The ESV is an extended wheelbase version of the popular Escalade full size luxury SUV for those hip-hop moguls who simply need more space. Riding on a 14-inch longer wheelbase than the standard Escalade, the ESV is roughly 22 inches longer in length for a total of 221.4 inches; all of the increased space is passed on to the cargo compartment and third row, which is transformed into a livable space for adults.
Like the normal Escalade, the ESV shares its platform with GM's other full-size SUVs from Chevrolet and GMC, and differentiates itself from its lesser siblings with unique exterior styling, a more sumptuous interior, and a more potent engine.
Now in its final year on the market, Escalade ESV rides on old-school body-on-frame truck architecture that endows it with strong towing capability but requires sacrifices in terms of driving refinement, interior space and fuel efficiency compared with unibody crossover rivals.
Thanks to its blunt shape, XXL-size and scads of chrome trim, the Escalade ESV is impossible to miss - whether that's a good or bad thing is a matter of taste. The cabin is a mixed bag - to be sure, the dashboard is distinctive, and megabuck Platinum models feature handsome analine leather and wood inlays. However, much of the switchgear is shared with GM's mainstream offerings, and one only has to look to the doors to find hard, cheap plastic that's decidedly unbecoming for a luxury vehicle.
As it's Cadillac's oldest model on the market, the Escalade ESV isn't offered with the automaker's new CUE infotainment system, which uses a smartphone-inspired capacitive touchscreen (or voice commands) to control the stereo and navigation system or place phone calls.
As with normal Escalade and the pickup-like Escalade EXT, the ESV is motivated by a 6.2 Liter Vortec V8 that has the distinction of being the first mass produced non-overhead valve engine to feature variable valve timing, a feature which contributes to the engine's substantial power output of 403 horsepower and 417 lb.-feet of torque. Transmitting power is a 6-speed Hyrda-Matic automatic transmission with driver shift control and a towing mode.
The ESV can be ordered with either rear-wheel- or all-wheel-drive; the former yields 14/18 mpg while the latter is rated at 13/18 mpg. Those looking for a more fuel-efficient full-size luxury 'ute should check out the Escalade Hybrid.
Upper-crust Escalade ESVs are fitted with Cadillac's Magnetic Ride Control real-time damping system, which can adjust the dampers in the blink of an eye to mitigate body roll during hard cornering or keep the ride comfortable while cruising.
Trim Level Breakdown
The Escalade ESV is offered in Standard, Luxury, Premium and Platinum trim levels.
The Escalade ESV Standard comes equipped with leather upholstery for the first and second row seats, heated and cooled first row seats, a navigation system, a 10-speaker AM/FM/CD/SiriusXM Bose surround sound system with AUX/USB inputs and rear seat controls, remote start, tri-zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth connectivity, rear parking sonar, a rearview camera, an adaptive auto-leveling suspension, a power liftgate, power-adjustable pedals, auto on/off xenon headlights, foglights, and 18-inch aluminum wheels. The second row can be configured with either a bench or bucket seats.
The Escalade ESV Luxury brings the Magnetic Ride Control suspension, a sunroof, a heated steering wheel, power flip-and-fold second row seats, a blind-spot warning system, auto high beams and gargantuan 22-inch chromed aluminum wheels.
To those features, the Escalade Premium ESV adds a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, power-retractable side assist steps, body-color exterior trim and model-specific 22-inch chromed aluminum wheels.
The ritzy Escalade ESV Platinum features supple aniline leather upholstery, leather-warpped dashboard and upper door panel trim, olive ash and burled walnut wood trim, heated and cooled cup holders and an upgraded rear-seat entertainment system with dual screens integrated into the front seat headrests.
The Escalade ESVs safety features include dual front impact airbags as well as side curtain airbags for the first, second, and third rows. Also standard is StabiliTrak electronic stability control system with rollover mitigation and traction control that applies brake pressure or cuts engine speed to regain traction.
The Escalade ESV and its one comparable rival, the Lincoln Navigator L, are by far the largest full-size luxury 'utes on the market, offering far more third-row space and cargo room than any of their competitors. The only other options in this class are smaller vehicles like the Mercedes-Benz GL-Class, the Infiniti QX56 and the Audi Q7.