Interior

There's something about the Escalade ESV that feels old school. It could be its old-fashioned gear shifter on the steering-wheel column or its key for starting the SUV. Yes, in this $88,000-plus SUV I had to put the key in the ignition and start it myself.

With standard seating for seven, many might think of the Escalade ESV as a minivan alternative. An optional second-row bench seat increases seating capacity to eight. The problem is it isn't family-friendly; it's more Hollywood-friendly. There are only two sets of lower Latch anchors in its three rows of seats, and the second row's cupholders are on the rear of the front row's center console. This position is difficult for kids in car seats to use. There also aren't any bottleholders in the doors.

In the front row, I enjoyed the heated and cooled seats and the heated steering wheel. The heated and cooled cupholders, which worked well, won my heart. However, the brushed-aluminum trim on the center stack and center console kept reflecting the sunlight right into my eyes. I'm such a whiner. Who's the diva now?

It's in the third row where the Escalade ESV pays off. It has 9.3 inches of extra legroom in the third row versus the regular Escalade, and it seats three, which is awesome. What's not awesome is the third row is split 50/50, so the person in the center position sits on a big crack between the seats. The major hiccup I had is there's no power-folding mechanism for the third row, and because the cargo area is ginormous and long, it requires you to climb into the cargo area to fold the seats. They don't fold flat, but they're removable. When removed, there's not a flat load floor because of the third row's footwell, which is great when sitting in the third row. The second row has a power-folding mechanism, but I had to unfold the seats manually. Ultimately, it seems as though the Escalade ESV has to muscle a lot of features when it should be finessing these things by now.

If your kids are in high school, the Escalade ESV is a good fit. And for crying out loud, if you ever tow anything the ESV is a good fit. If you have a small garage, a small wallet or small children, you'll want to seriously consider whether this SUV is a good fit.

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