Cadillac Escalade IQ EV has potential to be the shining star in GM's luxury SUV stable

Despite the new model's nearly 4,000kg towing capacity, the polished design and hefty price tag make this better suited for a drive down Palm Jumeirah rather than the UAE desert

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Cadillac has unveiled the 2025 Cadillac Escalade IQ, an electric version of its bestselling SUV.

The $130,000 Escalade IQ comes with 725km of driving range, Super Cruise driver assistance technology and fresh design language inside and out.

Cadillac has declined to specify how much the rig weighs, but a private preview on July 26 in Los Angeles indicated it could weigh as much or more than the 4,082kg GMC Hummer EV Pickup. Besides being about 5.7 metres long and 2.4 metres wide, the new Escalade is more than two metres tall with a ground clearance of about seven inches – slightly larger than the dimensions of the Hummer EV, with less clearance.

The Escalade IQ looks sleeker than its internal-combustion predecessor, like something that might serve as a tycoon’s town car rather than a truck for towing. It has an elegantly tapered, lower roofline, slim headlights shaped like icicles, and taillights stacked like piano keys. A storage compartment under the hood offers enough room for a pair of golf bags.

“The design brief was to create the ultimate luxury SUV,” said lead exterior designer of the Escalade IQ, Robin Krieg, who says he sought to reinvent rather than reiterate previous models. “We wanted to get away from the trucky, boxy feeling.”

The future of Cadillac

The Escalade IQ uses new architecture that General Motors has devised for its EVs, which the company calls its Ultium Platform. It follows the $58,590 Lyriq and precedes the forthcoming electric Celestiq, a $340,000, four-door hatchback aimed at snagging Rolls-Royce customers. The three represent part of GM’s effort to catch Tesla in the EV segment while revitalising the Cadillac brand.

GM has said it expects $50 billion in revenue from its EVs by 2025.

Much of the Escalade IQ’s engineering work focused on creating a smooth ride for its passengers in the gargantuan rig. Twenty four-inch wheels and 35-inch tires propelled by front and rear-drive motors work in an eAWD system.

Magnetic Ride Control and Adaptive Air Ride Suspension come standard; the latter lowers the vehicle two inches or raises it one inch at the press of a button. A Low Ride Mode enables the vehicle to be driven at low speeds with the suspension fully lowered, as might be needed for entering a parking garage, or merely to show off.

Two additional modes will especially suit the red-carpet types likely to step out from its confines – four-wheel-steering helps navigate tight spaces by reducing the turning radius up to six and a half feet; an optional Arrival Mode moves the SUV diagonally into and out of parking spots while the driver's hands are giving input on the steering wheel. The motion is similar to the crab-walk function that allows the Hummer EV to move sideways across loose dirt or sand – scampering that’s likely used most often to impress neighbours.

“It’s a little bit of peacocking,” Krieg said.

The Escalade IQ produces more than 200 kilowatt-hours of available energy and will charge to 160km of range in 10 minutes when using 800-volt DC fast-charging, according to company estimates. It boasts 750 horsepower, 785 pound-feet of torque and a 0 to 100kph sprint of less than five seconds.

Cadillac rates its towing capacity at 3,630kg, but its polished exterior, comfortable interior and hefty price tag make it better suited for a drive down Palm Jumeirah rather than the UAE desert.

On the inside, a curved 55-inch LED display dominates the dashboard and offers infotainment that includes Google Maps, Google Play, hands-free communication, traffic updates and space for downloaded apps.

The executive second-row seating package includes two pilot chairs behind the front seats, tray tables that can be stowed, 12.6-inch personal entertainment screens, a rear command centre, wireless phone charging, USB-C ports, headrest speakers and heated seats that provide massages. A third row of seats can be used to bring the vehicle’s passenger total to seven or rendered flat for additional storage.

Cadillac offers no leather options for interior seating; rather, the Escalade IQ is lined with synthetic materials made to proffer the feel of leather, with a representative for the brand citing concerns about sustainability.

A panoramic fixed-glass roof comes standard, with no alternative options; it’s tinted and treated with a UV-filtering film that reduces heat in the cabin. An internal sunshade that clips into the headliner to provide additional cover is available.

Jewel in the crown?

Cadillac has long led in the large luxury SUV segment, registering about a quarter of market share thanks to its highly profitable Escalade sales. The average transaction price for an Escalade is $112,478, whereas the average price of vehicles sold across the Cadillac brand is $70,000, according to research from Cox Automotive. In the second quarter of 2023, Escalade sales jumped to 7,265 vehicles, a 35 per cent gain over the same period last year.

The company struggled with producing its first electric SUV, the compact Lyriq, and has delivered only 5,000 total since it debuted in 2020, even as GM brass boasted last year that it could produce 200,000 annually. The Escalade IQ’s developers point out it will be built at a separate plant, with a different production plan. “We have certainly learnt from other programmes,” Mandi Damman, Escalade IQ’s chief engineer, said.

Production of the Cadillac Escalade IQ will commence in summer next year.

Updated: August 14, 2023, 10:47 AM