$18,338 - $22,232

2012 Cadillac Escalade Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2012 Cadillac Escalade was new.


Performance: 8.4

Reviewers love the ample power from the 2012 Cadillac Escalade’s standard V8 engine, and they say that the Escalade handles relatively well. However, it’s still a truck-based SUV, so it won’t be as nimble or car-like as competing crossovers like the Audi Q7.

  • "At its core, the Escalade is the ultimate realization of GM's full-size truck and SUV platform. A beefy 403-horsepower V8 is standard and provides excellent acceleration for a truck that weighs nearly 3 tons. An adjustable suspension that's standard on all but the base Escalade optimizes ride and handling." -- Edmunds

Acceleration and Power

The 2012 Cadillac Escalade comes with a 403-horsepower, 6.2-liter V8 engine and a six-speed automatic transmission. Because big, powerful V8 engines can be very thirsty for fuel, General Motors has equipped the Escalade’s powerplant with cylinder deactivation. That means four of the engine’s eight cylinders shut down when they’re not needed, like when the Escalade is cruising or idling. The EPA estimates that two-wheel drive Escalades and Escalade ESVs will net 14/18 mpg city/highway, while both models with all-wheel drive get 13/18 mpg.

Reviewers love the Escalade’s ample power. Some appreciate the sound of the muscular V8, but others wish it was a bit quieter. Though the automatic transmission features manual shift buttons, it’s important to remember that these help the Escalade tow, rather than give it any semblance of sportiness.

  • "Available in regular length or superlong ESV, the Escalade packs a strong V-8 that sounds delightful.” -- Car and Driver
  • "On the road, the … Cadillac Escalade delivers swift acceleration at all speeds thanks to its big 403-hp V8.” -- Edmunds
  • "Escalade's V8 is subdued at highway speeds, but roars loudly during rapid acceleration. Its exhaust note is nearly always heard.” -- Consumer Guide

Handling and Braking

For such a large, truck-based SUV, reviewers say the 2012 Cadillac Escalade handles well. The ride is enhanced by an optional road-sensing suspension called Magnetic Ride Control, which uses a computer to provide real-time dampening of bumps and ruts to create a smooth ride. Though the base Escalade is rear-wheel drive, all-wheel drive models are available. Reviewers agree that all-wheel drive increases the Escalade's handling abilities, and that the extra-long wheelbase of the ESV makes for an even smoother ride. The Escalade offers plenty of braking power for secure and controlled stops, which is great for an SUV that weighs almost three tons.

  • "Escalade's ride is comfortably absorbent, despite its traditional truck-type design and available 22-inch tires. ESV and EXT models have a longer wheelbase and a smoother ride.” -- Consumer Guide
  • "Its handling inspires confidence, especially with the active Magnetic Ride Control suspension, though you'll never mistake the Escalade for anything other than a truck-based SUV.” -- Edmunds


While few reviewers had a chance to hook a trailer up to their Escalades, those who did noted that the Escalade can pull heavy loads without a problem. A standard manual shift mode on the transmission allows drivers more control while towing. The Escalade can tow up to 8,300 pounds when properly equipped, which is plenty of power for towing a boat to the lake or a few horses to a show.

  • "As for power, the ESV's 6.2-liter V8 is as smooth as glass and has what feels like endless reserves of torque on hand. If you need to tow a boat or horse trailer, the Escalade's V8 suddenly becomes indispensable.” -- Kelley Blue Book

Find the Best Price

Enter your zip code to get local pricing.

Get Dealer Quotes

To get dealer quotes, enter your zip code.

Search Used Listings

To search used listings, enter your zip code.

Change Location

Enter your zip code to see listings near you.

Please enter a valid zipcode

Best Price Program

Interested in a New?

Use the U.S. News Best Price Program to find great deals and get upfront pricing on the.