2017 Cadillac Escalade ESV

2017 Cadillac Escalade ESV Review

Big, powerful and plush, the 2017 Cadillac Escalade ESV is a rare combination of style and utility.
3.5 star edmunds overall rating
author
by Travis Langness
Edmunds Editor

An undeniable presence on the road, the 2017 Cadillac Escalade ESV meets a very specific list of requirements. Need to carry lots of people? The ESV can haul up to eight passengers. What if you want your luxury SUV to stand out from the crowd? This bold Caddy is one of the most stylish you'll find. And maybe you've got plans for an Airstream trailer. No problem; the Escalade ESV can tow up to 8,100 pounds, thanks in part to its traditional body-on-frame construction and strong V8 engine. Finally, the ESV's longer wheelbase (compared to the standard Escalade) provides 10 additional inches of legroom and more than 25 additional cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats folded.

Unfortunately, the Escalade ESV's ride is a bit rough because of those truck-based underpinnings and massive wheels, so it isn't the most comfortable vehicle in the class. Some rival crossover SUVs are easier to live with and get better fuel economy to boot. But if you need the kind of capability the 2017 Cadillac Escalade ESV provides, it's worth a close look.



what's new

For 2017, Cadillac has given the Escalade ESV a new optional, camera-based rearview mirror and an automatic parking assist system that can partially steer you into perpendicular and parallel parking spots. Mechanically, the 2017 Cadillac Escalade ESV carries over unchanged.

we recommend

All versions of the 2017 Cadillac Escalade ESV come with the same powerful V8, sophisticated suspension and unmistakable styling. In order to get the best features on the inside, however, we suggest going with the Premium Luxury trim. This way you'll get some desirable extras from the one-tier-lower Luxury trim (such as blind-spot monitoring and forward collision mitigation) but with the Premium Luxury's rear entertainment system and adaptive cruise control.

trim levels & features

The 2017 Cadillac Escalade ESV is a large luxury SUV available in four trim levels: base, Luxury, Premium Luxury and Platinum. The base trim comes with a dizzying array of equipment, but the Premium Luxury and Platinum take this big, plush American machine to a whole different level.

The base trim, as you probably expected, is generously appointed both inside and out. Standard gear includes the 6.2-liter V8 engine (420 horsepower, 460 pound-feet), an eight-speed automatic transmission, rear-wheel drive (four-wheel drive is optional on every trim), 20-inch wheels, an adaptive suspension, LED headlights, automatic wipers, front and rear parking sensors, automatic parallel and perpendicular parking assist, a hands-free power liftgate, remote start, tri-zone automatic climate control, a heated, power-adjustable tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, power-adjustable pedals, leather upholstery, heated and ventilated power front seats, driver-seat memory settings, heated rear seats and split power-folding third-row seats. Standard electronic features include the CUE infotainment interface (with an 8-inch touchscreen), OnStar (with 4G in-vehicle Wi-Fi), a surround-view camera system, a customizable instrument panel, a navigation system, and a Bose 16-speaker audio system with satellite radio, five USB ports and an auxiliary audio jack.

For a few more driver aids and a bit more plush equipment, you can step up to the Luxury trim, which adds 22-inch wheels, a sunroof, automatic high beams, power-folding second-row seats, a head-up display, a camera-based rearview mirror system (the rearview mirror is actually a screen displaying what the camera sees behind the vehicle), a blind-spot monitoring system, lane departure warning and intervention, rear cross-traffic alert, forward collision warning and mitigation (with automatic braking), and a safety-alert driver seat that buzzes to warn of potential hazards.

Our recommended trim, the Premium Luxury, hits the sweet spot with the above features plus adaptive cruise control, a rear entertainment system with a Blu-ray player and two overhead-mounted displays, adaptive cruise control, and a more advanced collision mitigation system with both forward and reverse automatic braking.

The most expensive (and most lavishly appointed) Escalade ESV is the Platinum trim level. It certainly has all the bells and whistles, but you may not need all the extras it provides. The Platinum adds power-retracting side steps, upgraded power front seats (with massaging function), upgraded leather upholstery, a cooled front-seat center console and two more rear entertainment screens (mounted in the front headrests) with individual display capacity for viewing multiple videos when your passengers just can't decide on one.

trim tested

The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the 2015 Cadillac Escalade Premium (6.2L V8 | 8-speed automatic | 4WD), which is the standard-wheelbase Escalade. The ESV has more cargo space, a longer wheelbase and more room for passengers. Our findings however, remain broadly applicable to this year's Cadillac Escalade ESV.

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall3.5 / 5.0

Driving

4.0 / 5.0

Steering3.0 / 5.0
Handling3.0 / 5.0
Drivability4.0 / 5.0

Comfort

3.0 / 5.0

Seat comfort2.5 / 5.0
Ride comfort2.5 / 5.0
Noise & vibration4.0 / 5.0

Interior

3.0 / 5.0

Ease of use2.5 / 5.0
Getting in/getting out4.5 / 5.0
Visibility4.0 / 5.0
Quality2.0 / 5.0

driving

edmunds rating
The 6.2-liter V8, with its 420 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque, is the star of the Escalade ESV show. Paired with the six-speed automatic, the big V8 has power to spare. But there's no denying the ESV's size and bulk.

acceleration

The big, 420-hp V8 has tons of torque, which helps give the Escalade easy and effortless acceleration. A regular Escalade we tested accelerated from 0 to 60 mph in just 6.4 seconds, and the ESV is likely just a few tenths slower. It also makes a great V8 rumble along the way.

braking

The brake pedal travel is long, soft and predictable, but there is a noticeable nosedive from this massive machine when you brake hard. Our panic stop from 60 mph in a regular Escalade took 131 feet, which is long but about what we'd expect. The ESV could fare a bit worse.

steering

edmunds rating
It is surprisingly easy to place the big Cadillac exactly where you want, though the wheel does require more turning than most drivers are used to. Steering effort is very, very heavy — almost to a fault.

handling

edmunds rating
There's a surprising amount of response and confidence on twisting roads, but because of sheer size and weight, the Escalade ESV's limits are quite low. Seat bolstering isn't up to the task of twisty roads or quick freeway exits either.

drivability

edmunds rating
Despite its size, the Cadillac Escalade is exceptionally easy to drive. The eight-speed transmission and 6.2-liter V8 make a good pairing.

comfort

edmunds rating
In a category that should be a slam-dunk for Cadillac, the Escalade ESV is less than perfect. Things start off as expected with an admirably quiet interior, but the busy ride, so-so seat comfort and nearly unusable third-row seat take their toll on overall comfort.

seat comfort

edmunds rating
For a luxury vehicle, the seats are a surprising low point. Stiff, wide and featureless, they simply don't provide enough support or comfort for long drives. Taller drivers will wish for more thigh support.

ride comfort

edmunds rating
The Magnetic Ride Control suspension helps the Escalade manage its heavy 22-inch rims. This does not, however, mean the ride is polished and well-isolated. Expect truckish behavior on anything less than a glass-smooth surface.

noise & vibration

edmunds rating
As you'd expect from Cadillac, the Escalade ESV has a pleasantly quiet ride. At times there's a touch of wind noise from the side-view mirrors. Even so, it's pretty silent. Road noise is well managed apart from the occasional tire thunk over pavement cracks.

interior

edmunds rating
If you're going just by the numbers, the Escalade ESV's interior is pretty great. Interior quality, though, especially compared to high-dollar rivals, isn't. The Escalade has a pleasant interior, but for buyers in this segment that may not be enough.

ease of use

edmunds rating
Major controls such as the gear selector, headlights and wipers are very good. The instrument panel is crisp and clear. But the touch-based CUE system is slow and hard to use. Some of the radio and climate controls that you use the most suffer from CUE's drawbacks.

getting in/getting out

edmunds rating
An optional power-retractable step aids access without getting in the way, but shorter (sub 5-foot-5) passengers will wish it was lower still. The doors are wide enough for easy entry and egress, and a tumble feature in the second row makes third-row access a snap.

roominess

The Escalade ESV is one of the biggest vehicles on the road, and the inside makes pretty good use of that space. Headroom and legroom are exceptional in the first and second rows and acceptable in the third row for the kids. Oddly, all three rows feel narrow at the shoulders.

visibility

edmunds rating
You'd think that driving an Escalade ESV would require the use of the blind-spot monitors, parking sensors and backup camera, but it doesn't. There is good enough visibility all around to make it impressively easy to park. That said, the camera is useful in close quarters.

quality

edmunds rating
The latest Escalade generally looks and feels significantly improved from the previous generation, but that's not quite enough. Much of the competition feels more substantial and more precisely tailored. Our tester had a rocking driver seat and squeaky second row.

utility

Able to tow 8,100 pounds and capable of carrying eight passengers, the Escalade is one of the most utilitarian luxury vehicles you can find. The ESV's massive cargo space helps you haul quite a bit of luggage as well.

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.