Written by: Calvin Chan
Photography by: Adil Arif
It's in every blockbuster action movie you can think of. It was stolen in Gone in 60 Seconds, the albino Twins drove one (and crashed it) in The Matrix Reloaded, even Mr. Chow had one in The Hangover. Fast and Furious, Mission Impossible, pretty much any movie with a bad guy, there's bound to be one. And yes, we're talking about the Cadillac Escalade, one of the most iconic luxury SUVs on the market.
But it's unfortunate that the Escalade is fogged up in such a rebellious stereotype. People who drive Escalades are thought to be rappers with chains over their necks, drug dealers making exchanges in dimly lit parking lots, corrupt government officials that always come in packs of four, or murderers you'll find portrayed in C.S.I. Miami. But when you see a supercharged Range Rover, do you think the same thing? No. So what's the big deal about this brash American-built SUV that embodies the definition of crime and gangsters? Let's lift the fog and see what the Escalade truly has to offer other than it's bad-ass image.
The Cadillac Escalade is now in its fourth generation, and this particular model we're testing is the ESV model, which Cadillac says is not an acronym. Extended vehicle? Extra space vehicle? We don't know. What we do know is that it looks like a regular Escalade with an erection in the rear. In terms of cargo volume, the ESV offers 756 litres more than the regular Escalade, which is enough to comfortably fit a queen-sized mattress in the back for you to sleep on. A fourth row of seats could almost fit back there too. The numbers have been reduced from the 2014 ESV however (3891L versus 3424L in the 2015) to allow for more headroom and legroom for the front and rear passengers.
The 2015 Escalade's visual design follows the "Art and Science" theme of the Cadillac line-up with floor-to-ceiling LEDs and a colossal front hood. It looks best from the rear - the vertical light signature looks ripped out of a Bejeweled game and makes the Escalade look taller than it really is. The 2015MY keeps the same length wheelbase as the 2014MY. It has shrunk 35mm in length and gained 48kg in its belly, but it's now 36mm wider and 38mm taller. The Escalade still wears the old wreathed logo, but keeps blinging on with massive 22-inch "ultra-bright" aluminum wheels and enough chrome bits to light up a christmas tree.
Under the hood lies a new L86 EcoTec3 engine from GM. This beefy pushrod 6.2L V-8, which is also found in the GMC Yukon Denali, is the only engine offered for the Escalade. On tap we have 420 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque, 17 horsepower and 43 lb-ft more than the 2014MY. The naturally aspirated V-8 has good grunt and power, but you can really feel the weight of the vehicle when accelerating hard, a quality that goes unnoticed in a Range Rover. You can feel every molecule of the Escalade shift when you hit the brakes, speaking of which, aren't exactly confidence inspiring either. For a vehicle weighing four times the weight of an average cow, these brakes simply don't cut the mustard.
The 2015 Escalade receives electric power steering that has a nice weight to it. It feels light and smooth, but not enough to numb the driving experience. It also gets a traditional 6-speed automatic with Tour and Sport modes, the latter holding gears longer and increasing throttle response. We never felt like we needed it outside the world of Grand Theft Auto - Tour mode delivered sufficient enough performance. You also have the option of changing between 2WD and 4WD, but we left the knob in AUTO mode to let the computers figure out how much traction we really needed. Cadillac says the Escalade can tow up to 3681kg, but we didn't get a chance to test this out. As expected from a luxury-type truck from GM, the suspension is on the firm side but it runs quietly and confident down the straights. Magnetic Ride Control keeps the ride soft and luscious, speedbumps have never been so smooth before and you barely even notice potholes or uneven pavement.
Technology such as Variable Valve Timing, Active Fuel Management, and Direct Injection keep the Escalade's fuel ratings from skyrocketing and makes it mildly more fuel efficient than the 2014 model. The Escalade is deceptive though: we drove the car for a week and only had to fill up on the seventh day of driving. We thought, hey it must be pretty good on gas, until we realized the tank size was 117 litres. For reference, an average size tank goes around 70 litres. It requires premium fuel too, so expect to net around $120 for each fill-up. Cadillac gave us an estimate of 16.8 L/100km in city and 11.7 on the highway. We averaged around 17.8 L/100km with a bias towards city driving and it gave us a range of about 600 kilometers.
The Escalade's interior may share the same DNA with its younger cousins from GMC and Chevrolet, but what sets it apart from the Yukon and Suburban is the heavy usage of cows and trees. The cabin is a tactile canvas of exposed wood, suede, leather, and other soft materials. The choice of raw wood over veneer was a surprising choice by GM - it looks and feels great, but will easily chip and stain if you're not careful. The leather seats are comfortable, and the steering wheel is hefty, heated, and snug. The column shifter, which I am not a big fan of, is reminscent of old pick-up trucks and vans (I like the ELR's better). Though slightly obstructive, it opens up a lot of storage space in the center console area.
It's a pity that Cadillac's CUE infotainment system has made its way into every 2015 model, including the Escalade. Why has it gotten so much hate? The deletion of hard buttons and use of a clumsy haptic touch system creates a flurry of tactile confusion. So, do we click, slide, hover, press, or hold? Half the time I don't even know where I am actually supposed to put my finger. It takes some getting used to, and be prepared to "accidentally" hit some invisible buttons with your stray pinky. Keep it simple Cadillac, bring back some hard buttons and knobs - this feels like I am playing Operation everytime I want to connect my iPhone through Bluetooth.
On the other hand, a much loved and welcome feature is the hidden center compartment behind the CUE controls. There is no visible button to open it, rather you cleverly put your finger right above the CD insert to activate the electric latch. Is it the perfect utopia for illegal substances and plutonium? No, I am simply endorsing this covert storage space for your valuable items you want to keep away from the window's view.
Our Premium trim tester was equipped with an abundance of options: a Driver Assist Package and Driver Awareness Package that includes Adaptive Cruise Control, Automatic Collision Preparation, front and rear automatic braking, automatic front seatbelt tightening, and an electronic switch parking brake, Forward Collision Alert, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Side Blind Zone Alert, Lane Change Alert, Lane Departure Warning, etc, etc. Basically you can't crash this thing. I live in a condominium with a narrow underground parking space, and everytime I park and get even an inch away from the brick pillars, the Escalade engages its automatic brakes and halts the car for me. I can't even crash it if I wanted to.
The 22-inch ultra bright wheels mentioned earlier cost an extra $545.00, and full leather seating will set you back another $2100.00. We also have the Rear Seat Entertainment package that loads up the 2nd and 3rd row seats with one overhead 9" LCD screen each, capable of playing your favourite DVDs and Blu-Rays. Due to its behemoth stature, accessibility in and out of the Escalade is always scrutinized. We have optional power retractable assist steps with perimeter lighting that engage and retract everytime you open the door ($1920.00). And to show that Cadillac doesn't discriminate against the vertically challenged, you can also adjust the gas and brake pedal distance from your foot with the touch of a button.
Popularity has done the Escalade a favour in driving sales, but it's also put it near the top of every most-stolen car list in America and into theives' crosshairs. If you live in the hood, are incredibly paranoid, or just can't stand the thought of hooded bandits stealing what you bought, then the Theft Protection Package is a recommended option. It arms the Escalade with door shields that block access to those using slim-jim-type unlocking devices, glass break sensors, steering column locks, a self powered horn in case the battery is cut, and a motion sensor that sounds an alarm if a thief attempts to steal your wheels, tires, or tries to tow/lift your Escalade onto a flatbed. Cadillac might as well throw in some bulletproof glass and a SWAT-trained chauffeur into the package and call it a day. We don't have the balls, nor the equipment to test out this burglary, so we put our trust into GM that it's foolproof.
The 2015 Cadillac Escalade ESV Premium 4WD starts at an eye-gouging $93,500 and with all our delicious options, the price-tag cuts off at $99,725. Though it barely makes the sunshine list and presents as a bargain against the five-seater $116,560 Range Rover, you shouldn't overlook the more sensibly and moderately priced GM cousins. The GMC Yukon Denali XL that carries almost the same dimensions and available options as the Escalade ESV starts at a bargainable $76,530. Chevrolet's Suburban also carries the same cargo space and options, but with a smaller engine at $74,100.
Despite cheaper alternatives, sales are out the roof for these big haulers in Canada. The Escalade is also due for a mid-year 2015 refresh and will receive a more fuel-efficient 8-speed automatic gearbox, a surround-view camera display, 4G LTE connectivity, and Cadillac's new unwreathed logo. The new Escalade is one of the best valued luxury SUVs on the market, offering premium options that the Germans would sell for the cost of your kidney. The Escalade also looks better than ever before, now get over the stereotype and start driving one.
型号 Model: 2015 Cadillac Escalade ESV Premium 4WD
顏色 Paint Type: White Diamond Tricoat ($1500)
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $93,500
試車售價 Price as Tested: $99,725 (excluding $1700 destination charge)
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 3302
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 5697 / 2045 / 1880
車重 Curb weight (kg): 2761
引擎 Engine: 6.2L V8 with Direct Injection, Variable Valve Timing, Active Fuel Management
最大馬力 Horsepower: 420 hp @ 5600 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 460 lb-ft @ 4100 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 6-speed automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
前懸 Suspension-Front: SLA independent, Magnetic Ride Control, stabilizer bar
後懸 Suspension-Rear: 5-link, solid axle, coil spring, Magnetic Ride Control, stabilizer bar
油耗 Fuel Consumption (City/Highway)- L/100 km: 16.8 / 11.7 ( we got 17.8)
輪胎尺碼 Tires: 285/45R22 - Bridgestone Dueler H/L Alenza