2020 Cadillac Escalade ESV

2020 Cadillac Escalade ESV Review: All About The Looks

by Aiden Eksteen

If you ain't gangsta', ain't rappin', or don't talk claptrap to the nation for a living, then you're probably looking to own a full-size luxury SUV purely for going on frequent family vacations. Either way, the dignified Cadillac Escalade ESV makes for a highly capable and luxurious SUV and is one that anybody would look stylishly "pimp" in. While the pop star would settle for any model as long as it rides atop 22-inch chromed-out wheels, the Escalade ESV is the long-wheelbase version of the SUV ideal for the avid vacationer - this model offering up a vastly more commodious cabin and a whole lot more cargo room than the standard version. Roaring under its hood is a 6.2-liter V8 engine with peak outputs of 420 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque. A ten-speed automatic gearbox directs outputs to a standard rear-wheel or available all-wheel-drivetrain. The Escalade is a luxurious and practical SUV that comes at a premium price, but so are, and so do its rivals, the Lincoln Navigator, Chevrolet Suburban, and the BMW X7, so where will you get the most bang for your buck?

2020 Cadillac Escalade ESV Changes: 🚙What’s the difference vs 2019 Escalade ESV?

With a total overhaul planned for the Escalade for the 2021 model year, Cadillac kept upgrades and alterations minimal for the SUV coming into the 2020 model year. There's the availability of a new Dark Mocha metallic paint color which carries additional costs (except on Platinum trims). In standard guise, the Escalade lineup is otherwise business as usual.

Pros and Cons

  • Commanding V8 engine
  • Easy and complacent cruiser
  • Commodious cabin
  • Expansive cargo area
  • High towing capability
  • Not very frugal on fuel
  • Aging cabin impression
  • Low-quality cabin materials
  • Lumbering handling dynamics
  • Unintuitive infotainment system

2020 Cadillac Escalade ESV Trims

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
Standard
6.2-liter V8 Gas
10-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
Four-Wheel Drive
$78,195
Luxury
6.2-liter V8 Gas
10-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
Four-Wheel Drive
$83,795
Premium Luxury
6.2-liter V8 Gas
10-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
Four-Wheel Drive
$88,195
Platinum
6.2-liter V8 Gas
10-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
Four-Wheel Drive
$95,295

Escalade ESV Exterior

As with the charismatic celebrities that usually drive them, the Escalade will undoubtedly draw the attention of many for its stately and easily recognizable appearance. Upfront, every model sports an enormous chrome front grille befitting its large, boxy-shaped body-on-frame build. All-LED exterior lighting including auto-on/off headlamps are standard across the lineup with auto-leveling high-beam functions coming in as of the Luxury trim, which also introduces a standard-fit power sunroof to the lineup. The Platinum trim is equipped with power-retractable assist steps. The base trim rides atop 20-inch seven-spoke alloy wheels, the Luxury trims atop 22-inch seven-spoke alloy wheels varying in style, and the Platinum on 22-inch dual nine-spoke alloy wheels. For those who like to be different, there's the Sport Edition Appearance Package and the Radiant Package available to jazz things up a bit.

2020 Cadillac Escalade ESV Front Angle View Cadillac
2020 Cadillac Escalade ESV Side View Cadillac
2020 Cadillac Escalade ESV Side View 1 Cadillac
See All 2020 Cadillac Escalade ESV Exterior Photos

Dimensions

The Escalade ESV is Cadillac's largest SUV and, as the extended-wheelbase version of the nameplate, presents a considerable advancement in size compared to the standard-wheelbase version. With its overall length of 224.3 inches and wheelbase of 130 inches, the ESV version is over 20 inches longer than the standard version and with a 14-inch longer wheelbase. Though a lot heavier, the ESV version stands only 0.4-inches shorter in stature with its height of 74 inches, both versions otherwise share a width of 80.5 inches. Curb weights range from 5,831 pounds to 6,088 lbs within the ESV lineup, making the extended-wheelbase version up to 500-pounds heavier than the standard versions.

  • Length 224.3 in
  • Wheelbase 130.0 in
  • Height 74.0 in
  • Max Width 80.5 in

Escalade ESV Performance

2020 Cadillac Escalade ESV Front View Cadillac
2020 Cadillac Escalade ESV Front Angle View 1 Cadillac
2020 Cadillac Escalade ESV Rear Angle View Cadillac

Engine and Transmission

There's plenty of punch packed within the 6.2-liter V8 engine that thunders beneath the Escalade's hood. With mighty outputs of 420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque directed via a ten-speed automatic gearbox to either the rear wheels, or optionally to all four, the Escalade ESV accelerates from 0-60 mph in around six seconds, which is pretty impressive for a two-and-a-half tonne miniature tank. Overall, the Escalade's powertrain is a consummate fit for its build and purpose - there's plenty of power and torque available at any rev range, which the gearbox decisively and smoothly makes use of. Cruising around town is always effortless and getting up to highway speeds for merges or overtakes is no struggle at all. This powertrain, in RWD guise, avails the Escalade with a maximum towing capacity of 8,100 lbs as well, dropping to 7,900 lbs with the AWD system in play.

  • Engine
    6.2-liter V8 Gas
  • Transmission
    10-Speed Automatic
  • Drivetrains
    4X4, RWD

Handling and Driving Impressions

Cadillac constructs the Escalade ESV with a traditional body-on-frame structure, which, along with its live rear axle, makes for a somewhat truck-like driving experience. Fortunately, Cadillac throws in some adaptive magnetic ride dampers to counter this and to give the Escalade a slightly softer ride than what an actual truck would deliver, though, at its position and price in the market, the Escalade never feels as befittingly refined on the road as one would expect. It's not unbearable, but broken road surfaces and typical undulations do invade the cabin notably, making for a ride quality not warranted from a vehicle in this class. This setup does, however, keep the Escalade reasonably composed around the bends, it always feels firmly planted to the ground and body roll is effectively kept to a minimum, though it quickly reminds you of its heft when taking turns at higher speeds. Luckily, its responsive and well-weighted steering helps make things easier, especially around town. As for its brakes, while stopping power is suitable for the powerful and hefty SUV, there's a delay in the initial bite, which, along with the long pedal distance, can be disconcerting.

Escalade ESV Gas Mileage

The Escalade ESV is able to carry a massive 31-gallon gas tank by virtue of its extended wheelbase structure - that's five more gallons of premium fuel to burn than what the standard-wheelbase version can - and oh, does the Escalade burn through fuel. In RWD guise, the EPA claims gas mileage estimates of 14/23/17 mpg city/highway/combined. In AWD guise, those figures drop to 14/21/17 mpg on those same cycles. Though rather low, these figures are relatively fair for the class, with the Lincoln Navigator L, the extended-wheelbase version of the Navigator, returning EPA gas mileage estimates of 16/21/18 mpg. The Escalade ESV should cover around 527 miles before burning up all its fuel.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    31.0 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 14/23 mpg
* 2020 Cadillac Escalade ESV 2WD ESV Standard

Escalade ESV Interior

2020 Cadillac Escalade ESV Steering Wheel Cadillac
2020 Cadillac Escalade ESV Front Seats Back Side Cadillac
2020 Cadillac Escalade ESV Steering Wheel 1 Cadillac
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Seating and Interior Space

In standard guise, the Escalade ESV is equipped to seat seven passengers in total, with two captains chairs residing in the second-row. Those can be swapped out for a 60/40 split-folding second-row bench which subsequently ups seating capacity to eight passengers in total. Unlike with the standard wheelbase version, passenger room is abundant throughout the cabin of the ESV, with most of that additional length going straight to the third-row legroom and trunk. Taller passengers will feel at home in either of the first two rows, while third-row occupants may be a little cramped unless they are children.

  • Seating capacity
    7-seater
  • Front Leg Room 45.3 in
  • Front Head Room 42.8 in
  • Rear Leg Room 39.7 in
  • Rear Head Room 39.1 in

Escalade ESV Trunk and Cargo Space

Trunk capacity in the Escalade expands from 15.2 cubes in the standard version to 39.3 cubes in the ESV, which is more than double the original capacity. Though that's probably more than enough cargo space for everything you'd need to set up a small concert stage, cargo space can be expanded to 76.7 cubes by folding down the third-row seats, and to a further 120.9 cubes by folding down the second-row seats.

For everyday storage points, there's a moderately sizeable glove box, large door-side pockets on all doors, a cavernous center console cubby, and two cupholders for every row of seats.

2020 Cadillac Escalade ESV Rear Angle View 1 Cadillac
2020 Cadillac Escalade ESV Interior Overview Cadillac
2020 Cadillac Escalade ESV Rear Seats Cadillac

Escalade ESV Infotainment and Features

Features

A starting price of $70k sure does get you a long list of features. In the standard Escalade ESV there's remote ignition, keyless entry and, push-button start, a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel with power tilt-and-telescoping adjustability, heated and ventilated 12-way power-adjustable front seats, heated rear outboard seats, and tri-zone automatic climate control. Additionally, the 60/40 split third-row bench gets power-folding functionality, too. Fixed assist steps are standard on most models along with a hands-free power liftgate. In the way of driver-assists, standard features include automatic park assist with front and rear parking sensors, cruise control, hill-start assist, and a rearview camera with surround vision. The Luxury trim is installed with a color head-up display, a power sunroof, a rearview mirror camera, power fold-and-tumble captains chairs, and the contents of the Driver Awareness Package and Theft Deterrent Package. The contents of the Driver Assist Package is standard-fit as of the Premium Luxury trim. The range-topping Platinum is fitted with power assist steps, 18-way power-adjustable front seats with massage functions, and with a cooled and insulated front center console.

Infotainment

While the infotainment system in the Escalade ESV is comprehensive, it's not as user-friendly or up-to-date as other systems out there in the class. An eight-inch color touchscreen is standard-fit across the lineup along with a 16-speaker Bose surround-sound audio system that features AudioPilot noise compensation technology. Inclusive functionalities include natural voice recognition, onboard navigation, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, SiriusXM and HD satellite radio, Bluetooth hands-free phone operation and audio streaming, and 4G LTE wi-fi hotspot capability. For mobile devices, there are four USB ports, an auxiliary input jack, a 110-volt power outlet, and a wireless charging pad. The Premium Luxury and Platinum trims come installed with a rear cabin entertainment system comprising a nine-inch remote-controlled ceiling-mounted display with a Blu-Ray/DVD player, HDMI, MHL, and USB inputs, MP3 playback compatibility, and two two-channel wireless headphones. This is an option for the Luxury trim, and a dual screen version is optional for the Premium Luxury and Platinum.

Escalade ESV Problems and Reliability

General Motors has already recalled certain models of the 2020 Cadillac Escalade ESV for missing fuel pump pressure regulators which would potentially result in the over-pressurization of the fuel system. J.D. Power allotted the 2019 Cadillac Escalade ESV with a Great quality and reliability rating of 79 out of 100 which can be carried over to the 2020 year model.

Cadillac covers this model with a decent four-year/50,000-mile basic warranty and a six-year/70,000-mile powertrain warranty and with a six-year/70,000-mile roadside assistance program.

Warranty

  • Basic:
    4 Years \ 50,000 Miles
  • Drivetrain:
    6 Years \ 70,000 Miles
  • Rust-Through:
    6 Years \ Unlimited Miles
  • Corrosion:
    4 Years \ 50,000 Miles
  • Roadside Assistance:
    6 Years \ 70,000 Miles
  • Maintenance Note:
    1 Year \ 1 Visit

Escalade ESV Safety

Neither the NHTSA nor the IIHS has comprehensively evaluated the Cadillac Escalade ESV for its crashworthiness. The NHTSA gave the model a five-star rating for the effectiveness of its side crash prevention and only three stars for its rollover prevention. Fortunately, driver-assists and safety features are plentiful in the Escalade, the base selection comprising seven standard airbags including a driver inboard seat-mounted side-impact airbag, automatic park assist with front and rear parking sensors, cruise control, hill-start assist, and a rearview camera with surround vision. The Luxury comes installed with the Driver Awareness Package which contains Intellibeam headlights, forward collision alert, automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, lane change alert with side blind-zone alert, and rear cross-traffic alert. In the Premium Luxury and Platinum is the Driver Assistance Package which comprises advanced adaptive cruise control, enhanced automatic emergency braking, reverse automatic braking, and an electric parking brake.

Verdict: 🏁Is 2020 Cadillac Escalade ESV a good SUV?

The Escalade is certainly a flashy showpiece; it's a vehicle that someone would purchase more so for its connotation to the owner's level of income rather than for its purpose as an SUV. And considering that the Escalade classifies as a luxury SUV, that's absolutely fine. The problem is that the Escalade isn't the most premium or luxurious SUV out there, with its less than exceptional ride quality and rapidly aging interior. Beyond those flaws, the Escalade ESV is otherwise a pretty enjoyable SUV to own, it's powertrain is competent, its cabin commodious, and features plentiful. The Escalade ESV, in particular, is a reasonably practical SUV too, with an impressive 39.3 cubes of room for cargo provided in the trunk and a maximum towing capability of 8,100 lbs offered from the RWD models. Though the 2020 Escalade ESV is a great luxury SUV, we recommend waiting for the 2021 model year, as the redesign looks promising with enhancements and features that will place the Escalade in a class of its own.

🚘What's the Price of the 2020 Cadillac Escalade ESV?

The Escalade ESV is a pricey luxury SUV but is still on par with the pricing of competitors including the Lincoln Navigator. The base Escalade ESV is presented with an MSRP of $78,195, the Luxury with a price of $83,795, the Premium Luxury with a price of $88,195, and the Platinum with a price of $95,295. That makes the ESV version of the Escalade $3,000 more expensive than the standard version. The AWD system will add $3,000 to the asking price. No tax, registration, or licensing fees have been included in the listed prices and Cadillac's destination charge of $1,295 still needs to be applied.

See All 2020 Cadillac Escalade ESV Trims and Specs

🚗What Cadillac Escalade ESV Model Should I Buy?

We feel things really come together with the Luxury trim of the Escalade ESV, this model, unlike the base one, comes standard-fit with the contents of the Driver Awareness Package which we feel is a must in the lengthy and hefty full-size SUV. Particularly for the forward collision alert, automatic emergency braking, and the rear cross-traffic alert with side blind-zone alert which together with the standard-fit rearview camera mirror the Luxury gets, just make driving the massive SUV a bit easier. The Luxury also gets a color head-up display, a power sunroof, and power fold-and-tumble captains chairs which are a few appreciable upgrades. There is, otherwise, not much more value offered from the Luxury trim as opposed to the base trim, but at this price point, $5,000 isn't much of an upshot for the upgrade. If you'll require seating for eight passengers, you'll need to opt-in the available 60/40 split-folding second-row bench, and while the AWD system is recommended for those in all-weather states, note that opting it in will decrease the Escalade ESV's max tow capability by 200 pounds.

Check out other Cadillac Escalade Styles

2020 Cadillac Escalade ESV Comparisons

Lincoln Navigator Lincoln
Chevrolet Tahoe Chevrolet
CompetitorHorsepowerMPGPrice (MSRP)
Cadillac Escalade ESV420 hp14/23 mpg$78,195
Lincoln Navigator 450 hp16/22 mpg$76,185
Chevrolet Tahoe 355 hp16/20 mpg$49,000

2020 Cadillac Escalade ESV vs Lincoln Navigator

While just as imposing, stylish, and hard to miss on the road, the Lincoln Navigator carries a slightly more sophisticated aesthetic in comparison to the flashier Escalade - a design and style that many may prefer over the SUV synonymous with the term "ballers". In terms of how each SUV drives, the Navigator is equipped with a newer powertrain, comprising a 450-hp twin-turbo V6, availing it with more refined acceleration responses and better fuel-efficiency than the Escalade, with gas mileage estimates of 16/21/18 mpg in AWD trim. The Escalade ESV offers a little more legroom in the third-row seats though, and more cargo room in the trunk, but that's about all it holds over the Navigator. The Lincoln is otherwise the far more premium offer, while many areas have been skimped over in the Escalade, the Navigator has been given the A-Class treatment, featuring the more luxurious cabin and features. The Navigator certainly offers a whole lot more value for the money and is the better luxury SUV, one that also offers greater capability in light off-roading and even towing.

See Lincoln Navigator Review

2020 Cadillac Escalade ESV vs Chevrolet Tahoe

At $49,000, the Chevrolet Tahoe is a whole lot more affordable than the Cadillac Escalade. It may not be as stylish or flashy, but it's certainly not ugly. It carries a more rugged aesthetic that may appeal to those who will actually take the SUV out onto the dirt roads instead of just to the red carpet events on occasion. The Tahoe is also powered by a V8 mill as standard (a similar 420 hp 6.2-liter V8 is an option), but it rides a little better with its powertrain, and is the quicker and slightly more fuel-efficient SUV with gas mileage estimates of 15/22/18 mpg. The Escalade ESV offers more than double the trunk room though and has a whole lot more passenger room in the cabin. The Tahoe's cabin is the more modern and premium looking one, a major advantage considering its far lower price. Ultimately, the Tahoe packages far more value for money than the Escalade ESV does at its price, unless you want the world to know that you're either a super successful pop star, then the Tahoe is the sensible buy.

See Chevrolet Tahoe Review

Cadillac Escalade ESV Popular Comparisons

2020 Cadillac Escalade ESV Video Review

Check out some informative Cadillac Escalade ESV video reviews below.

$78,195 - $98,295
Price Range (MSRP)
Cadillac Escalade ESV