Used 2006 Cadillac Escalade ESV Review

Edmunds expert review

With its brash styling, class-leading V8 power, well-sorted vehicle dynamics and cavernous interior, the ESV is the Escalade of choice for those who want maximum utility and luxury.

What's new for 2006

The Cadillac Escalade ESV rolls into 2006 unchanged.

Vehicle overview

When the Escalade was introduced in 1999, the Cadillac faithful were a little nervous. After all, the idea of a truck bearing the Cadillac wreath and crest just didn't seem like it had much promise. And then there was the vehicle itself -- an underpowered, over-clad behemoth that used heavy doses of leather and wood trim to conceal the fact that it was nothing more than a slightly reworked Chevrolet Tahoe. But to everyone's surprise, the Escalade sold well. The public's insatiable thirst for SUVs overcame the original vehicle's initial mediocrity to make it one of the best-selling models in Cadillac's lineup. After skipping the 2001 model year, the Escalade returned in 2002 with an all-new look and significantly revised underpinnings. The results were nothing short of a home run as the Escalade became one of the most popular full-size luxury sport-utilities on the market. Its combination of bold styling and class-leading engine power made it popular with high-profile athletes and power-hungry executives alike.

The introduction of the extended-wheelbase ESV in 2003 broadened the Escalade's appeal even further, as it now offers buyers the most passenger and cargo capacity available in a full-size luxury SUV. Although it's based on the Chevrolet Suburban/GMC Yukon XL twins, the Escalade ESV features enough exclusive hardware to qualify it for premium status. If you like 'em big, bold and chock-full of high-tech goodies, the Escalade ESV is as good as it gets.

Trim levels & features

The seven-passenger Escalade ESV comes in one trim level only, but a limited-production Platinum edition offers several additional features for those looking for something more distinctive. The standard features list includes everything you would expect in a luxury sport-utility. There's leather upholstery, tri-zone automatic climate control, a multifunction driver information center, second-row captain's chairs, the OnStar communications system, satellite radio, power-adjustable pedals, a thundering Bose audio system, HID headlights and stability control just to name a few. The short options list consists of a rear DVD video entertainment system, a second-row bench seat that increases passenger capacity to eight, a sunroof and chromed aluminum wheels. The Platinum edition adds more wood and chrome trim to the interior, a dual-screen DVD system, navigation system, a chrome grille and a lowered suspension finished off with 20-inch chrome wheels.

Performance & mpg

The ESV comes in all-wheel drive only, and its sole power plant is the same high-output 6.0-liter V8 engine found in the regular Escalade and Escalade EXT. Thanks to 345 horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque, acceleration is surprisingly brisk for such a large vehicle, but you pay for it with low fuel mileage, which is estimated at 12 city/16 highway. Properly equipped, the Cadillac ESV can tow 7,800 pounds.


All Escalades come standard with the StabiliTrak stability control system as well as four-wheel antilock disc brakes, side airbags for the driver and front passenger and the OnStar communications system. Additional safety enhancements include a tire-pressure monitoring system, rear parking sensors and a front-passenger sensor that can detect the presence of a child and depower the airbag accordingly. In frontal-impact tests conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Escalade ESV earned four out of five stars for driver protection and three stars for front-passenger protection.


Despite its imposing size, the Escalade ESV handles itself admirably. Body roll is kept well under control and the continuous adjustments made by the standard Road Sensing Suspension (RSS) maintain an excellent balance between ride quality and road feel. The steering can feel a bit numb on the highway, but it lightens up nicely during low-speed maneuvers. The 6.0-liter V8 provides ample passing power, while the four-speed automatic transmission does an excellent job of choosing the right gears. Overall, a very comfortable and competent cruiser that rarely gets out of sorts no matter what you throw at it.


As you would expect in a luxury SUV, the ESV's interior features plenty of soft leather and shiny wood accents. There's plenty of room for five adults to stretch out and even those banished to the third-row seats will find enough room to rest in comfort. The limited-production Platinum edition adds unique leather, wood and chrome accents along with a premium headliner and a dual-screen DVD entertainment system.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.