With room for up to eight, a tow rating of up to 8300 pounds, and tons of bling, the Escalade is luxury writ large. A 420-hp V-8 and an eight-speed automatic with rear-drive are standard; all-wheel drive is optional. The long-wheelbase ESV adds about 25 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row. The rough ride and reluctant handling betray the pickup-truck foundation, and extras can push the price into the stratosphere. A tribute to conspicuous consumption, it’s more than most drivers need.
The gargantuan 2017 Cadillac Escalade ESV, and you may confuse it with a 1966 Cadillac Eldorado. Both measure a smidge over 224 inches long, both feature body-on-frame construction, and both feed (lots of) fuel to a pushrod V-8 engine. Compared to the Eldo’s 340-hp (SAE gross rating) 7.0-liter iron-block lump, however, the ’Slade’s aluminum-block 6.2-liter V-8 makes an additional 80 horsepower and boasts now ubiquitous engine technologies such as direct injection, cylinder deactivation, and variable valve timing.
Still, like that ’66 Caddy, the Escalade makes a big statement, whether we’re talking about the standard-length version or the 20.4-inch-longer Escalade ESV, which rides on a wheelbase stretched an additional 14.0 inches. The ESV provides an expansive 39 cubic feet of space behind its third row, while the stubbier Escalade offers a mere 15 cubes behind its rearmost row—four fewer than what you’ll find beneath the trunklid of the Chevrolet Impala. The ESV’s long wheelbase also allows passengers in its standard third row to sit more comfortably, as there’s 34.5 inches of rear legroom, 9.7 more than those unfortunates stuffed into the shorter Escalade’s rearmost seats will get.
The Escalade and ESV see a smattering of changes for 2017. Superficially, Cadillac renamed some trim levels. Last year’s Luxury Collection and Premium Collection are this year’s Luxury and Premium Luxury. Of more substance is the addition of Cadillac’s rearview-mirror camera system on the Luxury, Premium Luxury, and Platinum trims. With a flip of a switch, the reflective rearview mirror displays a video feed from a camera mounted at the rear of the SUV, virtually eliminating blind spots caused by pillars, headrests, and the like. Other new items include an automatic parking system that can steer the Escalade into a parallel or perpendicular parking space, the addition of automated emergency braking to the Luxury trim’s list of standard features, and a new 22-inch wheel design.