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Behind the Wheel: 2018 Cadillac Escalade ESV Platinum

Sometimes, bigger is better, especially when it comes to luxury SUVs.

The 2018 Cadillac Escalade ESV Platinum is the top-of-the-line, all options included version of Cadillac’s iconic full-size SUV. The Escalade ESV is the long-wheelbase, extended model offering both more third-row legroom and a large cargo space behind the third row seat.

This is a key feature as the regular Escalade also has three rows of seats for seven (eight with second row bench seat instead of captain’s chairs) people, but barely any cargo space if those three rows of seats are filled with passengers. Another key feature in both Escalade models is that third-row seat passengers can access (and exit) their seats without the second row passengers having to move or leave the vehicle. In many 7-passenger SUVs, the second row seats must be moved or folded down to access the third row.


The power of the Escalade, coming from a massive 6.2L V8, is one of its major selling points. With 420 horsepower, there’s always enough oomph to quickly move this large vehicle. The power is transferred to the road via a very responsive 10-speed transmission and in the case of my test vehicle, 4WD. A 2WD model is also available. That massive engine features GM’s latest fuel economy technology including cylinder deactivation. That means the engine runs on four cylinders when all eight aren’t needed (like freeway cruising). It also means you can see 21 mpg on the highway, with an average fuel economy (city and highway) of 17 mpg. The Escalade can also tow up to 8,300 lbs and comes equipped with a trailering package.



The Escalade is easy to drive, park and maneuver. A range of sensors and cameras (including Automatic Parking Assist) help you always be aware of your surroundings and the Surround Vision camera system really helps you see all around the vehicle. It’s easy to park and fits in a standard parking space. The SUV has Cadillac’s amazing magnetic ride control, which smooths out any road surface and provides a very luxurious ride. Straight line starts can be very quick if you step on it, as is passing on the freeway with large power reserve always waiting for you. Handling is precise and it’s even fun to take through the canyons.


The Platinum trim level means you get the full range of driver aid and assistance technology like lane keep assist, forward and rear automatic braking, adaptive cruise control and more. Cadillac uses seat vibration as an alert, which is very effective. Infotainment is via’s Cadillac’s CUE (Cadillac User Experience) system with a large, touch-screen display. The Escalade is a 4G Wi-Fi hotspot for multiple devices and ready for Aplly CarPlay and Android Auto. A very cool, practical use of technology is the Rear Camera Mirror, which transforms the rear-view mirror into a screen, using wide-angle cameras on the rear of the vehicle. This is great if the SUV is filled with people or cargo and rear-view visibility is limited.


I drove the Platinum vehicle, Cadillac’s top trim level. Among a list of exclusive features, Platinum gets you first and second row semi-aniline leather seating surfaces and the leather is hand-cut and sewn for a great feel and look.

The front seats are 18-way adjustable with full massage functions. You also get dual DVD players both front seat headrests, as well as two additional drop-down screens in the cabin (with Cadillac wireless headphones).There’s an abundance of beautiful wood trim and even a powered cooler in the front center console. I also really liked how both the second and third rows of seats can be lowered remotely with switches at the tailgate. The third row seats can also be raised automatically. The cabin is very quiet thanks to acoustic front glass, triple-sealed doors and Bose Active Noise Cancellation.


Cadillac’s super-sized, full-size SUV comes with a steep sticker price, but delivers on all levels. Solid reliability and performance, great luxury and every possible driver and passenger safety and entertainment amenity. There are multiple Escalade trim levels available, the Standard Escalade is priced at $74,695 and there’s a Luxury, then a Premium Luxury and finally the ultimate Platinum trim level, which starts at $93,795. My test vehicle also had the optional $2,795 Performance Front Brake kit and with Cadillac’s $1,295 destination charge, the total came out to $103,185. It’s not cheap, but it is competitive with similar full-size luxury SUV offerings from Lincoln, Lexus, INFINITI and of course Range Rover. I always like to talk about where cars are made and the Escalade is an all-American vehicle (something rare these days even for U.S. car companies). It’s assembled at GM’s truck plant in Arlington, Texas and both the engine and transmission are also made in the U.S.A.

Exterior photos by Freddy Sherman

Interior photos courtesy of Cadillac

By Freddy Sherman

Freddy is a regular contributor to Business Traveler across all print, digital, web and social channels.  To follow Freddy directly, you can find more of his content at and here:

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