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2015 Cadillac Escalade Premium AWD: Refined, High-Tech And Elegant

Highlights: The fourth-generation Escalade offers the segment’s first front-center air bag and a new wireless charging station.

 Test vehicle’s MSRP: $86,480 (base model $73,965)

Seating Capacity: 7 or 8

Standard Safety Features: airbags (driver, passenger, front-center, side and curtain); a rear camera with cross-traffic alert system; LED lights; ABS; electronic brake force distribution; a vehicle dynamic control system; a tire pressure monitoring system; a forward collision alert system; automatic collision preparation; front and rear automatic braking; an automatic safety belt tightening; and GM’s signature OnStar safety-concierge system

 Standard Equipment (Base Model): 20-inch wheels; a 6-speed automatic transmission; a power programmable liftgate; a tri-zone automatic climate control system; an info-tainment touchscreen system; navigation system; a push-button keyless ignition starter; a remote starter system; leather seats; memory setting driver’s seat; heated and ventilated front seats; heated second-row bucket seats; a power tilt/telescopic steering wheel; a power adjustable gas and brake pedal; and a heated steering wheel

 Standard Equipment (Premium Model): illuminated door handles; a radar activated cruise control system; a front and rear automatic braking system; a rear seat 9-in. DVD Blu-Ray system; a power sunroof; power folding exterior mirrors; an electronic parking brake; side blind zone alert system; a rear cross traffic alert system; and a lane change keep assist system

Optional Features On Test Vehicle: power retractable assist side steps; 22-inch chrome wheels; and special metallic paint

 Other Trim Level:

 Standard

Luxury

Platinum

 Standard Audio: a 16-speaker Bose AM/FM/HD/CD with Satellite radio

 Bluetooth Connectivity: Yes

 iPod connectivity: Yes

 Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty: 4 years or 50,000 miles

Powertrain Warranty: 6 years or 70,000 miles

Standard Engine/Horsepower: 6.2-liter, 8-cylinder/420-hp

Recommended Fuel: Premium

 Standard Fuel Mileage: 14-city/21-hwy

Suspension System: a magnetic ride control

 Towing Capacity: 8,100

What’s New:  The fourth generation Escalade has been reworked inside and out for the 2014 model year. These changes include a new exterior styling, a more upscale interior and a fuel-efficient engine, which pushes out more horsepower than the previous generation Escalade. With that said, Cadillac no longer offers the hybrid or the truck versions.

Pros: An attention to detail is the name of the game with the 2015 Escalade. From the sharp crisp exterior lines adorned by both the front and the rear LED lights to the optional hand-stitched leather/suede interior, which surrounds every aspect of the interior, the designers found every means to make this large SUV opulent.

The 2015 Cadillac is outfitted by the brand’s all-new info-tainment system known as CUE (Cadillac User Experience). This smartphone-like application operates everything from the premium audio system to the climate control system to the heated seats without using traditional buttons or knobs. Surprisingly, we found the system to be relatively simple to utilize. We must note that we didn’t have an opportunity to use the CUE’s voice-activated system.

Moreover, the Escalade’s high-tech digital instrument gauges provide an abundance of information, ranging from the speed to the miles to empty to details about the battery life. In addition to the digital instrument gauges, the driver also has access to utilize the brand’s Heads Up Display unit, which duplicates such driving information as the speed onto the windshield.

Furthermore, the roomy SUV continues to provide enough seating to haul a family both in style and comfort, while at the same time pulling a boat or a camping trailer. Depending upon how the vehicle is outfitted, occupants can take advantage of the automatic side steps too, which eases the ingress and egress to the power operated heated seats.

And, while the fall weather pattern didn’t allow us to use the Escalade’s newly redesign all-wheel drive system, which enables the driver to select and automatic mode and forget about it, we did have an opportunity to use both the heated steering wheel and the heated driver’s seat.

Lastly, as an extra measure to deter thieves from stealing this popular Cadillac, the engineers included a glass breakage sensor, motion detectors and a self-leveling inclination sensor that sounds an alarm if a thief attempts to steal a wheel, tires or tow the vehicle onto a flatbed truck. So, what else could you ask for in this super luxurious Cadillac?

.Cons:  When comparing the outgoing Escalade to the 2015 model, consumers will notice that the starting price is about $9,000 more. Yes, that is a huge price increase. However, this is as a result of the product planners dropping the bare bones Escalade from the model line up.

Moreover, this mammoth vehicle is based-off a truck platform so within time buyers will realize that the ride experience is not the same as a car-based utility vehicle even with the added magnetic suspension system.

Furthermore, the third-row seat is only conducive on short rides for adults. In fact, the seats are designed with small kids in mind. So, in essence, this makes the cargo area virtually nonexistent when the third-row seat is in use.

And, with all of the attention to detail, we would like the engineers to strongly consider adding an open air oversized panoramic roof, as opposed to a single panel sunroof to the Escalade.

Verdict: Consumers looking to snap up a 2015 Escalade are expected to face a substantial price increase, when compared to the previous model. Early sales numbers indicate there doesn’t seem to be a shortage of buyers willing to sign on the dotted line. So far, sales have tripled in some cases, when compared to this time last year. The sales success of this large SUV is as a result of the stylish, but elegantly designed Escalade being packed with the latest self-driving aids.

 Competition: Lexus LX; Land Rover Range Rover; Lincoln Navigator; Infiniti QX80; and Mercedes-Benz GL

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Jeff Fortson is an auto analyst and editor of a car-buying website for women and minorities. To learn more about his popular car-buying workshop and/or to price a new-vehicle, drive on over to www.JeffCars.com. Follow him on Twitter/JeffCars.

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