2012 Cadillac Escalade | road test

Posted on Jun 10, 2012 by

Quick Review

GoodGood Interior space, ride quality, road presence
BadBadDated design, lacks some modern features
SpecsSpecs6.2-litre V8, 403bhp, 565Nm
PricePriceAED 279,000
RatingEditors Rating Three Star

Bling is an understatement for the new facelifted 2012 . This gargantuan high roller has literally found its way into the garage of every popular page three celebrity in America and gets a mention in many popular mainstream tunes. Nelly, Kanye West, Jenifer Lopez, Sean Paul, Mobb Depp are just some of the artists I can remember who have featured this car in their music videos. Stepping out of an Escalade is usually considered the ultimate status symbol.

So what makes it so special then? What makes it tick with the glitterati and the Emarati in spite of a multitude of other options in the market? Is it the size? The look? The performance? Well, I think it’s a little bit of everything.

The Escalade Cadillac was GM’s debut product in the luxury SUV market way back in 1999 to take on the Japanese and the German carmakers that had already established themselves in this segment. It wasn’t the best or the most refined but it did something that any SUV this size should, it provided ample space and stood out of the crowd. For 2012, the Escalade gets new colour choices, a new ebony accent trimmed interior in the Platinum version, a new center console lid design and enhancements to the navigation system.

About 5150mm long, more than 2000mm wide and almost 1900mm high, the Escalade is massive. In fact, being 183cms tall I feel puny standing next to it. GM has overlooked any kind of subtlety in the design and has gone straight for the dominating look by giving this car an enormous road presence with chunky body panels and angular lines.  A huge windshield, a radiator grille with dollops of chrome, large mirrors and large headlights lend an unmistakably intimidating character to this car.

On either side you have large running boards for those who might not be comfortable stepping into this rather tall SUV. Wherever the paint couldn’t go, there is chrome. In terms of looks, this is the most over-the-top full-size SUV in the market right now.

The same 6.2 litre Vortec 6200 V8 engine that has remained unchanged since the third generation Escalade was announced in 2007 powers the 2012 Cadillac Escalade. It produces a satisfying 403bhp at 5,700rpm and a colossal 565Nm of maximum torque at 4,300rpm. Power is delivered to all four wheels via the Hydra-Matic 6L80 six-speed automatic transmission with its steering column mounted shift lever. In spite of the sheer size and weight of this behemoth, this engine does a good job in providing brisk acceleration and gathering speed isn’t something that worries this motor. The gear lever even has a manual mode but the technique of shifting gears via buttons isn’t something most drivers will enjoy.

Engine performance inspires spirited driving but I recommend limiting it to straight-line take offs only. Cornering on a vehicle this size at high speeds isn’t advisable. The suspension is soft as butter and allows for a comfortable ride and that leads to excessive body roll if you push it hard around corners. The steering is also set on a lighter side, a little too light in fact and it lacks any kind of feedback. Most Escalade owners won’t complain about this as cornering prowess is not the main reason they are buying this car for.

On the inside, the lavish use of wood and leather makes for a pleasant ambience. The black leather and mahogany wood trim on the test car was of the highest quality and everything felt very up market. However, the dated design of the interior is obvious. The layout and the look hasn’t been updated much since the third generation was unveiled in 2007. Being used to latest cars, this interior did feel a bit complicated and cumbersome to operate. Also, it lacks Bluetooth connectivity which is a must have for a full size luxury SUV on sale today. The added comfort and convenience of having your phone connect automatically when you step into a car is something most high-end SUV owners take for granted these days. Another shortcoming is the lack of voice-guided navigation. The driver constantly needs to check with the centre display to make sure he is on the right path, which is retro in this time and age. Oh and it also doesn’t have keyless ignition.

The Escalade’s interior space feels unrivalled. The large roomy cabins with large windows give it that airy feel. Three rows of seating are standard on Escalade and Escalade ESV models. The second row is offered as two-bucket seats or a three-passenger bench, with a 60/40 split, and the third row features a 50/50-split design and is removable. Leather-trimmed, heated and cooled front bucket seats with 14-way seat adjusters are standard on all models.

Rear-seat entertainment system is standard on Sport and Platinum Collections and available on the Luxury Collection. It includes a DVD player with remote control, overhead display, two sets of wireless infrared headphones, auxiliary audio/video jacks and remote game plug-in.

The 2012 Cadillac Escalade features standard roof-mounted curtain air bags for all rows. It also has standard seat-mounted side-impact air bags for driver and right-front passenger. Other safety features include StabiliTrak with rollover mitigation technology, camera assisted rear parking sensors. Side blind zone alert is standard on Luxury, Sport and Platinum Collections.

With powerful 6.2-litre V8 engine, optional 8 seats, massive proportions, abundant helpings of chrome, three climate zones and optional 22-inch wheels, the 2012 Cadillac Escalade is a car full of superlatives. Even though it’s at the receiving end of criticism since the economic downturn because of its fuel consumption and size, it isn’t the only car with those attributes in this market. Smaller high performance cars consume the same amount of fuel and bigger full size pick-ups take the same amount of space. Even though the Escalade feels a bit dated and lacks certain equipment that its rivals offer as standard, it is still the undisputable king of cool and if you identify yourself with this car, you will not settle for something else.


Price: AED 279,000


Engine: 6.2-litre V8
Layout: Front engine all wheel drive
Max power: 403bhp @ 5700rpm
Max torque: 565Nm @ 4300rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic

Dimensions (mm)

Length: 5143
Width: 2007
Height: 1928
Wheelbase: 2946
Curb Weight: 2582kg
Fuel tank capacity: NA
Seating capacity: 7


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