The new all-electric Cadillac Escalade IQ shares virtually nothing with the boxy gas-powered Escalade, but it’s possibly the most important flag-bearer yet for the automaker’s transition to electric vehicles.
General Motors unveiled the new EV version of the automaker’s most famous luxury model on Wednesday. It’s part of GM’s plans to sell nothing but zero-emission passenger vehicles by 2035.
To accomplish that goal, GM must find ways to appeal to those customers for whom emissions are not the highest priority. So the new Escalade IQ has flashy light displays and electric motors able to produce a total of 750 horsepower. That’s 10% more than even the most powerful gasoline-powered Escalade model. The big SUV can go from a stop to 60 miles an hour in under five seconds, according to GM.
Electric cars don’t really need grilles, since they require much less air to run and cool than gas engines. The Escalade IQ has an elaborate light display up front, instead. Overall, the electric SUV looks sleeker and less boxy than the internal combustion Escalade. It has a longer hood, more aggressively sloped back window and, as an option, a contrasting black-colored roof. Like the gas version, it can seat up to seven people in three rows of seats.
The Cadilac Escalade IQ has a total of 55-inches, measured diagonally, of screen space in the front.
When it goes on sale next year, the Escalade IQ will be one of Cadillac’s most expensive models. Prices will start at about $130,000 but, with options, can be expected to sell for far more. Prices for the gas-powered Cadillac Escalade start at about $81,000, with the average one sold last year going for about $109,000 according to Edmunds.com. Because of its high price, the Escalade IQ will not be eligible for federal tax credits on EV purchases.
The current gasoline-powered Escalade will continue to be produced and sold even after the Escalade IQ enters production, John Roth GM’s vice-president for Cadillac said, so buyers can choose.
“Our flexibility from a manufacturing standpoint is a great opportunity to allow the customer to tell us where to go next,” he said.
With its massive 200 kilowatt-hour battery pack, the Escalade IQ will be able to travel as much as 450 miles on a full charge, according to GM estimates. The Escalade’s battery size and range are similar to those of GM’s upcoming Chevrolet Silverado EV pickup.
The Escalade shares some features with the GMC Hummer EV, such as the ability to steer all four wheels in the same direction and drive diagonally, rather than just forwards or backwards, at low speeds. It remains unclear how useful that will be, but it is an eye-catching maneuver. In the Hummer EV, this move is called the “Crab Walk,” but, in the Cadillac, it’s called “Arrival Mode.”
More helpfully, it can also steer its front and back wheels in opposite directions, reducing the big SUV’s turning circle by more than 6.5 feet, according to GM, improving its maneuverability in small areas.
GM has not yet shared the weight of the Escalade IQ, but the Chevrolet Silverado EV, with a similarly sized battery pack, weighs about 8,500 pounds. That’s roughly 1 ton more than the supercharged Cadillac Escalade V. The high pulling power of electric motors means drivers probably won’t notice the extra weight when accelerating.
Extra pounds have serious implications for occupants of other vehicles in the event of a crash, though. When two vehicles hit one another, those in the lighter vehicle tend to have worse injuries, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. GM, when asked about the safety implications of extremely heavy vehicles like the Escalade IQ, has pointed out that the vehicles have safety systems to help reduce the risk of a crash. The Escalade IQ, for instance, has an advanced automatic braking system that detects pedestrians and cyclists as well as a system that automatically steers to avoid side-swiping other vehicles on the highway, a GM spokesperson said.
The Escalade IQ’s large battery pack, under the SUV’s floor, helped provide the vehicle with superior ride and handling, said Mandi Damman, chief engineer on the Escalade IQ. The flat battery pack also allowed designers to create a space under the center console wheres someone could place a handbag or other large object within easy reach.
“Everything we wanted to do in more traditional vehicle, we had the capability to execute here,” she said.
GM claims that the Cadillac Escalade IQ is the most aerodynamic large SUV the company has ever produced.
As with a number of other GM models, the Escalade IQ will be available with GM’s Super Cruise system, which allows hands-free driving on many miles of US interstate highways and on some major secondary roads.
Following a general trend toward enormous touch screens in luxury vehicles, the Escalade IQ has a screen measuring 55 inches diagonally. it covers all of the dashboard space below the windshield.
With no transmission taking up space under the floor, there’s more storage space inside the cabin, including a large space to stash things under the SUV’s center console.
The Escalade IQ also has a large frunk, or front trunk, underneath its long hood. There are 12 cubic feet of storage space in there. The “grille shield” in the front lifts up together with the SUV’s hood to ease access to the storage area.
The Escalade IQ will go into production in about a year at GM’s Factory Zero, which straddles the city line between Detroit and Hamtramck, Michigan. The factory was revamped around 2021 to build solely electric vehicles.