What do our experts think of the 2023 Cadillac Escalade? We look at powertrain, interior options, trim levels, and more. Find out our thoughts here.
The only significant change to the 2023 Escalade lineup is the addition of a new top trim, the V. Just like previous Cadillac V-badged vehicles, the Escalade V is the performance-focused one of the bunch. To back up that claim it features a 668 horsepower supercharged V8 and standard all-wheel drive. In addition, it gets a dark styling package.
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Stunning infotainment system
Cheapish feeling rear seats
Tough to drive in tight spaces
We’d love a hybrid
The bottom five trims of the Escalade lineup all come standard with a 6.2-liter V8 that develops 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque. We’ve talked about it a little in the past. We loved it then and we still love it now. Combined with the 10-speed automatic transmission it’s one of the most playful base powertrains in this segment and has a great sound to back that up.
For those who want the same pulling power but better fuel economy, Cadillac offers an optional 3.0-liter turbodiesel six-cylinder. It’s rated at just 277 horsepower but 460 pound-feet of torque. It also gets considerably more miles per gallon of fuel.
Finally, there’s the new Escalade V with its 668 horsepower and 659 pound-feet of torque. It’s a monster that can zip from 0-60 unjust 4.4-seconds. That’s high-end sports car fast and it feels like it from behind the wheel so long as you keep it pointed straight. Brembo brakes do a great job of reeling in its 6,000+ pound curb weight but throw it into a bend at high speed and all of that weight shows up to keep speeds low.
The most thrifty powertrain on offer in the 2023 Escalade is the 3.0-liter diesel by some margin. According to the EPA, it’ll return up to 21 mpg in the city and 27 on the highway when paired with RWD.
Adding power to all four wheels only drops those figures to 20 and 26 respectively. The base V8 gets at best 14 mpg in the city and 19 on the highway and finally, the V, with its big supercharged 6.2-liter V8 gets just 11 mpg in the city and 16 on the highway.
It’s clear from the moment that you slip into either of the front seats in a 2023 Escalade that this SUV has never been so opulent. The seats are supportive, firm, and aesthetically pleasing. The dash is expansive and tech-heavy.
The materials in the 2023 model are a step or two above those used in other recent Escalades. For the first time in a long time, it seems that Cadillac is getting away from its reliance on the GM parts bin and building more bespoke switchgear for its models.
That’s not to say that there aren’t some cheap-feeling examples of parts-bin sharing still though. Some of the buttons in the center console, on the steering wheel, and to the left of the wheel still smack of something you’d find in a base Chevy Spark.
That diminishment of quality slowly grows as one goes further back into the Escalade as well. The second-row captain’s chairs are fine but somewhat board-like without the subtle but supportive curves that other full-sized SUVs offer. The third row is even more rigid and somewhat cramped in the normal wheelbase version of the Escalade.
Thankfully, those second-row passengers can enjoy a great dual-screen infotainment system with individual headphones. All passengers get the benefit of an optional panoramic sunroof too and the entire cabin is very quiet during everyday driving scenarios.
Every Escalade gets a huge dash-spanning screen that actually houses a 16.9-inch infotainment screen and a 14.2-inch digital gauge cluster together. Not only does it look very impressive but it functions incredibly well too. It’s quick to respond to touches, easy to navigate, and not as distracting as others in the segment. In addition, we love that it’s integrated beautifully into the dash as opposed to just a big rectangular tablet that’s been tacked on.
On top of that, Escalade customers benefit from a standard 19-speaker AKG sound system, a hands-free liftgate, tri-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and multiple charging ports throughout the cabin. A stand-alone optional rear-seat entertainment system is well worth its price tag if you’ll have kids in the back on long journeys.
Cadillac offers a few advanced safety features as standard equipment. They include forward collision mitigation, parking sensors, and lane-departure warning. That’s a pretty tiny package on a vehicle that costs this much.
Many optional features like adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and rear automatic braking are standard on the second trim level though. The NHTSA gave the Escalade four stars in its crash testing protocol and the IIHS has yet to release any safety info on the SUV.
The base Escalade starts out with 22-inch wheels, faux leather upholstery, the gigantic infotainment system mentioned above, a wireless device charger, tri-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, heated outboard rear seats, keyless ignition, remote start, a hands-free liftgate, and wireless Android and Apple connectivity.
The Premium Luxury trim adds a panoramic sunroof, leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, a heads-up display, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and rear automatic braking.
The Sport trim features the same equipment as the Premium Luxury trim but adds sporty graphical elements like dark trim to the exterior of the Escalade.
The Sport Platinum gets a 36-speaker AKG sound system, a rear-seat entertainment system, soft-close doors, adaptive air suspension, massaging front seats, and a leather-wrapped instrument panel along with the same sporty styling elements from the Sport trim.
The Premium Luxury Platinum trim keeps all the features from the Sport Platinum but swaps out the sporty design details for more classic styling.
The V also features everything from the Sport Platinum trim but adds the supercharged engine, standard all-wheel drive, and unique V trim to the exterior and interior.
Cadillac includes a four-year or 50,000-mile limited warranty and a six-year or 70,000-mile powertrain warranty on every Escalade. That’s considerably more powertrain coverage than rivals from Audi, BMW, or Mercedes but some of those companies offer years of complimentary maintenance. Cadillac offers a single free maintenance visit.
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This is unquestionably the king of American luxury SUVs right now in terms of performance and excess. Even the lower trim levels of the Escalade offer above-average comfort, outstanding technology, and an imposing road-going presence. Those who still want to stick with an American brand but care more about comfort and quality should look at the Lincoln Navigator. The Escalade is no slouch though and we expect it to be wildly popular across the nation.