The 2015 Escalade is looking pretty desirable as the winds change and snow starts falling in Chicagoland.
The full line of codename "K2XX" SUV's are all vastly improved for 2015, with Tahoe's starting in the high $30,000's at the low end.
At the high end is the latest Escalade, which repositions itself as the true flagship of Cadillac.
And, perhaps, General Motors.
Starting with prices about at the same level as previous models, the Escalade is scheduled for an early Spring 2014 roll-out to dealers nationwide.
The Escalade is not quite as exciting as it should be in its launch styles. The massive chrome grille is very different from ever before when viewed up close, but from afar it feels too familiar for an all-new truck. Hopefully other finishes besides chrome will be available, as on the previous Escalade.
The vertical stack of LED lights look terrific up front, and promise to be more affordable than the previous Escalade option of LED lights on the top-range Platinum trim. Interesting fact: that Escalade Platinum was the first-ever car to offer LED lighting for both low and high beams more than six years ago.
There are five sections of the LED headlamps:
--- LED daytime running light blades, lower bumpers
--- LED daytime running light blades, outer headlights
--- LED indicator blade and side light, outer headlights
--- LED low beam crystal lenses, middle headlight stack
--- LED high beam crystal lenses, inner headlight stack
So the LED tradition continues with a new look that more closely matches the latest CTS. It is overall slightly underwhelming from up front.
In profile, the big Caddy is defined by the same graceful and Audi-esque shoulder crease and hugely refined shapes for all the doors. Flush fitting and now triple sealed, the Escalade also brings power-operated running boards. These flop down quickly, making it less likely to trip over them when exiting the car. This is no fun, and causes head splat against pavement in the Navigator with its slow power running boards.
20-inch rims are standard on the Escalade, with 22's optional.
In back, yet more underwhelming features are barely more interesting than the Suburban and Yukon. A new LED tube design shoots up the D-pillars before making a point just below the roof. While perhaps interesting on the road at night, these are pretty blatant recreations of the Volvo 850 wagon from a full 20 years ago.
The central brake light is now just a small line at the top of the tailgate, in a pinkish red that does not match the red of the other LEDs.
Pretty disappointing how few new ideas are present in the Escalade versus the Chevy and GMC.
LED Brake Lights Detail
2015 Cadillac Escalade - Key Exterior Updates
--- New inlaid doors fit into the body side openings instead of over the top of the body, significantly reducing wind noise and contributing to improved aerodynamics
--- Laminated windshield and front door glass to enhance quietness
--- Lightweight aluminum hood and liftgate panels enhance efficiency through reduced overall mass
--- A standard rear spoiler on the liftgate houses a relocated rear window wiper that is hidden when not in use
--- New worm screw-style liftgate arms take up less interior space than the previous gooseneck arms
--- A stronger frame and a wider rear track that contributes to a more planted stance
--- LTZ models include third-generation magnetic ride control, a real-time damping system that delivers more precise body motion control by “reading” the road every millisecond and changing damping in just five milliseconds.
--- Eighteen-inch standard wheels that are a half-inch wider, reducing tire flex for improved cornering performance. Twenty- and 22-inch wheels are available.
--- New, electric variable-assist power steering system enhances fuel economy and tailors steering assist to vehicle speed.
--- New four-wheel-disc brake system with Duralife brake rotors that offer up to double the service life, along with brake pedal revisions that improve pedal feel for stronger-feeling, more-confident braking performance.
2015 Cadillac Escalade - Exterior Gallery
The Escalade is most altered inside versus the GMC and Chevy. A standard 12.3-inch display panel forms the main gauges with configurable settings, and the largest and newest CUE system steps in for Chevrolet's MyLink.
Cue is not well liked, with touch-sensitive buttons that register temp changes by a finger sliding across. Electrostatic switches are cool, but take a few tries to master versus simple knobs.
The interior is now much more comfortable and versatile for the hauling and family transport duties that full-size SUVs are known for. An extra four inches of front legroom is welcome, as are the newly-redesigned seats with far better support and adjustment that ever before. An extra 1.5 inches of headroom up front was barely needed but is welcome for the extra visibility it offers. This is slightly less headroom than the Chevy and Yukon, which do not have the same moonroof as standard.
Connectivity takes a huge leap forward, as does smoothness and quietness on the road. The flush-mounting doors lessen wind noise dramatically versus the old doors whose edges continued into the roof.
Active safety tech is also front and center on the Escalade (as well as its siblings) via an optional Driver Assistance package.
The biggest news is regarding the back seats. This third row is now a power-operated folding design that creates a completely flat load floor.
2015 Cadillac Escalade - Cargo Area
The second row, which previously folded but did not create a flat load floor, is also greatly improved with another flip forward function so make room to jump in the way back seat.
Total cargo hauling room is slightly less than last year, but the two numbers cannot be compared because of the previous seat removal requirement.
2015 Cadillac Escalade - Key Interior Updates
--- Fold-flat second- and third-row seats that enhance cargo convenience – including an available power-folding feature
--- Approximately two inches greater legroom for second-row passengers, along with easier entry/exit
--- Up to six USB ports and six power outlets – including a 110-volt three-prong outlet – to support electronic devices of all kinds (up to 12 charging locations)
--- Available rear-seat entertainment system with dual screens (Suburban only) and Blu-ray DVD player
--- Conversation mirror in the overhead console that provides a panoramic view of the rear seats
--- Keyless entry and push-button start
2015 Cadillac Escalade - Interior Gallery
Powertrain, Suspension and Brakes
The Escalade gets the top-ranked 6.2-liter V-8 engine as standard in rear-drive configuration. This engine now has direct injection and crates more NVH and insulation materials to keep it much quieter than ever before under acceleration.
The new Escalade is set to be one of the quietest and most refined cars ever made by General Motors, with a highway decibel rating far lower than the Chevy and even the GMC.
Optional 4x4 setups ensure the Cadillac will always be one of the most capable machines on the road in deep snow, rain or ice.
The 2015 trucks have totally redesigned stability, traction and ABS for better confidence on the roads. They also bring Brake Assist and brake force distribution as standard to all models.
The laundry list of active safety innovations is quite impressive, and they will most likely be offered together as part of a $2,000 Driver Assistance Package.
As much as active safety tech is irritating in most cars, the large dimensions of the Escalade are easier to manage with some technology helping out.
2015 Cadillac Escalade - Safety Features
--- Forward collision alert
--- Front park assist
--- Lane departure warning
--- Lane change assist
--- Rear cross traffic alert
--- Adaptive cruise control
--- Front and rear automatic braking
--- Safety Alert Seat
--- Standard head curtain side air bags with rollover protection for both seating rows.
--- Standard seat-mounted side-impact air bags for driver and right-front passenger provide thorax and pelvic protection.
--- StabiliTrak electronic stability control system helps reduce the risk of rollover crashes by keeping the vehicle in the driver’s intended path by applying throttle, braking or a combination of both.
--- Available Ultrasonic Rear Parking Assist that can detect certain stationary objects in the rearward path of the vehicle and send an audible warning sound.
--- Rearview camera system is standard
--- Side blind zone alert is standard
--- Standard four-wheel-disc brake system with ABS featuring smooth, quiet operation, longer pad life and more resistance to brake pulsation.
--- Pretensioners minimize forward movement during a collision, and are standard on the front safety belts. Load-limiting retractors cinch the belt more tightly.
--- LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren) child seat attachment system, which is included in all second-row seating positions.
--- Tire pressure monitoring system, standard on all models.
--- Standard remote keyless entry (RKE) system provides a second function for the red panic button. Drivers can it to locate their cars without sounding the panic alarm.
--- Strong body structure to absorb crash energy and provide a protective “safety cage” around occupants.
Pricing is not yet available, but is expected to start at about $69,000 before options. Top ESV specifications will reach $99,000.
A new Escalade is almost always met by a flurry of orders for people impatient with the old-fashioned features and driving of the previous trucks.
Something about the roll-up to the Escalade reveal seemed to indicate that the Escalade would really move the brand forward in both tech and style. Forward toward Range Rovers, but also past the current shared setups with the Yukon Denali.
Sadly, that does not seem to be the case. Much as Cadillac is deservedly proud of its new interior craftsmanship, it usually takes more than some glued-on leatherette for the dashboard to sway luxury buyers.
Even so, the Escalade is really in a class of one. Nothing else offers this type of performance, interior seating and hauling room, and all-weather towing abilities.