Used 2006 Cadillac Escalade Review

With its brash styling, class-leading V8 power, well-sorted vehicle dynamics and plush interior, the new Escalade is an SUV worthy of the Cadillac name.




what's new

There are no significant changes to the 2006 Cadillac Escalade.

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 it was nothing more than a slightly reworked Chevrolet Tahoe.

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 Cadillac Escalade became one of the most popular full-size luxury SUVs 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. Although it's still based on the Chevrolet Tahoe-GMC Yukon twins, the Escalade now features enough exclusive hardware to qualify it for premium status. Upgrades like road-sensing suspension, a 345-horsepower V8 and a thundering Bose sound system rank the Escalade right up there with the best in the business when it comes to luxury SUVs. If you like 'em big, bold and chock-full of high-tech goodies, the 2006 Cadillac Escalade will certainly fill the bill.

trim levels & features

In keeping with its premium image, the seven-passenger 2006 Cadillac Escalade SUV comes in one trim level only. The standard features list is extensive, and includes items like tri-zone climate control, leather seating, an in-dash six-CD Bose audio system and satellite radio. Major options include a DVD entertainment system, a DVD-based navigation system, 20-inch chrome wheels and a second-row bench seat (instead of the standard twin buckets) to increase passenger capacity to eight.

performance & mpg

Cadillac Escalade buyers can choose between all-wheel drive and two-wheel drive. Both versions come standard with a 6.0-liter V8 that produces 345 horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque. A four-speed automatic transmission is also standard. The maximum tow rating for AWD models is 8,100 pounds, while 2WD versions can lug up to 7,400 pounds. Acceleration is surprisingly brisk for such a large vehicle, and buyers who tow heavy trailers on a regular basis will appreciate the added muscle of the 6.0-liter V8.

safety

All Escalade models come standard with a stability control system as well as four-wheel antilock disc brakes, side airbags for the driver and front passenger, and OnStar telematics. Other safety features include HID headlamps, a tire-pressure monitoring system and rear parking sensors. In tests conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the 2006 Cadillac Escalade earned four out of five stars for driver and front-passenger protection in frontal impacts.

driving

Despite its imposing size, the 2006 Cadillac Escalade 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 star of the show is the burly 6.0-liter V8, as it provides ample passing power and matches well to the four-speed automatic transmission. Just don't expect to leave a gas station without paying a pricey sum; the Escalade's EPA fuel economy rating is a dismal 13 city/17 highway.

interior

As you would expect in a luxury SUV, the Escalade's interior features plenty of soft leather and shiny wood accents. Some of the cabin's design cues and materials are too derivative of a Chevy Tahoe, but the Cadillac still pulls off the role of a luxury vehicle. The front bucket seats feel like big lounge chairs, and well-cushioned second-row buckets are standard fare -- a bench seat for the second row is a no-cost option. There's plenty of room for four or five adults to stretch out and even the optional third-row seats are comfortable enough for shorter trips.

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.