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Cadillac Escalade Evolution: The Behemoth From Belarus

Cadillac requires man power from Minsk to meet Escalade demand.

Unsurprisingly, considering three generations of it had been built previously, the Cadillac Escalade is a hugely popular SUV in the United States. Despite its inherent truck-derived origins, the mighty Escalade has morphed into a car that consistently pulls in big numbers, to the point where it’s one of the most profitable vehicles that General Motors produces. Given how recognizable the Cadillac Escalade is as a product of America, it’s very easy to assume it only has major appeal in the United States.

That sentiment should especially ring true with our readers from Europe, where the Cadillac name doesn’t have the mainstream prowess it does in the States (of the 4,900 franchised dealerships in the UK, for instance, only one of them stocks brand new Cadillacs). However, the Cadillac Escalade has proven to be quite a big hit in Russia, where buyers seem to find the idea of a luxury 4x4 immensely appealing. In fact, the Cadillac Escalade has proven to be so popular in the former Soviet heartland, that a factory in the Belarus capital of Minsk is churning out Cadillac Escalade models specifically for Russian buyers. With such demand for the Escalade, you’d expect Cadillac to tailor its most recent Escalade to its Russian clientele.

After all, loads of other companies have adopted a similar strategy for conquering China, so why not do the same for the equally lucrative Russian market? As tempting as that may have been, though, Cadillac stuck with its laurels and made sure the fourth-generation Escalade was still unmistakeably a Cadillac SUV. Like its predecessor, for instance, the design of the current Cadillac Escalade was incredibly bold and distinctive, with that huge front grille and vertical LED headlamps giving the car a face that’s impossible to confuse with any other posh SUV on sale today. The interior is also right up there with the plushest you can find in this class.

Yes, switchgear from far cheaper cars can be found if you look hard enough, but the vast swathes of leather and glossy trim pieces endowed the Cadillac Escalade’s comfortable cabin with the premium quality that few rivals can match. Technology plays a pivotal role in keeping the Cadillac Escalade at the forefront of the luxury SUV class, too. Whether its interior furnishings like Bose stereos, to more advanced under-the-skin features like the Magnetic Ride Control adaptive dampers that do a good job of keeping this leviathan’s body movement controlled whilst maintaining good ride quality, there’s plenty of high-end equipment here to appease the technophile in all of us.

Perhaps the most impressive piece of tech in the current Cadillac Escalade, though, can be found under that gargantuan hood. Though it’s not quite the same, the 420hp 6.2-liter V8 engine is heavily related to the more powerful unit in the C7 Corvette – even the cylinder deactivation tech, which shuts down four of the motor’s eight cylinders under light throttle loads, is carried over in the Escalade. Having ‘Vette-sourced punch doesn’t instantly make the Cadillac Escalade a direct rival to high-performance SUVs like the Mercedes-Benz GL63 AMG – even with the slick-shifting eight-speed automatic gearbox, there’s only so much acceleration and speed you can get out of a heavy, body-on-frame luxury 4x4 .

But the powertrain does endow the ‘Slade with a more effortless pace that suits the Caddy’s focus on a relaxed driving experience. Combined with everything else the Cadillac Escalade has going for it, it’s no surprise that it’s been flying out of showrooms.

Cadillac’s on track to shift over 40,000 Escalade examples by the end of the year – a feat that hasn’t occurred since the 2008 global financial crisis sent the luxury car market into meltdown. No wonder Cadillac needed another factory to meet Escalade demand!

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Cadillac Escalade
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