There is an entire lineup of Cadillac SUV models that you might not be acquainted with, but that you should definitely check out if you’re in the market for a new vehicle. Cadillac has a unique way of tackling the luxury SUV and crossover categories, and their vehicles give the imports a solid run for their money. Cadillac infuses classic luxury into all of their vehicles in a way no other manufacturer can. The brand is synonymous with opulence, and while everyone’s definition of luxury is a little different, we can all agree that Cadillac equals luxury and has for over 100 years. That’s a long history of making aspirational vehicles for the upscale buying crowd. But how did the Cadillac Motor Car Company enter the SUV market? It all started with the Escalade.
The Escalade Was Born
When Cadillac entered the SUV market, many had concerns about the effect on the brand’s authenticity. Some felt that Cadillac was strictly a luxury car maker and that SUVs might dilute the integrity of the brand. Nothing could have been further from the truth, however, because the introduction of the Escalade turned the automotive industry on its ear.
The Escalade was Cadillac’s answer to its arch-rival Lincoln’s Navigator. After seeing the Navigator’s success and popularity, Cadillac saw an opportunity to leverage its own luxury roots in a new and emerging category. Thus, the Escalade was born in 1998 and entered the market as a 1999 model. Unfortunately, demand dictated that Cadillac rush the first Escalades into production, so the company dolled up the existing GMC Yukon Denali and put it on the showroom floor.
Consumers were excited about a luxury Cadillac SUV; however, the fit and finish didn’t exactly hit the mark. Cadillac realized this quickly and set to work on an almost immediate redesign. They saw demand continue to rise and met the challenge with an improved Escalade that hit the market as a 2002 model. This Escalade distanced itself from its cousins, the Suburban and Yukon, by sporting a much more angular exterior design and distinctly fancier interior finishes, including a Bulgari analog clock in the dash.
Image Isn’t Everything
As Cadillac prepared to redesign the Escalade again in 2006, this third-generation reboot solidified the luxury SUV as a category leader and one of the most highly sought after vehicles of its time. Hollywood stood up and took notice, and suddenly the Escalade was everywhere.
The strong Cadillac brand was suddenly infused with a massive injection of cool, and the industry watched in amazement as one of the country’s stodgiest brands became the hottest name in town. Suddenly trucks and SUVs were cool, and Cadillac leaned into this trend by embracing the limelight and concentrating marketing dollars on high profile celebrities and events.
Over time, as the Escalade continued to show up in celebrity pop culture, the Cadillac brand team recognized that long-term success meant broadening the Escalade’s appeal. It meant focusing on families and other luxury SUV-buying segments. Cadillac even produced a hybrid Escalade from 2009-2013 that offered 20 MPG in the city and 23 MPG on the highway to environmentally-conscious buyers. This was a stark contrast to the 14 MPG in the city and 18 MPG on the highway fuel-efficiency rating the traditional Escalade received.
As Cadillac entered the next redesign phase, the focus was on families. The fourth-generation Escalade, introduced in 2015, hit the sweet spot of image, luxury, and brawn. This was the era of added technology, both for infotainment and driver safety. These bells and whistles appealed to luxury buyers, and Cadillac saw sales of the Escalade exponentially increase. To date, more than 800,000 Escalades have been sold, with sales in recent years far surpassing those in the past.
Today’s Cadillac SUVs
Building on the success and popularity of the Escalade, Cadillac has expanded its line of luxury SUVs, and today the company offers four exciting models. First, the XT4, which starts at $35,695, the XT5, with a starting MSRP of $44,095, and the XT6, which comes in at $52,695. The mother of them all, today’s 2020 Escalade, starts at $75,195.
The Cadillac XT4 is the smallest SUV in the lineup and allows more buyers to enter the Cadillac family due to its affordable starting price. The XT4 comes with an impressive array of driver-assist safety features, including automatic emergency braking, a nifty rear camera mirror, and a safety alert seat that vibrates in different quadrants to alert drivers of hazards. Available in three trims – the Luxury, Premium Luxury, and Sport – each XT4 builds on the last with the added standard features drivers want.
The XT5 is the next size up, offering a little more space and increased cargo capacity of 63 cu.ft. in comparison to the XT4, which offers just 48.9 cu.ft. The XT5 also comes in the same three trims and offers a couple of different engines. The 2.0-liter engine is standard on the Luxury, and Premium Luxury trims and puts out 237 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque and the 3.6-liter V6 engine, standard on the Sport and available on the Premium Luxury, delivers performance in spades with 310 hp and 271 lb-ft of torque. These engines are coupled with a 9-speed automatic transmission with Electronic Precision Shift, which moves from Park to Drive in one motion.
Last but certainly not least of the models we have yet to touch on is the Cadillac XT6. The brand new XT6 offers ample cargo space – a whopping 78.7 cu.ft. – but also provides a third row of seats. Given the greater than $20,000 price increase to move up to an Escalade, the third row is a welcome addition at this price point. Available in Premium Luxury and Sport trims, the XT6 is luxury personified, with elegant interior finishes including leather everything, metallic and exotic wood finishes, and an enviable amount of third-row headroom, coming in at an industry-leading 37.2”. The impressive array of driver-assist features include an optional Night Vision camera feature that uses sensors to detect objects ahead at night and alert the driver to their presence. Blind zone alerts, lane keep assist, forward collision alert, and rear cross-traffic alert systems round out a very robust suite of safety systems. Overall, this is a well-rounded model, as all of the Cadillac SUVs are; picking one comes down to what you need as a driver.
Check Out Cadillac SUVs
I bet you’re pretty surprised at the scope of Cadillac’s SUV lineup. From its roots as a luxury carmaker to its interim foray into the SUV category with the still popular Escalade to its status now as a legitimate competitor at all size ranges, including the popular crossover subset, Cadillac has tackled the SUV category and dominated as it has all along in the luxury car category.
With that said, no SUV purchase would be complete without a stop at your local Cadillac dealer to check out these impressive vehicles. They are built with design innovation, including all the luxury, safety, and technology features you’ve come to expect from a luxury SUV. Even at the low end of the range, Cadillac has its finger on the pulse of its customers, delivering an infusion of the brand’s storied roots into every modern SUV they make. So don’t hesitate; go check out Cadillac SUVs today!