The original Cadillac Escalade made its debut at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in August 1998. Yep, it’s been 20 years since the Escalade showed the world that full-size SUVs can be opulent and stylish.
1999-2000 Cadillac Escalade
The first generation of the Escalade lasted just two model years 1999-2000. It was very closely related to and looked very similar to the GMC Yukon Denali of the same year.
The original was powered by a 5.7L (350 cu-in) V8 with a rating of 255 hp @ 4,600 rpm and 330 lb-ft of torque @ 2,800 rpm. The engine was mated to a 4-speed automatic transmission, and it could tow a maximum of 6,500 lbs.
2002-2006: Generation 2
The Escalade was on hiatus for the 2001 model year, but the second generation came back bigger and better in 2002. The big SUV got a more distinct design that made it stand out from all the other SUVs from GM.
This one could be optioned with the now legendary 6.0L Vortec V8 (high output) with a rating of 345 hp @ 5,200 rpm and 380 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm. Transmission was a heavy duty version of the 4-speed automatic. The maximum towing rating went up to 8,200 lbs.
2007-2014: Generation 3
Ever more distinctive Escalade with even bigger grille came to market in 2007. The design evolved into a more angular and sophisticated form. The engine got bigger and more high tech. This was the 6.2L V8 with variable valve timing and a rating of 403 hp @ 5,700 rpm and 417 lb-ft of torque @ 4,300 rpm. The transmission was upgraded to a 6-speed automatic.
There was also the Escalade Hybrid that was sold between 2009-2013. This is now a very rare beast, but it was a combination of the 6.0L Vortec V8 and two electric motors. This Escalade was capable of driving at speeds up to 25 mph on electricity alone. The total system horsepower rating came in at 379 hp.
2015-Current: Genration 4
The current generation made the debut as a 2015 model. The grille is bigger than ever, and the lights are smaller and more high tech. The V8 engine remained at 6.2L of displacement, but this was the EcoTec3 generation with Active Fuel Management (AFM) that allows the SUV to run in V4 or V8 modes. The rating was raised to 420 hp @ 5,600 rpm and 460 lb-ft of torque @ 4,100 rpm. This generation started with the 6-speed automatic, moved on to the 8-speed, and is now available with the 10-speed automatic.
Not to mention that there was also the Escalade EXT truck (Cadillac’s version of the Chevy Avalanche). There is also the Escalade ESV, which the long version of the SUV (think the Suburban and Yukon XL).
What do you think? Which Cadillac is your favorite? Let us know in the comments section below.
The Escalade is comfortable when cruising down Main Street, but how does it do in the dirt? Check out our very popular Gold Mine Hill off-road test of the 2015 Escalade.