Full 2007 Cadillac Escalade ESV Review
What's New for 2007
The Cadillac Escalade ESV is completely redesigned for 2007. It's about the same size as last year's model but features an all-new fully boxed frame, a 403-horsepower 6.2-liter V8 and a significantly upgraded interior.
When the Cadillac Escalade was redesigned for 2002, it quickly became the best-selling full-size luxury SUV on the market. Its combination of bold styling and class-leading engine power drew high-profile athletes and power-hungry executives to Cadillac dealers -- a more youthful audience than Cadillac had seen in years. The introduction of the extended-wheelbase Cadillac Escalade ESV in 2003 only broadened the Escalade's appeal, as it offered buyers the most passenger and cargo capacity available in a full-size luxury SUV.
Although based on Chevrolet's lower-line Suburban, the chrome-encrusted Escalade ESV featured a powerful 6.0-liter V8, a leather- and wood-lined interior and a thundering Bose audio system to qualify it for premium status. The 2007 Cadillac Escalade ESV is completely redesigned. An all-new, fully boxed frame provides more refined ride and handling dynamics than before, and a slick new interior design provides the kind of cabin ambience expected in a high-dollar SUV.
In addition to its stiff new frame, the '07 Escalade ESV has a more sophisticated front suspension design and rack and pinion steering (in place of the old recirculating-ball setup). The ESV's turning radius is also 4 feet slimmer this year. Curb weight is up about 100 pounds on the 2007 ESV, but a new 403-horsepower, 6.2-liter V8 paired with a close-ratio six-speed automatic transmission more than offsets that difference. Fuel economy improves slightly, but bigger gains will come on the 2008 Escalade ESV, which will get GM's "Active Fuel Management" cylinder deactivation technology.
Inside, materials quality is far superior to last year's model, though there are still a few cheap plastics here and there. Ergonomics are top-notch, thanks in large part to the oversized touchscreen display in vehicles equipped with the navigation system. Seating is spacious and comfortable, and power-folding second-row seats ease access to the third row. Unfortunately, the third-row seats still don't fold into the floor and must be removed when more cargo space is needed.
Apart from this practical oversight, the 2007 Cadillac Escalade ESV offers a desirable package for shoppers who want a luxury SUV with maximum capacity and power. Competitors like the Lincoln Navigator L and Infiniti QX56 offer similar size, but neither can match the Caddy's bold style and 400-plus horsepower.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
A full-size luxury SUV, the 2007 Cadillac Escalade ESV is available in a single trim level. Standard equipment includes 18-inch alloy wheels, HID headlights, 14-way power-adjustable front seats with multilevel heating, memory settings for the driver, leather upholstery and faux wood trim. Tri-zone automatic climate control, a 10-speaker 5.1 surround-sound Bose audio system with an in-dash CD/DVD changer, a remote start feature, a power rear liftgate and power-folding exterior mirrors are also standard. The ESV has heated bucket seats in the second row, and a bench seat is also available. Options include 22-inch chrome wheels, multilevel cooling for the front seats, a heated steering wheel, a navigation system with a rearview camera, a rear DVD entertainment system, power-folding second-row seats and a sunroof.
Powertrains and Performance
The Escalade ESV comes in all-wheel-drive configuration only. Its sole power plant is a torque-rich 6.2-liter V8 that develops 403 hp and 417 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard, and it includes both a tow/haul and a manual shift mode. Manual shifting is a tad awkward with the Escalade's old-fashioned column shifter. Trailering preparation is standard, and the ESV can tow a maximum of 7,800 pounds.
All Escalades come standard with four-wheel antilock disc brakes, the StabiliTrak stability control system and full-length side curtain airbags. Not only will these airbags inflate in a side-impact collision or rollover, but also in serious frontal-impact collisions in which occupants need all the help they can get. In addition, there's another sensor that identifies rear impacts and activates the seatbelt pre-tensioners to help front-seat occupants avoid whiplash. Rear parking sensors are standard on every Escalade ESV, and vehicles equipped with the navigation system incorporate a rear camera system as well. The ESV also comes with a tire-pressure monitor and the OnStar communications system.
Interior Design and Special Features
The ESV's two-tone dash has graceful lines that easily accommodate a large, colorful navigation screen and faux walnut inlays (although at this price, they should be real wood). The nav screen has a user-friendly touchscreen interface, and all controls are easy to find and use. Soft-touch surfaces are everywhere, as they should be in this class, but there are still a few cheap plastics thrown into the mix. The Escalade can be equipped to accommodate six, seven or eight occupants. To improve third-row access, there is a power fold-and-flip option for the second-row seats. Unfortunately, the third-row seat still doesn't fold into the floor as in the ESV's competitors and the 50/50 sections are cumbersome to remove. Maximum cargo capacity is 137 cubic feet, with a generous 46 cubes available behind the third row. A roof rack is standard.
The 2007 Cadillac Escalade ESV may weigh almost 3 tons, but with more than 400 pound-feet of torque on tap, acceleration comes easily in almost any situation. Shifts from the six-speed automatic transmission are crisp and well-timed, and the manual mode is helpful on slick and winding roads. The all-new frame and revised suspension provide a comfortable, controlled ride over all but the most severe bumps and ruts. Handling is predictable around corners, but as heavy as it is, the Escalade ESV never feels particularly nimble. The steering is light and precise, however, and the turning radius is a tidy 39 feet.