won’t be a cinch to park either.
>>Click here to read how we specced CAR’s new Range Rover long-term test car