2016 Cadillac Escalade Platinum review: Betty, meet Pierre

2016 Cadillac Escalade Platinum

2016 Cadillac Escalade Platinum

There’s a lot to like about the 2016 Cadillac Escalade Platinum. Some of it is five-star pastry chef frosting, Some of it is cake from a Betty Crocker store-bought mix. But don’t worry. Betty Crocker is really good at what she does.

For example: The 2015 Cadillac Escalade—we’re now in the second year of this generation—was based on the Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra 1500 pickup trucks that were new from the ground up for 2014. The Chevy and GMC got a new stronger frame, with the main rails and the key crossmembers of the new frame made of high-strength steel, with major elements hydroformed. The cab was mounted on shear-type bushing—think of it as rubber between plates—for isolation from noise and shock. Both front and rear suspension also got a makeover.

2016 Cadillac Escalade Platinum interior

The interior design of the 2016 Cadillac Escalade Platinum is pure hand-stitched luxury. (click to enlarge)

The all-new Chevrolet and GMC pickups led to the next generation of full-size SUVs—the Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon—which got the improvements from the pickups and also…the Cadillac Escalade.

There should be no confusion. The Tahoe, Yukon and Escalade have the same body, and there’s no difference in the sheet metal from the A-pillars back but not quite to the D-pillars, thanks to the Cadillacs super vertical taillights.

The 2016 Cadillac Escalade gets as standard equipment the 6.2-liter V-8 that’s the top engine in the pickups, and not available in the other GM SUVs, on which the 5.3-liter is the largest. It’s as modern as a pushrod engine can be, equipped with direct injection, continuously variable valve timing and cylinder deactivation. Under light loads the engine will turn off four cylinders for improved fuel efficiency, running as a V-4 engine.

2016 Cadillac Escalade engine

The 6.2-liter EcoTec3 moves the 2016 Cadillac Escalade…and anything it tows. (click to enlarge)

Without going too far into the technology of the EcoTec3 engine, it’s based on an aluminum small-block design for lighter weight, and has direct injection, an advanced oiling system, a revised cooling system and the engine even checks the incoming air’s humidity to optimize engine operation. Sure it’s a truck engine, but it’s a very good truck engine.

The foregoing is the Betty Crocker’s premium cake mix.

Then comes the icing. Everything on the outside from the windshield forward is all Cadillac. The grille fits the Cadillac current idiom (see also the previous generation Cadillac Escalade). Cadillac says it’s made from Galvano chrome, which gives it a brushed metal look. Cadillac keeps its vertical lights configuration going up front with “total internal reflection LED high-beam function.” It consists of four vertically stacked crystal lenses—the cylinders aligned vertically—and LEDs that provide a remarkably bright and full light pattern. Low beams are four vertically stacked globes. Did we say this setup is cool looking, too?

2016 Cadillac Escalade instrument panel

The 2016 Cadillac Escalade instrument panel is 13 inches of reconfigurable color LCD. (click to enlarge)

And speaking of looking cool, the taillights are like nothing else on the road. Only a couple of inches wide, the LED taillights are six inches shy of being a yard tall. Some cars have taillights all the way across the back, but no other vehicle does this. Your rear end hasn’t had so much attention since that mooning you hoped that everyone had forgotten.

The interior is swaddled in leather, semi-aniline in the case of the Platinum trim level , all neatly stitched together and smooth to the touch. The center stack is finished in piano black with metallic accents. Glossy wood fills the top of the center console. Our test 2016 Cadillac Escalade Platinum was equipped with a refrigerator in the center armrest, big enough for a six-pack of longnecks. We can’t attest how well it works, such is testing in the Snowbelt in winter.

The instrument panel is a 12.3 inch full-color LCD and either the folks are getting really good at this or we’re more accepting of faux gauges. A central speedometer is flanked by a tachometer on the left and engine temperature gauge (actually calibrated) and fuel gauge. Like most virtual instrument panels, the Escalade’s has a number of different screens.

One of our favorite displays is the fuel economy display in the center of the tachometer, which shows average fuel economy, best average fuel economy and current fuel use, all on a single bar graph. The same display also has an icon that shows whether the engine is operating in V-8 or V-4 mode. Keeping it in V-4 mode requires a lighter throttle foot and that alone will boost fuel mileage. Go ahead, play mind games with yourself.