After a difficult year in 2019, GM is staying positive with the launch of the hotly anticipated new 2020 Cadillac Escalade – it’s big, it’s smart, it’s got grille…
You’d think a flagships model would account for the smallest share of your customers – it’s the fanciest, most expensive halo product developed to reflect some lustre and shine onto the rest of the line-up.
For Cadillac it’s a slightly different story. The Escalade, not least in terms of image, carries the brand, and the numbers support this. In 2019 Cadillac offered five different SUV models and the Escalade was the second best-selling after the XT5, certainly looking at the US market. The big Escalade also outsells Cadillac’s sedans, all of them, combined. A fairly important deal, then. And while GM was down year-on-year as a group, Cadillac managed single-digit growth. However when looking at individual performances, in a portfolio spanning nine different models only two posted increased sales. And the 2019 Escalade wasn’t one of them.
To reinvigorate the Escalade after five years of the current generation working the streets, Cadillac has just launched an updated 2020 model which surprisingly doesn’t seem to have any extra grille. According to designers this is of course “all-new” and “completely redesigned”, so it’s immediately assumed to be a mere facelift. Really, it seems to be a matter of some new headlamps and taillights, new standard 22-inch wheels, plus a choice of three grilles. The 6.2-litre V8 engine is also a carryover, still rated at 420 horsepower and 623Nm of torque, mated to a ten-speed transmission, so no changes there.
At closer glance the new Cadillac Escalade is bigger outside and in, and quoted figures seem impressive – there’s a 68 percent increase in maximum cargo space and 10-inches of added third-row legroom. The interior is also totally new featuring a sweeping dash and a market-first curved OLED screen. For the sound system the Austrian audio boffins at AKG stuffed the new 2020 Escalade with three amps and 36 speakers, if you prefer the optional system to the meagre 19-speaker kit offered as standard equipment.
Cadillac is also pretty pleased with the new Escalade’s smart cruise control, which uses LiDAR data, GPS, cameras, and sensors to basically operate the SUV hands-free without driver input, but so far only on compatible North American highways.
As GM looks to recover from a difficult 2019 – the American giant has been dealt quite a blow over in its biggest market, China, where sales last year declined by more than 15 percent – the brand’s not straying from its commitment to massive SUVs. Future plans include huge EVs too, but it remains to be seen how the new 2020 Cadillac Escalade can contribute to a healthier GM this year.