It has been seven years since we’ve had an all-new Escalade… the wait was worth it.

Cadillac recently held the introduction of its all-new Escalade in the heart of Toronto, specifically the heart of Yorkville.

This upscale slice of Toronto real estate is home to spendy shops, exclusive restaurants and luxurious hotels. This is a place to be seen or be seen in a vehicle that projects the image one wants to portray.

Media guests for the Escalade launch stayed at Toronto’s very first boutique hotel, The Hazelton. As one Torontonian put it, “That’s about the fanciest place in town.” It certainly draws an upscale crowd of rich people, or posers, looking the part.

With a steady lineup of Ferrari, McLaren and other exotics parked outside, Cadillac was front and centre showing off its new full-size luxury SUV to a young, well-healed crowd of Toronto socialites and business people.

Looks

Getting a full-size truck into a boutique hotel is like trying to park in one of those parking spots labelled “small car”. To get around this, the party part of the launch was held on a garage rooftop, transformed into nightclub, complete with gourmet finger food, fancy cocktails and live performers, including the requisite fire-twirling entertainers.

There was even an Escalade-inspired golf carts to shuttle guests to the roof. The star of the show was the all-new 2015 Escalade, a vehicle Cadillac hopes will make up about twenty percent of its overall sales. With a $6,000 price drop and very competitive packages, they hope even wealthy shoppers will stop to see the value in this SUV. It sure got attention, thanks to the fabulous LED projector headlamps and taillights. The angular shape is very contemporary and the sleeker sheet metal looks up to date.

Inside

The Escalade has always made an impact when it arrives at any destination – the sheer size and attitude it projects says a lot about the person driving it. It is inside that needed to be refreshed the most; the attention to detail Cadillac infused in its new truck should pay dividends.

Any luxury buyer expects leather, wood and smart infotainment and Cadillac delivers on all of these. The dash and doors are covered with hand cut leather. The open-grain wood and contrasting interior materials like faux suede, all make it look as rich as the buyer expects. Front and centre is Cadillac’s CUE entertainment system that I find easy to operate and interact with. The buttons below it are touch sensitive, there are no knobs or switches, the front passengers just swipe over the surface to change the volume and heat controls.

Drive

One reason to buy a big truck-based SUV is to move people in numbers or tow a trailer to a cabin or cottage. That latter experience came with the drive portion of the Escalade launch, driving north of Toronto to The Briars, a 100-hectare resort on the edge of Lake Simcoe. This family run complex includes a huge stretch of lake frontage, golf course, pools, tennis and activities for all ages and the Escalade fits right in.

For moving a large family around in comfort, the Escalade is wonderful as there is plenty of room to stretch out, especially when the long wheelbase (ESV) model is chosen. Granted about 70 percent of all buyers choose the shorter wheelbase as it looks less imposing and some might not need the interior vastness. Under the hood is GM’s premium 6.2L V8 with a whopping 420hp and 460 lb.-ft. of torque. This might seem like overkill but this larger engine can switch off to just four cylinders under light load, more often, impacting fuel economy. The power goes to just the rear wheels, all four wheels or automatically controlled, all by a switch on the dash. My experience driving for the day returned about 12L/100km in mostly highway driving, not bad for a big truck.

Verdict

The new Escalade adds about $10,000 worth of new equipment like standard magnetic ride control for a more nimble ride. The cabin is much quieter, for doing big business deals on the phone, and the ride overall is much more refined than before.

Starting at $79,900, the Escalade is for the well healed but Cadillac representatives told me that most buyers shoot for the moon and buy the top Premium model for $90,500.

The new Cadillac is fresh and much more refined, with features never featured before. Do young wealthy buyers like the Cadillac brand and where it is going? The short answer is yes, GM claims this is the fastest growing luxury brand in Canada and BC is a hot spot for the Escalade. It has been seven years since we’ve had an all-new Escalade… the wait was worth it.

Contact: zack [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca                                                                                                      

The Lowdown

Power: 6.2L V8 with 420hp

Fill-up: 16.2L/11.4L/100km (city/highway)

Sticker price: $79,900-$90,500

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