Traveling with two teens, two octogenarians and one husband can be a challenge no matter how you slice it. In the Cadillac Escalade, getting from Point A to Point B on a whirlwind four-day weekend in Dallas was no challenge at all--unless you count the three tries it took me to get this full size SUV into an average-sized parking spot.
I had two worries on this trip:
- Not over-scheduling and overtaxing everyone, especially in the mid-summer Texas heat.
- Finding a car other than a minivan that would comfortably carry all of us but be accessible for my mother-in-law who had a hip replaced a few months ago.
The folks at Cadillac couldn’t help plan the itinerary, but they listened to my transportation needs and came up with just the right vehicle: a seven-passenger Escalade.
Ours was a fully-loaded model that retails for $86,000. On that Dallas weekend, I would have happily spent that much to get just one key feature: a retractable running board step that made it easy for the octogenarians (and the rest of us) to hoist ourselves into the huge SUV.
Ease of entry is only one reason to love this luxury SUV. There are plenty of other reasons, including the minivan-style configuration of the second and third row seats. (Please note, this car is minivan-like in that feature only. Unlike any minivan I have ever driven, the Escalade is all sleek lines and sumptuous styling.)
We noted only two downsides the Cadillac Escalade: the lack of sight-seeing capability from the third row seats and its overall big size.
The limited view from the rear seat is a result of the combination of seats that sit higher and windows that are smaller than in the first or second row of seats. It wasn’t a huge problem since we spent our time driving from one attraction to the next, parking, and going inside to explore the Sixth Floor Museum at the John F. Kennedy Memorial Plaza, the Perot Museum, the George W. Bush Museum and the Fort Worth Stockyards. But as we drove through Dallas, the teens in the far back row did miss a few of the awe-inspiring city sights.
All that parking pointed out the other downside, the huge size of the Escalade. While it’s easy to appreciate the roominess that makes it comfortable for passengers and efficient for hauling cargo, the size made it a little unwieldy in tight places. Our family car is a Dodge Durango and I have no problem wedging it into a tight city parking space. But the Escalade often took two or three tries before it settled between the parking lines. The rear camera was a godsend and the retractable side view mirrors critical.
With my kids now teenagers, my need for an SUV as a family car to cart around kids and their gear is waning. But with our close-knit extended family aging and starting to think about a future where they no longer drive, it’s possible that my next car also will have to be an SUV--so long as it’s an SUV that someone 80+ can climb into.
What we loved:
Retractable assist steps
Handles like a luxury car, not an SUV truck
Plenty of legroom, no matter how you adjusted the seats
Retractable side mirrors
Huge cargo area
Heated and cooled seats
Heated and cooled cup holders
Airbags all around, including head curtain side airbags in all three rows of seats
Rear vision camera
Side blind zone alert
What you need to know
$86,090 for the fully loaded model we drove
Powerful V8 engine makes it a breeze to merge onto the highway, but expect to get only 14 MPG
4-year, 50,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty
6-year, 70,000-mile powertrain limited warranty
4-year, 50,000-mile premium care maintenance
6-year, 70,000-mile roadside assistance
6-year, 70,000-mile courtesy transportation
Disclosure: Cadillac provided the Escalade for this test drive; opinions here are purely my own.