Expert review written by the Kelley Blue Book vehicle review editorial team.
Cadillac’s Escalade luxury SUV for 2016 continues to impress with its size, capability and absolute dedication to creating the quintessential American luxury SUV. Offered in two body styles, the Escalade and long-wheelbase Escalade ESV showcase just how good GM’s full-size SUV platform has become, delivering impressive ride and handling, not to mention brute power.
You'll Like The 2016 Cadillac Escalade If...
Cadillac’s 2016 Escalade SUV offers everything a family requires, including room for up to eight people, an 8,300-pound tow rating and a plethora of safety features. Wrapped in one of the most elegant and feature-rich interiors ever put in an SUV, the 2016 Escalade practically sells itself.
You May Not Like The 2016 Cadillac Escalade If...
The Cadillac’s 2016 Escalade luxury SUV is a ponderous beast not easy to park or maneuver. If you can get by with seating for seven, a V6- or diesel-powered Mercedes-Benz GL or Audi Q7 will save you money, fuel and garage space.
For 2016, the Cadillac Escalade and Escalade ESV full-size SUVs can be equipped with Lane Keep Assist. The CUE audio and infotainment system has been improved for faster response and more intuitive operation, plus given the ability to interface with Apple CarPlay.
By far the biggest leap forward for the 2016 Cadillac Escalade is its interior. Boasting soft-touch materials as far as the eye can see, the Escalade wows every time you enter. Leather and real wood give off a more refined feel – something missing from previous-generation Escalades. All models can be had with a 2nd-row bench seat allowing seating for eight passengers in lieu of a pair of bucket seats and seating for seven. Third-row legroom is tight in standard models, but the extended-length 2016 Cadillac ESV SUV rectifies that while also offering considerably more cargo space behind the rear-most seats.
Along with its powerful grille and streamlined rear quarters, the 2016 Cadillac Escalade benefits from the addition of full-LED headlights and taillights. There are four crystals in the headlights that act as the high beams, giving off radiant light. The long vertical taillights also employ LEDs, making it easier to follow the Escalade when weather conditions are less than ideal. While originally installed for aerodynamic purposes, the spoiler also hides the rear windshield-wiper blade. ESV models add even more length, coming in at a total of 224.3 inches compared to the 203.9 inches of the standard model.
The gutsy 6.2-liter V8 in the 2016 Cadillac Escalade SUV is much like its host: big, bold and robust. While passing and merging will never be an Escalade shortcoming, the same cannot be said about its fuel economy. Thanks to its Magnetic Ride Control suspension, the Escalade rounds corners with surprising grace. The steering is noticeably heavy, and the big back end can make negotiating tight traffic and crowded parking lots a bit a chore. When equipped with 4WD, the Escalade proves remarkably capable of tackling snow-covered roads and dusty trails, although its size precludes it from venturing too far off road. From behind the wheel, the Escalade feels like piloting a starship, with advanced driver assists, voice-activated functions and a host of luxury and convenience features that go beyond even what our imaginations can dream up.
There are four trim levels for the 2016 Escalade: Standard (Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price [MSRP] of about $74,000 including a $995 destination charge), Luxury ($78,000), Premium ($82,500), and the top-line Platinum (just over $90,000). Long-wheelbase Escalade ESV models cost an extra $3,000. Adding 4WD is another $2,600. With every option box checked, the 2016 Cadillac can reach into the high-$90,000 range. The starting price for the 2016 Escalade puts it ahead of competitors like the Lincoln Navigator, Infiniti QX80 and even the Mercedes-Benz GL-Class. The Audi Q7 and the Infiniti QX60 both offer seating for seven and a starting price below $50,000. Be sure to check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for their new Escalades. We expect the Escalade to have better resale value than the Lincoln Navigator but to trail that of the Lexus LX.
You can’t miss the chrome grille, but you might not see the active-aero shutters behind it. Then there’s the heated, power-adjustable seats, 20-inch chrome-plated aluminum wheels, and hands-free power liftgate. A remote starter, tri-zone climate control, and a reconfigurable instrument cluster further the Escalade’s appeal, as does a power-folding 3rd-row seat, heated and cooling front seats, a surround-vision camera, 16-speaker Bose Centerpoint audio, CUE with navigation and a power tilt/telescopic steering column.
Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keep Assist, adaptive cruise control, side blind-zone alert, cross-traffic alert, and 22-inch machine-finished wheels are all available on the 2016 Cadillac Escalade. For buyers seeking the most indulgence, the new range-topping Platinum line comes with Nappa semi-aniline leather, sueded microfiber headliner and climate-controlled 18-way-adjustable front seats complete with massaging functionality for the driver’s side.
FOLD-FLAT 2ND- and 3RD-ROW SEATSGiven the 2016 Cadillac Escalade’s cavernous interior, the ability to fold the 2nd- and 3rd-row seats is an invaluable feature. Simply press the cargo area-mounted switch and both sets fold flush to create a level load floor.INTERIORFrom its intricate wood inlays and premium leather covering almost every surface, to the dynamic CUE color infotainment screen and Bose audio, the 2016 Escalade SUV from Cadillac redefines what a luxury SUV can be.
Under the Hood
You have one choice when it comes to motivating the 2016 Cadillac Escalade luxury SUV, and that’s the 6.2-liter V8 engine rated at 420 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque. The standard transmission for both 2WD and 4WD models is an 8-speed automatic with driver shift control and tow/haul mode. Even with the 8-speed transmission, this engine gets parched quickly, and the EPA’s ratings of 15/22 mpg for the rear-wheel-drive (2WD) model and 15/21 mpg for the 4WD variant reflect that. While premium gasoline is recommended, the Escalade’s engine doesn’t require it, so you can save a few cents at the pump.6.2-liter V8420 horsepower @ 5,600 rpm460 lb-ft of torque @ 4,100 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/22 mpg (2WD), 15/21 mpg (4WD), 15/22 mpg (ESV 2WD), 15/21 mpg (ESV 4WD)
While there are a number of full-size luxury SUVs from which to choose, none offer the 2016 Cadillac’s Escalade’s combination of body configurations, power, luxury and sheer presence. If there were an award for most artful use of chrome trim, the Escalade’s grille alone would win it hands down. Where other luxury SUVs seem to be downsizing, the long-wheelbase 2016 Escalade ESV proves bigger is still better, providing even more interior space than the standard-wheelbase Escalade. Both vehicles are powered by a massive 6.2-liter V8 and offer the option of 4-wheel drive (4WD). With a tow rating up to 8,300 pounds, the Escalade takes a back seat to the Lincoln Navigator. However, the Navigator can’t match the Escalade’s advanced safety and technology features.