$57,312 - $74,197

2018 Cadillac Escalade Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2018 Cadillac Escalade was new.


Performance: 7.8

The 2018 Cadillac Escalade is a body-on-frame SUV (a truck-based platform), and its performance reflects its construction. The ride is mostly smooth and the handling is stable, but car-based crossovers are better than the Escalade in both regards. A potent V8 engine powers the Escalade and gets the SUV up to speed with little fuss.

  • "Despite its size, the Escalade is exceptionally easy to drive. The eight-speed transmission and 6.2-liter V8 make a good pairing." -- Edmunds (2017)
  • "On the road, the Escalade drives much as you'd expect: like a big, bulky truck." -- Autotrader (2016)
  • "Its traditional truck-type construction means that the Escalade's handling is not as polished as some competitors, but it … can out-tow those rivals." -- Consumer Guide (2016)

Acceleration and Power

A 420-horsepower 6.2-liter V8 engine mated to a new 10-speed automatic transmission powers the 2018 Escalade. Getting up to 14 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway, the Escalade earns slightly higher-than-normal fuel economy estimates for a luxury large SUV.

The V8 is incredibly brawny and effortlessly gets the Escalade up to speed, even with the added heft of the extended-wheelbase ESV model. Highway passing and merging is an easy affair, and you can tow up to 8,300 pounds. The new transmission makes seamless shifts when more power is needed.

  • "Cadillac's 420-horsepower, 6.2-liter V8 is a lovable brute. Power for passing and merging is never in short supply and the new 10-speed automatic transmission is responsive and smooth." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The big, 420-hp V8 has tons of torque, which helps give the Escalade easy and effortless acceleration. A regular Escalade we tested accelerated from 0 to 60 mph in just 6.4 seconds, and the ESV is likely just a few tenths slower. It also makes a great V8 rumble along the way." -- Edmunds (2017)
  • "The V-8 moves both the standard-wheelbase Escalade and the ESV with authority, but if you'd rather leave the driving to computers, adaptive cruise control with brake-to-stop (an Escalade exclusive) is newly available—although it isn't the smoothest chauffeur in stop-and-go driving." -- Automobile Magazine (2015)

Handling and Braking

For the most part, the Escalade has a comfortable ride, though you may feel the occasional shudder over particularly pockmarked roads. The optional 22-inch wheels make the ride rougher. This SUV holds its own around turns, however, thanks in part to its nicely weighted steering. Still, car-based crossovers are generally more athletic and comfortable than the Escalade. Rear-wheel drive and Magnetic Ride Control (adaptive suspension) come standard, and four-wheel drive is optional.

  • "GM's Magnetic Ride Control does an admirable job managing the Escalade's bulk, allowing it to soak up rough roads and negotiate tight turns with little fuss. The power-steering assist is appropriately proportioned. Add the optional 4-wheel drive and the Escalade becomes a winter warrior capable of tackling all kinds of road conditions." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "For all this, the Escalade doesn't deliver the luxurious ride quality that we expect from this brand. Even with a Magnetic Ride Control suspension system that allows the driver to tailor its performance to the driving situation, the occasional bump and thump remind you that the Escalade is derived from a truck chassis, not a car platform. Much of this lack of refinement can be attributed to the stylish 22-inch wheels, which must carry tires that feature narrow sidewalls that transmit vibration from the road into the passenger cabin." -- Edmunds (2017)
  • "Even though this is a very comfortable SUV, Cadillac hasn't sacrificed handling ability. Surprisingly, this new … chassis handles like a much smaller vehicle." -- Autoblog (2015)

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