unveils tonight in New York the redesigned ’15 Cadillac Escalade, the pinnacle of luxury in the automaker’s refreshed suite of large SUVs and a product almost certain to confirm the truck’s status as the segment’s unqualified leader when it arrives at U.S. dealers in the spring.
“The 2015 Escalade is completely new and elevated in design and technology, inside and out,” Bob Ferguson, senior vice president-Global Cadillac, says in a statement ahead of the SUV’s reveal on Manhattan’s fashionable west side. “The clear objective is to once again assume the leadership position among luxury SUVs.”
GM again will offer the Escalade in two body styles, a standard length and extended-wheelbase ESV model, a combination that keeps the SUV more than 11,000 sales ahead of its closest competitor.
Last year, however, the recently redesigned Infiniti QX80 outsold the standard Escalade, 15,310 units to 12,615 units, as sales for GM’s third-generation model stumbled 16.3%, according to WardsAuto data.
So far this year, the Escalade has recaptured the lead on delivery of 8,953 units, down 3.7% yet good enough for a segment-best market share of 20.6%. But reflecting the age of the SUV, which has not been significantly redone since the ’07 model year, a newly redesigned Range Rover is hot on its heels with 8,405 deliveries and a 19.4% share of segment.
The Escalade’s best annual performance on a volume basis came with the last redesign, when 39,017 copies were sold in the U.S. during one of the segment’s best years. Today, the segment is half the size of seven years ago, but the Escalade remains quite profitable and popular with a core group of buyers.
While the fourth-generation updates exterior lines to closely follow the brand’s sculpted look, the interior makes wholesale changes aimed at heightening the SUV’s level of style, comfort and technological sophistication.
For example, the cabin features a combination of real wood, suede accents and hand-cut and sewn materials wrapping many of the components. Ambient lighting and an emphasis on snug fit and finish in the instrument panel and door panels are other hallmarks of the new interior.
“An exceptional level of craftsmanship has gone into the redesign of the 2015 Cadillac Escalade, and it all centers on the premium materials and extensive use of cut-and-sew live stitching – the way fine furniture is produced,” says Eric Clough, director-interiors at Cadillac.
“We designed Escalade with what we call the beauty of contrast. It offers a distinctive combination of bold, truck-like character, but also the refinement of the Cadillac form vocabulary and technology,” he says.
Two key additions to the new Escalade, shared with GM’s other redesigned large SUVs, are new doors designed to cut wind noise and power, fold-flat second- and third-row seating.
The cabin of the Escalade also uses enhanced acoustic materials and Bose Active Noise Cancellation technology.
Seats are more comfortable and durable, GM says, and the second-row seats recline. The driver and front-passenger seating area gains 1.5 ins. (44 mm) of headroom and more than 4.0 ins. (101 mm) of legroom over the previous model.
GM’s Front Seat Center-Mounted airbag technology, which debuted on redesigned models of the automaker’s large CUVs last year, bows on the Escalade for the first time to better protect drivers and front passengers in far-side impact crashes, where the affected occupant is not impacted by the collision.
Additional standard and optional safety equipment newly available on the Escalade include forward-collision alert, lane-departure warning, adaptive cruise control, front and rear automatic braking and side-blind-zone and rear cross-traffic alerts. The Escalade adopts GM’s Safety Alert Seat, which sends pulses through the driver’s seat indicating the direction of potential danger.
The Escalade’s interior also gains Cadillac’s CUE infotainment system, which combinesan 8-in. (20.3-cm) touchscreen atop the center stack with capacitive-touch technology and gesture recognition, which emulates the tap-and-swipe functionality of smartphones and tablets. CUE also uses proximity sensors to activate common options and controls as the user’s hand approaches.
Drivers encounter a standard, reconfigurable, high-resolution 12.3-in. (43.5-cm) digital instrument panel paired to the CUE system for full-color redundancy of items such as audio and navigation in addition to traditional IP gauges that are reconfigurable into four different themes.
Cadillac’s full LED-lighting designs lead the exterior changes. The familiar vertical design for daytime running lamps and taillights carries over to the Escalade from the ATS, CTS and XTS sedans. The Escalade’s tall, narrow taillights incorporate a design using Cadillac’s Wreath & Crest badge and extend to the roof.
Headlamps feature what GM calls the industry’s first Total Internal Reflection LED high-beam function. It consists of four vertically stacked crystal lenses and LEDs, the auto maker says, and the low beam uses five crystal lenses and LEDs to create its light pattern. The headlamp bezel incorporates the Cadillac script.
Exterior surface lines gain more sophistication and exude greater emotion and presence, says Bob Boniface, director-exterior design at Cadillac.
“Our designers worked with the studio sculptors closer than ever to translate a 2-dimensional vision into a 3-dimensional representation that captures your attention from afar, and then pulls you in with beautiful details in the lamps, door handles and wheels,” he says.
Other highlights include a lightweight aluminum hood, while a liftgate now featuring hands-free operation sheds mass. Body-panel gaps are tighter and the rear window wiper is hidden in the spoiler for a cleaner appearance and better visibility.
The Escalade rides on a stronger chassis with a more sophisticated suspension system, which includes as standard equipment the automaker’s magnetic ride control to adjust instantly to changes in the roadway.
Under the hood, the Escalade receives GM’s all-new 6.2L V-8 engine. The fifth generation of GM’s small-block architecture adds power and fuel-economy-enhancing technology such as gasoline direct injection, variable-valve timing, broader use of cylinder deactivation and a new combustion system.
The engine makes 420 hp and 460 lb.-ft. (623 Nm) of torque, a 5% and 10% output increase, respectively. The engine mates to a 6-speed automatic transmission.
Fuel-economy estimates, as well as pricing on the new Escalade, will come closer to its on-sale date.