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Cadillac Escalade

Cadillac Escalade

The Cadillac Escalade is a full-size luxury SUV assembled at the Cadillac Arlington plant in Arlington, Texas. Currently, it is sold primarily in North America while being exported to select markets including but not limited to South Korea and the Middle East.

The Escalade represented Cadillac’s first foray into the full-size luxury SUV segment and is still consistently recognized as the most popular vehicle in its competitive bracket. Although not officially confirmed by Cadillac, the Escalade is believed to be the luxury marque’s most lucrative model.

The name “Escalade” refers to a warfare tactic in which large walls or ramparts are scaled with the help of ladders. The nameplate was kept in place even when Cadillac shifted toward an alphanumeric naming convention for its lineup instead of “real” names for its vehicles. As such, the Cadillac Escalade bears one of the most recognizable model names in the automotive industry.

First Generation (1999 – 2000)

2000 Cadillac Escalade

The first-generation Escalade was Cadillac’s response to the introduction of the similarly sized Lincoln Navigator in 1998. Plans for the Escalade were quickly drawn up, and the full-size luxury SUV started rolling off the assembly line just 10 months after it was approved. It began production in late 1998 for its debut as a 1999 model year vehicle.

At first, the Escalade was almost indistinguishable from is corporate cousin, the the GMC Yukon Denali. Both SUVs were built on the same GMT400 platform developed by Cadillac’s parent company, General Motors. The Escalade was packed with many premium features, including a high-end AM-FM/cassette stereo with a Bose audio system, power-adjustable front bucket seats with driver memory system, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.

For the 1999 model year, the Escalade was offered with one drivetrain configuration, featuring four-wheel-drive, the 5.7L V8 Vortec engine (production code L31), and a four-speed automatic transmission. There were only three exterior colors available for this generation: Silver Sand, Aspen White and Bordeaux Red Pearl. 

Second Generation (2002 – 2006)

2002 Cadillac Escalade

The second-generation Escalade debuted in early 2001 as a 2002 model year vehicle, bringing major changes to the luxury SUV. The exterior was overhauled to set it apart from its corporate GMC cousin, lending it a more readily recognizable front fascia. Customers could now choose between standard rear-wheel-drive or optional four-wheel-drive for the regular length model. The 5.3L V8 engine (production code LM7) was standard on all models, while the higher-output 6.0L V8 Vortec engine (production code L96) was optional.

2003 Cadillac Escalade EXT

The Cadillac Escalade EXT, a sport utility pickup version of the luxury SUV, was also introduced for the 2002 model year. All-wheel-drive was standard on the Escalade EXT, which was paired exclusively with the 6.0 V8 Vortec engine for this model. 

New for the 2003 model year was the Escalade ESV (Escalade Stretch Vehicle), which added about 12 inches of length to the SUV’s wheelbase, and in turn, more third-row legroom and rear cargo storage. As with the Escalade EXT, the Escalade ESV featured all-wheel-drive and the 6.0L Vortec V8 as standard. 

2003 Cadillac Escalade ESV

Throughout the second generation, the Cadillac Escalade underwent a series of small changes. In 2003, its “StabiliTrak” electronic stability control system was upgraded to a four-wheel system, and high-intensity discharge (HID) low beams were implemented as standard, as were power-adjustable pedals and signal outside mirrors. A cutting-edge touchscreen GPS navigation system could now was offered as an option. A rear-seat entertainment system developed by Panasonic was made available for a premium, along with XM Satellite Radio. 

Additionally, a second trim level was added, known as Platinum. This trim was available exclusively for the Escalade ESV and included a set of 20-inch chrome wheels, a slightly lowered suspension, heated and cooled seats for the front and second seating rows, a moon roof and a chrome grille.

Third Generation (2007 – 2014)

2009 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid

Production of the redesigned third-generation Cadillac Escalade began at Arlington Assembly in January 2006 for the 2007 model year. To promote the new generation and redesign, the Cadillac Escalade was named the official vehicle of Super Bowl XL. 

A more powerful 6.2L V8 Vortec engine (production code L94) was made available in addition to the aforementioned 6.0L V8 powerhouse. The 5.3L V8 was no longer offered beginning in 2007. Standard equipment for the third-generation Escalade included tri-zone climate control, heated front and second-row seats, 14-way power front seats, remote engine start, a power liftgate, and premium sound system. Opting for the range-topping Platinum trim added a DVD entertainment system to the rear seats, a navigation system up front, heated and cooled cupholders, a rearview camera, cooled front seats and power-retractable running boards. 

2007 Cadillac Escalade

A hybrid version of the luxury SUV was unveiled in 2008 for the 2009 model year. It was powered by the 6.0L Vortec V8, which worked in conjunction with a pair of 60 kW electric motors and a nickel-metal hydride battery pack located under the rear seat. The two propulsion systems worked together for a combined 20 mpg fuel efficiency rating, which was 33 percent higher than the non-hybridized Escalade. By August 2009, 20 percent of Escalade sales were hybrids. However, the popularity of the hybrid Escalade waned over the next few years, and it was discontinued in 2013 as sales showed a steady decline. 

The Escalade EXT pickup was also ultimately axed in 2013 alongside its corporate cousin, the Chevrolet Avalanche.

Fourth Generation (2015 – 2020)

2019 Cadillac Escalade Sport

The fourth-generation Cadillac Escalade and Escalade ESV were unveiled in October 2013. It entered production in January 2014 as a 2015 model year vehicle, and was offered in Base, Luxury and Premium trims. It featured an eight-speed automatic transmission, and was offered with one powerhouse: the naturally aspirated 6.2L V8 engine (production code L86).

Throughout its lifespan, the fourth-generation Escalade saw quite a few changes from model year to model year. In 2016, the full-size SUV gained driver assist features like Lane Keep Assist added as standard, while the Platinum trim was reintroduced, representing the best-equipped model in the lineup. The Cadillac logo itself received a new treatment midway through the 2016 model year, losing its wreath laurel and being replaced with the modern elongated chevron design. 

2019 Cadillac Escalade Sport

The headlights were refreshed for the 2017 model year, while the trim level structure was revamped and now included Standard, Luxury, Premium Luxury and Platinum trims. 

For 2018, the Escalade’s center stack was revamped, right down to the cupholders. This model year also lost the 10-speed automatic transmission, replaced by the eight-speed automatic transmission. 

The 2019 model year saw the addition of the Sport package across all trim levels, although it was not yet considered its own trim. 

2018 Cadillac Escalade

The 2020 model year represented the final for the Escalade’s fourth generation. Initially, Cadillac had plans to revamp the Escalade’s front end to more closely resemble that of the XT6 for this model year, but this never came to fruition as the Escalade was slated for a generational changeover for the 2021 model year. 

Fifth Generation (2021 – Present)

2022 Cadillac Escalade

The fifth-generation Cadillac Escalade debuted in February 2020 as a 2021 model year SUV. The pandemic forced the luxury marque to postpone production of its flagship SUV, though the order banks opened in April 2020.

The overhaul introduced an all-new interior and exterior, a new 38-inch OLED screen inside the vehicle to facilitate the gauge cluster and infotainment displays, the Super Cruise hands-free driver assist feature, and a revamped trim level lineup that is still in place, and includes the base Luxury, Premium Luxury, Sport, Premium Luxury Platinum and Sport Platinum trims.

The “regular” Escalade engine lineup consists of the naturally aspirated 6.2L V8 (production code L87), capable of 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque, alongside the optional 3.0L I6 turbodiesel (production code LM2), which produces 277 horsepower and 495 pound-feet of torque. Both engine options work in conjunction with the luxury marque’s 10-speed automatic transmission. The fifth-gen Escalade is built on the luxury marque’s T1 platform.

2023 Cadillac Escalade-V

For the 2022 model year, Cadillac revealed the Escalade-V, which features the supercharged 6.2L V8 engine (production code LT4), good for a blistering 682 horsepower and 653 pound-feet of torque – making it the most powerful Cadillac ever to be produced. This engine is also found in the ultra-high-performance Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing. It represents the first time an SUV has been added to the luxury marque’s V-Series line, and is considered the range-topping model. The Escalade-V is also available in the extended-length ESV configuration.

2024 Cadillac Escalade

Looking ahead, the Escalade will receive a refresh for the 2024 model year. This will bring various interior and exterior updates, including a revised front fascia as well as a coast-to-coast screen inside. It will also receive a new 3.0L I6 turbodiesel engine (production code LZO), which will replace the existing 3.0L LM2 turbodiesel. This new engine option will provide 305 horsepower and 495 pound-feet of torque. Production of the 2024 Cadillac Escalade will commence in November 2023.

Cadillac Escalade IQ

In late May 2023, Cadillac announced that the all-electric variant of the Escalade, known as the Escalade IQ, will debut by the end of the 2023 calendar year. Beyond that, specs are light, although Cadillac Society has reported on exclusive details regarding the forthcoming electric luxury SUV, including that it will offer over 400 miles of range on a single charge, and that it will ride on the new BT1 platform that’s completely different from the T1 architecture that underpins the current, fifth-gen Escalade. Additionally, the electric luxury SUV will likely be built at the Detroit-Hamtramck plant in Michigan. As with previous iterations of the Escalade, the Escalade IQ will likely receive an extended-length variant, known as the Escalade IQL, as suggested by a trademark filing made back in late 2021.

Escalade IQ (Electric)

Cadillac will reveal the Escalade IQ, an electric version of the Escalade, in the second half of 2023. The model will launch in 2024.


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