Cadillac is one of the top manufacturers of high-class prestigious vehicles. All the vehicles in the Cadillac lineup of models exude opulence, class, and premium performance.
The Cadillac division of GM Motors has never been disappointed in their sedan and SUV models.
On the lineup of Cadillac SUVs, the Cadillac Escalade stands out from the rest. This full-size luxury SUV is one of the most popular in the Cadillac lineup.
Because of its power, specifications, and styling, the Cadillac Escalade doesn’t come cheap.
Therefore, if you are looking to own this workhorse, the used or pre-owned model is a great choice. But what years should you go for to get value for your money and a good user experience?
What Are the Best Years for The Cadillac Escalade?
The best years for Cadillac Escalade are 2002, 2013, 2015, and 2018. This is according to consumer ratings on ranker, J.D power, and Consumer Report. The 2013 Cadillac Escalade scored 5/5 on ranker, an all-time high followed by the 2013 model at 4.8/5.0.
The 2015 and 2018 models came in third and fourth place with 4.7 and 4.6 out of 5.0 respectively.
This makes the 2002 Cadillac Escalade the most reliable SUV on the lineup. A position that the model has held for a long time.
Background History of the Cadillac Escalade
Escalade is a full-size luxury SUV that has been produced by the Cadillac division of GM Motors since 1998.
The new 2021 Cadillac Escalade marks the fifth generation of production of this iconic American SUV.
Across almost all the model years, the Escalade featured standard and long-wheelbase types.
The Hybrid models of the Cadillac Escalade SUVs were introduced around 2008 and 2013.
The Escalade is among the top SUVs that have not adopted the unibody design.
This SUV has remained with a truck-based, ladder-frame body offered in rear-wheel-drive or optional 4WD configuration.
The Escalade is a cousin to the Chevy Suburban, Tahoe, or GMC Yukon since they have a lot in common.
This full-size SUV model has been in production for over two decades despite speculation that it was about to get extinct.
The style and shape have drastically evolved, but the Cadillac Escalade has remained one of the most sought-after SUVs.
The Cadillac Escalade has gone through five generations so far, which include:
- First Generation – 1999 – 2000
- Second Generation – 2002 – 2006
- Third Generation – 2007 – 2014
- Fourth Generation – 2015 – 2020
- Fifth Generation – 2021
First Generation – 1999 – 2000
If you are planning to buy a first-generation Escalade, you don’t have a wide variety to choose from. This model year was only offered in a single trim. It came fitted with either rear – or 4WD drivetrain. This SUV was powered by a 5.7-liter V-8 engine that provided 300-hp.
Even though it was offered in one trim level, this full-size luxury SUV came fitted with high-quality features.
Second Generation – 2002 – 2006
In 2002 Cadillac launched the second generation of the Cadillac Escalade that was based on the new General Motor’s GMT820 chassis.
It should be noted that there was no model for the year 2001, therefore Cadillac continued selling the first-generation models until the release of the 2002 model.
Under the hood, this powerful beast was powered by a 5.3-liter V-8 engine. At the same time, its all-wheel-drive variant came powered by a potent Vortec 6.0-liter V-8 engine that offers 310-hp.
For the period 2004 to 2006, the Vortec’s engine was upgraded to offer 345 horsepower.
All trim levels came with a four-speed automatic transmission. Inside, the Escalade was re-designed in 2003 to give it a more luxurious ambiance in the cabin.
Third Generation – 2007 – 2014
The third generation saw the shift to GMT900. The same platform that was used on a Silverado, Tahoe, Avalanche, and Sierra. Manufacturing of this model started at Arlington Assembly in 2006.
The third-generation Cadillac Escalade was offered in both rear-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive drivetrains.
This SUV came in either long- or short-wheelbase EXT and ESV pickup types. The majority of the third generation’s models came powered by a 6.2-L V-8 engine paired to a six-speed automatic transmission.
However, there exist gas and electric hybrid variants that come equipped with a 6.0—liter V-8 engine and a 60-kW electric motor.
This generation featured an affordable Cadillac Escalade with full luxury features and upgraded styling compared to the 2nd generation.
This made the Escalade an attractive choice for buyers on a budget.
Fourth Generation – 2015 – 2020
The fourth generation of the Cadillac Escalade was unveiled in 2013. Manufacturing started in 2014, and sales of this generation’s models hit the market in 2015.
The Cadillac Escalade was offered in three main trim levels, which include Base, Luxury, and Premium trim.
Underneath the hood, all the trim levels in this generation was a lively 6.1-L EcoTec3 L86 V-8 engine that provided a whopping 420-hp and 460 pound-feet of torque.
The first on the list of the fourth-generation Escalade came fitted with a six-speed automatic transmission.
Later on, an eight-speed automatic transmission unit was introduced, starting from the 2018 Cadillac Escalade model year.
This 4th Gen Cadillac Escalade boasts a distinct outer styling that stands out from the other generations. It came out as a family-centric, spacious, and highly prestigious, and adventure-ready SUV.
Fifth Generation – 2021
This is the most recent generation that has come packed with the nicest technology and luxury amenities that exist. The new Cadillac Escalade is one of its kind in the lineup of SUVs. Besides its stylish exterior looks, the insider of this full-size luxury SUV comes fitted with premium luxury material to give it a classy and comfy touch.
The fifth generation was a total facelift for the Cadillac Escalade lineup. The 2021 Cadillac Escalade model year offers a bigger interior with ample third-row spacing and more cargo space.
This vehicle offers a superior driving experience and opulence, thanks to the Super Cruise and multiple screens in the cabin.
It is fun-to-drive on the fifth-generation Cadillac Escalade because of the strong rear suspension and optional air suspension. This model year saw the addition of more safety features and an optional diesel engine.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What are the most common problems of the Cadillac Escalade?
The most common issue with the Escalade that affected mostly the 2014 model year was the occasional rough ride.
This model has not experienced any major engine failures across its generations and model years.
The rough ride was caused by damaged struts that caused the passengers to be flung around inside the cabin. This issue became worse at around 35,000 miles on the SUV.
Fortunately, the issue was handled and did not spill over to other model years.
Another common issue was the transmission, which would fail with various model years.
Although the problem was addressed, the transmission still requires frequent rebuilding for some model years.
This occurred at around 77,000 miles. Aside from these few problems, the Cadillac Escalade has no unique flaws, it is a very reliable SUV and was built for the long haul.
Is Cadillac Escalade a reliable SUV?
Yes. The Cadillac Escalade is very dependable. The second and third generations of this full-size SUV have very high reliability scores and received good consumer ratings.
However, the newer models in the later fourth and fifth generations haven’t scored as much in reliability score despite having come equipped with high technology and safety features.
Is the Cadillac Escalade durable?
Yes. For example, the new 2020 Cadillac Escalade is predicted to last for at least 200,000 miles (Vehicle History).
However, you’re likely to find a first-generation Cadillac Escalade with over 200,000 miles at an affordable price and with excellent user experience and reliability.
How good is the Cadillac Escalade off-road?
The Cadillac Escalade is designed to handle off-road terrains with ease. The powerful engine that comes standard with this model offers enough power to get the Escalade through the toughest terrains.
This SUV comes equipped with a four-wheel-drive or an optional all-wheel-drive in other model years that gives it the ability to triumph over complicated off-road conditions of different traction.
How safe is the Cadillac Escalade SUV?
GM vehicles are known for having the best and more advanced safety and security features.
The Cadillac Escalade is not an exception.
This SUV is loaded with both active and passive safety features. The IIHS and NHTSA rank the Escalade among the safest SUVs in the market.
If you are in the market for a large full-size SUV that will not set you back financially, the Cadillac Escalade is a good choice.
This SUV comes packed with advanced features and technology for high-class luxury and performance.
While all generations and model years come with important upgrades and features, 2002, 2013, 2015, and 2018 Cadillac Escalade offers an impressive reliability score.
These model years are the best for buyers planning to buy used or pre-owned Cadillac Escalade SUVs. These model years are guaranteed to give you a good user experience at an affordable price.