Cadillac Escalade: 20 Years on the Road
Since its public debut at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in August 1998, the Cadillac Escalade has become a cultural phenomenon and defined the full-size luxury SUV segment.
“Over the past 20 years, the Escalade has prevailed not only as a highly regarded full-size luxury SUV, but also as a cultural icon that is synonymous with style and sophistication,” said Steve Carlisle, Cadillac president. “From the highway to the big screen, the Escalade has been embraced by drivers and fans around the world.”
Escalade quickly grew to dominate its segment, leading in total sales since 2014 and for 15 of the last 20 years. In fact, each year since the Escalade was redesigned in 2015, consumers have spent about $3 billion or more on the model. Sales have topped more than three-quarters of a million in the U.S. and 836,000 cumulative global sales (including ESV, EXT and Hybrid models).
Born in the nascent days of the luxury SUV movement, the Escalade quickly established itself as the segment’s preeminent entry, channeling Cadillac’s signature design, technology and performance in an all-new proportion.
Customer response was quick and intense, as buyers embraced the Escalade’s spaciousness, capability and unmistakable presence.
“That combination immediately struck a chord,” said Carlisle. “It introduced Cadillac to an entirely new generation of luxury customers via popular culture and changed perceptions of what the brand could offer.”
The Escalade’s strong initial sales leaped more than 35 percent when the second-generation model was launched for 2002 and grew another 55 percent the following year, when the versatile Escalade EXT model entered full production.
By its fifth anniversary in 2004, Escalade sales had ballooned approximately 230 percent, and the vehicle had changed the lexicon of luxury vehicles for customers, trendsetting influencers and valets.
The Escalade established a history of innovation and earned a reputation as a technology leader, with features such as:
- The first full LED headlamps (2009) and first LED high-beam headlamps and taillamps with total internal reflection (2015).
- The first full-size luxury SUV to offer Magnetic Ride Control, the world’s quickest-reacting suspension system (2009).
- The world’s first full-size luxury SUV hybrid, which offered a 50 percent improvement in EPA city fuel economy (2009), 20 mpg with the Hybrid and 12 mpg for the non-Hybrid (2WD models).
- The first front-center airbag in a luxury SUV, along with the first haptic Safety Alert Seat (2015).
Industry accolades for Escalade continue to grow, and include Consumer Guide® Automotive’s Best Buy Award for five consecutive years and 16 J.D. Power study awards:
- Escalade has been J.D. Power’s “Highest Ranked Large Premium SUV in Initial Quality” five times: 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2018.
- Escalade models have ranked highest eight times in their respective categories in the J.D. Power Automotive Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study: 2001, 2002 (Escalade and Escalade EXT), 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2017.
- Escalade models have ranked highest in their categories in three J.D. Power Vehicle Dependability Surveys: 2005, 2006 and 2014.
ESCALADE FAST FACTS
- The first Escalade rolled off the assembly line in Arlington, Texas, on Feb. 8, 1998, and VIN 001 now resides at the GM Heritage Center.
- Escalade generations are Gen 1, 1999-2000; Gen 2, 2002-2006; Gen 3, 2007-2014; and Gen 4, 2015 onward.
- Escalade’s signature grille design has evolved with each generation and the Cadillac logo, making it arguably the vehicle’s most recognizable feature.
- The 2019 Escalade offers 65 percent more horsepower with 52 percent greater EPA-estimated highway fuel economy than the original 1999 model (2WD models compared): 15 mpg (1999) versus 23 mpg (2019).