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Eric's Autos: 2022 Cadillac Escalade

Eric Peters on

It's no accident that the bestselling Cadillac model right now is very much like the models that used to define what a Cadillac was -- back when Cadillac sold more luxury cars than any other luxury car brand.

It just happens to be an SUV.

What It Is

The Escalade is a full-size luxury SUV with three rows of seats. That gives it the same passenger carrying capacity as a 1970 Sedan de Ville, which carried the same number of people three across, in two rows of seats.

Like the old Sedan de Ville, the Escalade comes with the biggest V8 GM offers in any vehicle -- a Cadillac tradition. It is also the only Cadillac still available with a V8, and the only Cadillac that still features body-on-frame construction -- just like a '70 Sedan de Ville.

Prices start at $76,295 for the base luxury trim in 2WD (rear-wheel drive) form. A 3.0-liter Duramax diesel V6 is standard, but you can swap that out for the 6.2 liter V8 for an extra $50, making the V8 effectively a no-cost option.

A Premium-Luxury Platinum version with 4WD and the 3.0-liter Duramax diesel lists for $110,340.

What's New

The Escalade was fully redesigned for the 2021 model year, so the '22 is pretty much identical except for some minor shuffling of trim/standard and optional equipment.

What's Good

A Cadillac like they used to make them that's also good in the snow -- unlike the Cadillacs they used to make.

Last of the somewhat affordable V8s.

One of the few available diesel sixes.

What's Not So Good

Even with 24 gallons of gas in the tank, you won't go very far with the V8.

Costs more to feed the available diesel.

Expensive for a Cadillac that's based on a much less pricey Chevy.

Under The Hood

You can choose either a 6.2-liter, 420 horsepower gas V8 or a 277 horsepower (and 460 foot-pounds of torque) turbo-diesel engine. What do you get for so much less horsepower if you go with the diesel?

Range.

 

With 24 gallons of gas in its tank, the V8 Escalade has an advertised city-driving range of just 380 miles. On the same 24 gallons of diesel, the Escalade's city range increases to just over 500 miles. And on the highway, the diesel-powered Caddy can go about 650 miles versus just 480 miles for the V8.

On The Road

When you drove a Cadillac back in the '70s -- or the '60s or the '50s -- you felt like the king of the road, which you were because nothing else on the road had the large-living presence of a Cadillac.

Nothing else had an engine as big as a Cadillac's, either.

This is how you feel behind the wheel of the Escalade -- especially with the 6.2-liter V8 under the hood. The diesel has the legs, but the V8 has the sound -- also, the power. Enough to get this 5,823-pound (empty) block of steel and glass that seats six to 60 mph in six hard-to-believe-it seconds. That is something a Sedan de Ville could not do -- even when equipped with the biggest V8 Cadillac ever offered (500 cubic inches, 8.2 liters).

The Cadillac V8 rumbles soothingly at idle. Under hard acceleration this becomes an authoritative bellow, which transitions to a Corvette-like wail as the tach swings past 6,000 RPM.

But forget even that. There is something satisfying about having a V8 when almost everyone else has just a six.

At The Curb

The standard Escalade is enormous: 211.9 inches long overall. It rides on a 120.9-inch wheelbase. This makes it longer than any full-sized new car, including full-size luxury sedans like the BMW 7 Series (207.4 inches) and Mercedes S-Class (208.2 inches). It is also vastly roomier, with seating for six and almost twice as much space for cargo (25.5 cubic feet) even with those seats occupied.

The ESV extends that length to 227 inches on a 134.1-inch wheelbase, with 41.5 inches of space for cargo with all its seats in place (and 148.2 cubic feet with the second and third row seats folded).

It's not for everyone. But for the person who wants to own the Cadillac of SUVs, it's the only thing there is.

The Rest

Because it is a Cadillac, the Escalade has a plethora of luxury amenities and technology features not available in the Chevy Tahoe (or the GMC Yukon, which occupies the space in between the Tahoe and the Escalade). The chief among these being the Escalade's digital dashboard, which extends from the driver's side A pillar almost to the passenger side A pillar.

Traditional Cadillac themes manifest in the wood trim -- it's real this time -- which is used to counterbalance the hypermodernity. There is also hyperluxury, manifested in the form of the available massaging seats and the 36-speaker AKG ultra-premium audio system.

The Bottom Line

It's ironic that the most successful Cadillac is also the type of vehicle Cadillac seems to be shying away from in favor of un-Cadillacs that are smaller, crossover and electric -- which is pretty much like what everyone else is selling.

Wouldn't it be smarter to sell more of what they're not?

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Eric's latest book, "Doomed: Good Cars Gone Wrong!" will be available soon. To find out more about Eric and read his past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.

Copyright 2022 Creators Syndicate, Inc.
 

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