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Cadillac’s Escalade SUV goes electric: What to know

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(NEW YORK) — Cadillac’s newest Escalade sport utility vehicle is more brash, commanding and luxurious than the current model. It’s also electric.

“The first word you get is ‘Wow,"” John Roth, vice president of Global Cadillac, told ABC News of the reaction to the Escalade IQ. “People say, ‘Boy, that’s an Escalade."”

Twelve cubic feet of storage is now available in the vehicle’s “eTrunk.” A 55-inch curved diagonal LED display stretches across the dashboard. Adaptive air ride suspension softens the ride on 24-inch wheels.

The Escalade IQ also posts sports car-like performance — 750 horses, 785 lb-ft of torque — and sprints from 0-60 in less than 5 seconds.

More than 1 million Escalades have been sold since its launch in 1998 and one-third of all large luxury SUVs bought in the U.S. is an Escalade. Cadillac designers were instructed to deliver an EV that was modern, tech-focused and, above all, looked like a traditional Escalade.

“It’s such a critical nameplate to the industry,” Roth said. “The Escalade IQ has performance, style and tech — what Escalade has always stood for.”

With a starting price of $130,000, the Escalade IQ joins Cadillac’s growing battery-powered family: the Celestiq, a $340,000 chic fastback, and the Lyriq, a $58,590 posh crossover. It will be built at General Motors’ Factory ZERO Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Center in Michigan next summer and arrive in showrooms as a 2025 model-year vehicle.

Cadillac says the Escalade IQ, which utilizes GM’s Ultium propulsion platform, gets an estimated 450 miles of range. When connected to an 800-volt DC fast charger, the vehicle can add 100 miles in less than 10 minutes. The Ultium platform also underpins the GMC Hummer EV pickup and SUV and the upcoming Chevrolet Silverado EV.

Cadillac, like Rolls-Royce and Bentley Motors, has committed to becoming an electric vehicle automaker by 2030.

Tyson Jominy, vice president of data and analytics at J.D. Power, got to see the Escalade IQ before its official unveiling on Wednesday. He called the interior “stunning” and underscored the vehicle’s impressive range.

“Most consumers will never be able to use the full 450 miles. It’s a remarkable distance,” he told ABC News.

The only drawback could be the cost, he noted. The Escalade IQ’s chief competitors — the Rivian R1S SUV and Tesla Model X — are priced much lower.

“Cadillac remains the pinnace of GM,” Jominy said. “It has defined the brand for decades.”

Escalade accounted for 30% of Cadillac’s sales in 2022, with more than 40,200 units sold, according to Ivan Drury, senior manager of insights at Edmunds. The average transaction price was $109,365 versus $69,990 for the marque. A high MSRP and rising fuel prices have not slowed down demand for the Escalade.

“People who buy Escalades don’t care about electrification,” Drury told ABC News. “You want to be showy: ‘I don’t care that I have the biggest footprint of a vehicle.’ A different consumer will buy the electric version.”

Drury argued the excitement around EVs may be slipping even with new models making their way to dealers.

“Tesla has cut prices in a move to buy back market share,” he said. “EVs are sitting on lots longer. These vehicles are not invincible to market dynamics.”

Robin Krieg, lead exterior designer of the Escalade IQ, said customers will be very pleased with the latest version of the SUV.

“It has a grand sense of scale and presence and an ultra-refined interior,” he told ABC News. “There’s effortless power … and a sense of arrival. All the designers wanted this to be an Escalade.”

Craig Sass, interior design manager of the Escalade IQ, noted how the driver and passenger experience has greatly improved: A floating center console to amplify the vehicle’s spaciousness. An extended panoramic roof that spans all three rows. The ability of front-row passengers to stream and watch videos on the LED screen. Plus, the vehicle tows up to 8,000 lbs and offers one-pedal driving to conserve range.

“You’re not giving up anything by going electric,” Sass told ABC News. “It has all the things you’d expect in a luxury vehicle.”

Jominy said Cadillac has to resolve its production problems, which have hampered the rollout of the Lyriq, to be truly competitive in the luxury EV space. Added Drury: “Cadillac has not had a smooth launch toward electrification.”

Software challenges in the Lyriq are now corrected and volume has ramped up along with sales, according to Roth. Cadillac will also continue to build the Escalade-V, a beast of an SUV that makes 682 hp from a 6.2-liter supercharged V8 engine, for the foreseeable future.

Right now all eyes are on the Escalade IQ.

“We’re sending a bold message on how Cadillac thinks about electric vehicles,” Roth said.

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