Like most manufacturers these days, Cadillac is looking to go all-electric in the next few years. By 2030, the company hopes to have its entire fleet run solely on electrons — no PHEVs or mild hybrids here, folks — and to do that, it needs something big to win the hearts and minds of its base.
Enter the Escalade, which was revealed Wednesday after months of teasers and speculation of what an EV version of its flagship SUV would look like.
This popular full-size SUV is going full BEV for 2025, laden with screens, luxury features and the option to upgrade the automaker’s standard advanced driver assistance system, known as Super Cruise, to the next-level Ultra Cruise, as long as you’re willing to wait a bit.
The Escalade isn’t the first Cadillac to get the EV treatment. The compact SUV Lyriq can be had for just under $59,000 while the halo Celestiq sedan goes big starting at $340,000. The 2025 Escalade IQ is nowhere near that six-figure figure price, starting at around $130,000 including destination. Available in Luxury or Sport trims, look for the Escalade IQ at the end of 2024, when it will be sold alongside the traditional Escalade.
Ultra Cruise on its way
GM’s Super Cruise driving assist feature has always been a favorite of mine, allowing for hands-free/eyes-up driving across 400,000 miles of pre-mapped roads in the United States and Canada. It’s smooth, confident and takes away the stress of longer road trips and heavy traffic commuting.
The Escalade IQ will be shipped with all the cameras, radars and LiDAR needed for Ultra Cruise. The software will then be pushed to owners via an OTA update once GM determines its safe for use. This tech covers 2 million miles of mapped roads and can stop at traffic lights and stop signs. Cadillac says it can follow a route at the speed limit, take turns at corners and even park in your driveway. However, the company did not say when it would push the feature to the Escalade, only that it wouldn’t do so until it feels the technology is ready.
The Escalade IQ will be built on GM’s Ultium platform with a 24-module 200 kWh battery– enough storage for a Cadillac-estimated 450 miles of range. The SUV will launch with CSS charging but Cadillac says it is partnering with NCAS so the Caddy should be able to utilize the Tesla charging network as well. The 800-volt architecture means the thing can charge at 350 kW, adding 100 miles of range in 10 minutes or so in optimal conditions. An onboard 19.2 kW charger can add 37 miles for each hour of Level 2 charging at home. Not too shabby.
First look ideations
Although I didn’t get a chance to drive the Escalade — in fact Cadillac reps hardly wanted me to touch the static display car — representatives talked me through the features of the large SUV and certainly whetted my appetite to get behind the wheel. Here’s what I imagine might happen.
Six friends and I approach the Escalade IQ that has been squeezed into a parallel parking spot on the street. The front and rear lighting signatures do a little welcome dance and the driver’s side door opens automatically. Two pals put their backpacks into the eTrunk up front, not quite taking up the 12 cubic feet of space under the front hood. Meanwhile, I slide into the driver’s seat– it’s sumptuous leather, heated, cooled and massaging, natch– press the brake pedal and the door closes automatically.
The 55-inch LED display goes from pillar to pillar, powered by the next generation Snapdragon 12 Cockpit Platform. Google is built in with Maps, Play and Assistant. While I set my navigation my shotgun passenger starts exploring her screen for entertainment, but it’s polarized so I can’t see it from the driver’s seat.
My third row passengers easily climb into the rearward seat while my second row passengers are treated to the optional Executive Seating package. They drop the tray tables, turn on their massaging seats and start exploring the 12.6-inch personal seatback screens. There are wireless charging pads back there, plus USB-C and HDMI ports. Those folks are set for the trip.
I put the Escalade IQ in gear and the available Arrival mode utilizes the rear steering to move the large SUV with– and I’m not joking here– 35-inch tires diagonally out of the tight parking space and into traffic. We are off to the races.
That’s about as far as I want to speculate as to the driving experience of the Escalade until I actually get to pilot the beast. For now I’ll just tell you that Cadillac estimates the front and rear drive motors produce up to 750 horsepower and 785 pound-feet of torque, but you have to be in the Velocity Max drive mode. Normal mode produces a still healthy 680 ponies and 615 pound-feet of torque. The Escalade can scoot to 60 miles per hour in less than five seconds and can tow a maximum of 8,000 pounds. Further, If you have an Ultium Home energy management system you can use the Escalade IQ to power your home if need be.
Sleek and sizeable
As for the looks of the Escalade IQ — it’s good. And large. But good.
At 136.2 inches, the wheelbase is longer than a traditional ICE Escalade ESV, though its overall length of 224.3 inches can’t quite match the ESV’s expanse. It’s wider than the gas model and the shoulder line of the vehicle matches my shoulder — and I’m a relatively-tall 5-foot, 9-inches.
Cadillac wouldn’t say how much it weighs, but the current Escalade can weigh upwards of 6,000 pounds and 200 kWh worth of batteries ain’t light. Meaning this Escalade might follow a similar uber-heavy path that GM’s other hefty EVs, like the GMC Hummer have followed.
The 24-inch alloy wheels are pushed way out to each corner, resulting in a long dash-to-axle ratio. However, the rest of the vehicle is just as big so nothing looks out of proportion. The rear roofline slopes down and its streamlined profile give the SUV a 15-percent lower coefficient of drag than in past models. I can dig it.
Lighting plays a big part in the Escalade IQ’s design aesthetic. Inside the door panels feature laser-etched wood trim that lights up with your choice of 126 ambient lighting colors. Outside, I love the vertical-oriented headlamps in front flanked by the fun grille lighting but it’s the rear that gets me. The tail lights are split with thin blades surrounding the rear glass and larger pieces down below.
The outermost part of those lower tail lamps have a piano-like design feature that catches the eye while the third brake light on the spoiler is designed with a little blip in the middle, kind of like a lighted heartbeat. Taken altogether it gives the Escalade IQ a very distinct nighttime stance and is one of the better-designed rear ends I’ve seen in quite some time.