Used Cadillac Escalade ESV Review

2015 Cadillac Escalade ESV Premium 4dr SUV Exterior

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Powerful and unapologetically American, the Cadillac Escalade ESV is the Big Kahuna of the Escalade luxury SUV family. Everything about it is massive, from its extended wheelbase to its V8 engine and Bose sound system. Introduced in 2003 as a variant of the regular Escalade, the ESV broadens the Escalade's appeal by offering the absolute maximum in passenger room and cargo space.

A second-generation Escalade ESV is now available. It's about the same size as the first-generation model but features enhanced maneuverability, a larger, more powerful engine and a significantly upgraded interior. For either generation, this big SUV's appeal lies mainly in its bold attitude and large and luxurious interior. As such, it's a popular choice for many consumers, though shoppers interested in something a little less ostentatious might prefer one of the ESV's import-brand competitors.

Used Cadillac Escalade ESV Models

The current (second) generation Escalade ESV was introduced for 2007. Initially, just one loaded trim level was offered, but the following year saw the debut of the ultra-swank Platinum trim level. For '09 the ESV received E85 fuel capability, standard navigation (with real-time traffic) and available high-tech features such as a blind-spot warning system, LED headlights (Platinum), Bluetooth and the Magnetic Ride Control adaptive suspension (for versions with 22-inch wheels). The '10 Escalade received cylinder-deactivation technology, so those models produced earlier achieve 1 fewer mpg. That year also saw a new USB connection for portable audio devices and a pair of new trim levels -- Luxury and Premium -- that filled the gap between the base and Platinum versions.

The first Escalade ESV generation sold from 2003-'06. It lacked the current model's sophistication and polish, but had all its brashness. It was powered by a 345-hp 6.0-liter V8 mated to a four-speed automatic, and AWD was standard. Like the current model, this Escalade ESV came equipped with plenty of standard luxury and safety features. At the time, our editors were impressed with the vehicle's V8 power, plush ride quality, cargo capacity and features. Downsides were few but included poor fuel economy and unimpressive braking distances. Much like the current Escalade ESV, this one was hampered by its bulk in tight spots -- a problem exacerbated by the first-gen model's numb recirculating-ball steering setup.

Through its four years of production, the first-generation ESV received minimal changes. The ritzy Cadillac Escalade ESV Platinum Edition, which featured 20-inch wheels, a lowered suspension, dual screens for its rear entertainment system and heated/cooled seats in the first and second row, debuted late in 2003 and was offered for the remainder of the run.

If you are looking for newer years, visit our new Cadillac Escalade ESV page.

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