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2015 Cadillac Escalade Platinum 4WD Review By Steve Purdy

2015 Cadillac Premium 4WD e

By Steve Purdy
The Auto Channel
Michigan Bureau

Nearly a hundred-grand worth of SUV graces my driveway this week. It still amazes me that they trust me with these wonderful vehicles while I spend a week pretending it’s my daily driver. This soft white, luxury, 7-passenger Cadillac Escalade Platinum would satisfy any potentate with a sense of style.

Escalade has been a popular choice of rock stars, industry moguls and heads of state since its introduction in 1999. This 2015 version is the fourth generation and shows a distinctive styling difference from the third. Like its GMC and Chevrolet siblings the Escalade adds more character to the outside appearance with a high, horizontal character line extending all the way rearward just under the side windows. Full LED verticle headlights and stronger grille design, 22-inch, 9-spoke premium wheels and bumper-to-roofline taillights. All this set the new Escalade off as something beyond the ordinary. Its size and presence command respect.

Getting in we first note the smooth movement of the power running board (optional) emerging from beneath the rocker panel with a quiet hum. We step up high into an impressive cabin with wide console and shinny black, unconventional center stack. No buttons or knobs are evident just chrome bars and small icons for us to touch. We’re surrounded by stitched leather, suede, wood and other nice materials exuding a luxurious ambiance. The steering wheel has an amazing range of tilt and telescopic motion and the pedals adjust for shorter or longer-legged drivers.

Driver’s and front passenger seats have a massage function but no inflatable lumbar or bolster. Second row captain’s chairs are heated. A three-screen entertainment system is part of this Platinum version of the Escalade, each with separate inputs. A 110V and a 12V outlet are located at the rear base of the console. The third row seats power-fold and split 40/60. And, a cooler is integrated into the console.

Maximum cargo capacity with second and third row seat backs folded is 94.2 cubic-feet. Behind the third row is a modest 15.2 cubic feet and behind the second row we have 51.6 cubic-feet to hold our stuff. The third row seatbacks are power operated and second row folds and tumbles with the pull of a lever. Third row seating is quite limited and full-size people wouldn’t be comfortable back there. The second row can be had with captain’s chairs or a bench seat, making this a 7- or 8-passenger SUV.

The main drawback to the Escalade and most other vehicles in the Cadillac lineup, in the view of this reviewer, is the interface system for climate control, infotainment, navigation and most of the vehicle’s functions. The brand has gone to this shinny black flat panel center stack with touch surfaces and chrome bars that manage just about everything. Yes, it does do the job but not without some fuss and frustration.

Sometimes our touch does not register and we must touch again, and maybe again. Finding our way around the menus is not always intuitive. Finding your station on the radio involves a ‘browse’ or “seek” function rather than a conventional and more effective knob. You’ll not be able to manage much with gloves on and those hard surfaces are mighty cold when operating them on a cold morning. I had a difficult time finding some of the information screens I needed, then after changing the electronic IP to the sport configuration I couldn’t get it to change back. That whole system is rather a big learning curve for a neophyte like me. I expect someone more attuned to the digital life would have much less trouble with all this.

In terms of driving dynamics the Escalade shines. Suspension seems a bit more compliant than its competitors, though without driving them back-to-back we cannot be sure of that. It is big, tough and truck-like so by its very nature is stiff, but unless we were traversing particularly rough roads it felt comfortable and under control. The cabin is dead quiet even at our usual extra-legal speeds on the highway. Steering feedback is good and with cameras, sensors and large mirrors all arounfd we always know where we are within our space – within our lane or parallel parking. For those of us who like to drive big things it is truly a pleasure and those who start out a bit intimidated by its size will acclimate quickly, I predict.

Under the hood we find a powerful, throaty-sounding, direct-injected, 6.2-liter V8 mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission. The EPA rates this powertrain at 15 mpg in the city, 21 on the highway and 17 combined. Premium fuel is recommended. That engine makes 420 horsepower and a substantial 460 pound-feet of torque and boasts a 0-to-60 time of about 6.4 seconds. With a 26-gallon fuel tank we have a decent range of around 400 miles. Towing capacity is 8,100 pounds. To summarize: we have plenty of power for everything but really heavy towing and fuel mileage only imagined on this size vehicle only a few years ago.

Our Platinum test truck shows a base price of $91,565 and includes just about everything you can think of except lumbar supports. The content list goes on and on. The only option we have is the power retractable running boards that cost about $1,700. With destination charge we’re looking at a bottom line on our sticker of $94,565.

As part of the included Driver Assist Package we apparently have a rear brake intervention system. Each time I backed into our driveway’s turn-around the system saw my 6-inch-high brick retaining wall and jammed on the brakes without my input. A bit annoying to be sure but I suppose if that was a kid’s bike, or a kid, that might be a good thing. Cameras all around the truck allow Surround Vision, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Blind Zone Alert, and what they call a Driver Awareness Package – all are important safety systems. Escalade earned top 5-Star government ratings on front and side crash protection but only 3-Star for rollover protection.

Cadillac’s new vehicle warranty covers the entire Escalade for 4 years or 50,000 miles and the powertrain for 6 years or 70,000 miles.

Much about this big, solid, luxurious Escalade would take some getting used to, most notably the controls and instrumentation, as described earlier. While its price is stratospheric the content is as well. Regular readers will know how I enjoy larger vehicles - the larger the better in most cases. This will rate near the top of that heap.

Wish I could afford one.

ęSteve Purdy, Shunpiker Productions, All Rights Reserved