If there’s something amidst the automotive landscape that can be described as ‘excessive’ and ‘extravagant’ that would definitely be the innumerable hyper cars and supercars. However, much like these supercars, the ubiquitous full-size luxury SUVs are also amongst the flagship for many manufacturers, and also priced accordingly. That said, I reckon the full-size luxury SUV that pioneered the entire segment especially over in the US is none other than the venerated Cadillac Escalade.
Perhaps the Cadillac Escalade is not so well known for being Cadillac’s finest automotive showcase, but more notorious for its role as a ‘gangster’ ride. However, before we can discover why though, it’d be prompt to take the time and look back at the Escalade’s history.
The Escalade isn’t exactly a model that has spanned for all that long. Since massive SUVs with their primary emphasis on luxury and comfort was actually a bit of a niche market. If you take a look back to the 80s and 90s, even Range Rovers weren’t exactly built with a luxurious intent, as it still had to be as capable as old Land Rovers were, yet maintain street drivability. Back then, genuine luxury automobiles were still revolved around the idea of a sedan or coupe.
Fast forward a few years to the late 90s though, and America is just beginning to see the surge of these big full-size SUVs with massive V8s in them. While the demand for luxury full-size SUVs is burgeoning, Cadillac didn’t have the appropriate answer to this. General Motors had to scurry around, scrounge for ideas before making the decision to rebadged the GMC Yukon Denali as the Escalade in the year 1999. It was more or less a stopgap measure though primarily manufactured as retaliation to the threat that was Lincoln.
It’s not until the year 2002 that the Escalade got its own identity as Cadillac’s own full-size luxury SUV. This time, GM has also decided to market the Escalade as Cadillac’s top-of-the-line, and it was as 2000s American luxury as you could get. It was massive, had a big V8 driving it with plenty of rather primitive convenience features, and it wasn’t exactly economical to run. Sounds rather uncouth, but it’s everything that has iconize the Escalade, and cemented its name as the full-size luxury SUV of America.
Moving on, we then received the third-generation Cadillac Escalade in the year 2007. It was still quintessentially Cadillac, really. It was big and cushiony, although intriguingly (and somewhat questionably) Cadillac decided to develop a hybrid variant of this generation. Admittedly, it definitely provided more instantaneous power, but it also added a lot more weight to a car that’s already considerably heavy to begin with.
2015 saw the introduction of the fourth-generation Escalade. It’s perhaps the one with the most drastic departure though, as all current model Cadillac’s are from their predecessors. While previous Escalades were ones that had dubious quirks that people found polarizing, the newest Escalade is one made to appease the crowd. Make no mistake, it’s still a big car, but it is now also a truthfully well-developed big luxury SUV, and one that many should also consider while looking into this market. The newest Escalade is as big as the one before, still powered by a big V8, plenty of useful amenities and novelties, but it’s also decidedly well-built with an even more imposing nose dare I say.
So, why should one choose the Escalade over its rivals? For one, the Escalade is rather iconic. No other marquees have produced a full-size SUV quite so well known, bar Range Rover, for its role. It’s very contentious, and the road presence it bears squares up against even a Rolls-Royce. The latest Escalade is also known to be a very nice car all around with respectable build quality and a big emphasis on NVH, exactly how a Cadillac should be. It also offers plenty of space all-round. If nothing, the Escalade offers you one of the biggest street drivable SUV out there that money can buy. For those that want to be seen and noticed, the Escalade is also one of the best in its segment.