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    Review: 2015 Cadillac Escalade Premium 4WD


    • Driving with the King (of luxury SUVs)


    If you have ever looked at the sales charts for Cadillac, you begin to notice a trend. While most of their models are seemingly downward or climbing back up slowly, only two models have been somewhat constant; the SRX and the Escalade. We have taken a look at the SRX and have delved into why it's a big seller. Now it's time to take a look at the Escalade and ask why does it do so well?

    After the first-generation Escalade, Cadillac has been working on separating the it from the Chevrolet Tahoe/GMC Yukon in terms of design. The second-generation saw an angled front end, distinctive side molding, and a new rear tailgate. The third-generation went a step further with a new grille design, bigger wheels, and other design touches. For this generation, Cadillac decided to sharpen the lines of Escalade to give it a more striking look. Pair this with the large, five-bar grille and vertical LED headlights up front, and the thin LED taillights in the back and the Escalade may have to be one of the best looking full-size SUVs. My only complaint on the Escalade is the new emblem as it looks a bit out of place.

    The separation continues inside as the Escalade features the same dashboard as seen on Cadillac’s passenger car lineup. The driver faces a screen which provides the instrument cluster. Cadillac’s implementation of this is one of the best as the screen is clear and vibrant. Also the choice of four different layouts and being able to customize what information is displayed adds a nice touch. That also means Cadillac’s CUE system is present in the center stack. Like other Cadillac models I have driven, the CUE system had its share of slow response time and not recognizing inputs. I’m wondering what Cadillac has in store for the next-generation of CUE and if it can improve its share of problems.

    2015 Cadillac Escalade Premium AWD 12

    Luxuries are top notch with the Escalade featuring quite the assortment of leather, wood, and piano black trim throughout the interior. Leather wrapped seats provide excellent support for long drives. Front seat passengers get 12-way power adjustments to find that perfect position, while ventilated seats provide an added level of comfort dependent on the season. Second row passengers are treated to captain chairs with heat. Headroom I found to be excellent, while legroom is a little bit tight. Like the Tahoe I drove last year, the Escalade’s third row is best reserved for small kids or to be folded into the floor.

    For powertrain and ride impressions, see page 2


    You only have one choice of engine for the Escalade: A 6.2L V8 with 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque. The engine makes quite the statement of its intention when you first start it up; sounding more like a Corvette than a truck engine. Despite the Escalade’s curb weight of 5,840 pounds, the 6.2L shrugs it off like nothing. Power is seemingly available through the rev range. Helping matters is a new eight-speed automatic which provides buttery smooth shifts and is barely noticeable. As for fuel economy, the EPA rates the Escalade 4WD at 15 City/21 Highway/17 Combined. My average for the week landed around 13.2 MPG, mostly due to below zero weather and driving in stop and go traffic.

    The Escalade’s underpinnings are very much an old-school truck with a live rear axle and body-on-frame construction. But you wouldn’t know that if you took it out onto the road. The ride is very smooth, and no road imperfections make their way in. This is partly due to the Magnetic Ride Control system which quickly adjusts to provide the best ride quality as possible. Also helping is an independent front and five-link rear suspension setup. Steering has excellent weight and feel which makes you feel a little bit more in control with the Escalade. Also Cadillac should be given props for providing a very quiet interior that could rival a library. A noise cancellation system and loads of sound deadening make the Escalade a perfect long distance partner.

    2015 Cadillac Escalade Premium AWD 8

    My only concern with the Escalade’s driving are the brakes. They don’t inspire much confidence. With a mushy pedal feel and having to push farther on the pedal than should be expected, I felt at times that I wasn’t going to be able to stop it in time. This is something I hope GM addresses in the near future.

    Why is the Escalade one of Cadillac’s top sellers? I think it comes down to a few reasons. One is that the Escalade is one of the elder statesmen of the class, alongside the likes of the Lincoln Navigator and Range Rover. It also helps that the Escalade is part of the pop culture lexicon. Consider how many pictures or movies/TV shows have stars and music artists driving/riding in an Escalade. That does a lot for a vehicle’s rep.

    Final reason? The Cadillac Escalade is just a dang good SUV. The fourth-generation model shows how much work Cadillac put into this. But it should be noted that all of this work and refinement does come at a cost. A 2015 Escalade starts at $72,970, while my Premium 4WD tester rings in at $89,360. That may put some people off, but I feel Cadillac can very much justify it.

    In this class, it's about the style, the image, and the luxuries. The Escalade delivers on all three.

    Disclaimer: Cadillac Provided the Escalade Premium, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas

    Year: 2015

    Make: Cadillac

    Model: Escalade 4WD

    Trim: Premium

    Engine: 6.2L EcoTec3 V8

    Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Four-Wheel Drive

    Horsepower @ RPM: 420 @ 5600

    Torque @ RPM: 460 @ 4100

    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 15/21/17

    Curb Weight: 5,840 lbs*

    Location of Manufacture: Arlington, Texas

    Base Price: $84,070

    As Tested Price: $89,360 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)

    *Note: Weight is for Escalade 4WD equipped with 20-inch wheels

    Options:

    Kona Brown with Jet Black accents - $2,000

    Power Retractable Assist Steps - $1,695

    22-inch Dual 7-Spoke Aluminum Wheels - $600.00

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    :metal: Rockin it 4 generations straight! :metal: Germans have nothing on this full size bad boy. As an owner of a 2nd generation Escalade ESV Platinum edition, I look forward to upgrading to the 4th next year as is my plan. They just keep making it better all the way around.

     

    For those wondering the ESV does seem to increase the leg room in the 3rd row or it could just be my imagination but I do feel for the added length there seems to be more room inside it than in the standard Escalade. Either way you cannot go wrong with these lovely SUV's.

     

    Great write up, :)

     

    Question, did you get to test out the Entertainment system in the back? If so what did you think?

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    Enjoyed the write-up, especially the conclusion making note of all the stars driving these vehicles.  Being a huge Bob Dylan fan particularly favored the commercial from 2007.  I can only hope, they only get him to do another for the 2015.  Just saying...

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    It's almost surreal that these things cost upwards of 90K or the price of a decent sized house in my neck of the woods.

    A fully loaded Escalade ESV Platinum edition is an easy 100K. Yet they are worth every penny IMHO. Amazing rides and they last. One of the best Auto's GM makes.

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      Powertrain:
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      The Camaro’s engine lineup includes a 3.6L V6, turbocharged 2.0L four, and our SS tester’s 6.2L V8. The V8 pumps out 455 horsepower and 455 pound-feet of torque. We had the optional eight-speed automatic, but you can get a six-speed manual. The V8 makes the Camaro Convertible stupidly fun. I found myself wanting to roll down the window at a stop light to tell the vehicle next to me “let me play you the song of my people” before stomping on the accelerator and having the V8 roar into life as the light turns green. The engine will pin you in your seat if you floor it and there is a never-ending stream of power throughout the rev range. A nice touch is the optional dual-mode exhaust system that only amplifies the noises of the V8. The eight-speed automatic is ofine around town and on the highway but stumbles somewhat in enthusiastic driving where it takes a moment to downshift when slowing down. Fuel economy for the Camaro SS Convertible stands at 17 City/28 Highway/20 Combined. I got about 19 mpg during my week-long test.
      Ride & Handling:
      Describing the ride and handling characteristics of the Cascada can be summed up in one word; smooth. Buick’s engineers tuned the Cascada’s suspension to deliver an almost magic carpet ride. Even with a set of twenty-inch wheels as standard equipment, the Cascada is able to deal with rough roads with no issues. Around corners, the Cascada feels planted and body roll is kept in check. But don’t plan on doing anything enthusiastic with it. The steering is a little bit too light for it. Drive it like a relaxed cruiser and you’ll enjoy it. Wind buffeting is minimal with either the windows rolled up or down.
      The Camaro Convertible is shocking as to how well it handles. Part of this comes down to optional Magnetic Ride Control (MRC) system which limits body roll. Chevrolet engineers also worked on improving the structural rigidity of the Camaro. The combination makes the convertible just as good as the coupe in corners. Direction change is fast and there is plenty of grip coming from the meaty tires. Where the Camaro Convertible falters is the ride quality. The SS comes with a set of twenty-inch wheels. While they do look sharp, it makes for a somewhat unbearable ride. Bumps of any size are clearly transmitted to those sitting inside. MRC does its best to provide a comfortable ride, but it might be worth considering going down to a smaller wheel to improve the ride. Wind buffeting is kept in check with the windows up or down.
      Price:
      The 2016 Buick Cascada starts at $33,065 for the base model. Our up-level Premium starts at $36,065 and comes to an as-tested price of $37,385 thanks to the vehicle being finished in an optional blue color. You really don’t get much in terms of additional features when compared to the base Cascada aside from some additional safety features - front and rear parking sensors, lane departure warning, and forward collision alert - and automatic wipers. Also for that amount of cash, you could with the Audi A3 cabriolet which offers a slightly more premium interior. But you would lose out on the larger back seat of the Cascada. You would be better off with the base Cascada.
      If you have your heart set on a Camaro Convertible, be ready to shell out the cash. The 2016 Camaro 2SS Convertible carries a base sticker of $48,300 - $6,005 more expensive than the coupe. Add on the list of options fitted to our tester such as the eight-speed automatic, magnetic ride control, and dual-mode exhaust system and you’ll end up with an as-tested price of $54,075. I’ll give you a moment to pick yourself up from the floor due to the price shock. The Camaro is nice car all-around, but is it really worth dropping $54,000?! We’re not so sure. 
      Verdict:
      Both of vehicles have issues that don’t make them as appealing. The Cascada’s engine either needs to be kicked to the curb or head off to the gym to get a bit more power. It would nice if Buick could also figure how to put in the dash from the updated Encore into the Cascada, although that might prove to be an engineering nightmare and something that would be better suited for the next-generation model. The Camaro Convertible’s price tag will make a number of people and their bank accounts cry. Also for being a convertible, the Camaro still feels as claustrophobic as the coupe.
      But when you drop the tops in both models, you forget all about the issues. Instead, you begin to take in the sky and rush of the wind. This makes you remember why you bought a convertible, to enjoy the feeling of openness. It is only when you put the top back up that makes you wonder if you can live with the issues. In the case of the Cascada, the answer is no. The Camaro is a maybe.
       
       
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      Make: Buick
      Model: Cascada
      Trim: Premium
      Engine: Turbocharged 1.6L SIDI DOHC with VVT
      Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, Six-Speed Automatic
      Horsepower @ RPM: 200 @ 5,500
      Torque @ RPM: 207 @ 1,800 - 4,500, 221 @ 2,200 - 4,000 (with overboost)
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 20/27/23
      Curb Weight: 3,979 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Gliwice, Poland
      Base Price: $36,065
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      Driveline: Rear-Wheel Drive, Eight-Speed Automatic
      Horsepower @ RPM: 455 @ 6,000
      Torque @ RPM: 455 @ 4,400
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      Curb Weight: 3,966 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Lansing, MI
      Base Price: $48,300
      As Tested Price: $54,075 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Magnetic Ride Control - $1,695.00
      Eight-Speed Automatic - $1,495.00
      Dual-Mode Exhaust - $895.00
      Chevrolet MyLink with Navigation - $495.00
      20" 5-Split Spoke Aluminum Wheels - $200.00

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