2018 Cadillac Escalade

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MSRP: $74,695 - 99,795

2018 Cadillac Escalade Review

Among luxury large SUVs, the 2018 Cadillac Escalade's poor predicted reliability score, low safety scores, and less-than-generous cabin keep it near the bottom of our rankings.




Critics' Rating: 8.7
Performance: 7.8
Interior: 7.7
Safety: N/A
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

Pros & Cons

  • First-rate cabin
  • Punchy V8 engine
  • Excellent towing capacity
  • Long-wheelbase ESV models have spacious third rows and cargo areas
  • Finicky infotainment system
  • Crossovers offer better ride and handling
  • Cramped third-row and cargo space in standard-wheelbase model
  • Poor predicted reliability

Is the Cadillac Escalade a Good SUV?

As far as luxury large SUVs go, the 2018 Escalade is a decent vehicle. Its monstrous V8 engine matches its commanding size, and fuel economy is good among class rivals. Ride quality is smooth, and its interior has top-notch materials. From a 360-degree camera to a built-in Wi-Fi hot spot, the Escalade has a long list of available features. However, the Escalade's below-average passenger and cargo space and fussy infotainment system don't fare well against the competition. Additionally, its poor predicted reliability rating is the worst in the class.

Should I Buy the Cadillac Escalade?

If you want a large upscale vehicle that's strong enough to tow a trailer, you should consider purchasing the 2018 Cadillac Escalade. If towing isn't your main concern, you will most likely prefer a smaller 3-row luxury crossover instead. Not only do they handle better, but they have smoother rides and better fuel efficiency.

Should I Buy a New or Used Cadillac Escalade?

The Escalade was fully redesigned for the 2015 model year and has seen only minor updates since then. The 2018 Cadillac Escalade gains a 10-speed automatic transmission but is otherwise unchanged from 2017. That means you can spend less for an older model from this generation while getting an Escalade that's very similar to the 2018 model.

Be sure to visit our overviews of the 2016 Cadillac Escalade and 2017 Cadillac Escalade if you're interested in a used model. Also, check out our Used Car Deals page for the latest deals and incentives on used vehicles.

Compare the 2016, 2017, and 2018 Cadillac Escalade »

We Did the Research for You: 29 Pieces of Data Analyzed

We analyzed 29 Cadillac Escalade reviews to give you an idea of this SUV’s pros and cons. We’ve also included fuel economy estimates, safety scores, and more to help you decide if the 2018 Escalade is the right option for you. This review uses applicable research for all model years in this generation, which spans the 2015 through 2018 model years.

Why You Can Trust Us

U.S. News Best Cars has been ranking vehicles since 2007, and our editorial staff has more than 75 years of combined experience in the auto industry. To keep our reviews impartial, we don't accept expensive gifts or trips from car companies, and an external partner places and sells the ads on our site.

How Much Does the Cadillac Escalade Cost?

Prices for the 2018 Escalade start at $74,695 for the base model, which is right in the middle of the price range for luxury large SUVs, though many luxury 3-row crossovers cost much less than the Escalade. The Escalade's top-of-the-line Platinum trim with four-wheel drive starts at $96,795.

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 Land Rover Range Rover?

If you're looking for an excellent, upscale SUV – and can make do with two rows of seats – the Land Rover Range Rover is the luxury large SUV for you. The Range Rover’s base engine and optional turbodiesel engine both get better gas mileage estimates than the Escalade. The Range Rover is an excellent off-roading SUV that also has a cushioned ride. While you'll have to pay extra for four-wheel drive in the Escalade, it comes standard in the Range Rover. The Range Rover also has one of the nicest interiors you can get in an SUV, and it's extremely spacious too. The biggest deterrent is the Range Rover’s above-average base price. Still, if you're willing to spend roughly $12,000 more than the Escalade, the Range Rover is the superior option.

Which Is Better: Cadillac Escalade or GMC Yukon?

The GMC Yukon and Cadillac Escalade are very similar. In fact, the top-of-the-line Yukon Denali trim is nearly identical to the base Escalade. Both the Escalade and Yukon have lavish cabins with high-quality materials and soft-touch surfaces such as various leathers and real woods. The Yukon Denali has the same 6.2-liter V8 engine as the Escalade, though the base Yukon has a smaller standard V8. The similarities end when talking about price. Even the high-end Yukon Denali is several thousand dollars cheaper than the base Escalade. For this reason, you should go with the Yukon.

Compare the Escalade, Range Rover, and Yukon »

Escalade Interior

How Many People Does the Escalade Seat?

With the standard second-row captain's chairs, the Escalade seats seven. An optional bench seat increases seating capacity to eight. Leather seats, heated and ventilated front seats, heated second-row seats, and a heated steering wheel are standard. Higher trims have premium leather, 18-way power-adjustable front seats, and massaging front seats. The first and second rows offer ample head- and legroom, though side-to-side shoulder space is a bit more cramped. In standard-wheelbase models, the third row is best suited for children, but the long-wheelbase ESV offers a more adult-friendly third row.

Escalade and Car Seats

Both second-row outboard seats have a full set of LATCH connectors to securely install child safety seats. There's an additional upper tether anchor on the third-row middle seat. The Escalade also has a rear-seat reminder, which encourages the driver to check the rear seat before exiting the SUV.

Escalade Interior Quality

The Escalade's cabin is undeniably high-end, with first-rate materials like leather and wood covering every surface. The styling inside is modern and appealing.

Escalade Cargo Space

There's 15.2 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third-row seats in standard-wheelbase models and a maximum of 94.2 cubic feet. While the overall cargo capacity of the Escalade is great for the class, many other SUVs can accommodate more cargo behind their third row of seats. Long-wheelbase ESV models offer much more space to swallow up your luggage, with a maximum of 120.9 cubic feet. Even with all three rows of seats in use, the Escalade ESV gives you 39.3 cubic feet of cargo space.

Loading the Escalade is easy thanks to standard power-folding third-row seats and an optional hands-free power liftgate. The load floor is flat when the seats are folded, though it is high above the ground.

Escalade Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

As you might expect, the Escalade's dash is elegant and loaded with tech. The CUE infotainment system has an 8-inch touch screen, Bluetooth, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration. The system itself is a mixed bag. It's an attractive system with numerous features, but its menus are cumbersome to sort through and input response times are slow. The center stack's physical controls are touch sensitive as well, and they, too, suffer from slow responses.

Read more about interior »

Escalade Performance

Escalade Engine: Brawny V8

A brawny 6.2-liter V8 engine gives the Escalade ample power, making it easy to pass other cars or merge onto the highway. You can easily speed away from stops, too. A smooth-shifting 10-speed automatic transmission is new for 2018.

Escalade Gas Mileage: Not Terrible

Rear-wheel-drive models get up to 14 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway, which is a bit above par for the class.

Escalade Ride and Handling: Not As Comfortable or Composed As Crossovers

The Escalade is built on a truck-based platform rather than a car-based crossover platform, so it's not as athletic as some rivals; nor does it have as smooth of a ride. Still, the Escalade's standard Magnetic Ride Control adaptive suspension smooths out most rough patches of pavement while keeping this SUV composed through turns. Consider passing on the optional 22-inch wheels, which only make the ride bumpier over broken pavement.

Escalade Towing Capacity

When properly equipped, the Escalade can tow up to 8,300 pounds. That's good for the class but can't quite match the Lincoln Navigator's maximum towing capacity.

Read more about performance »

Escalade Reliability

Is the Cadillac Escalade Reliable?

The 2018 Escalade has a predicted reliability rating of two out of five from J.D. Power. That’s the lowest score a vehicle can earn.

Cadillac Escalade Warranty

The 2018 Cadillac Escalade is covered by 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

In National Highway Traffic Safety Administration testing, the Escalade earned a four-out-of-five-star overall rating, with five stars in the side crash test, four stars in the front crash test, and only three stars in the rollover test. Most luxury three-row crossovers earn much better safety ratings.

Escalade Safety Features

Standard safety features in the 2017 Escalade include a 360-degree parking camera, front and rear parking sensors, active park assist, and a Teen Driver system. Many more safety systems are available, including forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, driver drowsiness monitoring, a safety alert seat, and a rearview camera mirror.

Read more about safety »

Which Cadillac Escalade Model Is Right for Me?

Even though the base Escalade has an extensive list of standard features, we recommend stepping up to the Luxury model because it adds several driver assistance features that prove helpful when navigating this very large SUV.

All models come standard with a 6.2-liter V8 engine, a 10-speed automatic transmission, and rear-wheel drive. Four-wheel drive is a $3,000 option. You can get a long-wheelbase ESV model for $3,000 more. A rear-seat entertainment system is optional in base and Luxury models for $1,995.

Cadillac Escalade

The base Escalade starts at $74,695 and comes standard with leather upholstery, remote start, heated and ventilated front seats, heated second-row seats, a power-folding third-row seat, a heated steering wheel, power-adjustable pedals, and tri-zone automatic climate control. It also includes an 8-inch touch screen, navigation, a 16-speaker Bose surround-sound system, Bluetooth, satellite radio, HD Radio, five USB ports, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, a Wi-Fi hot spot, and wireless device charging. Standard driver assistance features include a 360-degree parking camera, front and rear parking sensors, active park assist, a rear-seat occupant reminder, and a Teen Driver system.

Cadillac Escalade Luxury

With the $80,295 Luxury trim, you get a sunroof, a head-up display, forward collision warning with low-speed automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, a safety alert seat, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, driver drowsiness monitoring, and a rearview camera mirror.

Cadillac Escalade Premium Luxury

Priced at $84,695, the Premium Luxury model adds a Blu-ray rear-seat entertainment system, adaptive cruise control, full-speed automatic emergency braking, and cornering headlights.

Cadillac Escalade Platinum

The Escalade Platinum, which tops out the range, is priced at $93,795 and comes with premium leather upholstery, 18-way power-adjustable front seats, massaging front seats, power-retractable steps, a dual-screen rear-seat entertainment system, a built-in cooler, and unique styling elements.

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 2018 Cadillac Escalade specs and trims »

The Final Call

The 2018 Cadillac Escalade is the epitome of a large truck-based SUV that pairs cabin luxury with exceptional towing capabilities. That trucklike body-on-frame build, however, has its downsides. Ride comfort over less-than-perfect roads can be rough. Additionally, the Escalade isn't as composed around corners or as fuel-efficient as many car-based crossovers. It also has the lowest possible predicted reliability rating.

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

  • Unfortunately, the Escalade ESV's ride is a bit rough because of those truck-based underpinnings and massive wheels, so it isn't the most comfortable vehicle in the class. Some rival crossover SUVs are easier to live with and get better fuel economy to boot. But if you need the kind of capability the 2017 Cadillac Escalade ESV provides, it's worth a close look." -- Edmunds (2017)
  • "While there are a number of full-size luxury SUVs from which to choose, none offer the 2016 Cadillac's Escalade's combination of body configurations, power, luxury and sheer presence. If there were an award for most artful use of chrome trim, the Escalade's grille alone would win it hands down. Where other luxury SUVs seem to be downsizing, the long-wheelbase 2016 Escalade ESV proves bigger is still better, providing even more interior space than the standard-wheelbase Escalade." -- Kelley Blue Book (2016)
  • "The Cadillac Escalade has long been known for its bold, expressive styling, its large size, its luxurious interior and its brawny V8 engine." -- Autotrader (2016)
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