First drive: 2015 Cadillac Escalade in the UAE
The Escalade is a huge seller for Cadillac. Popularised over the past decade as the vehicle of choice for rappers, it started life as just a warmed-over Chevy Tahoe, but has progressed over the years to become a fairly clear-cut model. At first glance, the all-new 2015 Escalade looks a lot like its plebeian cousin, but a closer look reveals that many of its exterior panels, and indeed most of the interior elements, are unique.
The blocky new styling is distinctive, attractive even, if you aren’t overwhelmed by its sheer size. You’ll need a keen eye to spot that it’s a new model, but maybe more of the same is the right formula for this lucrative segment.
Opening the door is an event unto itself, with an electric side-step automatically flipping down. Stepping inside carefully so as not to scratch the chrome strip on the step, you’re greeted with a nice stitched-leather interior, with mostly padded surfaces and tons of space.
It’s not quite Range Rover-grade inside since, if you look hard enough, there’s traces of its siblings. Also, third-row passengers are treated to cramped hard-plastic surroundings, while up front, you make-do with a basic column-shifter. Still, at least it has an easily-accessible third row that folds down. There’s lots of modern cabin tech, the second-row captain’s chairs are a nice option, and the amount of overall space has the Range Rover beat.
Powered by a beefy 420 hp 6.2-litre, mated to a 6-speed automatic and all-wheel-drive, it’s not an eye-popper, but there’s more than enough go for all your show. It also burns no more fuel than any of its typical steel-bodied V8 rivals, such as the Lexus LX or the Mercedes-Benz GL. And the brakes are fairly good too.
Parking isn’t as much of a hassle as you’d think, thanks to cameras and sensors, although you have to make sure that it fits in the first place.
Riding on adjustable “magnetic” suspension, GM has done well to refine a body-on-frame SUV, but a mild jitter on many road surfaces and generally vague steering hint at its truckish origins. Still, it’s easy to get the Escalade to hustle once you’ve come to terms with its body movements, as body roll is noticeable but well-controlled, and smooth steering inputs are rewarded with pretty good speeds around long corners, at least for a 2500-kg SUV. And it does so very quietly, with an occasional muffled V8 growl.
The Escalade wasn’t meant to be driven in haste or even off-road, but what it does do, it goes about it a lot better than any GM trucklet we’ve driven before. In its latest iteration, Cadillac’s bling-mobile is very competitive indeed.
For prices and specs, visit the Cadillac buyer guide.