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2018 Cadillac Escalade Review

The 2018 Cadillac Escalade’s fussy infotainment system and small third row in the standard wheelbase model, as well as the greater all-around appeal of rivals, keep it in the bottom half of our luxury large SUV rankings.

Pros & Cons

  • Lots of cargo room in Escalade ESV
  • Punchy V8 engine
  • Premium cabin materials
  • Finicky infotainment system
  • Firm ride




Critics' Rating: 8.7
Performance: 7.8
Interior: 7.7
Total Cost of Ownership: 6.3
This model has never been fully tested for safety. Its overall score is being calculated without safety.
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

2018 Cadillac Escalade Overview

Is the 2018 Cadillac Escalade a Good Used SUV?

The 2018 Escalade is an OK luxury large SUV. The Cadillac’s primary downfall is that it gets overshadowed by many of its rivals.

The 2018 Escalade has several strengths:

  • Handsome cabin with high-quality materials
  • ESV models have huge cargo holds and spacious third rows
  • Powerful V8 engine
  • Higher towing capacity than many rivals
  • Below-average ownership costs for the class

It also has a few weaknesses:

  • Infotainment controls can be hard to use
  • Less sporty and comfortable than rivals
  • Cramped third row in standard wheelbase model
Why You Can Trust Us

Our goal is to provide you with the information you need to make car shopping a breeze. You'll find everything you need to know about this vehicle in our comprehensive Cadillac Escalade review. It combines concrete data like predicted reliability ratings, crash test results, and cargo space dimensions with professional evaluations from 29 automotive sources.

We’ve been reviewing cars since 2007, and our Best Cars team has more than 75 years of combined automotive experience. We also award the Best Cars for the Money, Best Cars for Families, and Best Vehicle Brands on an annual basis. To ensure our impartiality, a third party handles our advertising, and we don't accept expensive gifts from automakers.

How Much Is the 2018 Cadillac Escalade?

Based on listings for the 2018 Cadillac Escalade on our site, the average list price is $67,600. Prices range from $55,900 to $80,000 and vary depending on the vehicle’s condition, mileage, features, and location.

See the Best Used Car Deals »

How Much Does the 2018 Cadillac Escalade Cost to Own?

The 2018 Escalade’s five-year costs for gas, insurance, repairs, and maintenance are projected to be around $34,300, or $6,860 per year. That’s well below average among luxury large SUVs.

Is It Better to Buy a Used or New Escalade?

Cadillac made no major changes to the 2019 Escalade. You can likely spend less and get a virtually identical vehicle by purchasing a 2018 model instead.

Read about the new Escalade »

Cadillac redesigned the Escalade for the 2015 model year. Most updates since then have been minor. The 2016 model gained a revamped infotainment system. For 2017, Cadillac added a rear-seat reminder and the Teen Driver safety system to the standard features list and made a rearview camera mirror and park assist available. For 2018, a 10-speed automatic transmission replaced the eight-speed unit in earlier models.

A previous generation Escalade will cost you even less money, but you’d miss out on substantial updates, including a stronger engine (by 17 horses), a power-operated and fold-flat third row, refreshed interior and exterior styling, and more safety features, including forward collision warning and a head-up display.

Compare the 2017, 2018, and 2019 Escalade »

See the Best New Car Deals »

See the Best New Car Lease Deals »

How Reliable Is the 2018 Escalade?

J.D. Power gives the 2018 Cadillac Escalade a predicted reliability rating of three out of five, which is about average.

Read more about Escalade reliability »

2018 Cadillac Escalade Recalls

At the time of writing, no recalls have been issued for the 2018 Cadillac Escalade. One recall has been issued for the 2018 Cadillac Escalade ESV:

  • Rear seat belt retractor may not lock, increasing the risk of injury in a crash

Before buying any used vehicle, make sure all recalls have been addressed.

See more information on Cadillac Escalade safety recalls »

Which Used Cadillac Escalade Trim Is Right for Me?

Cadillac offers the Escalade in four trim levels: base, Luxury, Premium Luxury, and Platinum. There’s also a long-wheelbase variant called the Cadillac Escalade ESV. Every trim has a V8 engine that makes 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque. It's paired to a 10-speed automatic transmission. The Magnetic Ride Control adaptive suspension also comes standard. Four-wheel drive is available in every trim.

The base trim is nicely equipped with plenty of tech and comfort features. For more safety features that can be especially helpful when driving this full-size SUV, look to the Luxury or Premium Luxury trims.

  • Cadillac Escalade: The base Cadillac Escalade features an 8-inch touch screen, a 16-speaker Bose stereo, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, satellite radio, Bluetooth, a navigation system, a Wi-Fi hot spot, five USB ports, a hands-free liftgate, leather seats, heated and ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, tri-zone automatic climate control, remote start, push-button start, alloy wheels. Standard driver assistance features include front and rear parking sensors, a surround-view parking camera, Teen Driver, and rain-sensing windshield wipers.
  • Cadillac Escalade Luxury: The Cadillac Escalade Luxury adds a sunroof, power-folding second-row seats, and a lot of safety features, including a head-up display, a rear camera mirror, a safety alert seat, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, and forward collision warning with brake assist. A rear-seat entertainment system with a 9-inch display is available.
  • Cadillac Escalade Premium Luxury: Premium Luxury models add the rear-seat entertainment system and even more safety features, such as adaptive cruise control, as standard equipment.
  • Cadillac Escalade Platinum: The top-of-the-line Escalade Platinum has upgraded leather upholstery, 18-way adjustable front seats, massaging front seats, unique interior styling, and a built-in cooler. In this trim, the rear-seat entertainment system has two 7-inch displays.

See 2018 Cadillac Escalade trims and specs »

What Does Cadillac's Certified Pre-Owned Warranty Cover?

Cadillac offers a certified pre-owned program for vehicles four years old or less and with fewer than 50,000 miles. Eligibility is determined by the vehicle’s initial sale date. Qualifying vehicles see the original new-car limited warranty extended to six years or 100,000 miles. Cadillac CPO models must pass a 172-point inspection. Additional benefits like towing and roadside assistance may be available, so read Cadillac’s warranty page carefully.

Cadillac’s CPO program is OK, according to our analysis, but several luxury carmakers offer better programs. These include Lexus, Infiniti, Audi, and Acura.

See the best CPO programs »

How Safe Is the Escalade?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the Escalade a four-star overall rating out of five, with four stars in frontal crash tests, five stars in side crash tests, and three stars in rollover tests. The Cadillac Escalade ESV earned five stars in frontal and side crash tests and three stars in rollover tests.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave properly equipped Escalades a rating of Basic in front crash prevention, the only test performed.

Standard advanced safety features:

  • front and rear parking sensors
  • 360-degree parking camera
  • rain-sensing windshield wipers
  • Teen Driver (which lets you set speed and audio limits for secondary drivers)

Available advanced safety features:

  • rear camera mirror
  • safety alert seat that vibrates to alert drivers
  • forward collision warning
  • low speed automatic braking
  • lane keep assist
  • lane departure warning
  • blind spot monitoring
  • rear cross traffic alert
  • forward and reverse automatic braking
  • adaptive cruise control
  • head-up display
  • automatic high beams

See Escalade safety scores »

2018 Cadillac Escalade Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: 2018 Cadillac Escalade or 2018 GMC Yukon?

The 2018 GMC Yukon is essentially the nonluxury version of the Escalade. The high-end Yukon Denali is about as close as you can get to an Escalade without actually buying one. The Yukon has the same powertrain and Magnetic Ride Control adaptive suspension as the Escalade. The Denali has a lavish interior with material quality closely resembling the Escalade’s. The Yukon also has similar cargo figures, both in its standard form and the long-wheelbase Yukon XL form. The GMC’s main advantage is price. Compared to the Escalade’s average purchase price, upper trims of the 2018 Yukon are likely to be around $2,400 less. Neither SUV is a great choice, but its affordability helps make the Yukon a better one.

Which Is Better: 2018 Cadillac Escalade or 2018 Lincoln Navigator?

The 2018 Lincoln Navigator is a good luxury large SUV. It has a spacious third row and lots of cargo space, easily eclipsing the standard Escalade. The Navigator also has a long-wheelbase L model that rivals the Escalade ESV’s cargo capacity. Both vehicles have premium cabins and plenty of standard tech features, but the Navigator has a slightly higher max towing capacity, a stronger engine, and a coddling ride. On top of that, the Navigator gets better fuel economy ratings. Buying the Lincoln costs around $1,600 more on average, but you’re getting more bang for your buck.

Compare the Escalade, Yukon, and Navigator »

2018 Escalade Performance

How Does the 2018 Escalade Drive?

The V8 engine powering both the Escalade and long-wheelbase Escalade ESV is brawny. Ample torque helps with brisk acceleration from a stop, and you'll have ample power for passing and merging on the highway as well. The 10-speed automatic transmission shifts seamlessly.

This full-size luxury SUV handles well and remains balanced around turns. The standard Magnetic Ride Control adaptive suspension generally keeps the ride comfortable. However, this is a truck-based vehicle, and the body-on-frame build lets some road bumps permeate the cabin.

  • Base engine: 6.2-liter V8 with 420-horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque
  • Drivetrain: standard rear-wheel drive; available four-wheel drive
  • Transmission: 10-speed automatic
Does the 2018 Escalade Get Good Gas Mileage?

The base Escalade gets slightly above-average fuel economy estimates from the EPA.

  • With RWD: 14/23 mpg city/highway
  • With 4WD: 14/21 mpg
Escalade Towing Capacity

When properly equipped, this Cadillac can tow up to 8,300 pounds.

Read more about Escalade performance »

2018 Escalade Interior

How Many People Does the 2018 Escalade Seat?

This luxury SUV seats seven people in three rows, though adding a second-row bench seat raises occupancy to eight. The first two rows have ample head- and legroom for most adults to sit comfortably. Third-row seating in the standard-wheelbase Escalade is tight, but the ESV’s third row is more hospitable for taller passengers. Soft-touch surfaces and high-end materials fill the interior, and higher trims add wood and leather accents for extra luxury.

Standard seating features:

  • first- and second-row leather seats
  • 12-way power-adjustable front seats
  • heated and ventilated front seats
  • heated second-row seats
  • leather-wrapped and heated steering wheel

Available seating features:

  • massaging front seats
  • power-folding second-row seats
  • second-row bench seats
  • semi-aniline leather upholstery and third-row leather seats
  • power-retractable steps
How Many Child Car Seats Fit in the 2018 Cadillac Escalade?

This Cadillac has two complete sets of LATCH connectors for securing child car seats in the second row, as well as a single tether anchor for the third-row middle seat and one for each rear seat in the ESV. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has not evaluated this system for ease of use. Additionally, there’s a rear-seat reminder system that alerts you to check the back seats when you exit the vehicle.

2018 Cadillac Escalade Features

The CUE infotainment system's touch screen can be slow to respond to inputs, and navigating its menu layout can be complicated. However, there are physical controls for some functions. Smartphone integration via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is standard.

For more information, read What is Apple CarPlay? and What is Android Auto?

  • Standard infotainment features: the CUE infotainment system, which includes an 8-inch touch screen, a 16-speaker Bose surround-sound system, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, satellite radio, a navigation system, a Wi-Fi hot spot, and five USB ports
  • Available infotainment features: a Blu-ray rear-seat entertainment system with a 9-inch display (two 7-inch screens in the Platinum trim)
  • Additional standard features: tri-zone automatic climate control, remote start, proximity keyless entry, push-button start, active noise cancellation
  • Other available features: a sunroof and a head-up display

See 2018 Cadillac Escalade specs »

Read more about Escalade interior »

2018 Cadillac Escalade Dimensions

Cadillac Escalade Cargo Space

The standard wheelbase Escalade has 15.2 cubic feet of space behind the third-row seats, 51.6 cubic feet behind the second row, and a total of 94.2 cubic feet behind the front row. The ESV has even more room, offering 39.3, 76.7, and 120.9 cubic feet of space, respectively.

The standard Escalade has more total cargo room than rival luxury large SUVs, though many of them have more space behind the rear seats. The Escalade ESV has some of the highest figures in the class. The power-folding third-row seats and flat load floor make it easy to load cargo. A hands-free liftgate comes standard.

These cargo dimensions are for comparative purposes. There is no substitute for visually examining the storage area in any car you’re considering.

2018 Cadillac Escalade Length and Weight
  • Length: 17 feet to 18 feet, 8 inches
  • Curb weight: 5,578 to 6,088 pounds

Where Was the 2018 Cadillac Escalade Built?

Cadillac built the Escalade in Texas.

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