2019 Cadillac Escalade ESV

2019 Cadillac Escalade ESV Review: Big Enough Party

by Jay Traugott

One of Cadillac's most famous offerings, the Escalade, is well known across the world for its career in transporting hip hop stars and politicians alike and sits at the top of the marque's SUV range. The ESV, the long-wheelbase version of the Escalade, is the largest car they have on sale. All models make use of a 6.2-liter V8 engine producing 420 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque, which gets sent to the rear or all four wheels via a ten-speed automatic transmission. Depending on the configuration, the full-size SUV seats either seven or eight passengers, while the ESV has a significant cargo space advantage over the standard car. All of that space comes at a price: fuel consumption takes a knock, and overall performance will also be affected, but you'd be hard-pressed to notice it out in the real world. The 2019 Cadillac Escalade ESV is the ultimate show of contemporary American success and goes up against its regular-sized self as well as the Chevrolet Suburban.

2019 Cadillac Escalade ESV Changes: What’s the difference vs 2018 Escalade ESV?

The fourth-generation Cadillac Escalade remains relatively unchanged for 2019, but receives a few practical - and not so practical - updates. A hands-free power tailgate now comes standard and is operated by placing your foot under the bumper sensor with the car key on your person. This adds significantly to the appeal of the longer and more practical ESV. The second update is a questionable one: Cadillac has included a rear projector that casts the brand's logo on the ground, which some might find entertaining, but it's probably a California thing. Lastly, there are two new metallic colors on offer: Shadow and Manhattan Noir.

Pros and Cons

  • Powerful V8 engine
  • Good ride quality at cruising speeds
  • It can tow a house
  • Plush and spacious interior
  • It's got serious pimp-factor
  • It's a gas guzzler
  • Interior quality is not up to class-leading standards
  • Its truck DNA is apparent at low speeds

Escalade ESV Exterior

The bold exterior of the Escalade hasn't changed much since the second-generation car introduced in 2002: the appeal lies in its sheer size, especially in ESV guise, which gives it some serious presence on the road. 2019 cars come standard with keyless access, magnetic ride control, a new power liftgate, full LED headlights, as well as rain-sensing front windshield wipers and 20-inch dual seven-spoke alloy wheels.

2019 Cadillac Escalade ESV Front Angle View Cadillac
2019 Cadillac Escalade ESV Side View Cadillac
2019 Cadillac Escalade ESV Side View 1 Cadillac
See All 2019 Cadillac Escalade ESV Exterior Photos

Dimensions

The 2019 Escalade ESV is massive. Total length comes in at 224.3 inches, height maxes out at 74 inches, and width is 80.5 inches. The ESV sits on a 130-inch wheelbase. Compared to the standard Escalade, the ESV is 20.4-inches longer in total, and has a wheelbase that is 14 inches longer, too. The curb weight ranges between 5,831 lbs for the 2WD model and 6,088 lbs for the 4WD model.

Escalade ESV Performance

2019 Cadillac Escalade ESV Front Angle View 1 Cadillac
2019 Cadillac Escalade ESV Front View Cadillac
2019 Cadillac Escalade ESV Front Angle View 2 Cadillac

Engine and Transmission

The ESV doesn't get any special treatment just because it's bigger and heavier; it makes do with the same naturally aspirated 6.2-liter V8 as found in the regular-sized Escalade. The 6.2-liter produces 420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque and features direct injection, variable valve timing, and an external oil cooler. There's enough power everywhere in the powerband to get the ESV up and going in a matter of seconds; even city traffic is no issue for this big Caddy, and you'll be able to tow up to 8,100 pounds. Power is sent to the rear or all four wheels via a heavy-duty ten-speed auto transmission with manual and tow modes. Behind the transmission sits a heavy-duty locking differential. Optional 4WD includes a selectable two-speed transfer case with 4WD high and low gears.

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

Handling and Driving Impressions

The old-school SUV body-on-frame technique is still utilized on the 2019 Cadillac Escalade, as is the rudimentary live rear axle which gives the Escalade ESV a truck-like feel around town, but Cadillac has tried its best to conceal this by adding standard magnetic ride dampers - these do a commendable job of smoothing out road imperfections and keeping things flat through the twisty stuff. A responsive steering rack and well-weighted steering feel also contributes to masking the Escalade's trucking DNA, but pushing hard into a corner will reveal the true weight of the SUV. At least the large brakes can stop the party from getting out of hand, although a long pedal travel and a lack of immediate bite can be a tad disconcerting when slowing down such a large SUV.

Escalade ESV Gas Mileage

Greta Thunberg won't be seen in a Cadillac Escalade any time soon: the 2019 ESV will manage 14/23/17 mpg city/highway/combined in RWD guise, while selecting AWD will see the highway figure drop slightly for a total of 14/21/17 mpg. These estimates sound a bit optimistic, to be honest, and most owners who live in or near city centers will see even less than that. The ESV benefits from a 31-gallon fuel tank (five more than you get in the standard car), for a total estimated range of 527 miles. The Chevrolet Suburban does an equally bad 14/23/17 mpg in RWD guise, while four-wheel-drive versions will do even worse 14/20/16 mpg.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    31.0 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 14/23 mpg
* 2019 Cadillac Escalade ESV ESV Standard 2WD

Escalade ESV Interior

2019 Cadillac Escalade ESV Steering Wheel Cadillac
2019 Cadillac Escalade ESV Front Seats Back Side Cadillac
2019 Cadillac Escalade ESV Steering Wheel 1 Cadillac
See All 2019 Cadillac Escalade ESV Interior Photos

Seating and Interior Space

The seven-seater Escalade ESV - with optional seating for eight - is all about interior space, and thanks to a longer wheelbase and overall length, the ESV offers it in bucketloads. Front-seat legroom is measured at a massive 45.3 inches, which it shares with the standard Escalade and Chevy Suburban, while headroom is 42.8 inches. In the second row, the Escalade ESV offers 0.7 inches more leg space than the 39 inches on offer in the standard car, and gets 39.1 inches of headroom. The extended length of the ESV is most noticeable in the third row, where the SUV offers a full 9.7 inches more legroom than in the standard Escalade. While seating for seven in a 2+2+3 configuration is standard, a second-row bench seat can replace the captain's chairs to increase seating capacity to eight. The seats are well-padded, but not especially supportive.

  • Seating capacity
    7-seater

Escalade ESV Trunk and Cargo Space

If you're looking for the glitz and glamour of a Cadillac Escalade, but you also need the cargo space of a delivery truck, the ESV is a good compromise. Behind the third-row seats, you get an impressive 39.3 cubic feet of space, dwarfing the standard Escalade's 15.2 cubic feet. Flatten the second-row seats, and the cargo space grows to 76.7 ft³, matching the Suburban and offering 25.1 ft³ more than the standard Escalade. Behind the first row of seats, you get an expansive 120.9 cubes of space.

Small-item storage is limited by the cramped center console, which will manage to house a couple of Redbulls, although large door pockets help to alleviate this problem.

2019 Cadillac Escalade ESV Rear Seats Cadillac
2019 Cadillac Escalade ESV Side View 2 Cadillac
2019 Cadillac Escalade ESV Rear Angle View Cadillac

Escalade ESV Infotainment and Features

Features

The flashy Escalade comes loaded with premium features, even in base form. All 2019 models come standard with magnetic ride control suspension, keyless access, a power liftgate, full LED lighting, leather seats with 12-way power adjustability as well as tri-zone automatic climate control, a universal home remote, and wireless phone charging. If you're looking for more, the Luxury model adds a head-up display, rear camera mirror, and more, while Premium Luxury models get LED front cornering headlamps, illuminating door handles, and a host of extra driver assistance features. The loaded Platinum trim adds luxury features such as power-retractable assist steps with LED illumination and a cooled front storage bin in the center console.

Infotainment

Cadillac's User Experience 3 infotainment system features an eight-inch full-color multi-touch display that seems small when compared to the competition - perhaps due to the vastness of the dashboard. Standard infotainment features include a CD/MP3 single disk player, Bluetooth streaming with voice recognition, SiriusXM satellite radio with a three-month trial, three USB ports, as well as 4G LTE Wi-Fi connectivity available up to 160-odd feet away from the vehicle. Standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are included as well. The navigation system on the Escalade ESV feels outdated and unresponsive; we'd recommend tethering your cell phone navigation for a better experience. Sound is channeled through a premium 16-speaker Bose surround sound system with enhanced noise cancellation, which fills the cabin of the Escalade with rich bass tones and clear high notes. A rear-seat entertainment system comes as standard on Premium Luxury and Platinum models: the Premium Luxury gets a single nine-inch screen for the second and third-row and includes four wireless headphones. Platinum models get individual seven-inch screens behind the first row seats.

Escalade ESV Problems and Reliability

The Escalade is a reliable beast, having only been recalled once in 2019 for a faulty seatbelt lock. J.D. Power gave the big Cadillac a solid score of 89 out of a possible 100. Cadillac offers the 2019 Escalade ESV with a competitive warranty that consists of a four-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, as well as a corrosion warranty for the same distance or time period. A six-year/70,000-mile powertrain warranty, a one-year/one visit maintenance plan, a six-year/unlimited-mile rust-through warranty, and finally a six-year/70,000-mile roadside assistance plan is also part of the package.

Escalade ESV Safety

The Escalade ESV hasn't been tested by the IIHS, but it has been put through its paces by the NHTSA, where it scored a full five stars for overall side crash tests, and three out of five for rollover evaluations - no ratings are available for frontal crash tests though. All 2019 Escalade models come standard with dual front airbags, a driver seat-mounted front center airbag, front side airbags, and head-curtain airbags for all outboard seating positions. You also get front and rear park assistance, cruise control, a rear-vision camera, a surround camera system, and basic traction control. Luxury models get standard forward collision avoidance with auto braking, lane-keep assist, and lane departure warning as well as blind-spot alert and auto headlights. Premium Luxury and Platinum models include adaptive cruise control, and forward and reverse auto braking.

Verdict: Is 2019 Cadillac Escalade ESV a good SUV?

The Escalade has become synonymous with hip-hop royalty, and more recently, celebrities and people of moderate wealth in general. Besides its status as a cult symbol of the American rags to riches story, the Escalade is a comfortable and luxurious thing that truly deserves its classification as a luxury SUV. The ESV takes things even further by offering more passenger space as well as more usable cargo space. The ESV Escalade makes use of the same 6.2-liter V8 as found in the regular car. The ESV feels no different to the regular size Escalade, which means you get a smooth ride at cruising speeds and light steering for a comfortable city driving experience - but the added length can make navigating tight spaces trickier. An impressive amount of standard features on the base model, including full LED headlights, a Bose sound system, and tri-zone climate control, goes a long way in justifying the starting price of $78,195. If you're looking for something big and bold, you're not going to do much better.

What's the Price of the 2019 Cadillac Escalade ESV?

You'll have to cough up some extra dough for the longer ESV Escalade. The base model starts with an MSRP of $78,195 in RWD guise, rising to $83,795 for the Luxury model. The Premium Luxury model sits at $88,195, and the top of the range Platinum goes for $97,195. Opting for 4WD will add $3,000 to the asking price. These prices exclude a destination fee of $1,295. The standard Escalade starts at $75,195 and tops out at $97,295, while the Chevy Suburban starts at only $50,800, but climbs to $85,700 for the 4WD 3500 LT.

2019 Cadillac Escalade ESV Models

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
$97,295
See All 2019 Cadillac Escalade ESV Trims and Specs

What Cadillac Escalade ESV Model Should I Buy?

No matter your final choice, you're still going to be walking away with 6.2-liters and up to 6,088 lbs worth of American freedom. The standard model impresses with its standard feature list which includes truly premium features such as magnetic ride control and Bose audio equipment, but has one serious fault: it comes with the bare minimum safety features, and for that reason alone we'd suggest looking at the next Escalade in the 2019 lineup, the Luxury. Luxury models start at $83,795, which is a $5,600 increase over the base model but includes the driver awareness package with forward collision warning, forward auto-braking, lane change assistance, as well as blind-spot monitoring and auto headlights. Other standard features include a head-up display system, a rear camera mirror, a power sunroof, and 22-inch seven-spoke wheels with premium paint and chrome inserts - for just over five and a half grand more, this represents good value for money.

Check out other Cadillac Escalade Styles

2019 Cadillac Escalade ESV Comparisons

Cadillac Escalade Cadillac
Chevrolet Suburban Chevrolet

2019 Cadillac Escalade ESV vs Cadillac Escalade

The 2019 Escalade, in any form, is probably the least subtle way of saying, "I'm a pretty big deal," especially when you go for the enormous ESV. Both models share a 6.2-liter V8 producing 420 hp (perhaps a tribute to Snoop Dog or whatever he's called these days) and 460 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to the rear or all four wheels via a heavy-duty ten-speed auto transmission and rear locking differential. All exterior features are shared between models, including the magnetic ride suspension, LED headlights, and a hands-free liftgate. The differences between the two become apparent when you look at the interior dimensions: the ESV offers significantly more cargo space and third-row legroom, and that will be the main factor in most buyers' purchasing decisions.

See Cadillac Escalade Review

2019 Cadillac Escalade ESV vs Chevrolet Suburban

The Chevrolet Suburban and Cadillac Escalade share the same platform, so both are comparable in terms of interior space and overall cargo capacity, although the Suburban offers slightly more space behind the first row of seats. The Suburban is available with two engines and two gearbox options. The 5.3-liter V8 found on base and mid-range Suburbans produces 355 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque and will get 15/22/18 mpg in terms of gas mileage. The larger 6.2-liter V8 is shared with the Escalade. Transmission options include a six-speed or ten-speed auto. Where the significant differences become apparent is on the inside, where the Escalade feels decidedly more upmarket and luxurious. This is noticeable in the choice of materials and features list. The Suburban also lacks the standard magnetic ride control, which makes it's truck roots all the more apparent. The Suburban is perfect for those who like the space and power of the Escalade, but won't miss the Nappa leather seats and Bose sound system on their way to pick up the kids from school.

See Chevrolet Suburban Review

Cadillac Escalade ESV Popular Comparisons

$78,195 - $100,295
Price Range (MSRP)
Cadillac Escalade ESV
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