The 2018 Cadillac Escalade is the automotive equivalent of the Biltmore Estate. It’s big, it’s grand and it has an undeniable presence in its community. With sumptuous leather seating, real wood accents and an amenity sheet as long as your arm, the Escalade is a statement SUV with luxury and power to spare.

Depending on the interior layout you select, as many as eight can ride in style in the Escalade. And even if there is a backside in every seat, the Escalade’s long-wheelbase ESV trim still has nearly 40 cubic feet of storage space behind the third row.

That means the kids can invite a friend along to the beach this summer, and unlike some three-row SUVs, everyone on the trip can bring their own luggage. Yep, this is one roomy and luxurious hauler!

The Escalade is powered by a 6.2-liter V8 engine that develops 420 horsepower and 460 lb.-ft. of torque. The engine is mated to a new-for-2018 10-speed automatic transmission. Cadillac says the Escalade can get to 60 miles per hour from a standstill in less than six seconds, and can tow up to 8,100 pounds.

That means there’s plenty of power for a carload of people, even when towing a boat or camper. Yep, this is one capable hauler too.

The Escalade’s ride isn’t its strongest feature, primarily because of the vehicle’s 6,000-lb.heft and truck-like suspension. However, Cadillac takes pains to make sure ride quality is good as it can be by installing its Magnetic Ride Control system as standard equipment.

Inside the Escalade cabin, craftsmanship and quality abound. Real wood trim, ambient lighting and sumptuous leather make the interior environment inviting and comfortable. The inside of my test Escalade was in the “Maple Sugar” color with Jet Black accents, a fantastic new color combination for 2018.

Headroom is obviously not a problem in the Escalade, even if you’re vertically unchallenged. I was pleasantly surprised when my 6-foot-1 frame fit easily in row three. The heated, row-two captain’s chairs tumbled forward easily, making access to the third row easy. Each front seat headrest had a DVD screen, and drop-down DVD screens were in the ceiling for rows two and three, meaning there’s not a bad seat in the house when it comes to watching media.

While the cabin is top notch, Cadillac’s connectivity and infotainment systems take a little getting used to. The systems utilize capacitive touch technology with gesture recognition. Capacitive touch means there are no knobs at all, only flat spaces marked with system commands. Touch that spot and you get haptic feedback in your finger. Cadillac has used the system for a while now, but I’d prefer knobs at least for tuning and volume of the Escalade’s Bose Centerpoint surround sound system. There are, however, redundant controls on the steering wheel.

Gesture recognition means the 8-inch center screen hides controls until your hand approaches the screen. When you reach for the screen, control buttons appear along the bottom edge. System adjustments can also be made by tapping and swiping the way you would your tablet or smartphone.

Connection capability for your devices is extensive, with two USB ports at the bottom of the center stack and two more in the console, which by the way has a chilled beverage holder. Twelve-volt connectivity is on the center stack, in the center console, along row three and near the rear power liftgate.

The 12.3-inch instrument cluster is reconfigurable, and the head’s up display system is the best on the market.

When it comes to safety, the Escalade scores four overall stars in the government’s crash tests. Breaking that down, the SUV gets five stars in side crashes and for the driver’s seat in frontal crashes. The front passenger seat scores four stars in frontal crashes. The insurance industry has not yet completed crash tests on the Escalade, which has a full complement of airbags, an excellent camera package and a range of sophisticated safety technology systems.

2018 Cadillac Escalade ESV 4WD Platinum

Engine:

6.2-liter V8

Horsepower/Torque:

420/460 lb.-ft.

Transmission:

10-speed automatic

Price:

$99,095 ($103,185 with options & freight)

EPA mileage estimates:

14 mpg city/21 mpg highway/17 mpg combined

Estimated highway range:

651 miles