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Does any vehicle make a bigger statement than the Cadillac Escalade? This luxury SUV is a symbol of prestige, and it’s earned iconic status in America.

This reputation comes along with lofty expectations. However, some Cadillac Escalade owners feel they didn’t get a proper return on their investment. Should Cadillac be worried as rival SUVs are trying to dethrone the Escalade?

The Escalade has built quite the following since its debut during the 1999 model year, becoming a favorite among celebrities. So, it’ll take more than a few complaints to make this large SUV fall from grace.

Regardless, these issues shouldn’t be taken lightly, and savvy shoppers put a lot of stock into what current owners have to say. So, just what kind of problems have drivers discovered with the fourth-generation (2015-2020) Escalade? Let’s take a more in-depth look at what owners and industry experts have to say about this iconic vehicle.

What owners have to say about the Cadillac Escalade

A dark blue 2020 Cadillac Escalade parked on display
The 2020 Cadillac Escalade | Photo via Cadillac

Buying a full-size luxury SUV is a commitment. It needs to serve your family’s needs, be enjoyable to drive, have all the latest features, and be dependable. The 2020 Cadillac Escalade is certainly expected to live up to these standards, as it has a starting MSRP of $75,195.

However, some doubt is cast upon the Escalade due to its consumer rating on Kelley Blue Book. While not a shocking number at first, its 3.4/5 rating is the lowest rating among all Cadillac models.

Why are owners unhappy with their Cadillac Escalade? It seems to be an issue of reliability. Several owners complained of frequent issues, including transmission and electrical problems, that led to them having to bring it to the mechanic.

One 2015 Cadillac Escalade ESV owner left a review on KBB stating, “The Escalade is beautiful on the outside, and the interior is comfortable and spacious. But this the most unreliable vehicle I have owned in 25 years of driving. On multiple occasions, my wife has been stranded because the car won’t start because of electrical issues. We had to replace three batteries replaced in four months. The car alarm randomly goes off and drains the battery.”

Other drivers had issues with the inconsistency of its premium features, such as the rear-seat entertainment system with wireless headphones. For example, a 2019 Escalade owner said, “For a $95,000 vehicle, I guess you would think that things would work when it’s brand new. Unfortunately, a lot of the extra “nice to have” convenience items are buggy and only work sometimes.”

Those in the market for a Cadillac Escalade demand a flawless, luxurious experience. However, these testimonials indicate that the SUV can be difficult and annoying at times. Do the critics feel the same way?

Elegance doesn’t meet refinement

The Cadillac Escalade is often touted as the king of luxury SUVs. However, some industry experts question whether the model is all look and no substance.

Car and Driver’s review of the 2020 Escalade praises the model’s stunning design, but it criticizes its lack of distinctiveness. The publication brings to question why GM’s other large SUVs – the Chevy Tahoe and GMC Yukon – have about the same refinement as the Escalade.

The 2020 Cadillac Escalade moves by way of a 420-hp 6.2-liter V8 engine, which is available on higher trims of the Tahoe and Yukon. This powerplant works in tandem with a 10-speed automatic transmission and can help the Escalade tow up to 8,300 pounds when properly equipped.

Unfortunately, some of the Escalade’s best features aren’t available on most trims. For instance, shoppers must upgrade to the Platinum trim to get massing front seats, an insulated cooler, and advanced adaptive cruise control. This top-of-the-line model has a starting MSRP of $93,590, and it’ll cost $3,000 more if you want the four-wheel-drive variant.

The final verdict

RELATED: Is the 2020 Cadillac Escalade Really Worth $20,000 More Than the XT6?

Buying a Cadillac Escalade doesn’t come cheap. So, if you’re looking to upgrade to this American classic, you’d do well to skip the fourth-generation models. Instead, look toward the redesigned 2021 Escalade, which seems to be a return to form for the beloved model.


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