The fourth-generation Cadillac Escalade went into production in early 2014, and while it’s not exactly old, it’s a bit dated compared to the more modern Lincoln Navigator. But Cadillac is looking to fix that with a new-generation model that’s rumored to arrive in 2019.

The new Escalade was initially scheduled to arrive early next year, but development was slowed down by a late decision to ditch the solid rear axle in favor of an independent suspension. It seems that Cadillac finally decided to give the Escalade, its most profitable model, a proper makeover.

Unfortunately, the SUV will continue to share underpinnings with the Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon, meaning that it will still use a truck platform. The good news is that GM is also preparing massive upgrades for its next-gen pickups, so the Escalade will be less of truck and more of an SUV. Most details are still under wraps, but let’s discuss what we already know about it, the latest rumors, as well as the rendering that our very own artist created.

Exterior

  • Escala concept design
  • Sleek headlamps
  • New grille
  • New wheels
  • Sportier rear bumper
  • Still big and boxy
2020 Cadillac Escalade
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The profile will become more elegant, despite Cadillac retaining the boxy layout

We have yet to see prototypes of the upcoming Escalade, but it’s safe to say that the SUV will get its design language from the Escala concept. Granted, the hauler won’t be as sleek as the sedan, but many of those cues, which are a curvier, more elegant take on the brand’s "Art and Science" design, will find their way on the SUV.

As seen in our rendering, we expect the Escalade to retain its body layout. However, the front fascia will sport very thin headlamps and updated LED daytime and foglamps onto the sides. The vertical units will be complemented by chrome trim, while the bumper vent will run the entire width of the fascia. The main grille will grow bigger and will resemble the CT6’s, with small chrome inserts instead of the old, thick slats. It will continue to look imposing up front, but the SUV will be a tad sportier too.

2020 Cadillac Escalade
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The new Escalade might ditch the long, vertical taillights in favor of horizontal units

The profile will become more elegant, despite Cadillac retaining the boxy layout. The SUV will gain a more subtle beltline, as well as new character lines backed by chrome trim on the lower doors. The overall styling of the side windows won’t change much, but the third window will grow bigger as the C-pillar won’t be as thick. As before, the Escalade will ride on massive, shiny wheels.

It’s tough to say how Cadillac will approach the rear end, but the new Escalade might ditch the long, vertical taillights in favor of horizontal units. I know it seems against the current Caddy trend, especially with the Escala also sporting vertical taillights, but the Escalade is the kind of vehicle that needs to stand out, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see two-piece taillights that extend into the bumpers and the tailgate.

The latter will probably retain the boxy design, but we may see a sleeker bumper with fake vents and even a diffuser-like element at the bottom.

Interior

  • Needs many changes
  • Better fit and finish
  • New technology
  • Semi-autonomous drive
  • Carbon-fiber trim?
  • Enhanced roominess
2016 Cadillac Escala High Resolution Interior
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Cadillac needs to make some serious changes to the Escalade’s interior

Cadillac needs to make some serious changes to the Escalade’s interior. And not just because it’s a redesign. Cadillac has received a lot of criticism for the interior not being on par with similarly priced SUVs, especially the Germans one. While the interior is nice to look at, the quality isn’t that good. Leather and fabrics are inferior to the competition, while many owners reported squeaky seats and less than impressive fit and finish. Roominess is also an issue in the current model, with a tight third-row compartment and an overall narrow cabin at the shoulders.

So Cadillac needs to revise everything, from the quality of the fit and finish to the leather and Alcantara it will be using. It also wouldn’t hurt to use more genuine wood trim and even add carbon-fiber as an option.

2016 Cadillac Escala High Resolution Interior AutoShow
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A new infotainment system with a much larger display will probably solve the problem with the cluttered center stack

Design-wise, the dashboard should get a serious makeover. Cadillac needs to ditch the multi-layered layout that’s using now, as it looks dated and doesn’t do a flagship model justice. The cluttered center stack needs to go as well. A new infotainment system with a much larger display will probably solve this problem, and we will see fewer buttons above the center console. A new digital instrument cluster and a new steering wheel with updated controls are also on the table.

Of course, Cadillac needs to up the ante in terms of technology and safety features. The tech package should be at least as good as the CT6, but the Escalade could get an updated version of the company’s Super Cruise system for semi-autonomous drive.

Drivetrain

  • Updated 6.2-liter V-8
  • New supercharged engine?
  • 10-speed automatic transmission
  • Independent rear suspension
  • All-wheel-drive system
2020 Cadillac Escalade
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The new SUV could be one of the first Cadillacs to get the twin-turbo V-8 engine previewed in the Escala concept

The current Escalade is powered by a naturally aspirated, 6.2-liter V-8 engine that delivers 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque and some sources claim that the unit will carry over with big upgrades. However, there’s also word that the new SUV will be one of the first Cadillacs to get the twin-turbo V-8 engine previewed in the Escala concept.

The latter would be a better choice as turbocharging would improve fuel economy. The technology will also enable Cadillac to increase power without sacrificing reliability. Either way, expect the upcoming Escalade to boast at least 450 horsepower. There’s also a rumor that the SUV might get a supercharged version with significantly more than 500 horsepower. Whether it will sport a "V-Sport" badge remains a mystery as of this writing.

2018 GMC Yukon Denali Gets a New Grille and Two Extra Cogs Drivetrain High Resolution
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All engines offered will be paired with the 10-speed automatic transmission that Cadillac introduced recently

A hybrid version, likely based on the CT6’s drivetrain, is also in the books.

All engines offered will be paired with the 10-speed automatic transmission that Cadillac introduced recently. Both rear- and all-wheel-drive models will be offered.

Arguably the most important change will be the independent rear suspension and air springs. These will bring significant improvements in ride quality and overall refinement and will make the Cadillac drive more like a luxury SUV than a rugged pickup truck. It will also enable a flat cargo floor, which will result in more luggage room and improved comfort in the third-row seats.

Pricing

2020 Cadillac Escalade
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The redesign will increase the SUV’s pricing by a bit, especially since it will get a lot of new technology and a new design. The current Escalade starts from $75,990, including handling and destination, so the next-gen SUV could starts from almost $80,000. Pricing for the range-topping Platinum model will probably jump from the current $95,090 to almost $100,000.

Competition

Lincoln Navigator

The New Lincoln Navigator is Here, and You're Going to Want One High Resolution Exterior AutoShow
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The Navigator was completely redesigned for the 2018 model year, gaining a new exterior and the updated platform from the Ford F-150 pickup truck. Lincoln dropped the split grille in favor of a more massive unit, which makes the SUV more imposing now. However, the more organic design cues also give the hauler a more elegant look, especially when compared to the Escalade. Inside the cabin, the Navigator has been upgraded in every way, from finer materials to a fresh layout with massive displays for the infotainment system and instrument cluster. The SUV is also fitted with a heads-up display, USB ports, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, 4G LTE wi-fi, and 10-inch screens for rear-seat passengers. The Navigator carried over with the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 that Lincoln introduced in 2015, but the twin-turbo unit was updated to deliver 450 horsepower and 510 pound-feet of torque. That’s an extra 30 horses and 50 pound-feet over the current Escalade. A new 10-speed automatic replaced the old six-speed gearbox. The Navigator is a bit more affordable, retailing from $72,555. Opt for the range-topping Black Label model and the sticker jumps to $94,205.

Read our full review of the 2018 Lincoln Navigator.

BMW X7

2019 BMW X7 Exclusive Renderings
- image 608953

When it does arrive in showrooms by the end of 2018, the X7 will be the company’s biggest SUV yet. And while the X5 was way too small to compete against the Escalade, the X7 will have what it takes in terms of size, roominess, and luxury. Spy shots suggest that the X7 will look like a bloated X5, but it will also have a few unique features front and rear, including a massive twin-kidney grille. Inside the cabin, it will be at least as luxurious as the 7 Series sedan with acres of leather and Alcantara, big all-digital displays, and BMW’s latest technology, including semi-autonomous tech. Unlike the competition, it will get three engine options. The gasoline range will include both the 3.0-liter inline-six and the 4.4-liter V-8. The former will deliver at least 330 horsepower, while the latter will provide more than 450 horses. There will also be a 3.0-liter inline-six diesel with more than 300 horsepower and 500 pound-feet of torque. Pricing will probably start from around $70,000, with the range-topping model to fetch in excess of $90,000 before options.

Read our speculative review on the 2019 BMW X7.

Conclusion

2020 Cadillac Escalade
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It’s pretty obvious that the Escalade needs some serious upgrades in order to remain relevant against the Navigator and the BMW X7’s imminent arrival makes thing more complicated. Cadillac is already struggling in other segments against the Germans, and the X7 may just add another market to their list of problems. The good news is that the rumor mill provides hints that Cadillac is doing the ride things when it comes to underpinnings, drivetrains, and even design. Needless to say, it remains to be seen if the new Escalade will be up for it, but it’s Cadillac’s last chance to make things right.

  • Leave it
    • * Needs plenty of changes
    • * The BMW X7 is coming

Further reading

GM Offering As Much as $10,000 off the Escalade in Hopes Customers Will Forget About the New Lincoln Navigator
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Read our full review on the 2018 Cadillac Escalade.

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Read more Cadillac news.

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