Test Drive: Cadillac Escalade ESV is massive

We have many memories of the 2019 Cadillac Escalade ESV, for it’s quite a memorable vehicle — and we transported four people all the way to Worcester, Mass., and back from our home in Western Connecticut. But for the driver, one memory stands out. This truly is one big vehicle.

How big? Well, a couple numbers may help tell the tale. The Escalade ESV — an abbreviation for Escalade (or Extended) Stretch Vehicle — weighs three tons, is 18.7 feet long and 6.7 feet wide. Managing a vehicle with those dimensions is challenging even on the highway, where we found ourselves edging away from cars in adjoining lanes even when they weren’t drifting toward us. The Escalade wasn’t too big for an interstate-highway lane, but it seemed to be.

Our Escalade, equipped with a 420-horsepower V-8 engine and 10-speed shiftable automatic transmission, did fractionally better than its EPA-rated highway fuel economy of 21 mpg, using premium unleaded gasoline.

The purpose of this vehicle is fairly straightforward. It’s meant to transport up to seven people in luxurious accommodations; tow horses, a boat or a travel trailer without breaking a sweat; and even go off road … if the space between rocks, trees and embankments is sufficiently wide to accommodate a vehicle this size. There aren’t many competitors, at least in the luxury segment. Among them are the Lincoln Navigator, Mercedes-Benz GL Class, Infiniti QX80 and Lexus LX.

Obviously, one chooses a Cadillac because … well, it’s a Cadillac. A Chevrolet Suburban or GMC Yukon can do everything an Escalade can do, for a lot less money.

Our loaded Escalade ESV 4WD Platinum crept into the six-figure category, coming in at $101,590, about double the cost of a base Suburban. But the Escalade had every possible feature. On our round trip to Worcester, we made good use of the Escalade’s 4G LTE W-Fi hotspot, its rear-seat entertainment system and its satellite radio. On a cool day, we didn’t need the cooled front seats, but that certainly would have been a welcome feature in July. Drivers and passengers appreciated the power-assist steps, which eased access and egress on this very tall vehicle. And given the Escalade’s bulk, we were glad to rely on the blind-spot monitor, rear-view camera, surround-vision system and lane-keep assist with lane-departure warning while driving.

Cadillac didn’t think of everything, however. The Escalade has some switchgear and interior panels that are common to lesser General Motors products, like Chevrolet and GMC. Most disappointingly, the second-row seats don’t slide back, so passengers’ knees were a little closer to the front seatbacks than seemed necessary in so large a vehicle. And, while we didn’t expect the Escalade to handle and corner like Cadillac’s XT series crossover models, we had hoped it might be a little less ungainly.

Built in Arlington, Texas, the Escalade bears a venerable American nameplate and tradition. In recent years, standard-length Escalade and ESV sales have averaged in the mid to high 30,000s, an acceptable record for a low-volume, high-profit luxury model.

2019 Cadillac Escalade ESV 4WD Platinum

Price: $101,590

Engine: 6.2-liter V-8, 420 horsepower, 460 lb.-ft. torque

Transmission: 10-speed shiftable automatic

Drive: all-wheel

Weight: 6,088 lb.

Suspension: active air suspension

Ground clearance: 8 in.

Wheels: 22-in. Premium painted with chrome inserts

Tires: P285/45R22 all-season

Seating capacity: 7

Luggage capacity: 39.3 cu. ft.

Maximum cargo capacity: 120.9 cu. ft.

Maximum towing capacity: 7,900 lb.

Fuel capacity: 31 gal.

Fuel economy: 14 mpg city, 21 mpg highway

Fuel type: premium unleaded gasoline (recommended)

Steven Macoy is a longtime car enthusiast and full-time editor who lives in Bethel, Conn.