Today, it has become evident that people don’t want hefty SUVs. The period where Cadillac could sell 60,000 Escalades a year is over, with buyers opting for smaller, more versatile forms of transportation. The reworked 2015 Cadillac Escalade has helped boost sales somewhat, but with the past few years hovering at around 1,000 units per month, Dylan’s theory translates here too: There’s young blood in town, and times are now different.
Given the minor reworkings on the new Escalade, it’s as if Cadillac knows this too. You can’t turn Jaws into a goldfish, so why try? The market for three-ton, body-on-frame megatrucks is dwindling, but it does still exist. And the Escalade nametag holds weight. Sales targets may have shifted somewhat, but it’s the one car in the brand’s lineup that remains clearly defined.
I drove the new rig 1,500 miles to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and back. Prior to my trip, a neighbor asked me who buys Cadillacs these days. He presumed it remains a brand for old men – ones that remember Bob’s anthem hitting the charts in ’65, no doubt. But the Escalade: “That’s for younger folk,” he said. “Rappers, probably.”
Yes, it’s hideously stereotypical, but it does show that the ATS and CTS haven’t fully escaped the orbit of those who favor whitewall tires and vinyl roofs. Meanwhile, the Escalade is still thought of as flashy truck that makes a statement. Which is precisely what it is.
Driving the big SUV feels similar to the outgoing model. At 420 hp, the 6.2-liter V-8 shared with the Corvette arrives to produce a tad more power and better efficiency — thanks to clever tricks like cylinder deactivation. And while it boasts an EPA-rated 21 mpg on the highway, in reality, you’ll spend most of your time in the mid-to-upper teens. But you will now sprint to 60 mph in less than six seconds.
The most basic Escalade starts at $73,965 in rear-wheel drive trim. The big dog Platinum ESV (long wheelbase) all-wheel drive model starts at $95,870. That’s in line with SUVs like the Range Rover and Mercedes GL-Class, but those feel like different machines altogether.
My family’s Ford Flex fits more behind its third row — a lot more. And that confused me. Why am I in such a big-ass truck and why do I have so little usable space? Sure, legroom is great, and if I sprouted an extra couple of feet due to my planned Russian leg-lengthening procedure my head would have ample room too. But most of it is wasted, and that wastes fuel. And it ensures you barely fit between the white lines in the road. And, yes, it makes my grandmother-in-law look like Bilbo bloody Baggins.
I’ll admit, I don’t see the need for such a massive SUV. My wife, however, was unfazed. She simply enjoyed the luxurious, smooth-running growl of the Escalade, and digged its ability to make a statement. The only negative she found was its lackluster all-wheel drive system; on a thick muddy road in the forests near Houghton, Mich., the Escalade struggled desperately to find traction (tires were likely a large contributor to our troubles, too).
Bob was right. And while the people have spoken, like Glover, there are a few that aren't ready to see the times change again.