$49,310 - $61,728

2016 Cadillac Escalade Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2016 Cadillac Escalade was new.


Performance: 7.5

Test drivers agree the 2016 Cadillac Escalade's potent V8 engine is refined and delivers brisk acceleration, both in town and on the highway. The Escalade has a comfortable ride, though models fitted with the optional 22-inch wheels are uncomfortable on rough roads. The Escalade's large size and heavy steering make it difficult to maneuver in small areas.

  • "The Escalade may be quick thanks to its 420-hp V8, but it's no sports car, a fact especially obvious when you go around corners. Still, the SUV is nicely composed for a luxury vehicle, even if there's more body roll than we'd want." -- AutoTrader
  • "The changes result in a confident-handling SUV that's generally much wieldier than its ample dimensions would suggest. Accurate, well-weighted electric assist steering imparts confidence, and the trick dampers provide an excellent balance of Germanic body control and Cadillac-appropriate ride comfort." -- Left Lane News (2015)
  • "Even though this is a very comfortable SUV, Cadillac hasn't sacrificed handling ability. Surprisingly, this new GMT K2XL chassis handles like a much smaller vehicle." -- Autoblog (2015)

Acceleration and Power

Powering the 2016 Escalade is a 420-horsepower, 6.2-liter V8 engine paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. Cadillac's Active Fuel Management system, which can shut down up to four of the eight cylinders when not needed to conserve fuel, is standard. According to the EPA, the Escalade gets up to 15/22 mpg city/highway which is about average for the class.

Test drivers praise the V8 engine, which they say is refined and potent. The Escalade quickly accelerates from a stop and when passing on the highway. The Active Fuel Management system smoothly transitions from four to eight cylinders.

  • "It wouldn't be an Escalade if it didn't have a brawny V8 under its hood, and the 2016 Escalade proudly delivers. Mash the gas pedal and this big SUV easily accelerates to highway speeds." -- Edmunds
  • "The gutsy 6.2-liter V8 in the 2016 Cadillac Escalade SUV is much like its host: big, bold and robust. While passing and merging will never be an Escalade shortcoming, the same cannot be said about its fuel economy." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Power comes on smooth, and stays smooth, even when it drops to four cylinders to save gas. If you put your foot down more than an inch or two, all eight kick back on seamlessly." -- AutoWeek (2015)
  • "This Caddy's weight doesn't feel like a hindrance thanks to the accessible torque of its 6.2-liter V8. Off the line, it surges forward with a royal bellow from its discreet exhaust outlets, while at freeways speeds, there's enough grunt to make passing maneuvers a cinch. Dip into its linear throttle, and the power arrives in smooth, predictable doses." -- Autoblog (2015)

Handling and Braking

The 2016 Escalade comes standard with rear-wheel drive and an adaptive suspension. Four-wheel drive is available. The Escalade can tow up to 8,300 pounds when properly equipped.

While the Escalade's ride is generally comfortable, the ride can be a bit rougher with the optional 22-inch wheels. Still, the Escalade feels composed around corners. A few critics report the steering is too heavy and that the Escalade is difficult to maneuver in small spaces, but others think the Escalade is generally easy to drive.

  • "While the SUV's ride is bumpier than we'd expect, largely owing to 22-in wheels in most trims, the Escalade offers plush seats and a floaty feel soaking up most bumps, a quality most luxury-SUV shoppers will truly appreciate." -- AutoTrader
  • "Thanks to its Magnetic Ride Control suspension, the Escalade rounds corners with surprising grace. The steering is noticeably heavy, and the big back end can make negotiating tight traffic and crowded parking lots a bit a chore." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Surprisingly, the adaptive suspension does not produce a completely civilized ride, even in its default Tour mode. Perhaps it is the unforgiving nature of the available 22-inch wheels, but going over bumps results in tiresome impact harshness." -- Edmunds
  • "Weighty steering and a firm brake pedal accurately translate driver inputs, while offering excellent communication for such a big vehicle. If you steer this Titanic into an iceberg, you'll have only yourself to blame." -- Car and Driver (2015)

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