Cadillac Pulls Wrap Off Escalade IQ Battery Electric Vehicle

The new electric version of Cadillac’s venerable ‘Slade has a 450-mile range and is filled to the brim with technology, comfort and convenience features.

Christie Schweinsberg, Senior Editor

August 9, 2023

8 Min Read
Cadillac Escalade IQ main2 cropped
Cadillac Escalade IQ on sale summer 2024

As battery-electric propulsion systems proliferate in every vehicle segment, Cadillac reveals an all-electric version of its venerable Escalade.

The large luxury SUV, unveiled today in New York City, goes into production at General Motors Detroit-Hamtramck, MI, vehicle assembly plant in summer 2024, hits dealerships that same season and will begin at roughly $130,000 for the base Luxury trim. A Sport grade also will be available for an unspecified premium.

“Nothing demonstrates (our commitment to a fully electric portfolio by 2030) like taking your greatest strength and making it all-electric,” John Roth, vice president-Global Cadillac, tells media last week at a ’25 Escalade IQ backgrounder in Sterling Heights, MI.

A large, well-appointed (read: heavy) luxury SUV may not seem the best canvas for full electrification, but Cadillac says with GM’s Ultium battery pack fitted in the vehicle and a 15% lower coefficient of drag vs. prior generations, up to 450 miles (724 km) of range is possible in the 3-row premium people hauler. If that estimated range holds, and future competing BEVs fall short, the Escalade IQ could be the longest range BEV SUV sold in the U.S. Today most BEV SUVs max out between 350-400 miles (563-644 km). However, the Escalade IQ won't top the Lucid Air sedan, the current titleholder of the longest range BEV model overall able to travel 516 miles (830 km).

Sharp trailing edges on taillights, underbody covers to smooth airflow, intelligent grille shutters that automatically shut when airflow isn’t needed and a specialized wheel shape and profile are aerodynamic improvements reducing wind resistance, Escalade chief engineer Mandi Damman tells media last week.

Cadillac Escalade IQ rear three quarter resized.jpg

Cadillac Escalade IQ rear three quarter resized

Propulsion-system and performance specifications for the big SUV are impressive, with an estimated maximum output of 750 hp and 785 lb.-ft. (1,058 Nm) of torque from its front and rear drive motors in Velocity Max mode; a 0-60-mph (97 km/h) time of less than five seconds in Velocity Max; 35-in. Michelin tires wrapped around 24-in. wheels; and up to 8,000 lbs. (3,629 kg) of towing capability. Horsepower is 680 and torque 615 lb.-ft. (834 Nm) in Normal mode.

“Our big thing here was ‘no compromises,’ so as we look at the internal combustion engine Escalade, we don’t want to take away any performance or things that those customers today love,” Damman tells Wards about the IQ’s towing prowess. She says GM hasn’t yet calculated how much towing will reduce range, but she’s happy the vehicle “is starting with a big number. In terms of degradation of range…you would also see that in a diesel(-engine SUV)…I think the good thing is we’re starting at 450 miles” with a fully charged pack.

The Escalade IQ – the IQ keeping with the last two letters of other Cadillac BEVs, the Celestiq and Lyriq – has the same 800V electrical architecture and 24-module, 200-kWh Ultium lithium-ion battery pack as the GMC Hummer BEV and like it can add 100 miles (161 km) of range in 10 minutes on ultra-fast chargers. A GM spokesman says the Escalade IQ will come with a NACS adapter so customers can patronize Tesla Superchargers; GM (and a slew of other automakers) has announced that it will make NACS inlets a standard feature on its BEVs in 2025.

Additionally, in the ’25 model year, an over-the-air update will be available to enable the ability to send power to a house via the new SUV’s vehicle-to-home bidirectional charging capability.

The Escalade IQ also gets one-pedal driving, variable regen on demand, and a heat pump that can transfer energy between the battery and power electronics and the cabin, dubbed Ultium Energy Recovery, to minimize the climate system’s draw on the high-voltage battery.

Drives Smaller

Damman says GM “blended technologies (to) make the Escalade IQ easier to drive and feel much smaller than it actually is.” Four-wheel steer is standard on the vehicle, decreasing the turn diameter by more than 6.5 ft. (2 m) and at lower speeds helps the big SUV “feel more agile and nimble.” Arrival mode, set to be available through OTA update, helps Escalade IQ drivers more easily pull in and out of tight parking spaces by allowing the vehicle to move diagonally, giving it similar capabilities to the crab-walking Hummer.

The Escalade IQ, in development since 2021, also is set to offer Magnetic Ride Control 4.0 and Adaptive Air Ride Suspension, adjusting the vehicle’s suspension to respond to road surface changes and instantaneously raising the SUV 1 in. (25 mm) or lowering it up to 2 ins. (50 mm), respectively. GM’s Super Cruise semi-autonomous driving technology also will be available on the Escalade IQ.

Despite looking like the current ICE Escalade, Damman says there is no shared sheet metal between the two vehicles. “Absolutely not,” she says on the topic. “The door handle is really one of the few (shared parts).”

Designer Craig Sass feels his team “really nailed the proportion” of the IQ, believing it doesn’t feel as big as it is when he stands next to it. “All the lines are very taut and run the full length of the vehicle, giving it a very sleek and elegant feel,” Sass says, noting that flush glass on the sides of the vehicle help create that sleekness.

Interior Reimagined

About the interior, Damman says Cadillac “really reimagined all of it,” although the Escalade IQ does share its giant, 55-in. (140-cm) LED display, powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Digital Chassis, with the new Celestiq supercar. As the display wasn’t quite big enough to fit the width of the instrument panel in the big SUV, there are air vents at the far ends to fill the space.

Interior, convenience and comfort items available on the Escalade IQ include an executive seating package, replacing standard captain’s chairs; a cantilevered center console creating room for handbag storage; wireless phone chargers for driver and passenger within the console; a frunk with 12 cu.-ft. (0.3 cu.-m) of storage; an available 40-speaker, 360-degree AKG audio system; and power open and close doors with all four able to open or close at one button touch. The driver’s door also can be programmed to open upon detection of the key fob.

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Cadillac Escalade IQ exec second row resized

“We do have radars within the door handles, so it can detect objects near it and not run into a big pillar in a parking garage or something like that,” Damman says.

Similar to the opulent second rows in German luxury models and the top grade of the Jeep Grand Wagoneer, the Escalade IQ’s executive seating package sees display screens added for the two second-row seats, placed on the back of the front-seat head restraints and a touchscreen on the center console to control climate settings and open and close doors. The second row also gets an HDMI port (as does the front row), tray tables and ventilated and massaging seats.

The interior design and functional components have been thoroughly thought out, with “nothing left unturned,” Sass says. Unique to the IQ are stainless steel door speaker grilles with an appearance that echoes the front grille, as well as a new 2-spoke steering wheel.

Standard active safety features for the new BEV include high-definition surround vision, intersection automatic emergency braking, front pedestrian and bicyclist emergency braking and blind zone steering assist.

There also are animated lighting sequences for both front and rear lights to welcome drivers and passengers; Google built-in with Google Maps, Google Play and Google Assistant; and a power fold-flat third row.

Living Together

The Escalade and Escalade IQ are expected to live in the showroom together for a “certain number of years,” says Damman and other officials at the Sterling Heights presser. While GM has vowed to take Cadillac’s lineup full BEV by 2030, it has been cagey about how long Cadillac’s big-engine vehicles, as well as other GM V-8s, will live on. The automaker, despite being a vocal proponent of full electrification, this past January invested nearly $1 billion in next-generation V-8s.

That only makes sense as automakers grapple with looming government mandates regarding BEV sales, but the unpredictable adoption rate by consumers. Moreover, the ICE version of the Escalade has been Cadillac’s steadiest profit machine.

Wards Intelligence data shows the Escalade was the No.1 seller in the Large Luxury SUV segment last year, with more than 40,000 sales between the standard wheelbase model and the ESV long-wheelbase Escalade. Roth touts the Escalade’s staying power of over 20 years, noting more than 1 million have been sold since its ’99 launch. The model has been propelled by its pop culture popularity, with many high-profile athletes and rappers owning a “’Slade.”

As for the Escalade IQ’s potential volume, Cadillac officials in Sterling Heights are mum on the topic and also don’t address if the new BEV will experience as slow a launch as GM’s other Ultium-based BEVs, the Hummer and Lyriq. GM, intentionally to get quality right and unintentionally due to a lack of Ultium cells, has assembled fewer than 10,000 Hummers and Lyriqs since the models went on sale over a year ago.

Cadillac Escalade IQ IP and console resized.jpg

Cadillac Escalade IQ IP and console resized

As for marketplace acceptance, Damman says Escalade IQ’s 450-mile range should make for “an easier transition” for customers thinking of giving up their ICE for a BEV.

Roth notes that 40% of Lyriq buyers are new to Cadillac, and he and other officials hope for the same amount of conquest business for the Escalade BEV.

Says GM President of North America Rory Harvey in Sterling Heights: “We have the ultimate flexibility to be able to adapt to customer demands (for either ICE or BEV) as that roadmap becomes clearer as we move forward.”

As for future variants, Damman and Roth hint a long-wheelbase model is in the works, even though the IQ already has a longer wheelbase (136 ins. [3,460 mm]) than the ICE Escalade ESV.

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