No matter the style, the Escalade is powered by a 403-horsepower, 6.2L V8 engine that's also Flex-Fuel capable, meaning that it can run on up to 85% ethanol-gasoline mix. It's paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission and either rear or all-wheel drive. However, the full-time all-wheel drive system does not include a low range and is designed primarily for on-road duty.
The Escalade performs surprisingly well for a heavy, body-on-frame SUV. The V8 provides strong acceleration and impressive passing power. It also handles quite well and has been tuned for smooth, but not bouncy, ride quality. Across the lineup, big 4-wheel disc brakes are included, along with anti-lock brakes and GM's Stabilitrak electronic stability control, plus a full contingent of airbags.
Additional high-tech safety features offered on the Escalade include Side Blind Zone Alert, which sounds an audible and visual alert if there are objects detected in the blind zones. OnStar Turn-by-Turn Navigation allows the driver to download directions from an operator-assisted call center directly to the navigation system, while XM NavTraffic enables live traffic updates.
The Escalade ESV's wheelbase is one foot longer than the standard Escalade. That means that while the ESV won't turn and park quite as neatly, but it does offer a bit more legroom for the third row, along with more space behind it. Access to the third row is improved as well. Both versions get a fold-and-tumble second row, however. Standard Escalades and ESV models have seating for up to seven.
Escalade and Escalade ESV are offered in Luxury, Premium and Platinum editions. The Platinum models get a long list of exclusive equipment, including Magnetic Ride Control (which helps further improve both ride and handling), distinctive LED headlamps, Airline leather with contrasting stitching, special leather surfaces with French-stitched seams and special wood and aluminum trim. The standard Escalade cabin is nearly as lavish, with Ebony and Cashmere interior surfaces, white LED lighting, heated-and-cooled front seats and a heated steering wheel.