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2018 CADILLAC ESCALADE

August 11, 2018

The 2018 Cadillac Escalade is the automotive equivalent of the castle-like Biltmore Estate, a majestic resort nestled in the mountains. The Escalade is grand with an undeniable presence.

With sumptuous leather seating, real wood accents, and an amenity sheet as long as your arm, the Escalade is a statement SUV with luxury and power to spare. Pricing starts at $74,695.

Depending on the interior layout the buyer selects, as many as eight can ride in style in the Escalade. And even if there is a backside in every seat, the Escalade ESV long-wheelbase trim has nearly 40 cubic-feet of storage space behind the third row.

That means the kids can each invite a friend along on a vacation, and unlike some three-row SUVs, everyone on the trip can bring their own luggage. Yep, this is one roomy and luxurious hauler.

The Escalade is powered by a 6.2-liter V-8 engine that develops 420 horsepower and 460 lb.-ft. of torque. The engine is mated to a new-for-2018 10-speed automatic transmission.

Cadillac said the Escalade can get to 60 mph from a standstill in less than 6 seconds, and can tow up to 8,100 pounds. That means there’s plenty of power for a carload of people, even when towing a boat or camper. This is one capable hauler.

Cadillac takes pains to make sure ride quality is good as it can be by installing its Magnetic Ride Control system as standard equipment. Escalade’s ride isn’t its strongest feature, primarily because of the vehicle’s 6,000-pound heft and truck-like suspension.

Inside the Escalade cabin, craftsmanship and quality abound. Real wood trim, ambient lighting and sumptuous leather make the interior environment inviting and comfortable. The inside of my test Escalade was in the “Maple Sugar” color with Jet Black accents, a fantastic new color combination for 2018.

Headroom is obviously not a problem in the Escalade. I was pleasantly surprised when my 6-foot-1-inch frame fit easily in row three. The heated, row-two captain’s chairs tumbled forward easily, making access to the third row easy. Each front seat headrest had a DVD screen, and drop-down DVD screens were in the ceiling for rows two and three, meaning there’s not a bad seat in the house when it comes to watching media.

While the cabin is top notch, Cadillac’s connectivity and infotainment systems take a little getting used to. The systems utilize capacitive touch technology with gesture recognition. Capacitive touch means there are no knobs at all, only flat spaces marked with system commands. Touch that spot and you get haptic feedback in your finger. Cadillac has used the system for a while now, but I’d prefer knobs at least for tuning and volume of the Escalade’s Bose Centerpoint surround-sound system. There are, however, redundant controls on the steering wheel.

Gesture recognition means the 8-inch center screen hides controls until your hand approaches the screen. When you reach for the screen, control buttons appear along the bottom edge. System adjustments can also be made by tapping and swiping the way you would your tablet or smartphone.

Connection capability for your devices is extensive, with two USB ports at the bottom of the center stack and two more in the console, which by the way has a chilled beverage holder. Twelve-volt connectivity is on the center stack, in the center console, along row three and near the rear power liftgate.

The 12.3-inch instrument cluster is configurable, and the head’s up display system is one of the best on the market.

When it comes to safety, the Escalade scores four overall stars in the government’s crash tests. Breaking that down, the SUV gets five stars in side crashes and for the driver’s seat in frontal crashes. The front passenger seat scores four stars in frontal crashes. The Escalade has a full complement of airbags, an excellent camera package and a range of sophisticated safety technology systems.

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