Luxury and enormousness go hand in glove with the 2016 Cadillac Escalade, which is one of the largest and most opulent SUVs you’ll find anywhere. Now in its fourth generation, the Escalade can be had in standard and extended-wheelbase versions.
The current-generation Cadillac Escalade was introduced for 2015. Following the cancellation of the hybrid and Escalade EXT truck models after 2013, the fourth-generation Escalade continues with standard and extended (Escalade ESV) models.
Cadillac offers the 2016 Escalade in four trim levels: Standard, Luxury, Premium and Platinum. Rear-wheel drive is standard and four-wheel drive is optional. All models are powered by a V8 engine that’s paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission.
For 2016, the Escalade’s standard surround vision camera has been updated to permit a front-camera-only view and lane keeping assist is available. Cadillac also updated its CUE infotainment interface, adding Apple CarPlay capability.
Though it shares its full-size truck platform with Chevrolet and GMC models, the 2016 Cadillac Escalade has its own sheet metal bearing a uniquely recognizable design. From stem to stern, this SUV has a commanding presence that’s amplified by a stately grille, oversized headlamps and daytime running lamps. When lit, the front lighting combination provides a formidable presence with LED lights running along the edge of the front fascia.
The Escalade has a massive hood with distinct creases running from the grille to the front window’s edge. This SUV’s silhouette features door molding, a high beltline and multiple character lines. Blacked-out pillars and chrome edging provide a look that’s both sporty and elegant, and bold wheels make a strong design statement.
From the rear, the Escalade has an oversized liftgate, vertical combination lamps and a built-in spoiler with a hidden wiper. A full-size spare tire rests underneath the SUV at the rear of the vehicle.
From the cut-and-sewn leather interior to the 16-speaker Bose audio system and heated and cooled front seats, the 2016 Escalade hits all the high notes.
With standard room for seven, there is no penalty seating to be found, although some may prefer the extra roominess of the Escalade ESV. The center captain’s chairs are almost as comfortable as the plush front seats and can be swapped out for a bench seat if an eighth seating position is desired.
Cadillac places all controls at the ready. A 12.3-inch instrument cluster display provides sharp readouts for the speedometer, odometer and other driver features.
Steering wheel-mounted controls are sensibly placed, and the four-wheel drive switches are found to the left of the steering wheel on the lower dashboard. Push-button start is standard and is located on a rise situated between the center console and the steering wheel.
The center console provides an orderly arrangement, marked by a leather-covered hood and featuring an 8-inch color display with buttons on both sides of the screen. Beneath that is the climate control system with capacitive touch controls at the ready. Storage is offered at the base of the stack and behind the console. A pair of cup holders and an oversized storage compartment with a beverage cooler are located between the front seats.
All four doors come with storage pockets and drink holders. The second row captain’s chairs have foldable arm rests and move and tilt forward to provide access to the third-row seat. The rear-facing portion of the center console offers multiple controls, including seat heating, climate control, DVD connectivity and an auxiliary input port. In Blu-Ray-equipped models, the backs of the front seat headrests have screens. A drop down screen supplies viewing access to the third row, and Cadillac supplies a pair of wireless headphones stored within the center storage compartment.
The most comfortable seats are up front, and the driver and front passenger enjoy18-way power adjustment and three-way massaging. The third-row seat is a split-folding design and like the middle row, these seats can be flipped and folded.
Choosing the Escalade ESV provides larger rear doors for ease of access to the third row. The stretched design also supplies more legroom and cargo room over the standard-wheelbase model.
Escalade customers can choose from rear- or four-wheel drive options when outfitting their SUVs. Only one powertrain combination is available in the 2016 Escalade: a 6.2-liter V8 paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission.
This substantial V8 makes 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque. The standard, rear-wheel drive Escalade is EPA-rated at 15/22 mpg city/highway and takes regular gasoline.
The Escalade delivers excellent off-the-mark acceleration and generous passing power. Towing capacity ranges from 7,900 to 8,300 pounds, depending on the model chosen.
This SUV excels on the straightaways, taking to the open road with authority. It isn’t designed to conquer twisty roads, although body-roll minimization has improved from generation to generation thanks to Cadillac’s Magnetic Ride Control suspension. Electric variable-assist power steering automatically adjusts depending on the vehicle’s speed. Brake-pedal feel is excellent, and braking is firm.
The centerpiece of the 2016 Escalade is its Cadillac User Experience (CUE) infotainment system. CUE is presented on an 8-inch LCD touch screen found in the center stack.
As with a tablet or smartphone, you can tap, flick, swipe and spread to navigate CUE. There are also scrolling lists, as well as the ability to search favorites and zoom in and out on maps. Colorful, intuitive icons dominate the layout. You can also manage the system with the steering wheel-mounted controls or through voice recognition. The latter is particularly useful for controlling music, navigation and phone commands.
The system is enhanced by OnStar with 4G LTE connectivity, making it easy to connect to the internet wherever you are.
Apple CarPlay is offered, and it syncs easily with iPhones, facilitating seamless access to music and navigation apps.
Another nifty feature of CUE is the hidden storage compartment behind the interface. One swipe of the bar at the base of the panel and the unit rises to reveal a storage area for your wallet, smartphone or other small objects. If you need to charge your device, a USB port is included inside.
Other technologies present include a head-up display, wireless phone charging on the console, Bluetooth and a configurable gauge cluster. This model comes with five USB ports, five 12-volt outlets and a 110-volt outlet.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has given the Escalade a perfect five-star rating in side crash protection and three out of five stars for rollover protection.
The 2016 Cadillac Escalade is loaded with standard safety features, including a surround-view camera and a suite of air bags. Available safety features include lane keeping assist, automatically adjusting headlamps forward collision warning and adaptive cruise control.
Luxury, Premium and Platinum models feature blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane change alert and a safety alert seat that vibrates to alert the driver of potential hazards.
The base price for the rear-wheel-drive 2016 Cadillac Escalade is $73,965. Choose four-wheel drive and you’ll add $2,600 to the bottom line. Luxury models start at $78,040, Premium models start at $82,540 and Platinum models start at $90,345. Add $3,000 to your cost when choosing the extended-wheelbase Escalade ESV.
Our standard-wheelbase test vehicle was a four-wheel drive Platinum model. It was equipped with options expected by most shoppers in this category, and that brought the price to almost $95,000. For buyers who are a bit more price sensitive, the ornate GMC Yukon Denali is worth exploring.
The Cadillac Escalade competes in a limited sphere with the Lincoln Navigator among its most important competitors. Other models to cross shop include the Mercedes-Benz GLS, Infiniti QX80 and the Lexus LX.
Although the Cadillac Escalade shares its mechanical underpinnings with the Chevrolet Tahoe, Suburban and GMC Yukon, the design, sound-quieting materials and luxury trappings place this model in a class of its own. When it comes to lavish elegance, the Escalade delivers.