The Cadillac Escalade remains mostly unchanged for 2016 after a redesign last year. Cadillac's CUE infotainment system gets enhanced features as well as increased Apple connectivity with CarPlay. Meanwhile, a new Lane Keep Assist function and several new exterior colors are also new for 2016.
The 2016 Escalade model line includes standard-length and extended-length Escalade ESV models, as well as Luxury and Premium versions of each. With any of these models you also have a choice between rear-wheel drive and four-wheel drive.
All Escalades have a 6.2L V8 engine. With an aluminum block and heads, direct injection, variable valve timing, this is a big V8, but a thoroughly modern one. The engine makes 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque, and thanks to an Active Fuel Management system, which will run the engine on four of its cylinders during coasting or some lower-speed cruising conditions, it returns EPA ratings of up to 15 mpg city, 21 highway.
Four-wheel-drive models include an Auto mode that allows on-demand 4-wheel drive when the conditions demand it. All models also have an automatic-locking rear differential.
The Escalade is built on a fully boxed frame, which allows the toughness for towing and heavier uses and payloads. All versions of the Escalade now also include Magnetic Ride Control, a system that uses special shocks that can change their damping characteristics in just a fraction of a second, allowing the softness to soak up coarse surfaces and road shocks while firming up for quick emergency maneuvers when needed. With variable-assist electric power steering, new-design body mounts, a wider rear track, and a new suspension geometry in back, the Escalade handles well for such a heavy vehicle. Meanwhile, Active Noise Cancellation technology and special acoustic-laminate glass help keep it quiet inside. The Escalade also includes 4-wheel disc brakes--now with Duralife rotors with extended service life.
Cadillac Escalade ESV models are about 20 inches longer than the standard Escalade, with a wheelbase that's 14 inches longer. Both offer an official seating capacity of seven or eight, depending on the layout, and seating space is technically the same; but the key difference is that ESV models offer easier access to the third-row seats, as well as more than double the cargo space behind the third row (39.3 cubic feet for the ESV, versus 15.2 cubic feet for the standard-length Escalade). Throughout the Escalade's interior, the traditional luxury ambiance hasn't been forgotten, and the cabin feels plush and very well detailed, with cut-and-sewn materials and real wood trim.
In the instrument panel for all models, a high-resolution, 12.3-inch information cluster replaces conventional analog gauges, instead offering a choice of layouts, as well as a go-to point for trip-computer functions, navigation, and hands-free calling functions; meanwhile, there's also the Cadillac User Experience (CUE), a system that uses sophisticated voice controls combined with a capacitive screen at the center of the instrument panel; it even incorporates proximity sensing--showing different menus depending on how near the user's hand is to the display. The system now also includes Siri Eyes Free compatibility, with the capability to read incoming text. The OnStar 4G LTE data connection is also available, which turns the vehicle into a high-speed mobile hot spot.
The entire model line gets a new front-seat center airbags, which are designed to inflate and act as a cushion between the driver and passenger in some kinds of collisions. Luxury and Premium models include Side Blind Zone Alert, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Lane Change Alert as standard, while separately a Driver Awareness Package includes Forward Collision Alert, Lane Departure Warning and a Safety Alert seat that transmits warnings to the driver with patterned vibrations. There's also a Front and Rear Automatic Braking system that takes it a step further and might help avoid or reduce the severity of an accident.
There's also a Bose Centerpoint sound system in the 2016 Escalade; it includes 16 speakers, including five in the instrument panel and doors, as well as SurroundStage signal processing. A Blu-Ray DVD rear entertainment system is incorporated, with a 9-inch screen in the Escalade and twin screens on the ESV. It includes a USB port, an SD slot and RCA inputs.
The Escalade Luxury models add huge 22-inch Ultra-Bright Finish alloy wheels, a Driver Awareness Package, Side Blind Zone Alert, Lane Change Assist, Rear Cross-Traffic Assist, Intellibeam headlamps, second-row power-folding seats, a sunroof and a head-up display. Top-level Premium models add the Driver Assist Package with automatic braking and adaptive cruise control, illuminated door handles and rear-seat entertainment.