Amidst a flurry of life mayhem I spent a week with the 2022 Cadillac Escalade Sport. Having grown up in a household consisting solely of GM vehicles (Tahoes, mainly) the Escalade stood atop the pedestal of what luxury meant, a symbol of making the financial leap from Chevy to wealthy. Years on, the Escalade still has to serve that purpose while being comfortable, imposing, and aspirational. Is it a success?
Is it Imposing?
Yes. The grille stands miles high, the hood towering over other cars. Everyone who saw it commented on the Infrared paint, and even parked the Escalade looks the look. Curb appeal is its middle name, with the tall grille and trademark lighting elements signifying that this could be nothing except Caddy’s flagship.
Is it Comfortable?
Mostly. The ride quality is very good, and has come a long way since the solid-rear-axle origins. It’s impossible to completely remove jitters with this much weight and 22” wheels. Such is life in a body-on-frame SUV. The seats are good, with that all-day full-size vehicle comfort that reminds you of what seats were like before spine specialists got involved. No massaging seats is a worrying omission, though, at this test vehicle’s $106,865 price.
Thankfully, the interior is otherwise, finally, a win. Long a slightly cushier derivative of the Tahoe and Yukon the new model gets an interior that’s Cadillac’s and Cadillac’s alone. It’s a good blend of style and substance with a truly premium feel and aesthetic that feels very mid-century modern. It feels very Cadillac. Everything is deliberate and swoopy but explicitly styled to be overt and, somehow, simultaneously constrained. It’s not ostentatious, but it’s not subtle. Plus, the view out is properly commanding.
The highlight of the experience is the 36-speaker AKG stereo. It’s phenomenal. I’m an admitted music junkie, not an audiophile, so take my opinion with a grain of salt. But people much more invested in sound quality than me have praised the system, and I heard new things in songs I had heard thousands of times before. Mind-blowing.
Is it Aspirational?
Here’s the biggest question. With countless fantastic choices out there from the German, Japanese, and Korean manufacturers– not to mention the excellent Lincoln Navigator and the also-great Chevy Tahoe and GMC Yukon stablemates– the Escalade has stiff competition. Now coming up on its twenty-fifth anniversary, Escalade finds itself in the luxury SUV market which is somehow hotter now than ever. And while the Caddy isn’t necessarily the nicest, most prestigious, or best-driving vehicle in its class, it’s the Escalade. With its recent redesign and ongoing place in the eye of the public, GM’s shining star still stands strong.
Of course, it’s not perfect. The fuel economy is abysmal. We saw under 10 MPG in our around-town use, which is reminiscent of gas mileage from the Hummer H2. Easy fix: Go for the 3.0L Duramax diesel instead of the 6.2L V8. It’s smoother, quieter, and gets double if not triple the MPG. Other complaints are minor, like that some switchgear is the same as that in lesser GM products. And how big is too big for the standard-length Escalade?
The Cadillac of Cadillacs
Overall, the 2022 Escalade Sport is a resounding win for Cadillac. It has the presence, ride, comfort, and panache that the nameplate needs. With an Escalade, you don’t just make an appearance, you arrive. While the competition might outdo the Escalade when it comes to objective measurements, there’s something to be said about how well Cadillac has executed the subjective allure of the most recent interaction of its halo car. All hail the king.