The OnStar attendant looked up directions to the Squamish hospital and sent them directly to the vehicle’s navigation system so I was able to get the youngster the treatment he needed.
Taking a vehicle for a weeklong test drive is fantastic, it really lets the high and low points of the vehicle bubble to the surface.
So taking the latest 2016 Cadillac Escalade on a two-week test to Evans Lake camp for a grade five camping trip followed by a 1,000-kilometre run to Kelowna for a British Columbia provincial flag football championship was a true test.
Spoiler alert, the big seven-passenger luxo-barge came through with flying colours and even doubled as an ambulance on one occasion! In fact, all the latest technology embedded in this top-of-range Escalade, and many other GM products, proved to be indispensable.
You have to hand it to Cadillac, they have always known how to make big, impressive looking vehicles and nothing screams Cadillac as loudly as the Platinum version of the Escalade.
It is a $104,000 luxury product that telegraphs the money spent through a unique, larger front grille and 22-inch wheels. Imposing, impressive, maybe even tacky are three words to describe the big, boxy people mover. The lighting package Cadillac presents on the front and back is impressive, using LED technology to produce a vertical shape that sets itself apart from any other brand on the road. Through the two-week test, the entire family came to appreciate the hide-away power side step for easy access to the stunning cabin.
What really makes an Escalade the luxury cousin of the GMC Yukon or Chevy Tahoe trucks is the level of finish inside. The Platinum is covered in hand cut and sewn leather on most surfaces. All Cadillac’s come with the Cue infotainment system that takes some time to get used to, plus the touch sensitive panel does show dust and finger prints very quickly.
At the grade five retreat, one of the campers fell and split his leg open. As a parent volunteer and having a vehicle with me, I was selected to take the boy to hospital.
Well, the camp has no cell service but the big Cadillac does have a built-in 4G LTE hotspot that uses a much bigger antenna than my smartphone, so I was able to access the outside world- my only access to the outside world. In addition the OnStar emergency and valet service provided in all new GM vehicles was helpful. The OnStar attendant looked up directions to the Squamish hospital and sent them directly to the vehicle’s navigation system so I was able to get the youngster the treatment he needed. Amazing technology.
After the Evans Lake experience the rest of the family was collected for a long hot drive to the football championships in Kelowna. The temperature was 35 degrees outside and but big rig handled the hills with no hesitation. It should be pointed out that this is not a pure luxury truck like a Range Rover or Mercedes GLS, which both have an air suspension to even out the bumps. The Cadillac is equipped with Magnetic Ride Control that samples the road one thousand times per second and adjust the shocks up to one hundred times per second. The difference between the normal and sport mode was almost indistinguishable, the truck feels like a truck because it is based on a pickup truck chassis, this is not a pure luxury vehicle.
Other technology that impressed my wallet was the Escalade’s advanced drivetrain that produces 420hp and 460 lb.-ft. of torque for towing, but when driven without a load returns some amazing fuel economy.
The big 6.2L engine loafs along at 1500 RMP at 100km/h and over the 1000km trip the Escalade returned 13.3L/100km in real world driving, through the mountains with four people and a lot of cargo. This is achieved through the use of cylinder management, meaning half of the eight-cylinder turn off under light load, making the Escalade a 4-cylinder.
As soon as more power is required the rest of the cylinders turn on. This and an eight speed automatic returned fuel numbers one would expect from a 4-cylinder or V6 equipped car, never mind GM’s top prize.
Overall, the technology GM advertises does work and the LTE hotspot and OnStar could turn out to be a real world life saver!
Power: 6.2L V8 with 420hp
Economy: 15.9L/11.1L/100km (city/highway)
Sticker price: $84,000-$104,000