2018 Cadillac Escalade ESV Review
Edmunds expert review
With undeniable road presence and luxury cachet, the 2018 Cadillac Escalade ESV offers an admirable skill set. Its chiseled design is bold and distinctive, and it adds brawn to its beauty with a powerful V8 engine, traditional body-on-frame construction, and an ability to tow up to 8,100 pounds. Being the long-wheelbase version with enhanced passenger and cargo room, the ESV can accommodate eight passengers with exceptional room and comfort.
Those truck-based underpinnings come back to haunt the Escalade, however: It rides rougher than most other luxury SUVs (not helped any by massive 20- and 22-inch wheels). Other rivals are also easier to live with every day and achieve better fuel economy, even if they lack the Escalade's power and capabilities. But if you need to ferry several passengers in grand style, and maybe even pull an Airstream trailer while doing it, the Escalade ESV is among the best.
What's new for 2018
Trim levels & features
The 2018 Cadillac Escalade ESV is a full-size 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 is generously appointed both inside and out. Standard features include a 6.2-liter V8 engine (420 horsepower, 460 pound-feet), a 10-speed automatic transmission, rear-wheel drive (four-wheel drive is optional on every trim), 20-inch wheels, an adaptive suspension, LED headlights, front and rear parking sensors, an automatic parking system, a hands-free power liftgate and remote start.
Inside the cabin, you'll find tri-zone automatic climate control, a heated and power-adjustable steering wheel, power-adjustable pedals, leather upholstery, heated and ventilated power-adjustable front seats, heated rear seats, and power-folding split 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 gauge cluster, a navigation system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and a Bose 16-speaker audio system with satellite radio, five USB ports and a wireless device charger.
For additional driver aids and more plush equipment, the Luxury trim adds 22-inch wheels, a sunroof, automatic high beams, power-folding second-row seats, a head-up display, a camera-based rearview mirror system in which the rearview mirror is a screen displaying what the camera sees behind the vehicle. It also includes a blind-spot monitoring system, lane departure warning and intervention, rear cross-traffic alert, and forward collision warning and mitigation with automatic braking.
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 lavish Escalade ESV is the Platinum trim, which 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 the ability to display individual video sources, for times when your passengers can't agree on what to watch.
Noise & vibration7.0
Ease of use7.0
Getting in/getting out7.0
Child safety seat accommodation7.5
Audio & navigation7.0
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.