What's New for 2010
For 2010, the Cadillac Escalade ESV loses a handful of formally standard features, such as the rain-sensing wipers and the rear park assist indicator lights. However, it also picks up a USB port for the audio system and the 6.2-liter V8 now has Active Fuel Management, which means it can shut down up to four cylinders under light-demand conditions. Lastly, a couple of new trim levels debut – Luxury and Premium – to fill the big gap between the base and Platinum versions.
Take a gander at the 2010 Cadillac Escalade ESV and chances are you'll be either impressed or disgusted with its enormity. For folks who deem the standard, nearly 17-foot-long Escalade just too dang small, the extended-wheelbase version known as the ESV should prove more than ample. An upscale version of the Chevrolet Suburban and GMC Yukon XL, the ESV is nearly 2 feet longer than the standard "Slade" and boasts a huge cabin that could transport a rap star, his entourage and all their cases of Cristal to a weekend party in supreme comfort.
Though it shares underpinnings with its aforementioned General Motors cousins, the 2010 Cadillac Escalade ESV thankfully goes beyond just having a few different badges. Proud and flashy, the Escalade ESV's styling is unmistakably Cadillac. It also has a sophisticated suspension, a unique cabin and a brawny 403-horsepower V8 that all support its standing as one of the most luxurious and capable full-size luxury SUVs you can get. That said, this year brings a minor de-contenting of the ESV's huge standard features list, as the power tilt for the nav screen, the rain-sensing wipers and the park assist indicator lights have all been dropped. In all honesty, none of these except perhaps the automatic wipers will be missed, as the park assist system still provides both a rearview camera and audible alerts. The audio system, meanwhile, picks up a USB port.
This year, the burly 6.2-liter V8 is fitted with Active Fuel Management, which means it can shut down as many as four cylinders under light-load conditions to promote slightly better fuel mileage, which may amount to 1 or 2 mpg during level freeway cruising. Still, there's no getting around the fact that this is a 6,000-pound truck with a big V8. Fuel economy is never going to be anything but poor. But in the end we suspect most Escalade ESV shoppers will be OK with that, and the overall return on interior room, towing capacity and general street presence will likely make the fuel pump sacrifices worth it.
The 2010 Cadillac Escalade ESV's main rival, the Lincoln Navigator L, simply doesn't have the Escalade's power and presence, though it does have a fold-flat third-row seat -- something the Caddy lacks. When compared to other peripheral rivals, the extroverted Escalade ESV still shines brightly. The Infiniti QX56 is competent but still can't match the ESV's power rating or immense cargo capacity. The Mercedes-Benz GL450 is actually our favorite all-around luxury SUV -- it's quicker, equally comfortable and generally more rewarding to drive -- but its smaller dimensions make it better suited to compete against the standard Escalade. In short, the 2010 Cadillac ESV's combination of roominess, styling and performance is unmatched among SUVs of its size.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2010 Cadillac Escalade ESV is a full-size luxury SUV that's available in four trim levels: base, Luxury, Premium and Platinum Edition. All can be had with either rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.
Even the so-called base Escalade ESV comes loaded with standard features, including 18-inch wheels, xenon headlamps, a power liftgate, adaptive shock absorbers and park assist (with a rearview camera). Inside, there's three-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, power-adjustable pedals, a power tilt steering wheel, heated/ventilated front seats, heated second-row seats, remote starting, Bluetooth and a navigation system with real-time traffic updates. OnStar and a 10-speaker Bose premium stereo system with satellite radio and an in-dash six-CD/DVD changer are also standard.
The Luxury adds 22-inch chromed alloy wheels, adaptive headlamps, a sunroof, a heated steering wheel, power-release second-row seats and the Magnetic Ride Control suspension system, which is even more advanced than the base adaptive suspension.
The Premium adds power-retractable running boards and a rear-seat DVD entertainment system with pull-down screens for both the second- and third row seats. The Platinum Edition ups the ante even further with LED headlights, unique 22-inch, multispoke chrome wheels, heated/cooled cupholders and additional DVD screens mounted behind the front headrests.
Powertrains and Performance
All 2010 Cadillac Escalades are equipped with a 6.2-liter V8 that makes 403 hp and 417 pound-feet of torque. The big V8 is paired to a six-speed automatic transmission with a manual-shift mode. All-wheel-drive versions use an electronic "always on" system.
The towing capacity for the AWD model is 7,800 pounds. 2010 EPA fuel economy estimates stand at 14 mpg city/20 mpg highway and 16 mpg in combined driving for the 2WD version.
Performance for such a big, heavy truck is fairly impressive, as the Escalade ESV will run the 0-60-mph sprint in the low- to mid-7-second range.
Safety equipment for the 2010 Cadillac Escalade ESV includes stability control with a rollover sensor, antilock disc brakes, traction control, side curtain airbags and the OnStar telematics system. Standard on all but the base trim is a blind-spot monitor to help the driver avoid a potentially dangerous lane change.
Though we haven't run instrumented tests on the ESV, the smaller Escalade's braking distances have been poor; an Escalade we tested required a longish 144 feet to come to a complete stop from 60 mph; the heavier ESV's distances will likely be a bit longer.
In government testing, the Cadillac Escalade received a top five-star rating for front- and side-impact crashworthiness.
Interior Design and Special Features
The Escalade ESV sets itself apart from its more mundane GM platform-mates with a unique interior design and tasteful touches such as alloy trim, wood inlays and other high-quality materials that exude luxury. In upper trims, a third-row entertainment screen (in addition to the second-row, pull-down screen) guarantees backseat passengers don't get short shrift when a movie is being played on a long trip.
The Escalade can accommodate seven or eight occupants, depending on the configuration of the second-row seats. A power fold-and-flip feature for the second-row seats is offered, enhancing access to the third row. Fold-flat third-row seating isn't available, however, and while removing the third-row seat's 50/50 sections manually boosts capacity, these sections are heavy and cumbersome to deal with.
At a cavernous 137 cubic feet, the ESV's maximum cargo capacity is class-leading. Even with all the seats up, there are still 46 cubes of space up for grabs.
Though it's really not meant for anything more than driving on pavement, the 2010 Cadillac Escalade ESV has plenty of power and torque on tap. And it handles surprisingly well, considering its massive size and weight (close to 3 tons). The adaptive suspension makes for a smooth ride, although the cushy feel is compromised somewhat by the 22-inch wheels that are standard on the upper trims. While the Escalade ESV boasts a relatively tight 39-foot turning circle, parallel parking and supermarket parking lots -- even with the rearview camera system -- require an extra level of care.