Cadillac is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Escalade by taking a look at the model which made its public debut at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in 1998.
Designed to compete with the Lincoln Navigator, which was launched a year earlier, the first-generation Escalade was little more than a badge engineered version of the Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon. The styling similarities were so close that the Escalade was virtually indistinguishable from GMC Yukon Denali, aside from its Cadillac badging.
Despite the shameless badge engineering, the Escalade was a huge hit and the company ended up selling 23,897 units in its first full year on the market. The first-generation model had a relatively short life and only lasted two model years.
The second-generation Escalade was a significant improvement over its predecessor as it featured a more luxurious interior and a unique exterior styling. The standard model was also joined by new ESV and EXT variants. These changes resonated with consumers and sales climbed 35 percent in 2002 and another 55 percent in 2003.
For the 2007 model year, Cadillac introduced the third-generation Escalade. Besides featuring the usual interior and exterior updates, the model became the first vehicle to be offered with full LED headlights in the United States. The Escalade also become the first full-size SUV to offer a hybrid powertrain as well as Magnetic Ride Control.
The current model was launched for the 2015 model year and it will soon be replaced by an all-new Escalade which is expected to arrive in 2020. The redesigned model is slated to have an independent rear suspension, a significantly improved interior and up to three different engine options.
The model will undoubtedly build on the success of its predecessors and Cadillac notes they have sold more than 836,000 Escalades in the past two decades.