2012 Cadillac Escalade

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2012 Cadillac Escalade Review

Still eye-catching but starting to tarnish

Reviewed by Automotive on

Overview
The 2012 Cadillac Escalade continues its reign as the largest and most ostentatious luxury SUV on the market. Five years after its most recent redesign, the Escalade remains the de facto status symbol of the financially well-endowed. The Escalade is available in four models: Base, Luxury, Premium and Platinum. Hybrid and even an extended-length version (ESV) are also available. The Escalade's large V-8 engine offers plenty of power and pleasing acceleration, though fuel economy is notably poor. The Hybrid Escalade improves fuel economy, but at a significant price increase that would likely override any fuel savings -- 12 years based on EPA-rated fuel economy and cost data.

Still, Escalades are not purchased for fuel economy, but rather for luxury and stature, something even thieves have picked up on, making the Escalade consistently one of the most stolen vehicles in the U.S. The large SUV offers a well-appointed interior in a plush and roomy cabin. The 2012 Cadillac Escalade also offers seating for up to eight people in three rows and multiple body styles including an extended wheelbase SUV. All models are well-equipped with luxury features and technology.

The Range

Bodystyle: SUV
Engines: 6.2-liter V-8, 6.0-liter V-8 with two electric motors
Transmissions: six-speed automatic, four-speed automatic
Models: Base, Luxury, Premium, Platinum, ESV

What's New

The 2012 Cadillac Escalade makes do with minor revisions for another year. The rearview camera gets guiding lines; the navigation system gets a low-fuel warning; range-topping Platinum and Hybrid Platinum can now be had with a black interior; the center console lid is redesigned; and Radiant Silver Metallic and Crystal Red Tintcoat join the Escalade's color palette.

Exterior

The Cadillac Escalade has become a status symbol in no small part thanks to a commanding presence and striking, even gaudy looks. With standard 18-inch aluminum wheels and optional 22-inch chrome wheels, there is some flexibility on how loud the Escalade can be. The Escalade's length adds to its easily identifiable styling, with its prominent shield grille and large headlights. LED taillights are standard on all models, as is a roof-mounted luggage rack with chrome accents. LED headlights are standard on the Platinum model. The 2012 Cadillac Escalade is available in eight colors.

Interior

The 2012 Cadillac Escalade carries a laundry list of standard luxury features, including automatic climate control, navigation, satellite radio, Bluetooth and heated leather seats. Wood and alloy accents complement an overall attractive and luxurious cabin. Depending on configuration, the Escalade and Escalade ESV can seat seven to eight people. Both back rows get pull-down DVD screens. While the third row doesn't fold down, it can be removed to improve on already good cargo room. With the third row removed from the ESV model, 137 cubic feet of cargo space is available, tops in the class. Options include an electronically variable suspension and rear-seat entertainment system. One cool feature, on the Platinum model, is heated and cooled cupholders.

Performance & Handling

Performance can be hard to come by in a vehicle weighing in the neighborhood of 6000 pounds, but the Cadillac Escalade's 403 horsepower V-8 handles the weight well enough. So too does the Hybrid's Two Mode system, which combines a 332-horsepower V-8 with two electric motors for 379 total horsepower. The Hybrid setup significantly improves the Escalade's city fuel economy. Optional all-wheel drive improves grip in inclement weather. Impressive acceleration and a nice ride quality make the Escalade a pleasure to drive.

Safety

Driver and passenger front airbags are standard, along with side impact thorax bags front and rear for 2012 Cadillac Escalades. Antilock disc brakes are standard as well. OnStar Automatic Crash Response is also standard, along with electronic safety devices including traction control and stability control. ESV versions have back up warning sensors.

EPA Fuel Economy

Rear-wheel drive: 14 mpg city/18 mpg highway
Four-wheel drive: 13 mpg city/18 mpg highway
Hybrid: 21 mpg city/22 mpg highway

You'll Like

  • Status symbol
  • Tons of space
  • Hybrid model
  • V-8 power

You Won't Like

  • V-8 fuel economy
  • Steep price
  • Expensive Hybrid model
  • Maneuverability in tight spaces

Sum Up

Still eye-catching but starting to tarnish

If You Like This Vehicle

  • Lincoln Navigator
  • Lexus LX
  • Infiniti QX56
  • Mercedes-Benz GL-Class
  • Audi Q7

See the New 2015 Escalade.

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