$28,500 - $37,492

2013 Cadillac Escalade Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2013 Cadillac Escalade was new.


Performance: 7.9

Reviewers say that the 2013 Cadillac Escalade sports a strong engine that gets it up to speed fairly quickly and that its transmission shifts smoothly. They also say that it handles well for a large SUV and has a smooth ride, but because of its size, it is difficult to maneuver in parking lots.

  • "That said, the ESV's powerful V8 delivers surprisingly quick acceleration, and its adaptable suspension is well-mannered and calibrated to strike a satisfying balance between a smooth, comfortable ride and decent handling." -- Edmunds
  • "Due to its sheer size and weight it should come as no surprise that the 2013 Cadillac Escalade lacks razor-sharp agility and steering. However, we feel the Escalade delivers the smoothest and most comfortable ride offered on a body-on-frame vehicle." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "A lumbering brute in tight spaces, the Escalade excels at highway journeys where it's quiet and comfortable. Its heavy body-on-frame architecture makes it a dinosaur, but it's a supremely useful and capable one." -- Car and Driver (2012)

Acceleration and Power

Under the hood, the 2013 Cadillac Escalade comes with a 6.2-liter V8 engine that makes 403 horsepower and 417 pound-feet of torque. Power is routed to the wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission. The Escalade gets up to an EPA-estimated 14/18 mpg city/highway, which is comparable to the fuel economy of the Lincoln Navigator and the Mercedes-Benz GL450. All-wheel drive models get slightly lower estimates. The Escalade can tow up to 8,300 pounds.

For the most part, reviewers think the Escalade gets up to speed quickly. One critic calls the engine smooth and likes the amount of torque on tap. Another auto writer says it strained when trying to get up to highway speeds.

  • "Conventional Escalades are robust, regardless of body style. Credit also goes to the smooth 6-speed transmission, which delivers prompt shifts when needed." -- Consumer Guide
  • "On the road, the 2013 Cadillac Escalade's big V8 delivers swift acceleration at all speeds." -- Edmunds
  • "As for power, the 6.2-liter V8 (standard in everything but the Escalade Hybrid) is as smooth as glass and has what feels like an endless reserve of torque on hand." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "When merging onto the highway, I felt like I really had to push its 6.2-liter V-8 engine to get up to speed." -- Mother Proof

Handling and Braking

Reviewers say the 2013 Cadillac Escalade handles well for a luxury large SUV and has a comfortable ride, but they write that it isn’t easy to park due to its length and size, which is a common complaint in this class. One critic notes that the Escalade has strong brakes with good pedal feel, but they say that quick stops will result in some pitch and dive. Rear-wheel drive is standard on the Escalade, and all-wheel drive is available on all trims.

  • "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
  • "Strong brakes have reassuringly firm pedal feel, even on the Hybrid, but fast stops trigger lots of nosedive." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Thanks to a host of electronic stability, traction and suspension controls, winding roads that would have lesser SUVs heaving and tossing are simply tamed. All the electronic aids in the world, however, can't make the Escalade easy to park." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "For obvious reasons, I didn't even bother trying to get a taste of Giant's, uh, handling. Let's just say it was highly limited." -- The Dallas Morning News (ESV)

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