Large and in charge: That's what we think when we see the Cadillac Escalade ESV. An extended-length version of the full-size Escalade, the ESV can seat up to eight people, stow up to 120.9 cubic feet of cargo and tow up to 8,100 pounds. Despite its blue-collar work ethic, this is a white-collar vehicle brimming with luxury features and fancy technology.
GM's 6.2-liter V8 powers the Escalade ESV, giving it 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque. This engine has power to spare. We haven't timed the ESV to 60 mph, but the shorter (and slightly lighter) Escalade does it in 6.4 seconds, and we expect the ESV is only a few tenths of a second behind that. EPA fuel economy estimates are 17 mpg combined for both rear- and four-wheel-drive versions. The rear-wheel-drive version is rated at 15 city/22 highway and the 4x4 at 15 city/20 highway.
Posh as it may be, the Escalade ESV is still a full-size body-on-frame truck and it drives accordingly. The interior is quiet, but despite the use of GM's Magnetic Ride Control suspension, it still rides harder than a car-based SUV. Handling response is better than we expected, but given its weight and bulk, it's no surprise that the Escalade ESV's limits of traction are relatively low and its braking distances are long. What did surprise us was the steering — though it's very precise, it's also very heavy.
Another surprise was the third-row accommodations. In a vehicle this size, we expect plenty of stretch-out space, so why is the Escalade ESV's third row so cramped? With a massive 39.3 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats, surely those in the way, way back could have better accommodations. Head- and legroom in the first and second rows are generous, though all three rows feel narrow at the shoulders. And the front seats are a disappointment: They are stiff and wide and don't provide the comfort or support we want for long drives. As for the rest of the interior, it's just OK. Though the basic driving controls are easy to find and use, the Cue infotainment system is difficult and slow to respond, and cabin build quality isn't up to the standards we expect in a vehicle this expensive.
The Cadillac Escalade ESV is available in base, Luxury, Premium Luxury and Platinum trim levels. All, including the base model, are lavishly equipped. The Luxury offers a long list of premium equipment, and yet the Premium Luxury model launches the Escalade ESV to an entirely different level while the Platinum offers every feature you could possibly want and a few you didn't know you needed. Edmunds can help find the perfect 2017 Cadillac Escalade ESV for you.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.