In a move that Cadillac hopes will reshape the landscape of luxury SUVs, it has pulled back the curtain on the new, all-electric Escalade IQ at a special event this week in New York City. The nameplate that’s chauffeured thousands of celebrities and launched dozens of rap songs has been reinvented with an electric platform, sportier proportions, and a new level of craftsmanship that is inspired by, and shared with, the marque’s Celestiq flagship sedan.
“Our approach to this vehicle was different from any Escalade we’ve done before,” says Robin Krieg, Cadillac’s lead exterior designer, during a preview that Robb Report was given in Los Angeles before the vehicle’s NYC debut. “We thought, what if Escalade was really sporty and sleek, with a sports-car aesthetic?”
Designers had the freedom to play with the Escalade IQ’s proportions and silhouette thanks to the GM Ultium platform on which the model variant rides—the same architecture that underpins the GMC Hummer EV as well as the forthcoming Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck. “The flexibility of the architecture means we could always do the Escalade we dreamed of doing,” Krieg says.
The result is an impressive, fresh take on the model, with its wheels pushed out to the corners, a long hood (which offers up to 12 cubic feet of space underneath), and a wide, planted stance that gives the vehicle an imposing, yet more athletic presence. Notably, the Escalade IQ forgoes the very upright, boxy shape of the classic for a more sharply sloping roof. According to Krieg, “one of the major goals was to make the rear profile faster and really change up the formula for what people think of in a longer SUV.”
Although it’s still instantly recognizable as an Escalade, the IQ draws much of its design inspiration from Cadillac’s Celestiq model, including the front “shield” face and the vertical lighting signatures, which animate in the front and rear upon approaching the car. Another borrowed touch is the completely flush side glass, a technique usually reserved for luxury sedans and sports cars.
In the cabin, the centerpiece is a 55-inch curved touchscreen display, also shared with the Celestiq. Digital displays are balanced with analog buttons and knobs, along with layers of wood, leather, and deco trim. “What’s beautiful, from my standpoint, is how the interior design emphasizes the width of the vehicle,” mentions Krieg. “It has almost this mid-century feel, where you’re just letting the materials—and the layering of them—speak for themselves.” A panoramic glass roof comes standard, and an optional executive second-row seating package adds goodies such as 12.6-inch seat-back screens, dual wireless phone charging, massaging seats, and speakers integrated into the headrests. And audiophiles will want to add the upgraded, 40-speaker AKG Studio Reference sound system for an immersive, 360-degree sonic experience.
As with the exterior’s presentation, the interior’s style, specifically in regards to the materials, was purposed to reflect the next chapter of the brand’s design and craftsmanship. “Escalade IQ is intended to be more progressive and fashion forward in a way that captures the attributes that the Celestiq has created,” states color and trim designer Brandon Lymun. “This includes the handcrafted detailing seen in the embroidery and complex perforations, as well as the use of contemporary wood-finishing techniques.”
With a promised range of around 450 miles, and a tow rating of up to 8,000 pounds, the Escalade IQ is powered by front and rear motors that make up to 750 hp and 785 ft lbs of torque—all supported by a 200 kWh battery pack. Cadillac estimates a zero-to-60 mph time of less than five seconds, a dizzying feat considering what must be a massive curb weight, though exact numbers have not yet been released. (As a reference, the GMC Hummer SUV weighs in at 8,700 pounds, with a substantial chunk of that coming from the battery pack.)
For comfort, the Escalade IQ is equipped with an independent front and rear air suspension with magnetic ride control, while four-wheel steering helps with agility and maneuverability. The SUV will also get bidirectional charging compatibility (allowing the vehicle to transfer its energy elsewhere), which the company says will be enabled via an over-the-air software update in 2025. Cadillac anticipates that the Escalade IQ will begin production next summer at GM’s assembly plant in Hamtramck, Mich., with each example starting at around $130,000.
Click here for more photos of the all-electric Cadillac Escalade IQ.