Cadillac Escalade 4th Generation 2015-2020 (GMT K2XL) Review

Everything You Need To Know Before Buying A Used Escalade 4th Gen

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4thGen Cadillac Escalade: What Owners Say

  • The 4th-generation Cadillac Escalade is a fantastic family SUV, with seating for up to eight people.
  • Owners of the 4th-gen Escalade enjoy the luxurious ambiance of the interior, especially the lack of noise intrusion.
  • The Escalade is practical as well and can tow up to 8,300 lbs in the right configuration.
  • Cadillac included a lot of features as standard.
  • The 4th-generation Escalade is still one of the most aspirational SUVs around. Few SUVs say you've arrived as clearly as an Escalade.
  • The 4th-generation Cadillac Escalade is a gas guzzler of note.
  • The Escalade is big and bulky, and slow to respond to steering input. This lack of nimbleness can make it annoying on small city streets or congested areas.
  • Some of the interior materials are not up to standard.

Fourth Generation Cadillac Escalade Facelift

The Cadillac Escalade GMT K2XL had a short lifecycle compared to the average car. It had only six model years, after which Cadillac introduced the fifth-gen model. Because of that, there are no exterior updates to speak of, but Cadillac continued to add new colors and safety systems along with each new model year.

Notable changes include an all-new Sport Package that was introduced in 2019. During its final year on sale, Cadillac sold the Escalade Noir, which we'll take a closer look at later on. Cadillac chose the 2018 model year to make some interior improvements. In true American fashion, Caddy also added more cupholders and an upgraded seat memory system.

Cadillac Escalade 4th Gen Front View Cadillac
2015-2020 Escalade 4th Gen Front View
Cadillac Escalade 4th Gen Rear Angle View Cadillac
2015-2020 Escalade 4th Gen Rear View
Cadillac Escalade 4th Gen Interior Cadillac
2015-2020 Escalade 4th Gen Interior View

Engine, Transmission and Drivetrain

All fourth-gen Escalades are powered by the same 6.2-liter V8 engine. When it comes to gearboxes, there are three you need to know about. For a short while during the first year of production, the 6.2 V8 was mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. This transmission lasted less than one model year, so you'll also find 2015 models with the new eight-speed automatic transmission that replaced the six-speeder. In 2018, Caddy equipped the Escalade with a ten-speed automatic transmission co-developed with Ford. It had a minor effect on fuel consumption, but it was a smoother, smarter transmission. In the sportier driving mode, it even rev-matches on downshifts, which is quite amusing on a big SUV like this.

The standard drivetrain was rear-wheel drive. Cadillac never built the Escalade to go off-road. It's an SUV that makes a statement about your status in life. An AWD system was available as an optional extra, but it's not meant for rugged off-road driving. This option was aimed solely at cold-weather states. Instead of waiting for the wheels to lose grip, the driver has the option of overriding the system and locking it in 4WD. It provides the ultimate peace of mind when driving in adverse conditions, as it keeps you from getting into trouble, instead of fixing the problem after it has already happened. You can get a lift kit for the Escalade, but it won't result in the vehicle being a better off-roader. Generally, Escalade owners fit lift kits to fit larger rims, which we wouldn't recommend. It spoils the ride of a car that glides beautifully as is.

6.2-liter V8 OHV L86
420 hp | 460 lb-ft
420 hp
460 lb-ft
Six-/eight-/ten-speed automatic transmission
RWD or optional AWD

The 6.2-liter V8 is well-known to all automotive fans. It powers everything from trucks to performance cars, proving just how adaptable it is. The version used in the 5th-gen Escalade hails from the 5th-gen LS V8 line that was first launched in 2013 and comes standard with refinements like all-aluminum construction, direct fuel injection, and cylinder deactivation, called Active Fuel Management - or AFM - by GM. The L86 derivative used in the 2015+ Escalade produces 420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque. In the Escalade, the main aim is to provide effortless grunt. The Escalade can sprint to 60 mph in around six seconds, but it seems a bit uncouth. Pressing down on the throttle and not experiencing any hesitation is way more enjoyable.

As mentioned earlier, the gearbox changed twice during the Escalade's lifecycle. A six-speed GM 6L80 transmission was offered for a short while before Cadillac finally bolted the 8L90 eight-speed the SUV was supposed to have in place. In 2018 the gearbox was upgraded to a 10L80 ten-speed automatic co-developed with Ford. This gearbox unlocks the true potential of the V8 engine. Since it has so many gear ratios, a ten-speed Escalade is both faster and more frugal. In RWD guise, the Escalade can tow 8,300 lbs, but this drops to 8,100 lbs in AWD guise.

2015-2020 Cadillac Escalade 4th Generation Real MPG

The 4th-generation Escalade is essentially a 5,500-lbs box powered by a naturally aspirated V8 engine. It's big, imposing, and burbly. This is part of the reason why it's so good at announcing to the neighbors that you've (metaphorically) arrived and unlocked the gates to middle-class success. It uses a lot of gas and even with longer gear ratios to improve highway fuel consumption, the EPA-estimated figures remained more or less the same throughout the Escalade lifecycle. Thank the stars for a decent fuel tank capacity of 26 gallons. This gives the big Caddy an estimated range of 442 miles between refills. The ESV model has a larger 31-gallon tank and the impact of the additional weight is negligible on the fuel consumption. Thanks to the larger tank, the ESV is able to cover around 530 miles between refills.

EPA MPG (city/highway/combined)Real-World Combined MPG*
6-speed RWD15/21/17N/A
6-speed AWD14/21/16N/A
8-speed RWD15/22/17N/A
8-speed AWD15/20/17N/A
10-speed RWD14/23/17N/A
10-speed AWD14/21/17N/A

* Real-world mpg and MPGe figures are provided by the EPA. Once a car has been on sale for a significant period of time, the EPA gets real-world figures directly from the customer base. These figures are then provided on the EPA website. Real-world figures are not available for certain models due to a lack of sales, or not enough people partaking in this after-sales survey.


The NHTSA's safety rating for the Cadillac Escalade is interesting, to say the least. Expensive cars like the Caddy are usually not tested at all, but the NHTSA tested both the RWD and AWD models, not that it should make any difference. Unfortunately, the Cadillacs were only subjected to the side and rollover crash tests, and not the frontal crash. This means it has no rating for the latter and no overall rating. It scored the full five stars for the side-impact, but only three out of five in the rollover test. The IIHS never had the opportunity to review the 2015-2020 Cadillac Escalade.

When it was new, the base price of an Escalade was $73,000. As you'd expect, Cadillac gave it a comprehensive list of standard safety features. Base models are equipped with traction and stability control, ABS with disc brakes all around, and seven airbags, including curtain airbags that cover all three rows. All Escalades also had an additional airbag between the front seats, which likely helped it achieve such an impressive side-impact rating. The OnStar system is also standard across the range. It uses the navigation system and connectivity to send out a crash notification and a location for emergency services. Standard driver-assistance features include a rearview camera, parking sensors front and rear, automatic LED headlights, rain-sensing wipers, and an auto-dimming interior and driver's side mirror.

Back in 2015, a full suite of standard driver assistance systems was not yet the norm. To gain access to lane-departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert, forward-collision warning, blind-spot monitoring, a buzzing seat alert, and automatic high beams, you have to level up to the Luxury trim. The Premium and Limited models add more pieces of the puzzle, namely forward- and reverse-collision avoidance via automatic braking, adaptive cruise control, and cornering lights.

For 2016, Cadillac added a surround-view parking camera as standard and lane-departure intervention as an optional extra. The 2017 Escalade gains GM's Teen Driver monitoring system, automatic parking for either parallel or perpendicular parking spaces, and a rear-passenger monitoring system so you cannot forget children in the hot car when you park. An HD rear-view camera display incorporated into the interior mirror is standard on all but the base car. The standard car gains automatic high beams.

US NHTSA Crash Test Result 2015-2020

Side Crash Rating:
Rollover Rating:

4th Generation Cadillac Escalade Trims

The Cadillac Escalade trim levels are easy to understand. There are only four trim levels, and only one trim got a name change in 2017. Cadillac added more standard features to the Premium trim and changed the name to Premium Luxury. The rest of the range remained as-is for the entire lifespan. The same trim levels apply to the ESV model. Every next trim has the same standard equipment as the previous one, unless otherwise noted, plus the additional equipment mentioned.

6.2-liter V8
Six-/eight-/ten-speed automatic

The entry-level Escalade was simply called the Escalade, which causes confusion. That's why we rather refer to it as the standard model. Calling it the base model would be a disservice to the car, as it comes with all the goodies you'd expect on a car that initially retailed for more than $70,000. As mentioned earlier, the Escalade is one of those cars that makes a statement, so it's nice to see that even the standard model is equipped with 20-inch chromed alloy wheels, power-folding mirrors, running boards, automatic wipers and LED headlights, remote start, and a hands-free power tailgate. You don't have to compromise on ride quality either, as all models include magnetic damping as standard with Sport and Comfort modes. Even with the rather ambitious Sport mode activated, it still reacts like the lumbering SUV it is.

On the practical side, standard features include keyless entry and start, remote start, and auto-dimming side and rearview mirrors. Luxury features include a heated power-adjustable steering wheel, power-adjustable pedals, eight-way power-adjustable, heated, and ventilated front seats and heated outboard second-row seats, power-folding split third-row seats, and tri-zone climate control. Leather upholstery is standard, available in Jet Black or Shale with Cocoa accents, both with perforated inserts. The standard interior trim on the dash is faux wood, and it definitely looks as fake as it is.

Cadillac's CUE eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system and 16-speaker Bose sound system take care of the in-car entertainment. 2015 models come standard with a CD player, active noise canceling, navigation, an auxiliary audio jack, Bluetooth connectivity, five USB ports, satellite radio, HD radio, and real-time traffic. In 2016 Cadillac updated the infotainment system to improve the sluggish response times and make it more intuitive to use, also giving the system the ability to run Apple CarPlay, while adding a surround-view parking camera. The 2017 model gains Android Auto and a wireless charging pad. 2018 models boast a customizable digital instrument cluster, and the ability to create a Wi-Fi hotspot.

6.2-liter V8
Six-/eight-/ten-speed automatic

How could anything be more luxurious than the standard trim? The Luxury answers that question, though it's more about practicality, style, and safety. Most importantly, the Luxury trim and the two models above it come standard with a host of driver-assistance features, which is important in an SUV that will likely spend a lot of time ferrying kids around. As standard, the Luxury comes with lane-departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert, forward-collision warning, blind-spot monitoring, a vibrating alert seat, and automatic high beams. There are still some safety features that you can only access by going higher, but these are the most important driver-assistance features in our opinion.

Other niceties include a head-up display, 22-inch rims, an upgraded alarm system, and a sunroof. The latter is helpful, especially if the car has a Jet Black leather interior. Dark colors make some interiors feel smaller than they actually are and letting more natural light in makes a huge difference. Speaking of the interior, the second row in the Luxury trim is power-folding.

Premium / Premium Luxury
6.2-liter V8
Six-/eight-/ten-speed automatic

The Premium is yet another step up and includes everything the Luxury has; however, it improves life for the rear-seat passengers. Second-row passengers will enjoy the Blu-Ray-based infotainment system. Premium also adds all of the safety systems included in the Luxury, plus adaptive cruise control with forward- and reverse-collision detection with automatic braking. The Premium was renamed Premium Luxury in 2017. All of the features are carry over, but Premium Luxury models have a single-screen rear-seat entertainment system with MHL and HDMI inputs and two wireless headphones.

6.2-liter V8
Six-/eight-/ten-speed automatic

The Platinum sits at the top of the Escalade pile and comes as standard with all the luxuries you don't really need, but desperately want. That's everything the Premium Luxury has, plus massaging front seats and an even higher grade of leather upholstery.In addition to that, the front seats in the Platinum boast 14-way power adjustment. You also get power side steps and a cooled center console storage between the front seats.

Platinum models could also be ordered with Tuscan Brown leather seats, which is a color worth looking out for. The deep brown works beautifully in combination with the interior wooden trim. For that extra dash of feel-good factor, the headliner on this model is faux suede. Like the Premium and Premium Luxury, the Platinum also comes standard with rear-seat entertainment. For 2017, this system was updated to the HDMI-based system, but instead of one screen, the Platinum has two. The 2018 Platinum gains the option of a Maple Sugar interior color scheme with Jet Black accents, so check whether this option has been specified.

Fourth Gen Cadillac Escalade GMT K2XL Features

StandardLuxuryPremiumPremium LuxuryPlatinum
Back-Up CameraSSSSS
Bluetooth ConnectionSSSSS
Leather SeatsSSSSS
Apple CarPlay and Android AutoSSSSS
Keyless EntrySSSSS
Keyless StartSSSSS
Alloy WheelsSSSSS

Interior, Trim And Practicality

Cadillac Escalade 4th Gen Inside Cadillac
Cadillac Escalade 4th Gen Inside

First off, the Cadillac Escalade's interior is not aging well. After browsing several used examples online, we noticed that the leather becomes shiny quickly. Cadillac obviously doesn't use the same upmarket hide as the German brands. The markings on the buttons on the steering wheel also rub off after a few years. It's not a problem if you know the layout already, but the Escalade will likely be brand-new to the buyer. Figuring the blank buttons out is going to be a deeply annoying task. The build quality could have been better in some areas, which was a bitter pill to swallow when the car was new. Thanks to depreciation, the quality of the interior is better aligned with the pricing. All models but the Platinum use faux wood trim, and it doesn't do a particularly good job of hiding its fakeness. The real Burl, Elm, and Ashwood trim in the Platinum model looks so much better.

As standard, the Escalade is a seven-seater, and one of the main options was swapping the second-row captain's chairs for a power-folding bench. This was not a popular option, so you have to dig a little to find an eight-seater. For what it's worth, the middle seat in the second row is large enough for an adult, but they might struggle to find a comfortable place to put their feet.

The third-row bench has enough headroom for adults but the legroom is only 25 inches. Only kids will be happy back there. We have to mention how easily accessible the Escalade is. All models have sidesteps, while the Platinum has power sidesteps that drop down even lower. Thanks to power-folding everything, getting in and out of the third row is easy and efficient.

The place to be is in the front, as neither the driver nor the passenger will struggle to find a comfortable driving position. Both the steering column and pedals are power-adjustable. The Platinum even comes standard with seat massaging for the driver, which should take care of any aches and pains in heavy traffic. The trunk is disappointingly small with the third row up. In this configuration, the Escalade only has 15.2 cubic feet of cargo capacity, which isn't large enough to fit all the things six kids carry to school daily. It is at least enough space for daily errands, but not much more. If you are planning on using the third row regularly, we recommend going for the larger Escalade ESV. Treat it as a four or five-seater, and the Cadillac makes a lot more sense.

With the power-folding third row down, the Escalade's trunk capacity increases to 51.6 cubes. We see not having to worry about space as a luxury, and that's what this SUV offers when using only the first and second rows. The 50+ cube trunk is easily large enough for a family of four/five to go on a week-long holiday without having to pack carefully. Interior storage is equally ample, with four large door pockets, a set of cupholders for each row, and a massive storage bin underneath the center armrest.

If you still need more space than that, it's worth investigating the ESV model. Essentially, the ESV matches the normal Escalade in every way, but it's a full 20 inches longer. The wheelbase is 14 inches longer, which means actual real space for third-row passengers. The trunk capacity with three rows in place grows from 15.2 cubes to a full 39.2 cubes, which is more than enough. Drop the third row down, and you get 76.6 cubes of packing space.

Trim (2020)StandardLuxuryPremium LuxuryPlatinum
Jet Black or Shale with Jet Black accents leather seatsSN/AN/AN/A
Jet Black, Kona Brown with Jet Black accents, or Shale with Jet Black accents leather seatsN/ASSN/A
Jet Black with Jet Black accents or Maple Sugar with Jet Black accents leather seatsN/AN/AN/AS

2015-2020 4th Gen Escalade Maintenance and Cost

The Escalade is powered by GM's well-known naturally aspirated 6.2-liter L86 V8 engine used in a variety of models. That's good news for prospective Escalade customers because it means parts are cheap and readily available. The Escalade determines its own service intervals via an onboard computer. These services include basic oil changes, which should occur at 7,500-mile intervals. Keep in mind that if you use the Escalade under severe conditions, such as sub-zero temperatures, in dusty conditions, or heavy towing, you might want to change the oil every 5,000 miles just to be on the safe side.

The steering and suspension need to be lubricated every 10,000 miles, while the engine's air filter needs to be replaced every 45,000 miles or four years, whichever comes first. Along with the air filter, various parts like the doors, hood hinge, and trunk need to be lubricated as well. Every 45,000 miles you can expect a big bill, as the transfer case fluid needs to be replaced on AWD models, and the clutch needs to be adjusted. At 97,500 miles, you can expect the largest service bill, which is somewhere in the region of $2,300. That's because it includes all of the work mentioned above, and replacing the spark plugs and spark-plug wires. Cadillac recommends that the automatic transmission's fluid should be replaced every 45,000 if the vehicle is operated under the above-mentioned severe conditions, but we recommend not waiting any longer than 60,000 miles in any event, even when used normally, in the interest of transmission longevity.

4th Gen Escalade Basic Service

Engine Oil Change Including Filter

Oil capacity: 7.6L (8 quarts)

Recommended oil type and viscosity: 0W-20 fully synthetic oil

How often to change: 5,000 to 7,500 miles

Average Price: $92


Part Number: 12622441

Replacement: Every 97,500 miles

Average Price: $115 for eight

Air Filter

Part Number: 22845992

Replacement: Every 45,000 miles

Average Price: $42


All models

Part number: 31500-TGG-100M

Replacement: Every 3 to 5 years.

Average Price: $209

4th Generation Cadillac Escalade Tires

2015 Standard
Tire Size:
Between $808 and $984 per set
Luxury, Premium / Premium Luxury, and Platinum
Tire Size:
Between $984 and $1,231 per set

Check Before You Buy

Technical Service Bulletins according to the NHTSA. Check service book for:

There are several 2015-2020 Cadillac Escalade recalls you should be aware of. Most of the recalls are on the serious side, so it's worth making sure that the previous owner returned the car for the necessary inspections and repairs. 2015 to 2017 models were recalled for frontal airbags that may not deploy due to a software glitch. Certain driving conditions will result in the car running diagnostics, and during this diagnostic test, the front airbags and seatbelt pre-tensioners are not active. All 2015 models were recalled for inconsistent airbag deployment due to the use of incorrect materials that reduce adhesion. These early 2015 models also had to return to dealerships due to the possibility of temporary loss of the electronic power steering. Thankfully, the latter problem required nothing more than a software upgrade. More worrying is the 2015 to 2018 power brake assist vacuum pump recall. Over time, the amount of vacuum created by the pump decreases, drastically reducing braking power. The last thing you want on a 5,500 lbs SUV is braking problems.

2016 to 2017 Escalades were recalled due to inadequate welds on the upper control arms. This is one of the Escalade's known suspension problems. The recall was so serious that Cadillac advised Escalade owners not to drive their vehicles until the problem had been resolved. No recalls were issued against the Escalade in 2019, but final year models were recalled for a fuel pump missing a pressure regulator, which led to over-pressurization of the fuel system. This only affected 502 models. The second 2020 recall is more concerning, as it concerns tires that may suddenly lose pressure. The tires provided by the supplier were overcured, which could lead to a sudden break in the sidewall. This recall affected 33,800 models. At the time of writing, it had been hardly a year since the recall, so there's a good chance there might still be Escalades with serious tire problems up for sale.

There are some 2015 - 2020 Cadillac Escalade problems to be worried about, starting with the error codes that most commonly crop up during a diagnostic test.

  • The Cadillac Escalade trouble code P0073 is an indication that there's something wrong with the ambient air temperature sensor. It seems like an insignificant problem, but a faulty ambient air temperature (AAT) sensor can have a domino effect on other control systems. The information provided by the AAT is also sent to the ECU, which uses it for various functions like the outside temperature display in the instrument cluster, and to control the automatic tri-zone climate control. This could be one of the reasons why the car is experiencing AC or air conditioning problems.
  • Code P0300 is a generic code for an engine misfire. Codes P0301 to P0308 will indicate the exact location of the misfire. The most common causes of a misfire are a faulty spark plug, broken oxygen sensors, and damaged fuel injectors.
  • Error Code P050D ties in with Code P0300. It will show up during a rough cold start when the car struggles to settle down to a smooth idle. The most common cause of this error code is a misfire, which could be caused by several things, but most likely the reasons we mentioned above.

Speaking of codes, General Motors makes it easy to check the original specifications of a vehicle via the Cadillac Escalade RPO codes. RPO codes are either located in the glove box, or under the spare wheel in the trunk. GM's RPO codes are easy to find, and the used Escalade you're looking at can tell you a lot if you know the lingo. The RPO code will tell you whether the color was original, and what additional packages were added to the car. It's a nice life hack that makes it easier to know exactly what you're looking at.

2015-2020 Cadillac Escalade Common Problems

EcoTec3 L86 6.2-liter NA OHV (LS 5th-gen) V8 Engine Problems

Hailing from the 5th generation of the famous LS line of OHV V8 engines, the L86 is one of the most advanced examples, sporting all-aluminum construction, direct fuel injection, and cylinder deactivation, called Active Fuel Management - or AFM - by GM. Being a direct-injected gas engine, it suffers from carbon build-up on the intake valves as it ages, which will eventually become excessive and affect the engine's operation, causing rough idling, misfiring, poor economy, and power loss. The only way to fix it is to have the valves clean by way of walnut blasting, which will set you back several hundred dollars.

Fuel-system problems are not uncommon and these include failing injectors, high-pressure fuel-pump failure, and AFM failure. This type of cylinder-deactivation system tends to go hand in hand with positive crankcase ventilation (PCV) system issues and excessive oil consumption. Excessive oil consumption leads to a myriad of problems, including low oil level, excessive wear, hydraulic-lifter collapse (which can lead to bent pushrods), overheating, and premature engine failure if left unchecked. It has been speculated that, with certain pistons not firing while AFM is in operation, engines' temperatures fluctuate too much and unused pistons' rings may get stuck and cause high oil consumption. Of all the mentioned problems, lifter failure is the most prevalent on the 6.2L.

Be that as it may, the L86's AFM is prone to these issues and while its L87 successor's Dynamic Fuel Management (DFM) system that alternates between any combination of pistons and doesn't always shut down the same ones should, in theory, solve the problem, the L86 still has the old system.

The manifolds also cause some trouble, notably the intake manifold's gaskets that leak and the exhaust manifolds' bolts that break. Last of all, motor mounts may not last as long as expected, especially on AWD models.

Mileage: Excessive carbon builds up on the intake valves from 70,000-80,000 miles. Injector failure can occur as early as 30,000 miles. AFM-related excessive oil consumption starts at around 80,000 miles and lifter failure can occur before 70,000 miles.

Cost: Replacing the injectors costs around $500 and walnut blasting the carbon build-up off the intake valves is around $300-$500 in labor with no parts needed. The high-pressure fuel pump costs around $450 in parts and close to $1,000 with labor added. Having the throttle body cleaned should cost around $120. Invasive engine work that requires lots of stripping to replace collapsed lifters and bent pushrods can amount to well nearly $6,000.

How to spot: Carbon on the intake valves causes bad economy, poor running, rough idling, power loss, misfiring, and an illuminated Check Engine light. The last three of those symptoms typify injector failure too, in addition to the relevant fault codes. A high-pressure fuel pump (HPFP) failing causes difficult or no starting and a Check Engine light.

Transmission Problems

The most expensive problem you might encounter is a faulty transmission. Several owners complained about the torque converter automatic transmission problems, ranging from a grinding sound to the vehicle jumping out of gear. There were also reported shifter problems such as jerky and harsh gear changes. Other owners mentioned vibration problems.

The transmission complaints seem to be limited to early 2015 models equipped with the older six-speed automatic transmission.

Once Caddy switched over to the eight-speed automatic transmission, these complaints went away but some others surfaced, with some 2015-2017 Escalades with the eight-speed transmission suffering from shuddering and shaking when slowly accelerating between 25 and 80 mph. The cause was traced to the moisture content of the oil put in the transmission in the factory and a transmission flush and oil replacement will usually solve the problem, else the torque converter must be replaced. Technical service bulletin 18-NA-355 covered this problem, which usually occurs by 20,000 and should have been fixed on all Escalades under warranty. If the vehicle is out of warranty and exhibits these symptoms, rather avoid it.

Mileage: Six-speed transmission problems from as little as 2,000 miles; the eight-speed's problems occur by around 20,000 miles.

Cost: Around $1,200 to $1,800 depending on how bad the problem is.

How to spot: Turn the AC all the way to ice cold and let it run for a few minutes. If you are buying an early model, make sure you check the service history to see whether any air conditioning components were replaced.

Delaminating CUE Displays

Apparently, poor interlayer bonding during manufacturing can cause the infotainment screen to crack and delaminate on 4th-gen Escalades, impairing the visibility of on-screen information and making it difficult to use. Cadillac is facing a number of ongoing lawsuits related to this problem. Considering that many in-car functions are operated via the touchscreen, this is a major problem. GM issued no fewer than four service bulletins acknowledging and outlining the screen problems, but there has been no recall or service campaign.

Mileage: From around 62,000 miles.

Cost: Around $1,500 to replace the entire Integrated Center Stack (ICS).

How to spot: Make sure there are no signs of cracking or delamination on the CUE touchscreen.

Air-Conditioning Problems

It seems as if improperly sealed air-conditioning systems that cause the refrigerant to leak out is quite common among GM products of this era and the 2015-2020 Escalade is no exception. The root cause is a substandard AC condenser that allows air to enter the system, with the resultant water vapor prone to freezing, causing a blockage and subsequent backup in the system that pushes internal pressures to beyond what the condenser can cope with. The condenser cracks and the refrigerant leaks out.The offending AC condenser is no longer used in production. Besides the cracked condenser, the rubber hoses between it and the compressor are also prone to cracking, also causing the refrigerant to escape. Lawsuits followed and extended warranty cover was issued, but you'll have to check your VIN with a Cadillac dealer to see if your vehicle qualifies for repairs if the AC is not blowing as cold as it should.

Mileage: Typically from around 50,000-88,000 miles.

Cost: It can cost $1,200-$1,800 in parts and labor to fix these AC problems.

How to spot: The AC no longer blows cold air.

Less Common Problems And Problem-Free Areas

The 2015-2020 Escalade is a remarkably well-made SUV. Even the serious problems listed above pale in comparison to the number of cars Cadillac sold. There are other issues that were mentioned, but not enough to establish a pattern. Still, you want to go into a purchase knowing about every potential problem, no matter how small. A handful of owners complained about the digital rearview mirror problems. The systems in these cars were poorly calibrated, and the entire system had to be replaced. Talking about calibration, this was a problem on some front-view cameras as well, affecting the lane-keep assist's performance, so test this feature out on your test drive. Recalibration is often not possible without replacing the camera module. There were also some complaints about instrument cluster and door lock problems, but not nearly enough to register as common. These problems are easy enough to spot, as you need only check that all of the systems are working properly when you go for a test drive. The earliest 4th gen Escalades are now more than seven years old, which means battery draining problems are more commonplace. Car batteries have an average lifespan of three to five years, as you can see in our basic service section. A battery is, unfortunately, something that wears out over time, and there's a very good chance you'll have to replace it.

All Escalade models are equipped with a power liftgate, including sensors to keep the hatch from coming down while somebody is busy loading something in the trunk. We found a few mentions of this rear liftgate problem, which the Cadillac seems to have inherited from its predecessor. It's a problem worth checking out because it requires more work than simply replacing the struts that hold it in place. Finally, look out for a few less-common problems such as broken exterior door handles, failed power-lock actuators, noisy differentials, and clunking from the steering mechanism.

Quite a few owners of the 3rd-generation Escalade noted an illuminated "Service Stabilitrak" notification in the instrument cluster but it seems to occasionally affect the 4th gen as well. This is the only known Stabilitrak problem. The good news is that it appears most cars were fixed under warranty, requiring nothing more than a new chip. The bad news is that if it does pop up, the traction and stability control are not operative. Make sure the light is not illuminated.

Which One To Avoid

The transmission problems are mostly limited to early models with the six-speed automatic transmission and the eight-speeder's problems should have been sorted out under warranty, so you mostly have to avoid the six-speed models. The eight and ten-speed transmissions allow you to get more out of the engine, especially when towing something. While all trims are luxurious and there is hardly something like a "base" Escalade, the standard model with its smaller wheels and limited access to some top-level driver-assistance features may put some buyers off. The 2015 and 2016 model years also exhibited the most problems in general.

Which One To Buy

The later Premium Luxury is the sweet spot in the range. You get all the goodies you need to make any road trip a joy, including a rear entertainment system with an HDMI input. Other niceties include a head-up display, 22-inch alloy rims, and a sunroof. This is all in addition to the standard specification, which also includes a heated power-adjustable steering wheel, power-adjustable heated and ventilated front seats and heated outboard second-row seats, tri-zone climate control, an eight-inch infotainment system with a Bose sound system, and perforated leather seats. It's also a later model, which means it was never available with the six-speed automatic transmission you need to avoid. As a family vehicle, it's also the best equipped for safety. It has lane departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert, forward-collision warning, blind-spot monitoring, and automatic high beams. Whether you should go for a regular Escalade or an ESV is up to you. We like the larger fuel tank and the increase in cargo capacity, which makes it worth the premium. If you only need to cater to a family of four or five, the standard-length car should be perfectly fine. In terms of problems, the 2017-2020 model years are the most reliable.

4th Gen Cadillac Escalade Verdict

The 4th-generation Cadillac Escalade is a giant step in the right direction compared to the third-generation model. With that car, Cadillac charged a premium and you couldn't really see where the money went. And it suffered from various maladies, including poor interior quality. The 4th-gen car is a proper luxury machine that can stand toe to toe with German cars from the same vintage. It has a reliable engine and it's bolted together properly. It's by far one of the least complained about Cadillacs in GM's history, and if you stay away from the early models, this big SUV should provide plenty of luxurious motoring for years to come.

Escalade 4th Generation (GMT K2XL) Alternatives

If you're shopping for 2015-2020 Cadillac Escalade you should consider these alternatives
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