A couple of months ago, rapper Waka Flocka Flame performed at a party hosted by my son’s fraternity in College Station. Waka and his entourage needed a ride to the Four Seasons Hotel in Houston after the show, and my son was tasked with making sure they got there. There was one caveat: The lanky rapper insisted on being driven in a black SUV—preferably, an Escalade.
After spending a week with Cadillac’s flagship sport-ute, I understand the appeal. For all its girth, the Escalade is a breeze to drive, and there are no shortcuts when it comes to comfort and style. The fourth-generation model (the vehicle was introduced in 1999) has been given a complete redesign—a look one reviewer described as “a linebacker in an expensive, well-tailored suit.”
Sleeker and sharper than previous versions, I especially liked the Escalade’s five-tiered vertical LED headlights, which sparkle like jewels and whose strong beams offer nighttime relief for baby-boomer eyes. The aircraft-inspired head-up display for drivers was appreciated as well.
Inside, indulgent touches abound: cut-and-stitch leather and real wood trim, a 16-speaker Bose surround-sound audio system, heated and cooled seats (driver and front passenger; second-row seats are heated), entertainment system with a Blu-ray Disc player and wireless headphones, and power-folding third-row seats. Cadillac knows its buyers: The Escalade can connect up to 10 Bluetooth devices and also comes with six outlets and five USB ports. In other words, there will be no arguing over who gets to charge their phones or iPads.
A 6.2 liter V8 engine provides plenty of oomph—the vehicle can go from 0 to 60 mph in fewer than 6 seconds—but the ride stays consistently smooth.
That’s one of the reasons U.S. News & World Report ranked the 2015 Escalade No. 1 among large luxury SUVs, saying its “luxurious interior, sharp handling, and supremely powerful engine are unmatched by most rivals.”
With an average fuel economy of 16 mpg (14 city, 21 highway), you may be filling up the vehicle’s 26-gallon tank more often than you might like. But in buying the Escalade, you’d be showing some hometown pride; the SUV is among those built at the GM plant in Arlington.