Some trucks don’t do much more than move things. Furniture, people, pets, mulch, grass seed, kids, you name it. But that’s all they do. They simply take one set of things from one place and transport it to another. And at their core, that’s all any vehicle does. But some, some do it differently than others. While some trucks are benign and vanilla as an albino ice cream parlor, some trucks move more than things. They move you.
The Cadillac Escalade has been one of those trucks since its debut in 1999. GM basically rebadged a GMC Yukon and threw it out there to compete with the Lincoln Navigator. And even though, the initial public offering was less than creative, the Cadillac brand was so strong that it carried the Escalade to success. Fast forward two decades, and the Caddy is bigger, badder, and more expensive than ever.
Thanks to so many superstar athletes and musicians having an affinity for the Escalade, Caddy has decided to cater to the upper echelon of income and offer options that border on ridiculous. The heated and ventilated seats also offer a massage function … because why not? The Bose Centerpoint sound system has a very techie-friendly feature — it creates sound waves to actually cancel out harsh road noises. Let us not forget about the 22-inch wheels and leather everything to round out the plush excessiveness the Escalade has come to represent. There are also the somewhat obvious extras like power-retractable running boards, Magnetic Ride Control, wireless charging, a hands-free lift gate, Semi-Aniline leather surfaces on those massaging seats, as well as an 8.0-inch infotainment screen up front, while two 7.0-inch screens serve to entertain second row passengers.
But aside from the nonsense, the Escalade is actually a very capable truck. Starting with a very truck-like GM naturally aspirated, direct-injected 6.2-liter 16-valve V8 that sports cylinder deactivation and variable valve timing. This is a real American V8 that produces a serious 420 hp @ 5,600 rpm and an equally impressive 460 lb-ft of torque @ 4,100 rpm. Backing up that power is a 10-speed automatic transmission that never feels like it is caught in the wrong gear, and channels all that effort to either the rear or all four wheels.
And power is the right word. The Escalade feels strong off the line, and although it weighs in at over 5,500 pounds (5,800 pounds if you opt for the extra 14-inch of wheelbase in the ESV option), this big boy hustles to 60 mph in a scant 5.9 seconds. Yes, a sub-6 second tank. Just for context, this massive monster gets up and goes faster than the sport-minded Subaru BRZ! And something tells us that the BRZ won’t be able to tow 8,000 pounds.
The Escalade also offers up plenty of safety features. Front and rear parking sensors, a surround-view camera setup, Forward Collision Alert, Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, Low Speed Forward Automatic Braking, Lane Keep Assist, Lane Departure Warning, and even an auto-parking feature.
The Escalade is a blast to drive for long distances. The world-renowned Magnetic Ride Control made famous by Corvettes and Cadillacs in years gone by does wonders in this big machine. Also, it should be noted that the weight distribution of the Escalade is 51/49 front/rear, which gives this truck a very neutral, and unexpected feel out on the highway.
As previously mentioned, the 2018 Escalade is not cheap, not by a long shot. It has a base price of $75,990 and can actually eclipse 100k if you opt for the premium package and ESV trim. Don’t blow your whole budget on this truck either, because it will continue to cost you at the pump as well. Even though returning an EPA rating of 14/21/17 city/highway/combined mpg is pretty impressive for a three ton, seven passenger showpiece, it still isn’t exactly brag worthy.
All in all, the 2018 Cadillac Escalade is a force of nature. It isn’t just a truck to haul stuff. It is a luxury item that hauls. And it moves more than just landscaping materials, it moves bystanders and causes visceral reactions from people, both good and bad. This Caddy has come a long way from being a rebadge, and finally it seems, you may just get what you pay for.