When Cadillac introduced the Escalade back in 1999, it was little more than a badge-engineered GMC Yukon Denali with the logos of its center caps replaced with the posher marque’s crest. Fast-forward around 16 years since that faithful day and here we are in 2015, in the presence of the fourth generation model and the automaker’s crown jewel until the 2016 Cadillac CT6 flagship sedan arrives later this year.
As before, the 2015 Cadillac Escalade uses the same GM-developed platform is underpinning the more mundane Chevrolet Tahoe, as well as its 2015 GMC Yukon Denali sibling. But there’s something that needs to be pointed out about the new gen: whereas the first to third-gen was visually the same as its more humdrum brothers, the 2015 Cadillac Escalade was designed to be as different as possible.
OK, so you do get the same 6.2-liter small-block V8 as on the Chevy and GMC, but the best-in-class 420 horsepower and 460 lb-ft are sent to all four wheels of this Premium 4x4 model by an eight-speed automatic transmission. If the GM Hydra-Matic 8L90 doesn’t ring a bell, you might want to know this box is an option on the 2015 Corvette Z06, an application that promises faster cog-swapping than Porsche’s PDK dual-clutch.
But out-and-out performance, towing capabilities and such doesn’t interest the typical consumer in the market for an Escalade. No, I’m not referring to bling-bling rappers and whatnots, but people that need the luxury and image as well as a bit of practicality to the personal transportation recipe. You can call this luxobarge a case of over-the-top form meets over-the-top functionality, more so when you find out that this big boy has Wi-Fi connectivity via OnStar 4G LTE, an entertainment system for the rear occupants and a family-oriented third-row of seats that power-folds with the push of a button.
Did we mentioned that wireless charging for your smartphone is also available? That is if you own a device that can do wireless charging. Premium models get a lot of kit as standard, but from the driver’s point of view, the feature that impresses most is the CUE infotainment system which is a much more elegant proposition than the Tahoe’s and Yukon Denali’s media system and center stack design. Naturally, the materials used and their fit & finish are also miles better, with soft, buttery leather upholstery, metal trim and wood virtually everywhere you look inside the cabin.
Aside from these six selected pics of the all-new Escalade, there are a lot more high-res photos in our 2015 Cadillac Escalade Premium 4WD 8AT review’s gallery. If you peer through the interior shots, it’s easy to spot two of the drawbacks of this lavish tonka toy for big boys. What the hell was Caddy thinking with that pickup truck-like column shifter is still a mystery to me. Then there is the center stack’s black piano trim. It’s elegant, alright, but also the perfect surface to showcase dust particles and greasy fingerprints. It's not a perfect full-size SUV you know, but the Escalade is no longer a fancy-ified Yukon.