By Frank S. Washington
DETROIT – The seats in our 2015 Cadillac Escalade ESV were a little firm. But there was plenty of head room and the leg room was sufficient. We felt confident that two adults would be comfortable but three would be squeezed.
That was our observation about the third row seats of the Cadillac Escalade ESV. It only got better as we moved forward. The big sport-utility’s second-row seats were captain’s chairs. Our only quibble was there was no center console for them. But they were heated. And the first row seats were cooled as well as heated and they provided a seating position that was as high as that of a full-size pickup truck.
A Cadillac Escalade ESV is bigger than a regular Escalade; you can call it the long-wheel-based version. That wheel-base is 14-inches longer and its overall length is 20-inches longer than a regular Escalade, which doubled the cargo space behind the third row.
It was a Cadillac, thus, the interior was outstanding. Real wood trim looked like they stripped the bark off a tree and then shaved a piece of wood off and put it in the Escalade. The interior of our test vehicle was sheathed in chocolate brown leather that looked like it would be at home covering huge sofas or thick easy chairs.
Of course, there was the CUE system (Cadillac User Experience) with a new text to voice feature. Love it or hate it, the intuitive, proximity sensing, haptic capacitive system had a clean look, no buttons and it had a personality all its own. All contemporary Cadillacs are equipped with it and as we‘ve tested several we’ve grown more comfortable with this system.
Some features on this Escalade were new. It had LED daytime running lights in the front. The third rows seats were power folding. And the second row seat backs flopped forward with the push of a button.
Of course, there was OnStar with features like automatic crash response, turn-by-turn navigation, monthly vehicle diagnostics and stolen vehicle assistance.And it had an in-house navigation system, Bluetooth, voice controls, satellite radio and a Wi-Fi hotspot were among the equipment.
Other creature comforts included a head-up display, a smart key with remote start, power adjustable pedals, a 110 volt power outlet, 22-inch aluminum alloy wheels, a capless fueling system and a power liftgate. It made sense that the Cadillac Escalade ESV had a rear vision camera, blind side alert, rear cross traffic alerts and a drive awareness package that featured lane departure warning.
Still, the most impressive thing about our Cadillac Escalade ESV was how it moved – effortlessly. We’re talking about a vehicle that weighed more than three-tons – 6,040 pounds to be exact. We had the four-wheel-drive version.
Like all 2015 Cadillac Escalades, it was powered by a 6.2-liter V8 that made 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque at a not unreasonable 4,100 rpm. Outfitted with cylinder deactivation, the Cadillac Escalade would use only four-cylinders when cruising at any speed, 20 mph or 80 mph. The system helped it attain a fuel rating of 14 mpg in the city, 20 mpg on the highway and 16 mpg combined. That might not sound like much but given its weight and the horsepower required to move it smoothly, it wasn’t bad.
Mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, this powertrain moved our Escalade smartly. It could get from zero to 60-mph in 5.98 seconds. That’s what Cadillac said and we didn’t quibble. The Escalade ESV even had a sport setting in the ride mode selector.
With a base price of $81,295 and $84,290 as tested, it is obvious that the 2015 Cadillac Escalade ESV is not for everyone. But for those who can afford it, the Escalade ESV is an awfully luxurious package.
Frank S. Washington is editor of AboutThatCar.com.