It’s tempting to say that you either “get” the Cadillac Escalade, or you don’t. Indeed there’s some truth to it – GM’s king of bling is designed to attract attention and it does that in spades. People stare at it whether in envy or contempt, and while that’s just dandy if you’re the kind of person who likes to show off, it can be a bit embarrassing if you’re more comfortable blending in.
North American sales figures reflect the Escalade’s character rather nicely: In the U.S., where the stereotypes run to brashness and self-promotion, the Escalade has been the top-selling luxury SUV by a good chalk over the past couple of years. In Canada, where the stereotypes run more to modesty and pragmatism, it has lagged behind the sensibly Germanic Mercedes-Benz GL-Class.
But here’s the thing: While initially you might feel a little self-conscious at the thought of driving such an ostentatious beast, the Escalade has surprising charm up close, and it does a good enough job isolating you from the world outside that after a couple of days swaddled in its quiet, spacious, leather-lined comfort the question of what other people think rather ceases to matter. Give the Escalade a week or so and you might find yourself really “owning” it – climbing out and looking around for an audience, then punching the lock button a couple of times to blip the alarm before you swagger across the parking lot to the local coffee shop. Yeah it’s me, and that’s my Escalade. Deal with it.
Actually, “deal with it” just about sums up what Cadillac Canada might be saying to the folks over at Mercedes-Benz about now, because for 2015 the Escalade has been completely redesigned (it’s now based on the GMT K2XX platform), and as might be expected for a vehicle that sells largely based on image this has given it a healthy sales boost. Escalade sales perked up immediately when the new version was released, and then in January 2015 they surged ahead by a whopping 459 percent to pull ahead of the GL-Class by 153 units to 142 (for perspective, that’s a better monthly sales number than was posted by any of the Escalade’s less-expensive siblings over at the Chevrolet and GMC dealerships).
It helps that the redesign has moved the Escalade stylistically forward and given it a new level of sophistication without spoiling its iconic character. The 2015 Escalade is blockier and more angular than the old version, but at the same time it’s distinctly sleeker, with a prominent new horizontal beltline crease making it look long and lean. Other highlights include architecturally-inspired LED front character lights, almost full-height vertical LED taillights, and a bold new grille. You can judge for yourself from the photos, but whether you “get” it or not you’ve got to admit it looks good for such a big SUV. On a purely personal level I like how Cadillac’s “Art and Science” design language creates a look that’s bold and assertive without being angry-looking. After all, when you’re this big and imposing, who needs an angry, snarling grille? I’m kind of over angry and snarly anyway.