Design Details of the new 2015 Cadillac Escalade

2015 cadillac escalade reveal
All new 2015 Cadillac Escalade in New York

In New York last night at the debut of the fourth-gen Cadillac Escalade the single-most important fact we learned was that the 2015 ” ‘sclade” is at last 100 percent a Cadillac.


Let’s clarify.

Past iterations were fudged. Exteriors and interiors shared a lot of pieces with GMC or, the horror, Chevy’s Suburban. GM says this didn’t hold back sales, but that cross-shopping would happen, and folks at “The General” knew that the too-close family ties to brand cousins diminished residual values for Escalade buyers. That’s bad news for customers, and very bad news for Cadillac lessees, since lower resale equals higher lease rates.

So the biggest deal about the new Escalade is that from the start the mission of the re-do was to make it readily distinguishable from everything else on the platform, both inside and out. A purer Cadillac, one tied more closely to the rest of the line, will also be one that does more lifting for the entire, heavy crested-marque.

2015 cadillac escalade interior

At the debut Cadillac emphasized the “craftsman” behind the redesign, hiring rock photographer Autumn de Wilde to shoot their portraits along with stills of their tools, and of clays of both interior and exterior. These portraits are very cool, and they underscore the point Cadillac was emphasizing: the most expensive (base price will start at least in the neighborhood of the present, $63,000 Escalade) Cadillac merits its own design crew, not to mention its own design.

Chatting with lead interior designer Eric Clough, he made the candid point you don’t often hear from auto execs — by using real thread, to stitch real seams, you can change materials more often throughout an interior (faux stitching is an extruded pattern in the panels, and it would look ridiculous to color it). But the new interiors on all of the Escalades will get genuine thread, and that allowed a more complex appearance to dash and door panels. And as a result, cabins are sumptuous, whether its the use of suede on the dash and how it meets up with one of three distinct interior woods or the rich leather seating surfaces. Clough stresses that Cadillac was targeting Land Rover, not Mercedes, and to an extent, it really shows.

Beyond the frippery, however, Clough says Escalade customers make it known that they treat their vehicles as trucks, which makes the mission of designers a little different than in making any other Cadillac. Sure, there’s the massive grille and the oversized 20s or 22s — “bling” is important to this customer, Clough remarked. But inside, he says, there’s a certain chunkiness to elements of the doors and dash, some happy medium between elegance and an emphasis on muscularity. Competition from the likes of Lexus or Mercedes doesn’t really apply to this customer; Clough expressed the thought that those rivals strike a softer chord.

2015 cadillac escalade rear tail led

One detail that’s less obvious: on the exterior designers had to work very hard on making the aft half of the Escalade look less blocky and “faster.” The passenger door window section features not one, but two blacked out panels that echo the forward lean of the C pillar, so you have the effect of three pillars leaning forward, and then the fixed, angled-forward pane behind that. All of this is meant to show an aggressive form, something luxe rather than “truck,” and Clough admitted that this rig was launched in NYC for a reason—it’s an urban people mover. The customer is far more likely to be a well-heeled lawyer who gets shuttled in the second row than a rancher in Montana.

Which also explains the massive towers of front- and rear LEDs. That may not fly as well in flyover land, but it won’t matter: The bulk of Escalades sell where in-your-face luxury is a known and appreciated quantity.

See more specs of the 2015 Cadillac Escalade.

Also, take a look at this insider TFLcar video of the 2015 GMC Yukon Denali