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Cadillac introduced its first SUV back in 1999, and by 2002, the Escalade had become the luxury SUV known today. It helped to attract new, younger buyers to the brand, and the Escalade became popular with celebrities and wealthy families. The 2020 Cadillac Escalade did not find such a warm reception from Consumer Reports though. Here’s a look at why it came up short.

The 2020 Cadillac Escalade

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After first saying that the 2020 Cadillac Escalade “is designed to tell hoi polloi that you’ve made it—and they haven’t,” Consumer Reports quickly went on to say that the “SUV’s luxury is disappointingly skin deep.”

In driving tests, the ride was stiff, and the driver’s position felt “wedged” in. The Escalade has a long stopping distance and was “slow and ungainly” in emergency maneuvers. It is a very large SUV, but its handling still felt worse than its competitors’. The 6.2-liter V8 engine provides plenty of power, but the SUV only gets 17 MPG combined.

The Escalade is able to tow up to 8,300 pounds for the two-wheel drive and up to 8,100 pounds for the four-wheel drive. The long-wheelbase ESV version tows 200 pounds less for both two-wheel and four-wheel drive. Consumer Reports pointed out that, while reasonable, competitors are able to tow more.

The Escalade does have a high-quality luxury interior, with plush finishes, hand-stitched leather, and a choice of walnut, elm, or Santos wood trim. It’s also very quiet inside the cabin.

Consumer Reports described it as “stunning” and “beautifully finished.” There are power-folding seats for the second and third rows to easily increase the cargo area. For more space in the third row, the long-wheelbase ESV version is available.

Consumer Reports was less happy with the CUE infotainment system, which it found to be “infuriating” to use. Instead of the Escalade, Consumer Reports recommended the Chevrolet Suburban, which has a better ride, is more comfortable, and comes at a lower price, even though it may not be as stylish.

Consumer Reports’ large SUV ratings

Consumer Reports took a look at nine large luxury SUVs for the model year 2020, including the Buick Enclave, Toyota Land Cruiser, Mercedes-Benz GLS, BMW X7, Infiniti QX80, Lincoln Navigator, Cadillac Escalade, Lexus LX, and Mercedes-Benz G-Class. The Lexus LX and Mercedes-Benz G-Class weren’t tested, but of the other seven, the Escalade was rated far below its competitors.

With an overall score of 41, the Escalade is 24 points behind the Navigator, which has an overall rating of 65. The Enclave, with a score of 76, is the highest-rated of the large luxury SUVs that Consumer Reports tested.

The other luxury SUVs are rated 74 for the Toyota Land Cruiser, 71 for the Mercedes-Benz GLS, 70 for the BMW X7, and 67 for the Infiniti QX80. What made the Escalade rate so poorly?

Consumer Reports’ category ratings


The Worst Cadillac Escalade Problem Is Incredibly Inconvenient

The Escalade falls short in several categories. It received just two out of five for both routine handling and emergency handling. Ride, which looks at how well the suspension works and how steady the body is, was rated three out of five.

Driving position, which looks at how well the vehicle can be adjusted for drivers of different heights, was also given a three out of five. And, despite good scores for front and middle seat comfort, the third-row seats had just a one out of five rating. Usability, a check of intuitiveness and ease of use, also got a terrible rating of one out of five. 

The Land Cruiser was given the best predicted reliability. The Escalade falls toward the bottom, although the SUV with the worst predicted reliability is the BMW X7.

On the other hand, the BMW X7 also has the best road test score, with a 94. The Enclave has the second-highest, with 87. The Escalade has the lowest of the group, with 61. The BMW X7 and Lincoln Navigator have the best predicted owner satisfaction. The Escalade is in the middle of the pack, while the Infiniti QX80 is toward the bottom.

There’s also a significant price difference between the low-rated Escalade and the top-rated Enclave. The Enclave starts at $40,000, while the Escalade starts at $75,195. Based on Consumer Reports’ review, it makes sense for many buyers to save a lot of money and skip the Cadillac Escalade.