2015 Cadillac Escalade, centre stack, cabin. Photos by Derek Cutting. Click image to enlarge
Review by Steven Bochenek, photos by Steven Bochenek, Derek Cutting and courtesy of GM Canada
It was telling that GM Canada chose to launch the 2015 Escalade on the cusp of Toronto’s Honda Indy weekend. The Indy is as much about high living as it is speed. Or you could say the Indy’s about luxury and velocity. All these words create a mental segue into the Cadillac brand, especially since the sea change that the ATS wrought two years ago.
Cadillac followed that with the third generation 2014 CTS, which was actually launched (introduced, that is, not hurled by a catapult, as awesome as that would have been!) from the roof of an upscale Toronto hotel last year. Its choice of three massive engines confounded traffic lawmakers, while delighting fans and silencing performance critics. Next, cleverly zigging while many expected Caddie to zag, came the ELR, which demonstrated a leap of faith in just how much of the luxury market wants to be saving world during facials. Turns out, that might have been a bit too much of a leap.
Now there’s this fourth generation Escalade. Say it out loud. The very name suggests an unending upward spiral of comfort, pampering and red-blooded power. (Or, for the fashion bloggers, Ice-Capades.)
Their formula for success is working. In 2013, the Cadillac brand grew a chart-topping 50 percent, stealing 1.5+ points of market share. This past June 2014, marking its 21st straight month of sales growth, it enjoyed a 16 percent spike in sales.
No wonder the media launch began in Toronto’s Yorkville district. This neighbourhood is infamous for its expensive fashion boutiques, bistros and small roads crawling luxury vehicles operated by fragrant men of indeterminate age with unnatural hair — plus the odd flashy hood.
On launch day, pairs were formed from an interesting dichotomy of automotive writers and fashion bloggers (yes, it was easy to determine which was which) and our convoy of land yachts began floating northwards to Lake Simcoe — a little over an hour’s drive in light traffic, which, bizarrely, we mostly had. We also had a gorgeous day. So what’s the Escalade like?
Luxury Outside and Within
Columns and chains of LED head- and taillights brightly announce your entrance and departure. Exiting, the Escalade’s new hands-free power liftgate means never having to risk breaking a nail or mussing a manicure.
Riding in it feels like you’re several storeys high. So access is improved with power retractable assist steps, a hidden running board that slides out with the opening, then disappears with the shutting of doors. Step lightly though. It’s $1,920 extra. There’s also easier mobility to the second and third rows. The heated second row folds easily and the third flattens nicely.
2015 Cadillac Escalade front row & 2015 Cadillac Escalade. Click image to enlarge
Inside you’re well looked after. The engineers have found ways to trim weight, replacing heavier materials where possible with carbon fibre. Consequently, the 2015 Escalade is fighting fit. Nonetheless, our tester weighs 48 kg more than the 2014 (105 lb). It’s weighed down with bling, and it’s easy to see where, like a successful boxer on his night out on the town.
Cut and sewn surfaces are a delight to the touch. You’re surrounded by different polished woods, leather and carefully placed accents. The seats offer so much comfort, some the paired-off driving teams fought over who gets to ride shotgun.
I’ve never been a big fan of the Cadillac User Experience (CUE — get it?) system but did find it easier to immediately interpret than when I first encountered one.
Besides, most of what a driver needs and wants is at your fingertips on the steering wheel or within inches surrounding the dials. The effect for drivers is somewhere in the range of an executive desk, home entertainment theatre and performance car… in that order. (You want near-to-the-ground feedback and control? Get an ATS or SRX. More on that below.)
2015 Cadillac Escalade cabin & 2015 Cadillac Escalade dashboard. Click image to enlarge
Back to luxuries. Not that you needed it — this vehicle is the size of postal code — but the 2015 Escalade provides increased storage in the console, doors and rear. Our tester, the ESV trim, is over half a metre longer the base model. Those letters could stand for elongated, stretched and vast.
We mentioned that it’s easy to see where they’ve added tantalizing extras. It’s also easy to hear it. Sound insulation is placed in key locations. The doors are triple-sealed. Windows feature acoustic laminate glass. Despite the gorilla beneath the hood, the cabin is as quiet as a monk’s cell — actually, make that a bank vault — until you crank the 16-speaker Bose audio system. Furthermore, with its active noise cancellation, you needn’t crank it all that loud at speed to hear what you like best in a given song.