Cadillac hasn’t had a traditional flagship on the market in a long time. Sorry DTS, you didn’t cut it. The Cadillac Escalade has served as the brand’s de facto flagship since its introduction. Most expensive in the lineup, biggest, flashiest – it is a modern embodiment of attributes held by the Cadillac super sedans of yore.
Given its close relationship to the Chevrolet Tahoe, we’re never quite sure why it took off in the first place. But, take off it did. It probably speaks to the enduring power of Cadillac’s brand name more than anything. To date the Escalade sells well, and brings in a lot of revenue for General Motors. The current generation model, introduced in 2007, has been steadily upgraded to provide more separation from its plebeian cousins.
Given that it was introduced in 2007 though, attention is turning to its replacement. With Cadillac setting its sights on BMW and Mercedes, does the truck-based Escalade still have a place in the lineup? According to The Detroit Bureau, General Motors thinks it does. And why shouldn’t it? The Escalade has been a cash cow for Cadillac, and an aspirational vehicle for many people. Axing it wouldn’t have made sense. There has been some speculation about a Lambda-based three-row crossover to replace it. While Cadillac could add that to the lineup, we don’t think it fits to call it an Escalade. And, last we heard that project was cancelled.
The course that needs to be taken is one of increased differentiation from its platform mates. The fourth generation is scheduled to arrive sometime in 2013 or 2014, following the launch of the rest of its platform mates in 2013. With vehicles like the Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse and GMC Acadia, GM has shown that it knows how to properly make each vehicle unique. As Cadillac’s most expensive product until the flagship Omega arrives (who knows when…) Escalade needs a top-notch redesign. Given the level the ATS and XTS are at, we expect nothing less.