What It Is: The all-new, fourth generation of Cadillac’s default flagship, the Escalade. In its own way, the Escalade epitomizes the old-school Cadillac virtues—it’s massive and without compromise, and more than a little ostentatious. Other than the very-low-volume CTS-V, the Escalade is the only Caddy with a V-8. The interior will take a big jump forward in quality and design, GM execs promise, and it’ll be better differentiated from the related Chevrolet and GMC models.
Why It Matters: “It’s the easiest sale in the showroom,” a Cadillac salesman tells us of the current Escalade. The truckish-SUV boom now years behind us, the Escalade has held onto its charisma and space in the zeitgeist, watching as people revolted against and then forgot the Hummer H2 and the Lincoln Navigator. Without any marketing, Cadillac has sold more than 10,000 Escalades so far this year—Porsche hasn’t even sold that many Cayennes—and profit margins are very thick.
Platform: GM’s new K2XX platform, which underpins the all-new Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra, will serve as the foundation for the next-gen Escalade. Kudos to GM for not switching its top luxury SUV to a unibody platform; the truck frame is a core part of the Escalade’s DNA, and there really are plenty of people who use them for towing. Expect this upcoming generation to again be offered in “long” and “extra-long,” but the short-bed EXT pickup joins the Avalanche in truck heaven.
Powertrain: A direct-injected 6.2-liter V-8 will deliver 420 horsepower and 450 lb-ft of torque. We’re hoping the Escalade will launch with a new eight-speed automatic transmission, but it’s possible that, like the Sierra and Silverado, it’ll use a six-speed for its first year of life. There are rumors that the Escalade also will see GM’s new 420-hp twin-turbo V-6, but we’re skeptical.