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2020 Cadillac Escalade Review

The 2020 Cadillac Escalade boasts a strong engine and a high tow rating. However, it ranks near the bottom of the luxury large SUV class. It has a subpar predicted reliability rating, and its rivals have more opulent interiors.

Pros & Cons

  • Strong engine
  • High towing capacity
  • Lots of passenger and cargo space in ESV models
  • Tight third row in standard-wheelbase models
  • Complicated infotainment controls
  • Feels less composed around turns than its rivals

Rankings & Research

The 2020 Cadillac Escalade's #9 ranking is based on its score within the Luxury Large SUVs category. Currently the Cadillac Escalade has a score of 6.6 out of 10, which is based on our evaluation of 28 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.

6.6

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 7.1
Performance: 6.4
Interior: 6.1
Safety:
This model has never been fully tested for safety. Its overall score is being calculated without safety.
N/A
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

Is the Cadillac Escalade a Good SUV?

No, the 2020 Cadillac Escalade is not a good luxury large SUV. Although it has some strong points – such as a robust engine, strong towing capability, and a long features list – its weak points are significant. Most classmates have gentler rides, livelier handling, and nicer cabin materials. Some have more room for passengers and cargo too. However, these problems can be remedied by going with the roomy long-wheelbase Cadillac Escalade ESV.

Should I Buy the Cadillac Escalade?

The Cadillac Escalade is worth looking at if you want a road-trip-ready luxury SUV with a lot of standard features and a brawny engine. Many of its rivals are more well-rounded though. The Lincoln Navigator can tow more weight and carry more cargo, and it has a stronger engine. The Mercedes-Benz GLS has a softer ride and richer cabin materials. You might even consider the all-new Cadillac XT6. Despite being a luxury midsize SUV, the XT6 has nearly as much passenger space but offers nimbler handling than the Escalade.

Compare the Escalade, Navigator, and GLS »

Should I Buy a New or Used Cadillac Escalade?

The 2020 Escalade belongs to a generation that launched for the 2015 model year. The 2018 model saw the generation's first major change. That year, Cadillac replaced the eight-speed automatic transmission with a 10-speed automatic, but fuel economy estimates barely changed.

Cadillac made no major changes to the Escalade for 2020. You might be able to find a similarly equipped used model for less money.

To research used Escalade models, read our 2017, 2018, and 2019 Cadillac Escalade reviews. If you decide that an older model is right for you, check out our Used Car Deals page for savings and incentives on used vehicles.

Compare the 2018, 2019, and 2020 Cadillac Escalade »

We Did the Research for You: 27 Reviews Analyzed

To make our car rankings and reviews as consumer-oriented as possible, we do not rely on our personal opinions. Instead, we analyze hard data such as cargo space dimensions, horsepower specs, and fuel economy, as well as the opinions of the automotive press. This Cadillac Escalade review draws on 27 reviews and incorporates applicable research for all models in this generation, which launched for the 2015 model year.

Why You Can Trust Us

U.S. News & World Report has been reviewing cars, trucks, and SUVs since 2007, and our Best Cars team has more than 75 years of combined automotive industry experience. We care about cars, but we care more about providing useful consumer advice. To ensure our impartiality, an independent party handles our advertising, and our editorial team doesn’t accept expensive gifts from automakers.

How Much Does the Cadillac Escalade Cost?

The 2020 Cadillac Escalade has a base MSRP of $75,195. The long-wheelbase Cadillac Escalade ESV starts at $78,195. Both are typical base prices for a large luxury SUV. The top-tier Platinum trim starts at $92,295 and $95,295 for regular- and long-wheelbase versions, respectively.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Cadillac dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Cadillac deals page.

Cadillac Escalade Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: Cadillac Escalade or GMC Yukon?

The GMC Yukon is essentially the nonluxury version of the Cadillac Escalade. Both are big GM SUVs with similar passenger and cargo dimensions, and both are available in standard and long-wheelbase body types. The Yukon Denali and Escalade have similar features lists and cabin materials, as well as the same adaptive suspension and V8 powertrain. In fact, the Yukon Denali is essentially a Cadillac Escalade in all but name. However, it retails for around $8,500 less and can tow an additional 100 pounds compared to the Cadillac, making it the better SUV in this comparison.  

Which Is Better: Cadillac Escalade or Mercedes-Benz GLS?

Unless you need a luxurious towing workhorse, the Mercedes-Benz GLS is the better choice here. It boasts a wider array of engine options, including two twin-turbocharged V8s that outmatch the Cadillac's engine, and it has roomier rear seats and more premium cabin materials. Additionally, while the Escalade's body-on-frame construction gives it an unsettled ride and cumbersome handling, the Mercedes-Benz rides smoothly and nimbly. It’s the better vehicle in this matchup.

Compare the Escalade, Yukon, and GLS »

Escalade Interior

How Many People Does the Escalade Seat?

This luxury SUV seats up to eight people if you opt for the second-row bench seat. Leather upholstery is standard, as are a leather-wrapped and heated steering wheel, ventilated and heated front-row seats with 12-way power adjustments, heated second-row seats, and a power-folding third row. Upgraded leather upholstery, 18-way power-adjustable front seats with a massage function, and power-adjustable second- and third-row seats are available. You can also get power-retractable assist steps for easier entry and exit.

While the first two rows are spacious enough for most adults to fit comfortably, space in the third row is exceedingly tight, even by typical three-row vehicle standards. The long-wheelbase Cadillac Escalade ESV is more hospitable thanks to its added legroom.

Escalade and Car Seats

This Cadillac has two or three full sets of LATCH connectors in the second row, depending on whether you opt for the standard captain’s chairs or the available bench seat. There’s a single tether anchor for each third-row seat.

Escalade Interior Quality

This luxury vehicle has a mostly upscale cabin, but there are few plastic pieces shared with the Chevrolet Suburban, which drag down the Escalade's overall interior quality.

Escalade Cargo Space

The Escalade has 15.2 cubic feet of space when all three rows are upright, which is small for a luxury three-row SUV. That expands to 51.6 cubic feet with the third row folded down and 94.2 cubic feet with both rear rows down. Both figures are above average for a full-size SUV.

The long-wheelbase variant, called the Escalade ESV, has a more cavernous 39.3 cubic feet of space behind the third row, 76.7 cubes behind the second row, and a 120.9-cubic-foot maximum cargo capacity.

Escalade Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

Standard equipment in the Escalade includes the CUE infotainment system, an 8-inch touch screen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a navigation system, wireless device charging, a Wi-Fi hot spot, satellite radio, HD Radio, Bluetooth, four USB ports, and a 16-speaker Bose surround-sound system.

Optional equipment includes a sunroof and a rear-seat entertainment system with a 9-inch screen. Mastering the infotainment controls takes a bit of a learning curve, and some of the physical buttons lack much feedback. Another downside is that fingerprints show up easily.

Read more about interior »

Escalade Performance

Escalade Engine: Muscular V8

Regardless of body type, the Escalade comes with a 420-horsepower 6.2-liter V8 engine and a 10-speed automatic transmission. This Caddy's V8 provides plenty of power for most driving needs. Acceleration comes easily, and the transmission makes smooth shifts.

Escalade Gas Mileage: A Shade Above Average

The 2020 Escalade earns an EPA-estimated 14 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway. Those are decent fuel economy estimates for a luxury large SUV. Adding four-wheel drive reduces that to 14/21 mpg.

Escalade Ride and Handling: Big and Bulky

The Cadillac Escalade is built on a body-on-frame, truck-based platform. As a result, it can feel unwieldy at times, with ponderous handling and vague steering feedback. The ride is generally comfortable. Rear-wheel drive is standard, and four-wheel drive is available.

Escalade Towing Capacity

When properly equipped, the full-size 2020 Cadillac Escalade can tow up to 8,300 pounds, which is among the highest tow ratings in the class. Adding four-wheel drive drops that limit to 8,100 pounds.

Read more about performance »

Escalade Reliability

Is the Cadillac Escalade Reliable?

The 2020 Escalade has a subpar predicted reliability rating of 2.5 out of five from J.D. Power.

Cadillac Escalade Warranty

Cadillac backs the Escalade with a four-year/50,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty and a six-year/70,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Read more about reliability »

Escalade Safety

Escalade Crash Test Results

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gives this vehicle five out of five stars in the side crash test and three stars in the rollover test.

Escalade Safety Features

A park assist system, a rearview camera, front and rear parking sensors, a surround-view parking camera system, and rain-sensing windshield wipers come standard in every Escalade. Teen Driver is also standard. This system lets you do things like set volume and speed restrictions for secondary drivers.

Available driver aids include forward collision warning, low-speed automatic emergency braking, full-speed forward and reverse automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, lane change alert, blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, adaptive headlights, automatic high beams, a rearview camera mirror, a head-up display, and a safety alert seat.

Read more about safety »

Cadillac Escalade Dimensions and Weight

The 2020 Escalade is between 17 and 18.7 feet long. Its curb weight ranges from 5,311 to 5,728 pounds.

Where Is the 2020 Cadillac Escalade Built?

GM builds the Escalade in Texas.

Which Cadillac Escalade Model Is Right for Me?

Cadillac offers the Escalade in standard- and long-wheelbase models. If you need lots of cargo and third-row passenger space, opt for the extended-length ESV. Note that the ESV adds an additional $3,000 to the price across the board. You can also add four-wheel drive to any trim for $3,000.

Once you’ve selected a body style, you can choose from four trim levels: Escalade, Luxury, Premium Luxury, and Platinum. These trims have the same features in both the Escalade and Escalade ESV. The powertrains are the same too, consisting of a 6.2-liter V8 engine and a 10-speed automatic transmission.

The base trim is a good bet, but shoppers after more safety features should look to the Luxury trim.

Cadillac Escalade

The entry-level Cadillac Escalade has a base MSRP of $75,195. It comes well-equipped with features like a Magnetic Ride Control suspension, a locking rear differential, and the CUE infotainment system with an 8-inch touch screen, navigation, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a Wi-Fi hot spot, four USB ports, a 16-speaker Bose surround-sound stereo, satellite radio, HD Radio, and Bluetooth.

You'll also get wireless device charging, a hands-free liftgate, leather upholstery, 12-way power-adjustable front seats with heating and ventilation, power-folding third row seats, a leather-wrapped and heated steering wheel, tri-zone automatic climate control, remote start, proximity keyless entry, push-button start, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.

All Escalade models come with Teen Driver, a rearview camera, front and rear parking sensors, a surround-view parking camera system, and a park assist system.  

There are no major packages or options available for the base trim.

Cadillac Escalade Luxury

The Cadillac Escalade Luxury starts at $80,795. Along with larger alloy wheels, it gains a sunroof, second-row fold-and-tumble seats, a rearview camera mirror, and a head-up display. The Luxury trim also comes with a suite of safety features that includes lane keep assist, lane departure warning, lane change alert, blind spot monitoring, rear-cross traffic alert, forward collision warning, low-speed automatic braking, automatic high beams, and a safety alert seat.

A rear-seat entertainment system with a 9-inch screen is available for $1,720.

Cadillac Escalade Premium Luxury

With a starting MSRP of $85,195, the Premium Luxury trim gains even more safety features, such as forward and reverse automatic braking, adaptive headlights, and adaptive cruise control. A rear-seat entertainment system comes standard as well.

Power-retractable assist steps are available for $1,750.

Cadillac Escalade Platinum

The high-end Cadillac Escalade Platinum retails for $92,295 and features premium semi-aniline leather for the first two rows and Mulan leather seats for the third row. It also has 18-way power-adjustable and massaging front seats, a center console cooler, and power-retractable assist steps. No major packages come are available with this trim.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Cadillac dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Cadillac deals page.

See 2020 Cadillac Escalade specs and trims »

The Final Call

The truck-based 2020 Cadillac Escalade is not a great luxury large SUV. Not only does it have a below-average predicted reliability rating, but it's also plagued by ponderous handling and a finnicky infotainment system. Plenty of its rivals have sportier handling, smoother rides, and more-upscale cabins. If you don’t need the Escalade's high towing capacity, you might want to consider its more refined rivals. 

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • "The Escalade used to be the benchmark of the segment. But as other manufacturers advance the art, the Escalade trots along. Its V8 engine and bold styling are strengths, and the interior isn't far behind. Improvements to ride, handling and cargo space, however, are needed to keep it in the mix." -- Edmunds
  • The 2018 Cadillac Escalade is bound to impress with its bold, expressive styling that's been the hallmark for this popular nameplate. It also has a well-equipped interior, a strong V8 engine and a trick magnetically controlled suspension that delivers considerably better ride and handling than its other GM full-size SUV siblings. However, we have to say that the Escalade is for the most part a lot of sizzle and not enough steak.” -- Autotrader (2018)
  • Despite its numerous driver and parking assists, Cadillac's 2017 Escalade SUV is a massive vehicle that can be difficult to maneuver and park. If you don't need the Escalade's oversized abilities, you'll likely find a nimble Audi Q7 or Infiniti QX60 more appealing." -- Kelley Blue Book (2017)

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