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2018 Cadillac Escalade Overview

Few vehicles encapsulate excess like the 2018 Cadillac Escalade. This full-size luxury SUV boasts a powerful 8-cylinder engine, numerous high-end features, and a design that gives it an impactful presence . The 2018 Escalade is a vehicle that makes driving to grocery store feel like a special occasion.

For 2018, Cadillac is making a major change to the Escalade’s powertrain. A new 10-speed automatic transmission, jointly-developed by General Motors (Cadillac’s parent company) and Ford. It will replace the previous model year’s 8-speed transmission. The new transmission will hook up to the only available engine option, a 6.2-liter 8-cylinder producing 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque. This bumps highway fuel economy numbers from 20 on the 4-wheel drive model (4WD) and 22 on the rear-wheel drive (RWD) to 21 and 23 respectively. Oddly, the new transmission drops city fuel economy from 15 to 14 with either drivetrain.

The 6.2-liter 8-cylinder is a monster of an engine that has no problem moving the Escalade swiftly from a stoplight or passing a slower vehicle. Reviewers like responsiveness and smooth shifting of the new 10-speed automatic. Towing capacity for the Escalade stands at 8,300 pounds for RWD and 8,100 pounds for 4WD. The optional 4WD system includes 2-speed transfer case to help the Escalade get through off-road terrain. However, the large wheels ranging in size from 20 to 22-inches and all-season tires means the Escalade is best-reserved light off-roading, not tackling a difficult trail with large rocks.

Despite featuring Cadillac’s Magnetic Ride Control system, the Escalade’s ride quality has received negative criticism.The shocks are meant to adjust quickly to provide a smoother ride, but the system is challenged by the way the vehicle’s large wheels are fitted to the vehicle, reducing the amount of tire sidewall that helps impacts absorbtion. Handling is where the Escalade redeems itself, feeling like a smaller vehicle when cornering with minimal body roll. Wind and road noise are kept to minimal levels.

The styling of the Escalade is bold and brash. The front comes with a large grille with a crest-less Cadillac emblem and LED headlights. A set of tall LED taillights and a long chrome trim piece make up the rear. The side profile is very clean with minimal chrome trim and a sizable area of glass.

The Escalade’s interior is top-notch with a modern design and extensive use of high-quality materials. The top-line Platinum trim goes even further with much of the dash and door panels being wrapped in premium leather. Space in the front and second rows are excellent with an abundance of head- and legroom. The seats provide excellent comfort and support for long trips. The third-row seats are best reserved for children due to a limited amount of leg and shoulder room. Cargo space is comparable to other luxury SUVs with 15.2 cubic feet behind the third row, 51.6 cubic feet behind the second row, and 94.2 cubic feet behind the front seats. Be aware that the high load floor may make loading cargo a bit strenuous.

For 2018, the Escalade retains an 8-inch touchscreen with the older Cadillac User Experience (CUE) infotainment system. CUE has improved over the years with enhanced performance and stability but some consider the system to be unintuitive. CUE does offer integration with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, allowing owners to use smartphone features through the infotainment system. OnStar 4G LTE with Wi-Fi is standard on all Escalades. The instrument cluster contains a 12-inch display that allows drivers to customize the layout to meet their needs.

For safety, all Escalades come with a full set of airbags, traction and stability control, a 360-degree view camera system, parking sensors, rear seat reminder, Teen Driver that allows a parent to set restrictions on speed and volume, and OnStar telematics. Forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring with rear-cross traffic alert, safety alert seat that vibrates the driver’s seat to warn of incoming danger, and a rearview camera mirror that provides an obstruction-free view of the rear come standard on the Premium and higher trims. Adaptive cruise control is only available for the Premium Luxury and Platinum models. The Escalade has only been crash tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) where it earned an overall rating of 4 stars.

The 2018 Cadillac Escalade ranges in price from $73,990 for the base RWD model to $96,090 for the Platinum 4WD.


Ask William Maley how he started as an automotive writer and he would say he just fell into it. Based in Michigan, William has driven vehicles of all sizes and shapes. His work has appeared on Autobytel, CARFAX, Cheers & Gears, and U.S. News Best Cars.

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