2010 Cadillac Escalade ESV
Base price: $68,550 – $86,680
As tested: $86,680
- Opulent with massive amounts of room
- Live like a rock star
- Other excellent choices for thousands less
- Abysmal gas mileage
- Disappointing interior build quality
By Jim Prueter
ESV is opulent, but for $87,000 it should be perfect
It’s been a few years since we last tested a Cadillac Escalade ESV. It was 2005, in fact, and that was the previous generation model. The ESV was last restyled and updated for the 2007 model year and has remained relatively unchanged through the second generation 2010 ESV tested here.
Introduced in 2003, the ESV is a variant of the regular Chevrolet Tahoe-sized Escalade. While the regular sized Escalade shares the same platform as Tahoe and GMC Yukon, the ESV is built on the same platform as the Chevrolet Suburban and GMC Yukon XL, and is just over 20 inches longer than the regular Escalade.
For 2010, the Escalade ESV is available in four trim levels: base, Luxury, Premium and Platinum, the model tested here. Even the base model comes well equipped with standard luxuries like first and second-row heated leather seats, triple-zone climate control, navigation and rear park assist (including rear backup camera), and a Bose 5.1 surround-sound audio system.
The prodigious top-of-the-line Platinum trim level debuted for 2008. Our 2010 Platinum tester with a base price of $87,630, including destination charge, is the third most expensive General Motors product offering behind the Escalade Platinum hybrid and Chevrolet Corvette ZR1.
As expected at this price point, the ESV is loaded with a long list of glitzy standard equipment, suitable for the most exclusive celebrity-athlete bachelor pad. Equipment includes a leather top pad dash and door uppers, real olive ash and walnut burl wood, first- and second-row Tehama Aniline leather seats and nuance leather third-row seat, leather wrappped center console with aluminum trim utility tray, heated and cooled cupholders, rear seat entertainment system with seven-inch DVD monitors in the head restraints along with an eight-inch overhead screen, 22-inch chrome wheels, power-retracting running boards and a full complement of safety equipment, earning it the highest possible five-star crash test rating.
The Platinum ESV is powered by the same 6.2-liter, 403-horsepower V-8 engine found in all Escalades, and is matched with a six-speed automatic transmission. The Platinum model comes standard with all-wheel drive, but don’t look for one on an off-road trail. For that you’ll need to look to Jeep, Toyota or Land Rover.
All-wheel drive ESVs are not rated by the EPA for fuel economy, however rear-drive models are rated at 14/20 miles per gallon, city/highway. We averaged just over 13 mpg over 410 miles of mixed city-highway driving with our AWD tester, which included a new-for-2010 cylinder deactivation feature, designed to save gas by automatically shutting off four of the eight cylinders when driving conditions permit.
Cargo space is huge, with a maximum capacity of 137 cubic feet when the second row seats are folded forward and the third row seats removed. The third-row unfortunately does not fold flat into the floor and the seats are not easily removed.
We were impressed with the comfortable ride of the ESV, not dissimilar to the standard length Escalade. The interior is quiet, acceleration strong but handling is clumsy and a bit lumbering; parking is difficult. Brake distances are long.
Seats have multiple adjustments for good view and excellent comfort, however the steering wheel tilts but does not telescope, making it difficult for taller drivers to find a comfortable driving position. Second-row seats are comfortable but third-row seats sit too low and are only suitable for smaller children.
We also thought the overall build quality was less than desirable with uneven fit and finish throughout the interior, especially the dash.
Most of what the Escalade ESV offers can best be summed up as overkill, going well beyond what 99 percent of buyers looking for a premium sized vehicle would want or need. We think buyers for this size vehicle would be equally satisfied with the base Escalade ESV for $20,000 less, Mercedes-Benz GL-Class or Lincoln Navigator, and should at least test drive the very similar GMC Yukon XL Denali which starts at some $30,000 less.