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2019 Cadillac Escalade Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 7.6

The 2019 Cadillac Escalade has a hearty V8 engine that's proficient at getting up to speed quickly or towing a heavy trailer. It also gets good gas mileage, especially on the highway. The ride quality isn't as refined, however. While the Escalade is a decent cruiser, you'll feel corners and bumps more in this Caddy than with many other SUVs.

  • "From behind the wheel the 2018 Cadillac Escalade is a pussy cat. The Caddy is comfortable, easy-to-drive, sure-footed and powerful. Sure it's big, and parking this beast or backing it up in tight parking garages can be challenging, but on the road it's like a high-riding luxury sedan with impeccable manners and a refined ride." -- Kelley Blue Book (2018)
  • "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

Under the hood of the Escalade is a 6.2-liter V8 engine that's mounted to a 10-speed automatic transmission. It’s a smooth powertrain, and the transmission is artful in its gear selection. The 420-horsepower Escalade accelerates with ease, and it never seems burdened by its massive size. Its 8,300-pound tow rating is one of the highest among large luxury SUVs.

Overall fuel economy is slightly above average, partly because Cadillac's cylinder deactivation system results in superb efficiency on the highway. The Escalade gets 14 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway.

  • "The 6.2-liter V8 engine is responsive, torquey and sounds good as the revs rise. Thanks to its 420 hp, 460 lb-ft of torque and quick-shifting 10-speed transmission, 0-60 mph comes in at 6.6 seconds, remarkable for such a large vehicle. The throttle is one of the Escalade's high points." -- Edmunds
  • "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 (2018)
  • "The V8 engine is particularly smooth when cruising. I noted that the Escalade's Active Fuel Management cylinder deactivation technology is both aggressive in shutting down half of the engine's cylinders when unnecessary and very smooth in its transition between the two operation modes. I'd hardly notice that the system was operating without a glance down at the digital instrument cluster to see the little 'V4' light glowing, a common occurrence when coasting along at the speed limit or decelerating for a stop or in traffic." -- CNET (2017)

Handling and Braking

The Escalade comes standard with rear-wheel drive and a rapidly adjusting suspension system dubbed Magnetic Ride Control. Four-wheel drive is available. Because the Escalade is built on a truck platform, it handles much like a pickup truck. It feels bulky around turns, and it doesn't ride as smoothly as a smaller SUV.

  • "The Escalade has low cornering limits, even among other full-size SUVs. The adjustable shocks keep body motions under control, up to a point. Sport mode stiffens the ride and further decreases body roll but is chattery on bumpy roads. The Escalade is a big SUV, and there's no escaping physics." -- Edmunds
  • "On the road, the Escalade drives much as you'd expect: like a big, bulky truck. Now, at least, Cadillac's impressive Magnetic Ride Control suspension system irons out some of the uncouth body motions and jiggling of GM's other full-size SUVs. The ride is subsequently much better. " -- Autotrader (2018)
  • "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 (2018)
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