2024 Escalade IQ, The Latest Member Of The Escalade Family Builds On Illustrious History

The 2024 Cadillac Escalade IQ is bringing insanity back to the Escalade nameplate, with the model bringing electrification to the moniker for the first time ever. However, it’s also important to note the IQ’s place in Slade history, and how some of its ancestors helped the model reach this key milestone. So join us on a trip through time, and see how the IQ’s ancestors helped shape its long-term future and a new road for Cadillac too.


1999-2000 Escalade, The Beginning

The Cadillac Escalade first appeared in 1999 when the original SUV sales craze was in full swing. Gas was cheap, SUVs were must-have things to have in the driveway, and the finer things in life were beginning to be mixed into these functional beasts of burden. Rival Lincoln released the Navigator in 1998 and the big Lincoln immediately garnered plenty of attention and sales. Cadillac had no such entry and was still a sedan/coupe-based brand, but GM knew that the Navigator represented a big sales threat that could not be ignored.

Their response came in 1999 with the first generation Escalade, but while the big Caddy was a welcome sight for GM’s bean counters, it had a rough start in life. Essentially a hastily rebadged GMC Yukon Denali (a prominent symbol of GM’s reliance on cookie-cutter badge engineering during this period), This version of the Slade shared a lot with its GMC Yukon Denali cousin, including the core exterior styling, basic interior appointments, and even its short-wheelbase only layout. Granted, Cadillac did add real wood trim on all four door panels, the steering wheel, and other minor interior trappings, but little else told you that this wasn’t a copy-and-paste job.

Performance was also borrowed from the Yukon Denali, with all models being powered by a 255-horsepower 5.7 liter naturally aspirated V8 mated to a four-speed automatic with RWD or AWD being offered. As beginnings went, this one went over like a lukewarm plate of risotto, but it provided the core tapestry for what would come afterward.


2002-2006 Escalade, Cadillac Gets Serious

With the Navigator still hanging onto its top spot in the domestic luxury SUV wars and the first-generation Slade not doing a good job in actually unseating it from its throne, Cadillac went back to the drawing board and, after a year delay, unveiled the 2002 Escalade lineup. Unlike the old one, the exterior styling was distinctly Cadillac and embraced the Art & Science theme that was beginning to entrench itself in Cadillac’s lineup. The rear-wheel drive layout continued to be standard, with a 5.3-liter V8 also continuing to see service under the hood. However, all-wheel drive models got a bigger 345-hp 6.0-liter Vortec V8, and this generation of Slade was also the most ambitious, with Cadillac not only introducing a long-wheelbase version called the ESV, but also a Chevy Avalanche-based clone called the EXT that gave the Slade a small truck bed equipped with the novel midgate system.

HID headlights were newly standard, and an interior facelift in 2003 spruced up the cabin with higher-quality materials and updates. This generation was also the first to introduce a touchscreen infotainment system to the Escalade. These changes and more finally allowed the Escalade to swing the sales race in its favor, and it eventually became the favorite ride of countless celebrities as well as a growing pool of family buyers and perhaps a few former Navigator owners.


2007-2014 Escalade, Continued Success Amid Stormy Seas

When the 2007 Cadilac Escalade appeared, the U.S. was facing strong economic headwinds, including a recession and a spike in gas prices. The latter would see Cadillac introduce a hybrid model in 2008 with the 6.0-liter V8 paired with two electric motors and a nickel-metal hydride battery pack under the rear seat.

But with all that said, the Escalade was still riding a strong wave of success, with the 2007 revamp seeing the model move to the GMT900 platform. This platform allowed the SUV to get a six-speed automatic for the first time and simplified the engine lineup, with the smaller V8s being pitched for a 403-horsepower 6.2-liter V8 that was standard in all non-hybrid models. In addition to this, the interior (while appearing to follow the same core theme) actually benefits from a number of improvements and extra luxury items with the Platinum model, including heated/cooled cup holders, a rearview camera, cooled front seats, and a DVD entertainment system with a separate navigation system being bundled in too.

The exterior styling was also smoothed out, with the bulk of the blocky cues of the past being replaced with a more streamlined look, even on the EXT truck variant. This version of the Slade helped solidify its place in Cadilac’s sales machine. It also represented a dramatic reversal of fortune, with the Navigator now playing the underdog role in its rivalry with the Cadillac.


2015-2021 Escalade: Adding Polish And Keeping Things Simple

Unlike the previous generation Escalade, this iteration of the Escalade wasn’t as drastic of a change as years past. While it was on another new platform and debuted a revamped exterior and interior, this version focused on polishing the finer points while keeping many of the core attributes that customers loved. This version of the Escalade almost didn’t happen, believe it or not, with GM nearly putting the Escalade on the Lambda platform (the same underpinnings for the Chevrolet Traverse, GMC Acadia, and Buick Enclave) before negative feedback from customers and some in GM forced the company to backtrack and keep the model on its existing platform. An eight-speed automatic was initially used, but Cadilac swapped it out for a 10-speed automatic toward the end of its life cycle. The Navigator would also be redesigned around this time, and for a period, it once again overtook the Escalade in its long-running rivalry.

The one visual update that went through was the removal of the long-running Cadillac crest emblem in 2016, with the logo replaced with a shield emblem that was wreath free (it was also done to the remainder of Cadillac’s lineup). This iteration was also significant because it was the first time that Cadillac’s CUE system (Cadillac User Experience) made it into the SUV. This new infotainment system was designed to help owners achieve new levels of connectivity with the vehicle via a setup that combined voice and steering wheel commands with a touch capacitive control scheme that was supposed to offer seamless operation and even introduced an app suite. We test-drove a 2019 Platinum model; you can see our thoughts here, but we’ll say that it took some time before Cadillac ironed out all the bugs in CUE.


Current Generation Escalade 2021-Present

The current generation Escalade represents a transitional point for Cadillac as a whole. The appearance of the 2024 Escalade IQ means that this version of the Escalade could perhaps be the very last ICE-powered model produced, but when it debuted in 2020, the 2021 model was keen on re-establishing Cadillac’s priority on state-of-the-art technology. That included the addition of an all-new 38-inch OLED curved display screen, a 36-speaker AKG audio system, augmented reality navigation, and metric-based badging to denote the torque in Newton meters.

The exterior styling went for a chunkier look, but it still made the Escalade distinct and elegant at the same time. The Platinum model pushed this to the max, and this generation would also introduce a diesel model as well as the delightfully bonkers Escalade-V model. While COVID-19 conspired to put a crimp in the model’s broader sales, the current generation Escalade is still a very prominent cog in Cadillac’s profit machine. Look for this trend to continue in the near future as Cadillac prepares to use the model as a transition point for customers, with the gas model perhaps being updated one more time to help it fight off threats like the Jeep Grand Wagoneer and its proverbial arch-nemesis, the Lincoln Navigator before it’s axed to allow the Escalade IQ to assume its role as successor fully.




Carl Malek has been an automotive journalist for over 10 years. First starting out as a freelance photographer before making the transition to writing during college, his work has appeared on numerous automotive forums as well as websites such as Autoshopper.com.

Carl is also a big fan of British vehicles with the bulk of his devotion going to the Morgan Motor Company as well as offerings from Lotus, MG, and Caterham. When he is not writing about automobiles, Carl enjoys spending time with his family and friends in the Metro Detroit area, as well as spending time with his adorable pets.

2024 Cadillac Escalade2024 Cadillac Escalade IQ2024 Cadillac Escalade IQ EVCadillacCadillac Escaladecadillac news