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  • Writer's pictureMarc Gonzalez

2022 Cadillac Escalade ESV 600D

For the last 20 years, the Cadillac Escalade has single-handedly helped shift how people thought of the brand. It brought new buyers to the dealerships and continues to be the most popular in the lineup. Let's see how in 2022, Cadillac has designed the Escalade to remain the gold standard in the full-size SUV segment. Our test model had an MSRP of $128,033 and was built at the Arlington, TX, plant.

Cadillac Escalade ESV
Photo by Vince P. Szigeti

One of the hallmarks of the Escalade is its commanding stance, both inside and outside. It's still the case; the designers did an excellent job updating the popular design. The huge front chrome grille is still present, and the taillight assembly has flipped from vertical to horizontal. The overall finish is sleeker and looks less boyish than the previous generation. The turn signals are lightbars placed on the vertical and help give the vehicle a modern look. On the sides, the classic Cadillac chrome bar is still near the bottom of the doors, and they added the emblem on the rear pillar, which is an excellent addition to the black panel. The 22-inch alloy wheels are gigantic and bode the vehicle pretty well. In the back, the changes are more subtle. The handle is gone, and the controls for the tailgate are tucked in near the rear backup camera. The same goes for the third brake light; it's now located directly on the rear spoiler; these subtle changes make for a sleeker appearance. They don't fix what's not broken, and that's all credit to Cadillac for continuing to offer a good-looking vehicle.

Inside, the Cadillac Escalade is miles ahead of its predecessor in technology and ergonomics. There's quite a bit to talk about; let's start behind the wheel! The overall environment of the driver has been dramatically improved, starting with the steering wheel. Even though the wheel is typical in GM brands, it doesn't feel out of place in the Escalade. The stitchings help enhance the appearance, and the buttons look much nicer than in the previous generation. The most significant improvement is the total size of the screens present and their quality. In total, we're talking about 38 inches of display separated into three: the control panel, the digital cluster and the infotainment system. All three screens are OLED displays, the same technology as the flagship phones nowadays, thus resulting in an excellent presentation. The control panel is a touchscreen, a feature we're seeing on the driver's side for the first time. It makes it very easy to adjust the heads-up display, turn on the Night Vision mode or reset the trip info. It may not seem like much, but these features may sometimes be hard to find through the gauge cluster or the center screen. Moving a few inches to the right, we're getting to the gauge cluster. The information is laid out logically without overcrowding the screen; it is an incredibly massive upgrade over the last Escalade. One of the party tricks of this new display is the augmented reality-enabled navigation that will show you in real time where you need to make a turn. The way it shows up on the screen is video game-like; that is so neat to see in 2022. You can also show a full-size map if you prefer. The 14.2-inch gauge cluster is worthy of a premium luxury model.

Before discussing the infotainment system, we wanted to discuss seating and interior space. The front seats are nice and luxurious, heated, ventilated and massaging, all features expected at this price tag. AKG speakers are integrated into the headrest as part of the first-class 36-speakers Studio Reference audio system. The second-row passengers will also travel in luxury with the same cozy material. You can get the bench seats, for eight, or the captain chairs like our model, for seven passengers. The second row is heated, a staple of the best luxury vehicles. Cadillac replaced the previous generation's lone center screen mounted on the ceiling with two individual screens mounted on each front seat. Your passengers can play their favourite video games with the HDMI ports and the household-style outlet in the middle. It also comes with wireless headphones for complete immersion. And you can also listen to music or open the navigation tab to show the map of the current location. Teenagers and kids will find something to stay occupied, that's for sure. In the third row, we were disappointed to see only two headrests instead of three. You get three seat belts, meaning you can sit three in the back, but that is still strange. There are cup holders and chargers in the back. We also found that the ISOFIX ports are clearly indicated on the second row but not on the third row; however, the rear anchors are on the backrest. As for cargo space, it isn't huge, but we didn't have the stretched version. If you need the extra room, you should opt for the Escalade ESV. You can recline the seats at the push of a button in the trunk, thus creating a flat floor to place large objects in the back.

Cadillac Escalade interior
Photo by Vince P. Szigeti

Now back in front, to cover the rest of the technology aspect. We said earlier that the Escalade had an OLED display that looked good; the central infotainment system significantly benefited from this improvement. It's a 16.9-inch screen with Apple Carplay and Android Auto wireless integrated and even has Amazon Alexa. On this screen, you can also modify the ambient lighting, the content of the rear screens, and HD Surround vision, a 360-degree camera to help to park and maneuver a trailer in tighter spaces. There are so many features; it truly helps enhance the experience. Cadillac also had the great idea of adding a knob on the center console; you can quickly switch between menus and tabs. You will find the usual buttons such as home, back and volume controls; the redundancy is pretty clever. Still in front, next to the hazard lights, you can get a cooled center console for drinks and sandwiches. We also like that the design team kept physical buttons for the temperature controls; adjusting them in a few seconds is much easier. The column shifter is gone; the shifter is on the center console, like in most modern luxury SUVs. We can't talk about technology without discussing Super Cruise, the semi-autonomous system from Cadillac. It has a little camera mounted between the two stocks on either side of the wheel that monitors every move you make. A series of green lights will appear on the steering to let you know that the system is working and will flash red whenever it's disconnecting. The only problem is that during the week we tested, the system relied on cameras to detect the lines on the ground to work correctly, and since there was snow on the road, we couldn't thoroughly test it. The number of gadgets and features in the Escalade justify its hefty price tag.

Photo by Vince P. Szigeti

As for the driving experience, you can get the 2022 Cadillac Escalade with a V8 or, for the first time in decades, on a Cadillac model, with the V6 diesel engine we got to try out. The diesel powertrain produces 277hp and 460lb-ft of torque at 1500rpm, which is excellent for towing. Speaking of towing, the Escalade is rated at 7700lbs with diesel, a good number for a full-size SUV. Both engines are coupled to a 10-speed automatic transmission. Diesel engines in North America are rare; driving is quite different from the usual gasoline. When you are cruising on the highway, it feels quite smooth and quiet in the cabin. Cadillac did an excellent job of eliminating outside noises, and the engine's quietness helped achieve that. Magnetic ride control also plays a massive part in the ride's smoothness; even at low speeds, it deals quickly with anything you may face on your way home. Body roll isn't as pronounced as you expect from an 18-feet vehicle; the magnetic ride helps remain stable on a steep highway ramp. Braking and handling were also quite good; even though it is a large and long vehicle, you can easily maneuver the Escalade in a tight parking area, as long as you closely watch your side mirrors. In the end, this isn't a vehicle to bring to a drag strip, but it's a darn good vehicle to drive even with its large size.

The Cadillac Escalade is the pinnacle of what General Motors has to offer. It's versatile, luxurious and has a commanding presence. No wonder people are flocking to get their hands on one; it has been building its legendary status for over twenty years now, and it's better than ever.

Cadillac has lent us this vehicle for one week as a press vehicle. We have no affiliation with Cadillac Canada. The above reflects our personal opinion of the car referred above.

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