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The Cadillac Escalade has been a consistent favorite in the large luxury SUV segment since in splashed onto the scene in 1999. Associated with the rich and famous, the 2020 model is filled with decadent features that give any driver the feeling that they have arrived.

Critics, on the other hand, don’t feel the attraction of the high-priced behemoth SUV, and their reviews reflect their distaste. As the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic takes a hold of the automotive industry, critics don’t think the Escalade will be able to survive on its reputation alone. Consumers disagree, as evidenced by the first-quarter sales for the luxury vehicle.

Did the 2020 Cadillac Escalade fall short of the mark?

Consumer Reports gave the 2020 Cadillac Escalade an extremely low 41 out of 100 score. This was surprising, considering the owner satisfaction rate is 4 out of 5. 

Consumer Reports reported that the ride felt stiff and the drivers felt “wedged between the overstuffed center console and the thickly padded door panel.” Complaints included poor stopping distances, sluggish maneuvering, lousy fuel economy, and the overall size of the “beast.”

It appears the new 2020 Escalade fell short of the mark in a lot of ways. The Car Connection said, “The 2020 Cadillac Escalade is a king of bling, and it isn’t ready to abdicate the throne just yet. But its crown could use a good shining.” 

Car and Driver agreed that the 2020 Escalade didn’t offer the comfortable ride that is expected of a vehicle of this caliber. They felt, “despite its pop-culture status, the Escalade is really just an ordinary SUV playing dress-up.”

The reviews aren’t impacting sales

Despite lackluster reviews, the Escalade was third in large luxury SUV sales in the United States for the first quarter of 2020. Cadillac reported 1,825 units sold in January, 2,363 units in February, and 1,431 units sold in March.

This equaled Q1 total sales of 5,619 units for 2020, which was 17.6 percent less than the 6,819 units that were sold in the first quarter of 2019.

Considering the current chaos in the economy brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, this decline is to be expected. What was unexpected was the astounding 233.1 percent increase in Q1 sales for the BMW X7.

There is no doubt that consumers love their large luxury SUVs, no matter what else is going on in the world. With a starting price of $75,195 the 2020 Escalade is definitely being purchased by individuals in the high-income bracket. The current economic condition and poor reviews are not deterring them from getting behind the wheel of this high-end vehicle.

Is the reputation of the Cadillac Escalade enough to drive sales?

Cadillac is confident that consumers love the “Slade.” So confident, in fact, that the fully loaded 2021 model will have the most expensive price tag to date, starting at $101,000. 

The Drive refers to the Escalade brand as a Veblen Good, which is described as “a good for which demand increases as the price increases, because of its exclusive nature and appeal as a status symbol.” The Cadillac Escalade has long been associated with fame and fortune, thus the diamond-studded front grille.

When owners of the vehicle pull up in style to a red carpet premiere, they are more worried about how they look rather than what the reviews have to say about their ride. The only thing that might change consumer’s minds about purchasing the 2020 Escalade is the continuance of the COVID-19 pandemic that may change the auto industry as a whole.

Only time will tell if the Escalade can withstand the current downturn in the economy to post impressive Q2 sales for 2020.