2008 Cadillac Escalade SUV Review | Edmunds.com

2008 Cadillac Escalade SUV

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Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) is a category of used car. Often late-model vehicles, they have been inspected, refurbished, if necessary, and are under warranty by the manufacturer.
Cadillac Escalade Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 6.2 L V 8-cylinder
  • Drivetrain All Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 6-speed Automatic
  • Horse Power 403 hp @ 5700 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 12/18 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation Yes
  • Heated Seats Yes

Review of the 2008 Cadillac Escalade

  • The popular Escalade is now more than just a frequent pop-culture reference. With a well-appointed interior and impressive driving characteristics, it's also one of the best full-size luxury SUVs available.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Classy interior design with excellent ergonomics, powerful V8 engine, good road manners for a truck-based SUV, tight turning circle, comfy seats, unmatchable Escalade image.

  • Cons

    Third-row seats don't fold flat, a few low-quality plastics.

  • What's New for 2008

    Changes to the 2008 Cadillac Escalade are light, restricted to a reorganization of some of the vehicle's option packages as well as a new premium (and premium-priced) Platinum trim level that debuts midyear.

Full 2008 Cadillac Escalade Review

What's New for 2008

Changes to the 2008 Cadillac Escalade are light, restricted to a reorganization of some of the vehicle's option packages as well as a new premium (and premium-priced) Platinum trim level that debuts midyear.


The following review will not utter the word bling. Nor its many derivatives like blinged up, blingification or blingtastic. They're dreadfully overused and increasingly cliché, especially in reference to the 2008 Cadillac Escalade, which helped put the word into the American lexicon. In its second year since a complete redesign, the Escalade is now so much more than just a rolling canvas for tacky gold badges, customized paint jobs, TV screens and wheels so large the Amish could stick them in a river to power a grain mill.

At its core, the Escalade is the ultimate realization of GM's full-size truck and SUV platform, sharing much with the lower-line Chevy Tahoe and GMC Yukon. Unlike the previous two 'Slades, though, the current one differs greatly from its lesser cousins, particularly under the hood and inside the cabin. A 403-horsepower 6.2-liter V8 attached to a six-speed automatic provides tremendous acceleration for a vehicle that weighs about 5,500 pounds. Inside, the stylish design is more in sync with the latest Cadillac products rather than a quick redress of a Tahoe. Materials are quite good and ergonomics are spot on with user-friendly controls -- particularly the large, optional navigation touchscreen.

Much of the Escalade's appeal comes from its in-your-face styling. It actually looks somewhat subdued in comparison to its archrival the Navigator, given Lincoln's decision to install a chrome sewer grate for a front grille. Still, Cadillac finally realized it was missing out on some Benjamins and now offers its own set of "dubs," 22-inch chrome wheels that are definitely more appropriate than the standard 18-inchers. After all, an Escalade without rims is like Li'l Jon without his pimp cup. It's possible, but it just doesn't look right.

Overall, the 2008 Cadillac Escalade is very refined and one of the top choices among full-size luxury SUVs. We like it more than the Navigator, and it fares well against import-brand choices like the Infiniti QX56 or the Mercedes-Benz GL 450. True, the GL, another excellent choice, is quicker, easier and more rewarding to drive, and blessed with a more opulent interior that includes a fold-flat third-row seat. But when it comes to sheer presence, street cred and, the "b" word, the Escalade cannot be topped.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The Cadillac Escalade is a full-size luxury SUV available in two trim levels: base and Platnium. In addition to the usual array of features, the base Escalade has xenon headlamps, a power liftgate, an adaptive suspension, park assist and even a heated windshield washer fluid feature. Inside, one will find triple-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, power-adjustable pedals, heated first- and second-row seats, remote starting and OnStar. A Bose surround sound audio system with 10 speakers, satellite radio and an in-dash six-CD changer is also standard.

The V8 Ultra Luxury Collection package adds a navigation system, a rearview camera, Intellibeam adaptive headlamps, heated and cooled front seats, a heated steering wheel, power-release second-row seats, a sunroof and 22-inch chrome aluminum wheels. Of the equipment in this group, only the sunroof is available as a stand-alone option, although finding different 22-inch wheels for an Escalade shouldn't be much of a problem. Additional options include nifty power-retractable running boards, a rear-seat entertainment system and less ostentatious 18-inch chrome wheels (as an alternative to the plain alloy finish on the standard 18s).

Much of the base model's optional equipment comes standard on the new Escalade Platinum. Ponying up for this special-edition trim level gets you unique 22-inch chrome wheels, a CTS-inspired front grille, upgraded interior leather upholstery and a special rear-seat entertainment system with additional video monitors. It's also GM's first SUV to sport Magnetic Ride Control, a suspension system that utilizes electronically controlled fluid-filled shocks to continually adjust the damping. Platinum-edition Escalades produced after the summer of 2008 will feature LED headlights.

Powertrains and Performance

The 2008 Cadillac Escalade comes standard with a 6.2-liter V8. It pumps out 403 hp and 417 pound-feet of torque and is one of the most powerful engines available in a luxury SUV. Making the most of the new engine's broad power curve is a six-speed automatic transmission that offers a manual-shift mode (that is unfortunately operated by counterintuitive buttons on the column-mounted shifter). The Escalade is available with rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. All-wheel-drive versions feature a default 40/60 front/rear power split. Escalades aren't meant for off-roading (don't want to scratch those dubs), so there is no dual-range transfer case. Towing capacity for a properly equipped AWD model is 7,400 pounds.


Stability control with a rollover sensor is standard, as are antilock disc brakes, traction control, side curtain airbags for all outboard occupants and the OnStar telematics system. Front seat-mounted side airbags are not available. In NHTSA testing, the 2008 Cadillac Escalade earned a top five-star rating for protection of front occupants in head-on collisions.

Interior Design and Special Features

While the last-generation Escalade's interior was nothing more than a Chevy pickup tarted up with wood trim and an analog clock, the 2008 Escalade bears little resemblance to its plebian GM full-size siblings. Tasteful alloy trim, faux walnut inlays and good-quality plastics provide an attractive, luxurious environment befitting the Cadillac name. The large, tilting touchscreen that comes with the optional navigation system is mounted high and is very easy to use, while other buttons and controls are a model of ergonomic correctness.

Depending on its second- and third-row configuration, the Escalade can seat six, seven or eight people. To improve access to the third row, power fold-and-flip second-row seats are available that can be controlled via a button on the forward headliner. However, the third-row seat doesn't fold flat into the floor like in a Lincoln Navigator or Mercedes-Benz GL 450, which limits cargo capacity and requires owners to remove the very heavy 50/50 sections if more space is needed. Still, the Escalade leads the class in cargo capacity with those seats removed -- 60.3 cubic feet -- and it balloons to 108.9 cubes with the second row folded.

Driving Impressions

With all that power on tap, the 2008 Cadillac Escalade is quick for a big SUV. We've timed the all-wheel-drive version at 7.5 seconds to 60 mph. And with six gears in the transmission, there is always a surge of power underfoot for swift passing and merging maneuvers. Tuned for a luxurious ride, the Escalade makes no pretense at being sporty. The handling is composed, but this truck's reflexes are muted. Around town, a relatively tight 39-foot turning circle makes parking a bit easier, but its size still necessitates extreme care even with the optional rearview camera. When aimed for the horizon on an interstate, though, there aren't many better cruisers, as the ride is notably quiet and the supple suspension smothers the bumps without feeling sloppy when the turns come up. Keep in mind that selecting the giant 22-inch wheels will make the ride noticeably less supple and increase braking distances (due to their extra weight).

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

The good, the bad, the

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Vehicle: 2008 Cadillac Escalade 4dr SUV (6.2L 8cyl 6A)

THE GOOD ... Looks of the Escalade are second to none (eye catcher) ..... Powerful 6.2 motor (love the sound when I turn it on) THE BAD ... Horrible fuel mileage (barely 11mpg), plastic door handles (c'mon really??), Rear windows go down half way (sucks for rear passengers), Rear passengers are always hitting their feet exiting (seat adjustment needed), 3rd row seating ever worse (passengers knees hit their chest) THE UGLY ... Plastic (fake) wood grain interior panels are quick to get scratched and LOOKS horrible!! Overall I like my Escalade, just wished I purchased an ESV instead. Full rear doors(windows roll ALL the way down) 3rdrow seating has more leg room plus you have cargo space

Best used suv i have

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Vehicle: 2008 Cadillac Escalade Platinum Edition 4dr SUV AWD (6.2L 8cyl 6A)

I purchased my 2008 Escalade Platinum with just under 60k miles. Searched high and low for the most loaded and low mileage one I could find. I have now driven it nearly 20k miles, mostly back and forth from California to Arizona, and I absolutely love this truck. Its a dream to drive. True Cadillac luxury. Have not had one, single issue with it. Dealer even threw in 3 year 36k mile extended warranty as they were so confident in its reliability. In the past 6 years I have owned a Hummer H2, Yukon XL and a standard Yukon, and this Escalade is my pride and joy over those other vehicles. I would highly recommend the Escalade to anyone in the market for a used SUV.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

After 4 yrs of ownership,

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Vehicle: 2008 Cadillac Escalade Platinum Edition 4dr SUV (6.2L 8cyl 6A)

I bought my 2008 Escalade brand new. After 4 yrs I still love this vehicle. It is super comfy and I have had no issues with it other than a few nit picky cosmetic replacements. The engine and computer system have never given me any trouble. I would have expected a vehicle of this price range to come with blue tooth, but they did finally add it on the 2009. My favorite thing about this truck is the engine! I love that loud roar of my 6.2 liter when I crank it up. The 22" wheels aren't to bad either! I have always felt safe driving it and long trips are easy.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

Do not buy

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Vehicle: 2008 Cadillac Escalade Platinum Edition 4dr SUV AWD (6.2L 8cyl 6A)

I love the look and feel of my cadillac escalade esv..however it is an $80,000 car that is 3 years ols and ha been in the shop monthly since 3 months after purchase.....i have replaced an alternator 9 door locks 6 door handles and an o2 sensor, $986.00 in battery cables (that did not fix the problem) cruise control hasnt worked in 5 months, heated steering wheel went out a year ago ($900.00) to fix it..rear defrost has been serviced 4 times... i was told i should have bought an extended warranty...y would an $80,000 car need an extended warranty....i wouldnt sell this car to my enemy! and wait til u have to do general maintenance on it...$1500.00 easy! im told this is all normal!

Best ride ever!

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Vehicle: 2008 Cadillac Escalade 4dr SUV AWD (6.2L 8cyl 6A)

I just recently purchased my 2008 ESV Black and Chrome escalade. I would never thought about purchasing a Cadillac Truck or any vehicle from Cadillac. Once I saw the exterior and the interior I was a more than a little impressed however, once I took a test drive I was sold! This is one of the if not the smoothest drives you will ever have. The way it shift gears and accelerate in speed is so smooth it is sweet! Everyone that sees my truck like it and everyone who test drives it love it. It is really a dream truck! (Just keep the warranty for annoying little repairs).

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Looks aren't everything

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Vehicle: 2008 Cadillac Escalade 4dr SUV (6.2L 8cyl 6A)

Brought an 08 escalade drives OK not to clever around corners, and auto box has problems keeping up with engine sometimes. Build quality was the down fall and the reason I got rid of it, went for a LR3 Land rover instead much nicer to drive

Talk About The 2008 Escalade

2008 Cadillac Escalade Discussions See all Started By

Bought a 2008 Escalade ESV AWD with Luxury package (in August 2012). Paid $40.5K for vehicle (+tax/title/license/3-yr warranty... out the door cost $47K). All is well overall, now just over 1 year l...

I need advise on this Escalade, it's a 2008 with 78, 000 but the truck is in excellent condition in/out and the dealer is asking $27.900 for it. Would this be a good deal? What issues usullay occur at...

I have followed the posts and threads on the undercarriage rust issue with GM. I own 2 Cadillac escalades. I purchased Escalade brand new in 2007 and another purchased in 2008 which I traded my 2002(a...

Gas Mileage


  • 12
  • cty
  • 18
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs
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