Technology review: the 2011 Cadillac Escalade ESV makes for the perfect driveway Drive-in


The Cadillac Escalade ESV Platinum is jumbo in so many ways. Its physical size is ginormous, its price tag is nearing outrageous at $88,620 and the technology features are abundant.

I have a thing for technology in cars. My neighbors usually see me parked in my driveway for a couple of hours at a time, putting a car through its technological paces and the Escalade is no different. The biggest hit for me is its Infotainment system. There are a total of five screens, two remotes and six sets of wireless headphones in this bad boy.


Each second row passenger has their own individual screen located in the headrests of the front seats. The passengers load their own DVD or CD in the player and watch independently. Then, with a quick source selection, both can watch or listen to the same media in tandem. The users just have to grab the right set of headphones, those with a 3-4 toggle switch, to enjoy their own or their companion’s choice of entertainment.


The two roof-mounted video screens use a different set of headphones – any of the four with the 1-2 toggle switch will work. The eight-inch screens show content loaded into the CD/DVD slot in the center stack or a device attached to the USB input in the center console. Users can also access audio from these sources plus any of three accessory ports or the radio (either satellite or over-the-air variety.)

When the car is in park, the front row passengers can also view video content on the navigation screen. We had driveway movie-night and enjoyed the Bose 5.1 digital surround sound throughout the car – no headphones necessary. According to my kids the single greatest feature of the system is being able to listen to their favorite XM station while I am getting my news fix on FM.


Another hit is the often-overlooked On Star system. The Escalade ESV Platinum comes with a year’s subscription to On Star’s directions and connections service. Just a quick tap of the blue On Star button and I am connected to a friendly agent who will find the address of my destination and send it to my navigation screen within seconds.

The On Star package in the ESV also includes hands-free calling which is effortless compared to trying to connect your personal cell phone to a Bluetooth hands-free system. Just press the phone button, recite the name or number of the person you are calling and presto, connected. On Star has many other safety and convenience features that make it one of the best automotive technology products on the road.


Some of the other hits in this luxury colossus are the beautiful topstitched leather appointments, the heated and cooled front seats, heated and cooled cup holders and the power-retractable running boards. Of course, no SUV this size would be safe without a backup camera and blind-spot warning system – check and check. Finally, the power lift gate makes juggling baseball equipment and groceries just a little easier, but I wouldn’t expect any less in a vehicle of this price.

Now in the miss department, I was disappointed that the mechanism for flipping and folding the third row seats is completely manual. I couldn’t reach the handles without the indignity of climbing into the back of the SUV – some of Escalade’s competitors have featured power-folding seats in the third row for years. As if to mock me, the second row boasts power fold and tumble captain’s chairs that seem unnecessary when, by definition, a captain’s chair gives easy access to the third row.


There are a few other notable contradictions that I consider misses. The steering wheel tilts but does not telescope – adjustable pedals are supposed to make up for that, but they don’t. The area designed to catch things like phones or sunglasses lies behind my elbow while the perfect location for such modern necessities is where Cadillac has elected to put an ashtray – circa 1975.

The analog clock, whose face is difficult to read, is likely inaccurate because it must be set by hand. This is most unfortunate since the digital clock is in an obscure location on the navigation screen. Unfortunately, the miss I can’t ignore is the enormous fuel bill attached to the Escalade ESV. If gas prices go much higher owners may just want to park it and use it as a movie theater.


Overall I think the Cadillac ESV Platinum’s hits outweigh its misses. However, its extra large price tag holds me back from recommending a buy. For those who crave the Cadillac Escalade ESV, a lease would be a better choice and for the rest of us I would say try to rent this rolling lux-mobile for your next road trip.

On the recommendation scale of:

Buy it

– Lease it

– Rent it or

-Forget it

I say Lease it if you can. Rent it if you can’t.

Em_2 A true techie, Emily clicks every button, tests every screen and syncs her devices every chance she gets.

Her nerdy nature annoys her children who often help add perspective to her reviews.

Emily has been able to blend her love of cars, obsession with technology and a passion for writing since 2005 when she began reviewing cars for, she is currently a freelance automotive journalist.

Check out the 2011 Cadillac Escalade ESV video review below as we compare old versus new luxury.

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